Asher on Aspen: A getaway to Grand Staircase National Monument in vintage Airstream
We arrived at the Airstream just moments before sunset. The seven-hour road trip from Aspen had jaded me a bit, but I was inspired to have arrived in one of the most magical campground destinations in the American West. Our plan was to glamp in the desert for two nights at southern Utah’s newest resort complex in Escalante and explore the surrounding area’s natural beauty. After a whirlwind of a summer in Aspen filled with tourist-driven work events and boisterous social gatherings, I was fired up and excited to seek solace in the desert and escape society for a few days.
Nestled in the majestic Grand Staircase National Monument near Bryce Canyon National Park, Yonder Escalante is southern Utah’s new 20-acre resort concept. Built on the grounds of a former drive-in movie theater, the property features 32 unique accommodations, encompassing 10 vintage renovated Airstreams and 22 custom-designed cabins, as well as 67 RV sites. The site also boasts an open-air lodge, spa-inspired bathhouses, a general store, a resort-style lounge pool and hot tub, fire pits and a retro drive-in movie theater.
The vintage Airstream that we were set up in was effortlessly cozy and quaint with its ’60s nostalgia and modern decor that made for a spacious, welcoming atmosphere. It resembled the humbleness of a “tiny home” with its hardwood floors, queen-sized bed, twin-size daybed, mini fridge, full sink and charming windows. Outside, there was an adorable picnic table and firepit setup that lured us in for a campfire each night. If regular camping could somehow be this easy and enjoyable, I would gladly do it every night.
At exactly 7:30 p.m., an assembled dinner basket with all the necessary food and utensils for cooking was delivered to our Airstream. The dinner prep couldn’t have been easier. We indulged in steak for the main course with grilled sweet potatoes, zucchini and Hawaiian rolls on the side that paired perfectly with a dry Cabernet. The steak and veggies sizzled over the cast iron skillet while we sat around and chatted about the oddities of 21st century Colorado living. Tyler Childers had just released a new single earlier that day, and we had unconsciously fallen in love with it during our all-day road trip. We played his new tune “Angel Band” over the loudspeaker on repeat while we huddled around the crackling fire and devoured our dinner.
That evening, we embraced the property’s drive-in movie theater that showcased nine stationary restored classic cars equipped with sound and heat. From the moment we claimed our vintage red Chevelle and piled inside, I felt like I had traveled back to a much simpler time. The movie playing that night just so happened to be one of my all-time, feel-good favorites, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” from 1986. I could hardly wait to nestle in with some popcorn, M&Ms and red wine and just completely forget about my responsibilities for a moment.
The next day, we ventured about an hour southwest to the mystical Bryce Canyon National Park. The fantastical formations that filled Bryce Amphitheater had a very spiritual way of taking my breath away and making me rethink my priorities. The natural statuary is known as a collection of hoodoos — hooded specters haunting the canyon. These singular, signature features of Bryce Canyon elicited the most wonderous sense of awe and beauty. We hiked the famous Navajo Loop that shows off the Queens Garden Trail and the iconic Wall Street Trail. After a jaw-dropping jaunt through the canyon, we opted for a leisurely, two-hour horseback ride. Our venture along the red rock hoodoos of Bryce Canyon by means of a mule was truly profound. At every corner we turned, we were blown away by another picturesque landscape view.
After a long day in the desert sun, we made our way back to Yonder to take a dip in the property’s stunning lounge pool and jetted hot tub. Here, we met our Airstream neighbors, who were traveling from Annapolis, Maryland. The two girls were about our age, and they were best friends who told us they were on a “friends moon,” a best friend’s honeymoon to escape their husbands. We enjoyed the sentiment and immediately connected with these friends who had set out on a road trip across the western United States. Our trip ended with another leisurely night around the campfire under a full moon.
Yonder Escalante exudes hidden gem energy that has been dropped into the middle of a wildly vast desert oasis. The setting and the company helped me to remember that even the quietest destinations in the tiniest corners of America still make for memorable and meaningful vacations. Sometimes, simple and straightforward is preferred to luxurious and loud.