Vintage Trailer Bliss
By Sydni Ellis
Dreamy sunsets paint the sky a messy blend of orange and pink, while sweet-smelling grass, pristine mountains and bubbling water surround you. It’s the beginning of summertime – camping season! While there’s nothing wrong with sleeping bags inside a tent, we prefer something a little more comfortable (and Instagram-able). The solution? Vintage trailers! Situated across the country, these hidden gems offer stunning views – mountains of New Mexico, trees in California – outside their windows. These old-fashioned mobile homes that have been completely restored and redecorated to create a retro look for modern tastes.
If you enjoy spending time in some of the most blissful nature spots in the U.S. and taking photos that look like they came from a different era, then this type of vacation is for you. We’ve mapped out a route (7,397 miles roundtrip from our office in Wylie) that will take you to the most unique, creative and picture-perfect vintage trailer campgrounds in the U.S. Don’t worry: all of these provide access to bathrooms and showers.
Let’s start in our home state of Texas at El Cosmico, located in the wide-open desert of Marfa near Big Bend National Park. This cosmic retreat lives by the motto “dolce far niente,” or “sweet do nothing,” which is inspired by the way hippies and bohemians intentionally relax and commune with the world – stop and see the stars, if you will. Escape from the stress of life at this community, where you are encouraged to nap in a hammock, ride a bike or simply drink coffee in bed. You can also participate in one of the many activities designed to help you disconnect, such as morning yoga or karaoke under the stars.
The main attraction: staying in one of the 13 colorfully restored trailers of different sizes. Don’t be surprised to see a hand-shaped chair, American flags used for curtains or bright pink countertops. All units feature marine-varnished birch interiors, kitchens and mini bars.
Head west to Bisbee, Ariz. to stay in The Shady Dell, a tree-covered camp of 10 trailers with the striking Mule Mountains in the backdrop. The trailers here may be unassuming on the outside, but they are mini time-capsules on the inside, each one encompassing trends from the 1950s. You’ll find vintage treasures like phonographs and 45 rpm records, record players, art deco styles, classic dishes and decorations and complimentary coffee from a percolator. Other sleeping options include a luxury, nautical-themed 1947 Chris Craft Yacht and a Polynesian-style 1947 Tiki bus.
Backtrack a little to visit northern New Mexico, where you can stay the night at the Enchanted Trails RV Park or Hotel Luna Mystica, both of which offer unique insights into the magical state. This is a place of hot desert land, wildlife (snakes, coyotes and rabbits, oh my!), and amazing mountains and celestial views.
Enchanted Trails in Albuquerque, N.M. has six vintage trailers from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, including a ‘56 Alva teardrop with a matching 1947 Hudson Super Six. Interior design varies, but don’t be surprised to find pink-and-blue checkered tile on the floor, a teal oven or couch, or a yellow table! In nearby Taos, N.M., you’ll feel closer to the heavens at Hotel Luna Mystica, where each of the 10 trailers are equipped with their own personal deck for optimal star-gazing. After a long day of hiking and exploring (be sure to visit the Taos Mountain and the El Salto waterfall), relax in your trailer. Some options include Jazzy, a 1950 Spartan Imperial Manor, featuring modern white decor with a subtle Southwestern style; Judd, a 1953 Vagabond, with wood-paneling and a hand-painted Moroccan floor; or Apollo, a 1960 Southern Pacific Railroad Airstream, that has space-themed decor, metallic touches and red-and-blue accent colors.
Travel two states west to California, a state full of beautiful locations to camp. If over-the-top decor is your thing, then the Hicksville Trailer Palace has plenty. Located in Joshua Tree, Calif., this retreat has 10 unique mobile homes to choose from. Our favorites are The Fifi, a glamorous place with a chandelier, purple linens, copper accents and three light-up wigs on display; and The Pony, which is parked inside a horse stall and features Western-themed decor and wood finishes. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the 11 trailers available at Caravan Outpost feature more current, refreshing designs to help you relax among the palm trees in peaceful Ojai, Calif. But some old-school elements remain – like record players and Mexico-inspired blankets and wall hangings. In the center of this caravan, you can get to know other guests over coffee or borrow one of the free bicycles to explore the area.
Want to see more of The Golden State? Stay in one of the three AutoCamp locations in California, all of which contain Airstreams with mid-century modern decor, luxurious bedding and amenities and a cozy outdoor patio.
AutoCamp Santa Barbara is just a short bike ride from the beach or a walk to the city, where you can fill your days with local attractions, shopping and food – just like any normal vacation, except better for the environment with less expensive accommodations! Or enjoy a more secluded time at AutoCamp Yosemite, located near Yosemite National Park. Go hiking or rafting, then check out the breweries in nearby Mariposa. There’s also nothing wrong with just enjoying the campsite accommodations, including the community fire pit, freshwater pond and heated pool, and spa-inspired bathrooms in each Airstream. Finally, AutoCamp Russian River is nestled in a grove of native Redwood trees in the heart of Sonoma’s Wine Country. Go swimming or canoeing in the river, check out the downtown scene and drink as much wine as your heart desires before retiring in one of the lush Airstreams.
Leave sunny California and visit cool Dayton, Ore., where The Vintages Trailer Resort is located – home of 34 trailers in 22 different styles. Take your best girlfriend to stay in the 1958 Ideal, filled with feminine touches like a light pink oven, sparkling decals on the ceiling over a bed with a pink-heart pillow and floral curtains in the window. Get a little taste of the outdoors inside the Airstream Bambi, filled with woodsy accents like a pillow that looks like a log. Or enjoy the best the 1950s has to offer in the high-end 1954 Anderson, complete with wood-paneled walls, black-tile bathroom, turquoise linens and old-fashioned white appliances. While you’re here, spend time outside picking blackberries, playing outdoor games, singing over the campfire or touring nearby vineyards.
End your vintage campgrounds tour by heading across the country, all the way to Asheville, N.C., home of the JuneBug Retro Resort. Design elements in the 10 trailers include black-and-white checkered tiles; yellow, red or seafoam green booths; chestnut-colored wood paneling and 50s-style curtains. Pretty views of the trees, river and Blue Ridge Mountains complete the serene atmosphere.
Living a bohemian lifestyle may be impossible in today’s fast-paced environment, but sometimes it’s nice to take a break and appreciate the simpler things in life. A vacation like this will let your spirit fly free – an experience that can’t be bought or recreated, only enjoyed.