Glamping gets all the great press, but Airstream, the high-end camper manufacturer, has its own luxury camping experience right outside Yellowstone National Park. Autocamp Yosemite is home to 80 of the iconic campers, a 4,000 square foot clubhouse, freshwater pond for fishing, free bicycles to borrow, a heated pool, gift shop and yoga classes.
The author was hosted by Nissan.
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How Airstream was Born
The founder of Airstream, Wally Byam, was born on the 4th of July; perhaps he was destined to become a celebrant of the holidays upon his entrance to the world. Byam loved to camp, but his wife wasn’t keen on the whole sleeping-on-the-ground thing. So he rigged up a tent on top of a Model T chassis, and that sparked his imagination. Soon, he built a teardrop-shaped trailer complete with a stove and ice chest, and Airstream flourished.
The company survived the Great Depression, when none of the other trailer manufacturers did. They have kept their iconic shape for all of these years. There’s no mistaking an Airstream in all of its gleaming-aluminum glory, and generations of travelers have dreamed about having one.
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Airstreams at Autocamp
Not everyone wants to haul a trailer, for a variety of reasons. Wouldn’t it be great to have an Airstream camper experience without having to tow it?
AutoCamp thought of that, and created a dreamy destination for a family getaway.
Nestled in a wooded California town about 40 minutes from Yosemite National Park, AutoCamp has assembled 15 luxury tents, three cabin suites, and 80 deluxe Airstream trailers in a cozy setting. AutoCamp Yosemite is the third installment of the AutoCamp family; the other two are located in the Russian River area (an hour and a half or so north of San Francisco) and Santa Barbara. Each camp has its own personality, and the new Yosemite location features a two-story, 4,000 square foot clubhouse, a freshwater pond for fishing, free bicycles to borrow, and even a heated pool.
The gift shop offers snacks, wine, beer, and other treats. So bring your clothes (layers, in every season!), fuzzy socks and PJs, sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats, and you’re good to go! Get there, take in the mountain views, jump on one of many hiking trails in the area, and gaze at the stars. If you’re a yoga fan, AutoCamp offers classes on a regular basis.
Prepare yourself, tech-dependent people: unless you have Verizon mobile service, your cell phone coverage is going to be mostly nonexistent (and that was, admittedly, a shock for me). Wifi, however, is available campwide.
Which Camping Experience is Right for You?
All of the camping options at Autocamp Yosemite include bed linens, plush towels, cozy bathrobes, a fire starter kit, and all the cookware and kitchen stuff you need. Just outside, every site has an outdoor dining area and fire pit with a grill. And don’t worry about staying warm, because the Airstreams have electric heaters.
I was impressed by the luxe Malin + Goetz bath products, and was happy to find a hair dryer, too. The kitchen is stocked with coffee, tea, sweetener, and a bottle opener and corkscrew for adult beverages.
- The Airstream trailers are perfect if you are on a trip for couples or small families. Each Airstream includes a queen-size bed, sun-dappled from the skylight above and perfect for naps (ask me how I know). A pull-out futon works well for smaller children, but perhaps not ideal for families with teens. In that case, a Base Camp setup would be more comfortable, including an Airstream AND a luxury tent, for a total of two queen beds and a pull-out. Depending on the date, the price ranges from $209-$359 per night for a Classic Suite; high season is the summer and around the holidays. If you want to upgrade to a Premium Suite, expect to add $100 or so per night to the price. Base Camp starts at $449.
- Luxury tents (available from April to October) are wonderful fun for sleeping under the stars, luxuriously. They contain a queen-size bed and a private deck. However, you’ll have to hoof it to the clubhouse for bathrooms and showers, so this is a great choice as an addition to a classic Airstream. Prices start at $209 in the offseason and closer to $300 in the high season.
- If you’d rather have a cabin than an Airstream, the Classic Cabin Suites include a queen bed and full-size pull-out sofa plus all the other goodies. Some even have bunk beds. Prices start at $339 and up.
- AutoCamp’s X Suites are custom-built accessible suites outfitted with all the same amenities of their Airstreams. I love that they’re dedicated to accessibility for all. Prices are the same as the Classic Suites.
If you’re a dog lover, rejoice! You’ll be happy to know that AutoCamp is pet-friendly for “well-behaved” animals. It’s an additional $50 per stay, with a maximum of two dogs per unit.
What to Do There
In the morning, stretch and step outside and stroll over to the clubhouse to grab a few unbelievably delicious muffins or pastries and fresh fruit, a DIY fresh-squeezed orange juice station, coffee, and tea.
Burning wood and firewood is off-limits due to wildfire concerns in the area, but AutoCamp includes a Goodwood fire starter kit for campfires and cooking. Each unit has a private fire pit with a grill, and you’ll have a microwave and refrigerator because this is glamping, y’all. There’s no need to rough it.
In temperate weather, grab one of AutoCamp’s complimentary mountain bikes (note: only adult-size bikes are available) and ride the 5.5 miles into the charming town of Mariposa for meals and historic places to see. The Mariposa County Courthouse, for instance, was built in 1854 and remains the oldest courthouse west of the Rockies still in continuous operation. For dinner, Savoury’s is right on the corner as you roll into town, and the artisanal food and service are both outstanding.
Getting to Autocamp Yosemite and Getting Around
If you’re flying into the area, Fresno is the closest commercial airport, about 90 minutes away. From there, rent a car, pick up some groceries on your way in, and get settled in. AutoCamp offers one free parking space per unit.
You can also opt to take an Amtrak train and connect to a YARTS shuttle, the public transport system for the Yosemite area. Then use the YARTS shuttle to the park. That lets you take in the scenic route without having to navigate.
If you drive, the 7-day vehicle pass into Yosemite is just $30. However, if you’re planning only one day at the park, the YARTS shuttle will cost about $16 per person.
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