Portable tents, rustic cabins, and pop-up trailers generally have been seen as the tried-and-true standard-bearers for camping accommodations since, well, camping became a thing. But as times have changed, so too have the types of temporary domiciles that campers are looking for, which is why Kampgrounds of America (KOA) has developed a range of unique lodging options that offer plenty of new po-tent-ial.
“The demand for these unique offerings has really caught fire in the past five years or so,” says Mike Gast, KOA’s VP of communications. “The millennial generation began having their own families and were looking for both more comfortable ways to camp with a minimum of equipment to purchase, and also for more ‘unique’ outdoor experiences.”
Available at a number of Midwest locations—including Hayward, Wisconsin; Terre Haute, Indiana; and Mackinac Island, Michigan—KOA’s tepees combine modern amenities with a look and feel that honors Native American traditions.
These unique round structures may never be as popular at American campgrounds as they were on the plains of ancient Asia, but campers at KOA sites in places like Salem/Lisbon, Ohio, and Higgins Lake, Michigan. are flocking to them now for something different.
For these much-upgraded versions of traditional tents, KOA properties (like the one near St. Joseph, Michigan) have found a variety of ways to deck out traditional safari tents with bedding, furniture, and creature comforts that bely the fact that you’re on a campground.
They may not adorn the back end of America’s trains anymore, but several of these classic train cars are now parked on KOA campsites for use as overnight lodging—including the one on historic Route 66 near St. Louis.
Only a few select KOA locations out west have these stationary classics available for rental, but closer to home the South Bend/Elkhart campground in northern Indiana does have one “retro” trailer onsite.
Photo Courtesy KOA