The Story Behind the KOA Yellow Sign | History of the KOA Logo

September 8, 2021

If you’ve spent time traveling the highways and byways of North America, you’ve probably seen the Kampgrounds of America yellow sign on your journeys. While the KOA logo is probably familiar, the story of how it came to be might surprise you. Dive into the history of the KOA logo and it’s iconic yellow sign.

Learn More at the Kampgrounds of America and the KOA Logo

What is Kampgrounds of America (KOA)?

To meet a growing demand for overnight sites for RVers and tenters, a campground was developed on a small parcel of land between the Yellowstone River and busy U.S. Highway 10 (now I-90).
Kampgrounds of America Inc. is now the world’s largest family camping company, helping family and friends enjoy the great outdoors for nearly 60 years. Founded in 1962, the franchising company has more than 500 campground locations in North America, and each year is nationally recognized for its work in public relations, marketing and franchise satisfaction.

From its humble beginnings on the banks of the Yellowstone River in Billings, Montana, KOA has become an iconic brand throughout the U.S. and Canada. Our KOA “Yellow Sign” acts as a beacon of fun and relaxation for campers, and a badge of honor for our employees. They value hospitality, the great outdoors and the people and places that make their company great. Camping has come a long way since the early days of canvass tents and rustic roadside camps. The team at Kampgrounds of America prides itself on constant innovation – bringing new technologies, advanced guest service training and luxury accommodations to camping in order to dial up the outdoor experience for their guests.

What is KOA’s mission?

KOA’s mission is: connecting people to the outdoors and each other.

Who is Karlo Fujiwara?

Karlo Fujiwara was a commercial artist in Billings, MT for nearly 30 years and he is the original designer of the KOA logo. Karlo was also a beloved martial arts instructor in the area and was a taekwondo grand master.

When was the KOA logo developed and is it trademarked?

The KOA logo was developed by Karlo Fujiwara in June 1961. A Service Mark for Kampgrounds of America was filed April 4, 1963 with the U.S. Patent Office at Washington, D.C. It was approved and registered on December 8, 1964. Ten years later the patent was amended to perfect the protection of the KOA logo. The logo remains unchanged as KOA approaches it’s 60th Anniversary in 2022.

What does the KOA logo represent?

The KOA logo is a graphical representation of the letters K-O-A. The straight lines make up the K, the circle represents the O and the triangle represents the A. The KOA logo could also represent a tent-like structure which is inherent to camping.

Who is Korine Fujiwara?

Korrine Fujiwara is the daughter of Karlo Fujiwara. She is a Montana native and a founding member of the Carpe Diem String Quartet. She is a gifted chamber musician, teacher, composer and arranger and her music has been heard across the globe.

Who is Toby O’Rourke?

Toby O’Rourke is the President & CEO of Kampgrounds of America, Inc (KOA). KOA is the world’s largest system of private campgrounds and leader in outdoor hospitality. Toby oversees the programs, services and marketing that support the brand’s 525 franchised and company-owned locations across North America.

Who is Molly Kruckenberg?

Molly Kruckenberg is the Director of the Montana Historical Society. She took the reins in 2020, becoming the first female director in its 155-year history. Molly has worked at the Montana Historical Society for 21 years and was an instrumental piece of archiving the historical pieces for Kampgrounds of America. She has a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh.

About the Author: Kampgrounds of America

Kampgrounds of America is the largest system of open-to-the-public campgrounds in the world, with over 500 locations across the United States and Canada. Founded in Billings, MT in 1962, KOA’s family of campground brands – KOA Journey, KOA Holiday and KOA Resort – today serve more than a million camping families each year. KOA is dedicated to “connecting people to the outdoors and each other” by providing people with a variety of camping experiences and the information they need to make the most of their camping trip. Read more of their camping and travel resources by visiting

Enjoy a Greater Slice of the Great Outdoors

Discover even more room to enjoy outdoor living with a KOA Patio Site®. These spacious sites offer your very own patio equipped with outdoor furniture and the perfect place for a fire. Wake up and enjoy a cup of coffee with the sunrise and spend an evening relaxing with family and friends.

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