Out Yonder

Roll on the wild side at a retro-modern RV park in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Written by Jenn Thornton

Now you can camp out and up at Yonder Escalante, the inaugural property from Yonder Hospitality that is transforming travel-as-usual with a cool new experience in southern Utah—the backdrop of several Western classics, many of them shot by John Wayne’s good buddy and frequent director John Ford, whose prolific capture of the place helped put it on the map. But Yonder Escalante is the star of the show these days. 

“Everyone is craving a connection to nature now more than ever,” explains Charles Tate, the founder of Yonder Escalante, which is something of a destination in disguise, designed to be a complete immersion in nature. From its outdoor drive-in, open-air lodge and amenities, to the floor-to-ceiling windows in its cabins and private outdoor showers, the “full sensory experience is what sets Yonder Escalante apart from other accommodations and is one of the things that guests appreciate most, especially now.” The setting isn’t too shabby, either. Set along the iconic All-American Scenic Byway 12 linking Bryce Canyon and Capital Reef, the retreat is in the perfect centralized location for exploring stunning southern Utah—miles of natural fascinations and sheer vastness. Waterfalls, slot canyons, the works. Hiker, relaxer, star-gazer or some combination of all three, Yonder is a wonder for everyone.  

With authenticity the heart of the experience, Yonder was inspired by “the spirit and tradition of the American road trip” and “creates a sense of adventure and exploration, while always keeping hospitality at the forefront,” Tate shares. Its rustic spin on refined takes shape in 10 renovated vintage airstreams, 22 custom-designed cabins, and 35 RV sites. From the desert-styled domains down to the vintage American flag defining the check-in desk, every aspect is Western accented. “Our goal is to connect guests to the notion of timeless Americana—the nostalgia of our past, an appreciation for the present-day, and a bright outlook toward the future of our country,” says Tate. Because yesteryear is pretty cool, so too is is Yonder’s take on the drive-in theater. Just park yourself in one of its stationary classic cars that pay homage to the property’s past as a drive-in and voila—movie night with, and under, the stars. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance KidCool Hand Luke and—head’s up Wayne fans—The Cowboys are among the flicks on show.

Despite its blasts from the past, Yonder is a contemporary reinvention of what we love—the road trip, the drive-in, and yes (finally!), the RV. “Yonder Escalante is definitely redefining the RV experience for modern-day travelers,” says Tate. And camping for that matters. In capturing all that is memorable about the camping experience and combining it with great design, comforts, and much-needed crowd control, “Yonder Escalante is a new concept that truly appeals to everyone, no matter your adventure level.”

If that level happens to be high (or even moderate), you’re in the right place. In addition to the town of Escalante, which is full of hidden gems to discover, Yonder is in proximity to many beautiful hikes, trails and monuments. “The park itself is also very special,” says Tate. “I have never seen darker skies or more shooting stars in a night. And there is nothing better than enjoying a firepit with old friends and new over some cocktails after a long day of hiking!” Or, you can just stay put in your souped-up airstream and enjoy life out Yonder. The amenities—open-air lodge, oversized lounge pool and hot tub, fire pits, resort-style bathhouses with heated indoor-outdoor private shower, and more—make it easy.More proof that Yonder is on a roll: the brand launched a food truck in March and, later this year, will introduce an elevated food and beverage program, as well as another national park location. Roughin’ it just got a whole lot smoother, folks. 

Photographs by Kim & Nash Finley and Aleks Danielle Butman