The thing I love about camping in the United States is its efficiency – how everything we bring on the trip comes with a careful purpose. From the headlamps to the sing-a-longs, the bug spray to the marshmallows, everything is there to create a precise American experience.
But all this meticulous curating arrives to the woods against the untamed freedom of the American wilderness! The canyons, the falls, and the forests! The purple mountain majesties! The spacious skies!
Something about that contrast of order against liberty feels like the very essence of America itself: militant and laissez-faire, abstinent and indulgent, conservative and liberal. That range is exactly why, to me, every good and total American is a camper at heart.
These images all come from the DOCUMERICA Project (1971-1977) – a project by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that funded freelance photographers to document Americans’ use of the environment.