Kampgrounds of America

Kampgrounds of America (KOA) is the world's largest system of privately held campgrounds with more than 500 locations across the United States and Canada.[1][2] It was founded in 1962 and is based in Billings, Montana, United States. The current President and CEO of KOA is Toby O’Rourke.[3]

Kampgrounds of America
  • Amusement
  • Recreation
FounderDave Drum
Headquarters550 North 31st Street, ,
United States
Key people
  • Toby O'Rourke (CEO)
  • RV
  • Parks
  • Campgrounds
SubsidiariesSir Speedy, Inc.


KOA kampground, Petersburg, Michigan

KOA was founded in 1962 in Billings, Montana by businessmen Dave Drum, John Wallace and 2 other partners. Drum got the idea to start the campgrounds while walking his property along the Yellowstone River and seeing travelers heading to the Seattle World's Fair. The first campsites, known as Billings Campground, were located on Drum's property north of the Yellowstone River. 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.[4] The campground was quickly successful and by the summer of 1963, Drum, Wallace and their partners decided to create a system of campgrounds throughout North America. They named the company Kampgrounds of America and began selling franchises.[4]

In 1969, KOA became a public company.[5] 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 1970s energy crisis caused the collapse of many travel-oriented businesses, and KOA's stock price became a casualty. New York City financier Oscar Tang, a major stockholder at the time, purchased the company in its entirety after the 1979 oil crisis.[5] However, by 1982 KOA franchises had increased to nearly 900. By 2002, after stricter quality standards weeded out many campgrounds, KOA campgrounds numbered almost 500, with most being in the United States.[6]

Today, KOA annually inspects each campground with a 600-point inspection, which it claims is the most stringent in the business.[7]

In 2015, Jim Rogers stepped down as CEO after 15 years and was replaced by the president of the company, Pat Hittmeier. In April 2019, Hittmeier retired, and was replaced by new CEO Toby O'Rourke, the first woman to hold that position in the company's 57-year history.[8]

In popular cultureEdit

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.

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.[9]

The Kacey Musgraves song, "My House", includes the lyrics "Any KOA is A-OK as long as I'm with you".[10]

In an episode of King of the Hill that originally aired on May 3, 2010, Dale Gribble says, “RVs are one-way tickets to meth addiction and KOA sites, where the law has no meaning.”


  1. ^ "KOA: 50 Years Of Family Camping – Family RVing Magazine". December 2012. Retrieved 2021-08-25.
  2. ^ "Welcome". KOA Pressroom. Retrieved 2021-08-25.
  3. ^ Klemann, Dustin (30 December 2015). "Kampgrounds of America announces change in leadership - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT". Retrieved 10 November 2016.
  4. ^ a b Howard, Tom (September 1, 2012). "KOA's history started with a good idea and a humble campground". The Billings Gazette. Billings, Montana. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
  5. ^ a b "KOA History". KOA Press Room. Retrieved 8 September 2021.
  6. ^ Falstad, Jan (August 3, 2002). "Homegrown camping company celebrates 40 year anniversary". The Billings Gazette. Retrieved 2015-12-31.
  7. ^ "Routine Maintenance Is Critical For Happy Campers". mobilerving.com. Retrieved 2021-08-25.
  8. ^ Olson, Erik (December 30, 2015). "KOA announces new CEO". The Billings Gazette. Retrieved 2015-12-31.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-01-14. Retrieved 2013-01-12.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-09-05. Retrieved 2015-12-28.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External linksEdit

Official website