Kampgrounds of America

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Koa logo.png

Kampgrounds of America (KOA) is the world's largest system of privately held campgrounds with almost 500 locations across US and Canada. Known as KOA and featuring a distinctive yellow and red logo, Kampgrounds of America has become part of American popular culture. Founded in 1962 and still based in Billings, Montana, USA, the former CEO of Kampgrounds of America Inc. is James D. Rogers (retired December 2015). In an interview with Forbes magazine in 2012, Rogers described the KOA experience as "really all about making outdoor adventure easy. We provide something unique to the campground, we provide service."[1] The current President/CEO of KOA is Pat Hittmeier.[2]


KOA kampground, Petersburg, Michigan

KOA was founded in 1962. Billings, Montana businessman Dave Drum got the idea to start the campgrounds while walking his property along the Yellowstone River and seeing travellers heading to the Seattle World's Fair. Dave Drum, along with John Wallace and 2 other partners, offered modest campsites on his property north of the Yellowstone River. They called it Billings Campground. For $1.75 per night, campers could pitch their tent on a campsite that included a picnic table and fire ring. This first campground also provided hot showers, restrooms, and a small store. [3]

The campground was quickly successful. Drum visited the campground nearly every night, talking to campers about their desires. From their conversations, Drum got the idea to expand his concept nationwide.

By the summer of 1963, Drum had two partners and the goal of creating a system of campgrounds throughout North America. The yellow logo was created, and Drum and his partners started selling franchises.

By the end of the 1969 camping season, KOA had 262 campgrounds in operation across the U.S. By 1972, 10 years after KOA's creation, KOA had 600 franchise campgrounds.

The Arab oil embargoes of 1973 and 1978 caused the collapse of many travel-oriented businesses, but by 1982, the KOA franchises had increased to nearly 900.[4]

Today, KOA annually inspects each campground with a 600-point inspection, which it claims is the most stringent in the business. In 2010 KOA campgrounds number over 470, according to their corporate website, with around 450 in the US.

In 2015 Jim Rogers stepped down from KOA and was replaced by the president of the company, Pat Hittmeier.[5]

Media references[edit]

In the 1978 movie Every Which Way But Loose, Philo, Orville, Echo, and Clyde stay at a KOA Campground in one scene.

In Bob Wood's 1988 best selling Dodger Dogs to Fenway Franks, he wrote of often staying at KOAs during his travels to every Major League Baseball stadium in one summer.

In 2011, in a commercial for Progressive Auto Insurance, a boy wears a KOA shirt (KOA and Progressive have entered into a marketing partnership whereby KOA recommends Progressive for RV insurance).[6]

An episode of Undercover Boss first aired on January 11, 2013 featured KOA CEO Jim Rogers working undercover as Tim, a prospective buyer of a KOA franchise.[7]

The Kacey Musgraves song, My House, includes the lyrics "Any KOA is A-OK as long as I'm with you".[8]

In 2013, in "Doctor Sleep", by Stephen King: "The True Knot, which had been wintering at a KOA campground in Arizona”.


KOA Corporate Offices

External links[edit]