The History of Camping – an American Tradition

As you continue to plan your next Yellowstone camping experience, you are probably doing a lot of camping research. While you are at it, have you ever wondered about the origins of camping?

Camping is in fact an ageless tradition that has become one of the most popular outdoor recreational activities in America, with thousands of people heading to their favorite camping destinations every year. This area alone attracts about 3 million visitors per year, many opting for a variety of camping experiences, from Yellowstone RV parks and campground cabins to the trusty tent.

The activity has become synonymous with American tradition, and many adults can attest to the fond and exciting memories they retain of childhood campfires and time spent with the family in the great outdoors. Over the years, many camping organizations, clubs, and groups have sprung up, and camping destinations continue to attract outdoor enthusiasts in droves.

The idea of recreational camping may certainly be attributed to some people – men who had acquired for themselves a sum of wealth and who had the idea to turn their love for travel and appreciation of the outdoor environment into a popular activity. But camping, in its bare form, is really as old as man seeking a place to rest his head.

The first people of the earth would have been avid campers; the hunter-gatherers of old, of any culture, and of any continent, would have mastered the art of camping to survive. They would have known how to pick up the entire camp – bedding, shelters, supplies, and belongings – and moved it along their wandering trail only to settle it down again in another location. These camps would have involved groups of people much larger than that of your average family excursion, and if you have ever gone camping, you can imagine the amount of organization needed to move so many people at once.

As far as the memorialized campfire (the campground at Hebgen Lake has several fire pits for your convenience), the first fire-makers of our species would have perfected the skill using materials found in the wild. The knowledge among us present-day humans is mostly obsolete though, residing only with the most hard-core of campers!

In America, the deep history of the camping experience ranges between many camps. The humbling traditions of the many Native American groups that called this place home for thousands of years; the fascinating histories of gold miners who had a thirst for adventure, and of course, gold; the romantic stories of the old western trails such as the Oregon trail; and the excitable legends of the cowboys that were known for their carefree lives on the open range.

Outside of these experiences, the average American life had changed remarkably from the old days when evenings were lit by candlelight and bathroom-plumbing systems were only a dream. People were more connected to nature then! New inventions, such as that of electric light vastly changed life for Americans and pushed them into a new era of convenience and luxury. The gap between nature and people would naturally only widen as time went on and life became more industrialized.

The 1920s produced a new breed of campers, however, from which our modern camping tastes are most directly descended. These offspring were the urban children of the industrial age who had seen the advent of technological wonders such as the automobile. This marvelous contraption could quickly and conveniently carry families and friends from point A to B. Coupled with the establishment of national parks, and traveler destinations and facilities, and the new appreciation for America’s wild wonders, a new thirst to get away from the entrapments of modern life was ignited. So the steady trend of recreational camping developed and continues on to this day.

As you continue to look forward to your Yellowstone vacation or search for the many camping conveniences available such as cabins for rent in Yellowstone or hiking guides through rugged terrain, remember that you are continuing a tradition that, in truth, has always been an essential part of our human nature.

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