AutoCamp’s Epic New Location Brings Upscale Airstream Lodging to Yosemite National Park
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AutoCamp’s Epic New Location Brings Upscale Airstream Lodging to Yosemite National Park

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By Samantha Daly
We visit AutoCamp’s latest and greatest outpost in Yosemite, where Anacapa Architecture and Geremia Design have joined forces for an Airstream campground that’s both rugged and refined.

Dwell has long been a fan of the iconic Airstream—some call it a mild obsession. So when AutoCamp reached out to give us a first look at their newest property, we hit the road for the three-hour journey from San Francisco to seek enlightenment at one of America’s most beloved national parks: Yosemite.

Yosemite is hot—in temperature (my gum melted in my purse on our drive up) and in trend (you'll be hard-pressed to find a Californian who hasn't visited)—so it came as no surprise that AutoCamp chose this area for the third installment of their wildly popular outdoor hotels comprising decked-out Airstream suites, luxury tents, and cabins.

Dan Weber of Anacapa Architecture said that the design for the clubhouse was inspired by the work of Richard Neutra, and by Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona Pavilion.

Dan Weber of Anacapa Architecture said that the design for the clubhouse was inspired by the work of Richard Neutra, and by Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona Pavilion.

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AutoCamp's design has a personal, familial vibe throughout the site, which is exactly what you want in a space like this. I have many fond memories of camping near the Sierras as a kid—swimming in a lake down the road from my family's campsite, buying ice cream and hot dogs at the cafe by the canoes, hiking up dusty trails under a canopy of pines—and if there was ever a perfect, grown-up version of the motor lodges and tents I stayed in, this would be it.

Heating and cooling are essential for Yosemite's snowy winters and broiling summers. Glass walls along all sides of the clubhouse fold away to let air in—or slide shut to insulate the space from the temperature outside.

Heating and cooling are essential for Yosemite's snowy winters and broiling summers. Glass walls along all sides of the clubhouse fold away to let air in—or slide shut to insulate the space from the temperature outside.

From start to finish, AutoCamp Yosemite took a surprisingly short two years to complete. That's because they used the same dream team they worked with for their Russian River location—Anacapa Architecture and Geremia Design. Building on the desire to make the space homey and authentic, they took inspiration from the area and brought in local talent and hometown favorites every chance they got. Architect Dan Weber sourced the tents from a company based in his hometown; local designers contributed much of the site's wall art, decor, and building fabrication; and a vast majority of the furnishings and decor were designed or sourced from the designers' friends.

The clubhouse's palette of cool concrete, pine, and steel makes rustic refined. The assortment of seating in the clubhouse's main area allows guests to occupy every space, but it still feels intimate with one or two people.

The clubhouse's palette of cool concrete, pine, and steel makes rustic refined. The assortment of seating in the clubhouse's main area allows guests to occupy every space, but it still feels intimate with one or two people.

You can feel the earnestness and hard work tucked into every corner of the new space. It took many hands to create, and the payoff is like something out of a dream: AutoCamp is where great design meets the great outdoors.

In the reception area, Geremia Design called upon Chambers Art & Design to co-design and engineer a stretched fabric screen depicting Yosemite's Half Dome. The pendant lighting is by Workstead.

In the reception area, Geremia Design called upon Chambers Art & Design to co-design and engineer a stretched fabric screen depicting Yosemite's Half Dome. The pendant lighting is by Workstead.

Upon checking in, we were given a tour of the grounds, which once hosted a Kampgrounds of America location. The site proved to be both a design challenge—how best to redesign the existing pool?—and a blessing in disguise. AutoCamp Yosemite was able to open to the public faster than expected because all the permits from the previous campsite were already in place.

Geremia Design worked with lighting designer Rosie Li to engineer and fabricate a large-scale map installation inspired by elevation markers. Light bulbs pinpoint nine summits and points of interest across the Yosemite Valley. Bay Area–based artist Avila Rose Signs used silver lead to hand-paint the Merced River running through the map; the lines glint in the afternoon sun.

Geremia Design worked with lighting designer Rosie Li to engineer and fabricate a large-scale map installation inspired by elevation markers. Light bulbs pinpoint nine summits and points of interest across the Yosemite Valley. Bay Area–based artist Avila Rose Signs used silver lead to hand-paint the Merced River running through the map; the lines glint in the afternoon sun.

The site already had a pool when Anacapa Architecture began planning the design of the clubhouse. To merge the two structures more organically, the architects introduced stadium-like seating that descends from the clubhouse's second-floor deck down to the pool area.

The site already had a pool when Anacapa Architecture began planning the design of the clubhouse. To merge the two structures more organically, the architects introduced stadium-like seating that descends from the clubhouse's second-floor deck down to the pool area.

