By the 1920s, “car-” or “auto-camping” became a popular form of lodging. In response to the newly motorized tourist, free or inexpensive auto-camps and tourist-courts sprang up outside of towns and along freeways in California.
Beginning as simply a place to park and pitch a tent, camps added amenities such as restrooms, showers, kitchens and even laundry services. Tourists could enjoy the great outdoors and many of the comforts of home while on the road – a freedom that appealed to people from all walks of life.
During the depression of the 1930s, auto-camping continued to thrive as a way to vacation inexpensively. After WWII, however, the changing economy and the development of the interstate highway system spelled its decline and paved the way for the more modern, franchised motel.