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HomeCar CultureVintage cars and Airstream trailers part of Yonder Escalante glampground

Vintage cars and Airstream trailers part of Yonder Escalante glampground

Former drive-in movie theater location transformed into glamorous camping experience

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US 12 cuts a curving diagonal across southern Utah between Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef national parks. This past Sunday, the Las Vegas Review-Journal devoted a full page and half of another to a reporter’s drive of the route under the headline, “A wow-factor road trip.”

The entire 130-mile stretch is designated a scenic route in my AAA road atlas. Based on my drives, it is a rating well deserved, what with two national parks and the Grand Staircase-Escalante national monument encompassing your view for nearly all of the distance.

I’ve driven 12 twice. The first time was in the 1990s, traveling east to west. A few weeks ago, I did it west to east and while stopping from time to time to take in the national wonders, I also stopped once just west of the town of Escalante, Utah, to wander among some manmade marvels.

Glamping, Vintage cars and Airstream trailers part of Yonder Escalante glampground, ClassicCars.com Journal

Yonder Escalante is no ordinary campground. Sure, you can pull in with your 5th wheel or pop up your tent-topped trailer, but you also can rent a cabin or a vintage Airstream trailer. 

But wait… there’s more. Parked between those vintage Airstreams and the US 12 are nine vintage cars, each parked on an upslope facing a drive-in movie screen. Movies are shown nightly, and you can watch from inside one of those vintage cars, or from one of the trailer’s or cabin’s folding camp chairs. One of the Airstreams has been converted into a concession stand that opens half an hour before the movie starts.

Glamping, Vintage cars and Airstream trailers part of Yonder Escalante glampground, ClassicCars.com Journal
The campground formerly was the site of a drive-in movie theater and movies are shown several nights of the week, and you can watch from inside a vintage vehicle
Glamping, Vintage cars and Airstream trailers part of Yonder Escalante glampground, ClassicCars.com Journal

“Yonder was created out of a desire to go back in time,” the campground’s website notes. “Back to when things were simpler, quality was a given and vacation was an adventure. Yonder Escalante is the embodiment of the best of The American Experience in a place that is as familiar as it is unique. 

“Located near Bryce Canyon National Park and within Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, on the grounds of an old Drive-In movie theater, Yonder borders some of America’s most beautiful places and provides its guests the luxury of experiencing the American West in a way that will always be remembered.”

The facility includes a swimming pool and hot tub, several bath and restroom facilities, and a lodge and general store. With those facilities, the cabins and Airstreams are part of the new glamping trend of glamorous camping experiences.

Glamping, Vintage cars and Airstream trailers part of Yonder Escalante glampground, ClassicCars.com Journal

But that wasn’t always the case with the property. Before it was Yonder Escalante, it was the Shooting Star RV Park, which was purchased and redone by father and son Charles and James Tate, with Hannah Collins, founder of ROY, a hospitality design studio in San Francisco, as designer and chief executive.

Charles Tate not only is chairman of Yonder Hospitality, but of Newton Nurseries, a wholesale plant business based in Texas, was founder of a private credit firm serving the life sciences industry, and is an advisor to the Big Life Foundation, which protects wildlife on nearly 2 million acres in East Africa.

The Tates had traveled throughout the western US in a 1977 Airstream, and Charles Tate told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the worst part of campgrounds is “those nasty bathrooms.” After purchasing the Shooting Star, they bulldozed much of what was there, save the old cars, a couple of Airstreams and the movie screen. They built new facilities, including modern bathhouses, even offering private outdoor showers to those who opt for such an experience. 

Yonder Escalante opened earlier this year.

Glamping, Vintage cars and Airstream trailers part of Yonder Escalante glampground, ClassicCars.com Journal
What appears to be an old fortress tower is the movie projection booth
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

1 COMMENT

  1. Very well done. Great article, on a great subject. We have, at the Nicawampus Polo Farm, in Melfa, VA, halfway between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, a downsized version of Yonder Escalante, two vintage Airstreams, a 1962 Safari (22′) and a 1968 Sovereign (32′), both upgraded and modernized by Airstream wizard Andy Rogazinsky of Corona, Ca, “The Airstream Purveyor to the Stars.” We have horses, a polo exercise field, and great dining. Creative minds think alike.

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