Top 10 Camping Movies To Watch

Leavenworth / Pine Village KOA, 47103, Outdoor, Activities, Families,
December 19, 2010
Night at the movies, KOA kamper style!

If you’re reading this article, it’s probably safe to say you love camping. After all, who wouldn’t love spending time outdoors, getting lots of fresh air and having some good, old-fashioned fun?

But since most of us can’t spend every day—or even every weekend—at our favorite KOA campground, we have to find another way to enjoy camping. And movies are a great way to do it.

So we asked our campers what their favorite camping movies were. We got over 100 submissions—which we have narrowed down to the top 10 just for you. Some you’ll agree with—some you might be surprised by…but they all have one great thing in common: camping.

#1: RV (or Runaway Vacation) (2006–PG)

Follow Bob Munro (Robin Williams) and his family as they hit the road for a laugh-filled cross-country trip in a rented motorhome. There are some laugh-out-loud moments as well as some heart-touching ones. It’s full of great music, too.

#2: The Great Outdoors (1988-PG)

All that Chet Ripley (the late John Candy) wants is a peaceful family vacation. Then his brother in-law Roman Craig (Dan Aykroyd) shows up and peace and quiet go down the drain. This is a classic movie with one of the greatest man versus animal fight scenes on film.

#3: The Long, Long Trailer (1954-NR)

If you haven’t seen this timeless film, put it on your list of “have to’s.” You’ll love seeing the late Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in their glory days, playing a honeymooning couple with an oversize camping trailer. The cooking scene alone (with Lucy in a dress and pearls) is worth the cost of the rental!

#4: The Parent Trap (1961-NR)

Despite a later version released in the 1990’s, KOA campers say that it is the original Hayley Mills version that rules the screen. If your kids (or grandkids) haven’t seen one girl playing two girls wreaking havoc on two coasts and one summer camp…it’s time to get this one into the player. “Let’s get together, yeah, yeah, yeah…”

#5: National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983-R)

Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) and family leave Chicago for a dream trip to Wally World in a car (“The Family Truckster”) that resembles a tank rather than a station wagon. And once they pull out of their driveway, everything that can go wrong does.

#6: Meatballs (1979-PG)

A second-rate summer camp is the setting for this film, which stars Bill Murray as the head counselor of Camp Northstar. The summer caps off with an Olympiad with rival Camp Mohawk, with potato sack races, hot dog eating contests and more.

#7: Deliverance (1972-R)

Three men are pushed to their physical and emotional limits on a canoe trip in the Georgia backwoods. Starring Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox, this is definitely not a light-hearted camping movie.

#8: Wild Hogs (2007-PG13)

Four friends (John Travolta, Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence and William H. Macy) from the ‘burbs embrace the freedom of the open road to experience the biker lifestyle. That is, however, before they cross paths with a biker gang.

#9: The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994-R)

Set in Australia, this film follows three cross-dressing performers into the Outback in their lavender-colored school bus that acts as both a dressing room and their home on the road. While well outside the traditional camping film genre, several campers gave the thumbs a big thumbs up for the film’s humor and music.

#10: The Blair Witch Project (1999-R)

Shot largely in black and white, this is a fall camping must-see only for the brave-hearted. This “documentary” follows students as they try to find their way out of the woods while fearing for their lives.

And what films didn’t quite make the top 10? Well, there are quite a lot of them actually, including Continental Divide, Dirty Dancing, Ernest Goes to Camp, Goonies, Into the Wild and more.

Don’t see your favorite film listed? Tell us yours, below.

  • Liz

    Indian Summer

    • Karen

      I agree – Indian Summer is a great summer movie. There actually is a Camp Tamakwa in Canada, which is where the movie was filmed.

      • Donna Hart

        Indian Summer is one of our favorites too. Also, The Great Outdoors is one our grandkids grew up watching. Not while camping – just at home on lazy days.

    • Sarah

      How about Continental Divide or Jeremiah Johnson? Great for outdoor adventure!

  • mkaps

    My favorite movie is Hook with Robin Williams

    • campin’jan

      Hook is a great Robin Williams movie.

      A couple of our favorites are The Princess Bride (outdoorsy in a non-camping way : ) and of course Chevy Chase’ Vacation.

  • Ann Cash

    my grandkids favorite movie when we go rving is
    10 ways to eat fried worms.
    They realy love that one

  • Beth V

    Cheaper by the Dozen 2 and Summer Rental



    • rueman

      Yeah-that’s a great movie and perfect spelling to boot!

  • Jim Collins

    Best Movie – Jaws – I will watch it at least twice a year for the rest of my life. Same goes for Scrooged, with Bill Murray, once per Christmas.