"AutoCamp’s mission is to connect people with the outdoors and each other, and AutoCamp Yosemite represents a landmark moment for our team, the local community, and for travelers that are looking for new and unique ways to experience the outdoors." —AutoCamp founder and CEO Neil Dipaola

The patio invites dining alfresco under a neon sign custom-created for AutoCamp.

The patio invites dining alfresco under a neon sign custom-created for AutoCamp.

The clubhouse positively glows during golden hour.

The clubhouse positively glows during golden hour.

This section of AutoCamp Yosemite was built upon a former trailer park, so there was minimal site disturbance. Another section of more secluded suites lie on the other side of the pond.

This section of AutoCamp Yosemite was built upon a former trailer park, so there was minimal site disturbance. Another section of more secluded suites lie on the other side of the pond.

In total, the accommodations include 80 deluxe Airstream trailers, 15 luxury tents, three cabin suites, and five ADA suites. Working in tandem, Dan Weber of Anacapa Architecture and Ryan Miller of AutoCamp designed the Airstream suites, each of which was assembled over the course of three days in Airstream's factory in Ohio.

Custom-made moon sculptures by New York–based artist Bronsen hang prominently in each Airstream. The decorative pillows are by Treko.

Custom-made moon sculptures by New York–based artist Bronsen hang prominently in each Airstream. The decorative pillows are by Treko.

The Dwell team was lucky enough to snag some Airstream suites sitting across the natural pond from the clubhouse. We were more than a little impressed by the interiors: a walk-in shower? Cool ceramics in the cupboards? We all agreed that the mattresses felt like sleeping on clouds after a long day in the heat. 

What I liked best was that the interior design is aspirational, but not inaccessible. Every item is labelled (I now am in desperate want of Malin+Goetz shampoo for my own apartment), and staff are happy to give you more information. The "camp store" near the reception area is filled with mugs, Ursa Major face wipes, artisanal sodas, and other tchotchkes stocked in the suites.

The bathrooms in the Airstream suites fit a lot of great design into a small space.

The bathrooms in the Airstream suites fit a lot of great design into a small space.

Eric Trine of Amigo Modern designed the lounge chairs outside the tents. The fire pits are by Stahl.

Eric Trine of Amigo Modern designed the lounge chairs outside the tents. The fire pits are by Stahl.

Tent suites are similar in tone to the Airstreams, but offer a more outdoorsy glamping experience. The central pendant light is by In Common With.

Tent suites are similar in tone to the Airstreams, but offer a more outdoorsy glamping experience. The central pendant light is by In Common With.

A peek inside one of the site's five ADA-accessible "X Suites." The 275-square-foot units were designed by M-Rad and maximize every inch of space.

A peek inside one of the site's five ADA-accessible "X Suites." The 275-square-foot units were designed by M-Rad and maximize every inch of space.

The X Suites' bedrooms all have ceiling-height windows that look out onto the grounds. The blanket is by Coyuchi.

The X Suites' bedrooms all have ceiling-height windows that look out onto the grounds. The blanket is by Coyuchi.

The cabins are holdovers from when the site used to be a KOA; Geremia Design renewed the interiors.

The cabins are holdovers from when the site used to be a KOA; Geremia Design renewed the interiors.

A look across the pond to the clubhouse. At night, guests huddle around the fire pit and swap stories about their day in the park.

A look across the pond to the clubhouse. At night, guests huddle around the fire pit and swap stories about their day in the park.

Our airstream suites looked out onto the natural pond at the center of the grounds. At night, most guest light up their fire pits to roast marshmallows and relax.

Our airstream suites looked out onto the natural pond at the center of the grounds. At night, most guest light up their fire pits to roast marshmallows and relax.

Reaching the park is easier than you think. AutoCamp is located just outside the charming town of Mariposa, and it’s a 45-minute drive into Yosemite (a typical trek from most hotels and lodges that aren’t the park itself). Once in the national park, we took a short hike—it was absolutely gorgeous, and the small entrance fee was more than accounted for by the priceless experience of breathing fresh air and being immersed in a landscape of waterfalls, boulders, and trees.

The Dwell team took a hike up to a few waterfalls—talk about a view!

The Dwell team took a hike up to a few waterfalls—talk about a view!

AutoCamp Yosemite is now open for reservations.

Related Reading: 

AutoCamp’s Modern Clubhouse Emerges from the Russian River Redwoods

AutoCamp Santa Barbara

Project Credits:

ArchitectDan Weber, Anacapa Architecture / @anacapa_architecture

Project Managers: Jessi Finnicum-Schwartz, Geoff April

Design Team: Jose Sanchez, Saba Zahedi

Interior Design: Geremia Design / @geremia_design

X Suites Design: M-Rad

General Contractor: Quiring

Structural Engineer: Ashley & Vance Engineering

Civil Engineer: RRM Design Group

Electrical Engineer: JMPE Electrical Engineering