I Can Drive to '55
Resort hotels are nice, but how about winding down a vacation day with a James Dean flick while sipping a martini inside a 1951 Royal Mansion trailer?
Nearly 100 years ago, wary travelers started slipping off of Route 80 in Bisbee, Arizona, just north of the Mexico border, to rest at Thompson’s Motor Court. It’s now the Shady Dell, where instead of staying in the RV or trailer you pulled up in, you can sleep in a vintage model from the 1940s or ’50s. “The Shady Dell is like spending a night in an antique store or a museum where you can just slow down,” says Justin Luria, who's owned the place since 2007. “The pace of life is much slower.”
Visitors have their choice of thirteen vessels, from trailers like that Royal Mansion or a 1955 Kropf with a full living room and kitchen to a 1947 yacht and a ’47 Airporter bus that’s been transformed into tiki heaven with a hand-carved bar and Polynesian decor. Each one has its own patio space, while the interiors are outfitted with authentic or reproduction pieces like working phonograph players, televisions, board games, and magazines. “People love the aesthetic of being in an old trailer,” says Luria. “It’s kind of a hip and cool thing.” — Timothy Malcolm
Tranquility in Taos
Located just a few miles outside the center of Taos, New Mexico, Hotel Luna Mystica offers visitors the chance to kick it old school with a relaxing stay in one of its camper trailers—without sacrificing the comforts of a traditional hotel.
The four-acre retro campground provides a 360-degree view of the beautiful Taos Plateau and a well-earned rest from the breakneck pace of daily life, according to co-owner and general manager Patrick Nechvatal. “People can come here, and they can really escape,” he says.
Nechvatal and co-owner Ryan Irion opened the property in 2017 to provide a convenient place for music festival attendees next door at Taos Mesa Brewing Company. Now guests can stay in one of 20 renovated trailers from the 1950s to early 1970s—each with its own unique theme and decor.
While “vintage” camper trailers could hail from a number of different decades, not all of them were created equal. For that reason, the owners stick to campers made before 1976 to fit their ideal experience. “The aesthetic of what people think of for that Airstream is really within that time frame,” Nechvatal said.
Each renovated camper has Wi-Fi, a kitchen, a bathroom, AC, and a deck. For a special treat, freshly roasted local coffee and tea are available for those slow mornings when a lazy sunrise beckons from out on the porch. — Denise Cathey
Desert Love Shacks
When most folks purchase an Airstream, they restore it to its original glory. Not B-52s lead singer Kate Pierson. Each of the six trailers that make up Kate’s Lazy Desert Airstream Camp in Landers, California, has its own theme and colorful design that pops against the neutral tones of the surrounding Mojave Desert’s earthy landscape.
Basically, the Airstreams look just like the B-52s’ music sounds—a little retro, a little kitschy, and a whole lot of fun. “They all have such a vibe to them,” says Pierson. “When you enter, it’s a little world unto itself. Contrasted with the vastness of the desert outside, it is like a little Love Shack.”
But don’t let the bright, crazy designs—many conceived by the artists behind the actual love shack in the B-52s’ famous music video—keep you from enjoying the natural beauty of the Mojave, with its incredible sunsets and carpets of wildflowers. Gaze up at a sea of stars (you’re in UFO country, after all), travel the 20 minutes to Joshua Tree and Giant Rock—a seven-story-high boulder that has mystified humans for centuries—or walk to the nearby Integratron (like we said, UFO country). There’s plenty in the area to explore, so go ahead and roam … if you want to. — Emma Schkloven
Nothing but Blue Skies
If you want the calm and relaxation of hauling your camper to a quiet spot without having to actually do any of that, Blue Skies Retro Resort is the Texas Hill Country setup for you.
“We got the idea because we had a Shasta reissue—the company put out a limited-edition line in 2015, and they’re vintage on the outside but with all the modern amenities on the inside—and we had a blast going out on the road with our little family,” owner Casey Rowe explains. “But there’s a lot of work to having a camper. You have to hook it up and do all these other things, so we wanted to take the heavy lifting out for people, so it would be having the fun without having to do the work.”
Austinites Rowe and her husband, Atticus, had a soft open of the resort late last year. Things went well—their first guests to the park loved the Shasta RVs, each set up on its own private tract on a property they purchased just outside of Fredericksburg—but after the Covid-19 pandemic forced most of the state to shut down, the couple dropped plans for a grand opening and simply allowed interested guests to continue to book. In between stays, they contracted a cleaning crew to scour the RVs, and, so far, Blue Skies has proved to be a peaceful respite from the chaos that has defined 2020, Rowe says.
“From here people are close to Enchanted Rock and close to Fredericksburg, so if they want to go do things they can, but they can also just hang out here, play records on the record player in their camper, take dips in the pool, or just look at the stars,” she says. “We really paid attention to finding a place with limited light pollution. A lot of people think you can only really see the stars in West Texas, but out here they’re stunning.” — Dianna Wray