Martin Hogue


On his book Thirtyfour Campgrounds

Cover Interview of November 01, 2016


Camping has long fascinated and engaged a broad number of scholars in the fields of American studies, tourism, cultural geography, historical preservation, and landscape architecture. However, there exists surprisingly little book-length, contemporary scholarship on the subject.

Interest in camping is timely: each summer millions of Americans take to the road in search of this powerful experience of nature, and the importance of online sources in facilitating this process has only grown in importance over the past few years. In 2010, Kampgrounds of America—KOA, familiarly—alone reported a total consumption of over five million campsite-nights, as well as 1.5 million hits monthly on its website. Demand at the country’s most scenic campgrounds has been so high that prospective campers can now reserve campsites up to 6 months in advance of their projected date of arrival. Some would-be campers are even turning to Craigslist to purchase campsite usage at areas like Yosemite National Park during busy holiday weekends, and this at three or four times their original price. At the same time, Walmart’s decision 15 years ago to open its parking lots nationally to overnighting RVers free of charge indicates a further and potentially radical devaluation of the traditional campsite. With its only goal being to attract new customers, Walmart’s decision created—overnight—a new campground network with thousands of informal facilities that could rival camping giants like KOA.

With its clear and accessible tone, as well as its unique combination of analytical drawings and historical materials, Thirtyfour Campgrounds contributes to the available literature on the emergence, standardization, and modernization of the American campground. And with its methodical documentation of 6,500 campsites, this is a highly visual book that promises to attract not only scholars and enthusiasts of the craft, but a broad audience of design and art professionals as well.