A time of bell bottom jeans and disco music, the bygone days of the 1970s were a golden decade for camping and RVing. Whether you were by the beach in the Florida Keys or out in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, setting up your tent back in the day – or pulling up in your Volkswagen or Winnebago – was an experience that’s hard to forget. Some things never change!
Thanks to the National Archives & Records Administration, there’s a great collection of photos online from this timeless decade, many of which feature campers and RVers out on a trip. We put together a few of our favorite vintage shots below. They’re bound to leave you nostalgic and longing for the older, more simple times.
1. Taken in June ’73, this photo captured a classic Volkswagen Westfalia Pop Top Camper in Little Duck Key, in the lower Florida Keys.
2. Also from June ’73, this photo was taken at a KOA campground near Old Forge, New York, in the Adirondack Forest Preserve.
3. After spending an afternoon on Raquette Lake, in June 1973, this camper used his pick-up truck to pull his boat out of the water at Golden Beach Campground, New York.
4. Campers getting set up at Arches National Park, in southern Utah’s red rock country. Taken in May 1972.
5. In this shot from June ’75, campers were captured beautifully from across the water at Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County, California.
6. Even in the rain, waking up to pancakes when you’re camping is absolutely delightful. This hunter/camper was getting his morning grub on in Moose River Plains Wild Forest, New York, in November ’73.
7. Camping in the forest of Oswald West State Park, Oregon, September 1972. Visitors had to leave their cars in a parking lot one-third of a mile away, and move all of their gear in state-supplied wheelbarrows.
8. Tent camping by the beach in the Florida Keys, June ’73.
9. This shot – also from June ’73 – shows a retired couple fishing off an embankment at Spanish Harbor Key. The travel trailer owned by this couple was extremely popular among visitors to the Keys back in the day.
10. Van-life in the middle of a blazing hot Texas summer, at Garner State Park in Concan (about an hour and a half west of San Antonio). Taken in 1972.
11. Another angle from Refugio State Beach, north of Los Angeles, in June ’75.
12. Red or green, Volkswagen vans + camping in the Florida Keys have always been a heavenly combination. Also taken in June ’73.
13. These stylish campers were cooking breakfast near Lake Tear of The Clouds, in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, during July 1973.
14. Camping at Long Key State Park, in the Florida Keys, June ’73. The facilities had water, electricity, and plumbing available, but a lot of campers liked to bring their own tents.
15. Going for a swim at Bahia Honda State Park, in the Lower Florida Keys, June 1973.
16. A hunter taking off in the Adirondack Mountains, New York, in November ’73.
17. Near the town of Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, in September ’73.
18. These fisherman were at an annual smelt run on the lower Peninsula of Michigan in 1973. Every April, thousands would gather at Whitney Drain, a man-made canal on Lake Huron, with their small campers lining the road.
19. Towing bikes near Boulder, Colorado, in May 1972.
20. These campers were set up for the night near Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, in September 1973.
Feeling nostalgic yet? Do you have any fond memories of camping and RVing in the 1970s? We’d love to hear your stories below.