    • Crmoulton3

      A Christmas Carol with Patrick Stewart (Star trek the next gen) is a great rendition too.

      • Karen

        Jaws is also one of my favorite summer movies.

      • Karen

        I like the version with Alistair Sim the best. Also, an American Christmas Carol with Henry Winkler is a good movie.

  • Crmoulton3

    Emma a wonderful movie with Gwynith Platrow, Also The concert for George great music any Beatle or George Harrison fan would love.
    Meet the Robinsons an underrated gem (Disney animated) and a Classic Harvey with Jimmy Stewart.

  • Len Gunderson

    2 Movie favorites come to my mind. “An You Thought Your Parents were Weird” and “Midnight Madness”.

  • Betty

    How about RV?

    • rueman

      Um…did you read the list? It was #1.

  • Paulette Eby

    RV with Robin Williams

  • Kendra K

    Grumpy old men& grumpier old men are the best!Recipe”Camping omelet”Each peson makes there own.Boil a pot of water on campfire or stove.Each person has a quart or gallon size ziplock bag.Take 3 eggs break into your bag.mash with seal closed.Have all fixing ready to add to omelet such as ham,cheese,onion peppers,bacon,etc.add your filling mash bag,squeeze air out,then seal bag.Boil for 3-5mins,with seal above water.Use tongs to lift out bag.Enjoy!

    • Karen

      I don’t want to spoil anybody’s fun, but one of the plastic storage bag manufacturers issued a statement that they do not recommend using their bags in boiling water.

      • Sue

        Why ? It makes a delicious Omelet! Are they afraid the bags will brak ….. or is it a health issue?

      • Sue

        I think because cheap ones will melt freezer bags don’t

      • Lynn

        Maybe the ones who issued that statement were the brand I used once, and my omelets STUCK! Other times, they worked great. Might suggest a quick, short spritz of cooking spray in bag first, then “smear” bag together to coat before putting in eggs and rest of ingredients. I love doing this with the grandkids!

      • zowi

        hot plastic gives off a toxic gas

      • campin’jan

        Yes, it’s because hot plastic is toxic. Might not hurt to do it occasionally, but who wants to risk it.

  • Mario Canas

    My favorate summer movie is “The Sand Lot” part one. A kid is out of school for the summer with nothing to do when he makes new friends and together discover true friendship playing baseball. A must see for any baseball fan.

    • Pamela

      We love “Sandlot”!! We’re full-time RVers with an English Mastiff that is identical to the dog in this movie … you’d be amazed how many people recognize the dog from this movie, except ours is VERY friendly!

  • Rick Long

    You forgot the best family classic ever made!! “GOONIES”

    • Pandora

      They said Goonies didn’t make the cut, but I agree, great family movie – parts of it were filmed in Cannon Beach, Oregon, and Astoria, Washington, two of my favorite places. Cannon Beach has a couple of RV parks – haven’t stayed there yet.

  • Kevin & Mary Snyder

    While everyone is out seeing the country, how can you not take along and watch Both – National Treasures! Pieces of history with a hint of mystery.

  • LittleLady

    So glad to see The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert on here!
    Such a fun soundtrack 🙂

    • Pandora

      Yep, I voted for this one. One of my favorite movies of all time 🙂

  • Rob and Lois

    We don’t wanna watch movies when we camp! We sit outside and watch the stars, last fall we saw the Perseid Meteor Shower! MUCH better than TV.

    • Karen

      We don’t either, but the subject is favorite camping movies – not movies to watch while camping.

      • Donna Hart

        Excellent reply.

  • Sharon W.

    We save the movies for when it’s raining and we can’t have a fire or when it’s too cold out. There are a lot of good suggestions above, but the premise of the question is movies ABOUT camping. On their list, I would have to say The Long, Long Trailer is the best. Can’t we all appreciate the new trailer with a newbie towing it? I also am a great fan of the Hayley Mills movies and love The Parent Trap. RV with Robin Williams (whom I love) was a great disappointment.

  • Walter Rice

    The best movie for camping or anytime is Old Yeller and the sequel Savage Sam

    • TJ

      Love These!

  • Bruce

    We love RV, but there is something about watching Jeremiah Johnson on a cool fall evening outdoors in a campground next to a fire…..

  • Martin aikens

    Friday the 13th

  • Kay B

    Second Hand Lions

    with Michael Caine
    Robert Duvall
    Haley Joel Osment

  • Kay B

    Excellent Family Movie and funny!

