Cliff and Carmen of Edgewood both have childhood memories from time spent in Guttenberg; Carmen spent summer days with her grandparents in Guttenberg and also has fond memories of ice skating on the ponds, and Cliff has been boating and fishing on the Mississippi in Guttenberg for much of his life. The Paynes have always enjoyed camping, with Cliff’s love of the activity beginning when he went tent camping on sandbars as a Boy Scout. Cliff and Carmen often took their four children tent camping, and eventually they purchased a 1969 Shasta camper for family trips. As they became busy with their kids’ extracurricular activities, the Paynes had less time to camp, but Cliff says, “I always had it in the back of my mind to do something like this.”
Before Great River Road RV Campground existed, Cliff kept busy running Payne Concrete Construction and raising hogs, while Carmen worked with her sister running Moser School of Dance and Gymnastics. In 2014, the couple opened Great River Road RV Campground, adding another business into the mix. Now that the campground is open, they spend many weekends camping in Guttenberg and checking in guests.
Each of the 58 sites has 20, 30, and 50 amp electric, along with water and sewer. The campground has large shower rooms and a washer and dryer for guests’ use. Fire pits are also available to those staying at the campground. A playground and shelter have recently been built on the grounds, and the Paynes have plans to add basketball and volleyball courts and to plant more trees in the area. 38 of the 58 sites on the grounds have large concrete pads, and eventually each site will have its own pad. As with any project, the Paynes experienced challenges while working to get their campground up and running, but they are appreciative of how the City of Guttenberg and their neighbors worked with them. The campground also has a good relationship with Brown’s RV Center, who the Paynes say have been great to work with.
Cliff and Carmen love that their business allows them to meet and talk to so many new faces from all across the country. They want their guests to be able to come to their campground to relax with their kids, and even pets. The campground hosted live music in the new shelter over Labor Day weekend, and the Paynes plan to have more music in the future. “Everyone that has stayed with us has had really good comments, everyone’s been happy,” says Carmen. The couple says that parents who are camping feel comfortable letting their children roam the grounds, and the kids enjoy riding bikes, playing on the new playground, and fishing for sunfish in the small pond in the campground. The campground currently has 16 seasonal campers, and the goal is to double that number for 2016. One of the reasons the campground’s guests enjoy visiting Guttenberg is the fact that stores, attractions, and the river, are so close. Campers appreciate that they can pick up groceries, camping supplies, and any other necessities in Guttenberg for their stay.
Cliff and Carmen are happy to be in Guttenberg sharing their love of camping and welcoming new and returning guests, and they are excited to keep growing Great River Road RV Campground.