  • Mike

    A great “road” movie is “Fandango” from the mid 80s, starring Judd Nelson , Kevin Costner and Suzy Amis just as their stars were rising…It’s a fun flick about “The Groovers”, a bunch of frat boys from a Texas University in the early 70s and their one last road trip, to go get “Dom” from across the border and enjiy the final week or so of friendship before they go their different ways…The Skydiving scene is worth the price of renting it…

  • Sue

    “Follow Me Boys” is a classic!

  • Don

    I like to watch the Sacketts with Tom Selleck when camping

  • Bob

    “What about Bob”? It’s about a family vacation. Richard Dreyfus and Bill Murray. Very funny and suitable for the young ones.

  • Daybreaker

    Not really sure why but EVERY time we go camping we watch SAHARA with Mathew McConehey (sp). My son can almost quote the whole movie… It never gets old. Don’t disagree with me or I’ll pull a Panama on you. LOL 🙂

  • Ken Kallusky

    OMG !! You all forgot Swiss Family Robinson ! A great camping movie with love, tears, laughter and everything that makes a family camping outing the best !!

  • Cherrie

    “Summer Rental” with John Candy. Great summer movie!

  • Linda

    After visiting breathtaking Oregon, last summer, I had to re-see The River Wild, with Meryl Streep and Kevin Bacon. It was filmed on the Rogue River where we also went white water rafting. Beautiful scenery in this suspenseful, outdoor movie.

    • Will

      “Noahs” Rafting Service is the best local guide service and will take you through the same area as in the movie. Our whole family went down the “Wild and Scenic” section. Five star float trip! Best in the World!

  • Pamela

    Check out “August Rush” … beautiful, warm-hearted, great family movie. Everyone I know loves it so much!

    (P.S. I’m so glad to have all the recommendations above also … thanks!)

  • Laura

    I love the movie Tourist Trap. This movie is not on DVD, but you can find it on VHS. I think it is the funniest camping movie. It is an older disney movie, and it is similar to RV. If you can rent it, I highly recommend it.

  • John

    The list of camping movies is not complete without the hilarious “Without a Paddle”. I defy anyone to watch this movie without laughing out loud.

  • Jack

    I am dismayed that you would recommend a movie like “Blair Witch Project.” Touting KOA as a family organization and then listing a movie with such filthy, inappropriate language as a top 10 view is, in my mind, irresponsible.

    • Ann

      o please lighten up!! just read paragraph 3 under “That’s Entertainment” above and you’ll get it. No one said you had to watch it. It’s surely not on my list of camping faves.

      • Sarah

        I agree with Jack – as a matter of fact, I didn’t see any movie on the list I’d want to watch with my family. How about some wholesome camping shows? After all, isn’t KOA supposed to be family-oriented?

  • John Geary

    I’m surprised that on a list of “camping movies” the flick “Indian Summer” (1993) with Alan Arkin did not make it onto the top 10. It’s the story of adults returning to the summer camp they loved as teens and pre-teens.

  • John Geary

    Another good “camping” movie is “Deadly Pursuit” (a.k.a. “Shoot to Kill”), 1988, with Sidney Poitier, Tom Berenger and Kirstie Alley. Takes place on a wilderness trip.

  • Chris Petrucci

    Wild Hogs is a GREAT movie!!! Loved it!!

  • Ann

    For a touching story – and one of the most hair raising RV scenes of all times, I’d include “The Earthling” (1980 – William Holden and a young Ricky Schroeder).

  • Dan Marett

    I am sailing when I am not camping away and love to camp at our sail club in South Carolina. “Captain Ron” with Martin Short. Hilarious adventure about camping on a sail boat.

  • Tom

    “The Hills Have Eyes” — Watch this horror camping flick on a dark night. Your Airstream will never seem the same again.

  • Marie

    “Lost in America”, with Albert Brooks and Julie Haggerty, corporate executives who “drop out of society” to travel the US in an RV. Albert Brooks at his best.

  • Miranda

    The movie we always took camping with us is Dante’s Peak.
    Great action packed movie.

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  • Dave Carlson

    I taught 5th. and 6th. graders for thirty years. Our school film library had several movies we could show in our classroom. I do not know if it is available somehow, some where, but my favorite and the kids favorite was “The Yellowstone Cubs”!! There are many funny things, like the cubs in a resort kitchen, the cubs going for a wild ride in a wood outboart boat and running it up on shore, and some sad issues the Park Rangers have to decide what to do with the mother and her cubs. I’ve been retired from teaching since 1995, so I hope the movie title and happenings are mostly correct.

  • Fat Sam

    Some of your movies are not “camping” movies….. and are not for families!!
    “Deliverence”, “Queen of the Desert” are NOT camping movies. Try “Wilderness Family” type movies!!

  • Wayne

    Two great classics that I like to watch anytime are Robinson Carusoe and Swiss Family Robinson. Now THAT was camping!