The vibe: Midcentury-modern glamping in the desert
Location: 1322 UT-9, Virgin, UT | View on Google Maps
Book now: Website
The AFAR take
In the glamping—that is, glamorous camping—world, AutoCamp is best known for transforming collections of retro Airstream trailers into comfortable, design-forward places to sleep under the stars. The outdoor lodging brand first opened in 2013 in Santa Barbara, California. Although that initial property has shuttered, it has since expanded to other naturally beautiful areas throughout the United States.
Thanks in part to the rise in popularity of glamping during the COVID-19 pandemic—according to Google Trends, it saw a 63 percent increase in July 2020 compared to July 2019 and has remained steady since then—AutoCamp’s collection continues to grow. The company now has nine properties, in such places as the Russian River, Cape Cod, and now, Utah.
AutoCamp Zion is one of four new arrivals this summer, having opened in May 2023 in a small town just outside of Zion National Park. Set against a tall, red-brown mesa on a 16-acre property, it lets guests escape the hubbub of the park’s gateway town, Springdale, while still being convenient enough for enjoying everything Zion National Park and the surrounding area has to offer. Unlike some other glamping options, it is open year-round.
The architects and designers behind AutoCamp Zion created a main building called “The Clubhouse,” an indoor-outdoor hangout space that showcases the area’s natural beauty with a warm and earthy color palette and floor-to-ceiling windows that frame views of the Utah desert. Live music on the weekends, an outdoor swimming pool, and a playground for kids all create a social atmosphere ideal for enjoying the company of your traveling companions or making new friends. But if you’re not feeling social, worry not. The Airstreams are spaced out enough to give guests privacy—be it in the trailer’s comfortable living space or around each one’s dedicated firepit and outdoor dining area.
Who’s it for?
Outdoor adventurers, couples, and families who want the best aspects of camping—s’mores, campfires, and stargazing in a beautiful locale—but without sacrificing comforts like a good bed and air-conditioning, all in a convenient location near Zion National Park.
AutoCamp Zion is about a 15-minute drive outside of Springdale, the main gateway town for Zion National Park. Instead, it’s located just down the road in the even smaller town of Virgin, Utah, alongside the Virgin River.
AutoCamp’s location allows guests to easily explore parts of the area—both in and outside of the national park—that many visitors miss.
The location puts guests closer to the northwest entrance of Zion National Park (near Kolob Canyons), which is less popular and therefore less crowded than the Springdale entrance, making it a great spot for exploring beyond the park’s most well-known attractions. The location also allows guests to easily explore parts of the area outside the national park that many visitors miss. An extensive network of mountain biking trails (like the J.E.M. Trail) is right in AutoCamp’s backyard and the scenic drive best known for its excellent stargazing spots, Kolob Terrace Road, starts just across the street from its entrance.
Each of the 72 custom-built Airstreams is designed with a surprisingly spacious bathroom, a well-equipped kitchenette with an induction stove, mini-fridge, and microwave, a bedroom with a queen-size bed, and—yes—air-conditioning. At 31 feet in length, the trailers offer plenty of room for two adults (or two adults and two kids) to move around inside. The living room sofa folds out to provide extra sleeping space.
Fun features including a skylight above the bed; a private firepit and outdoor lounge area help guests take advantage of the setting and maximize time spent outdoors. Yes, there’s a TV inside, but on clear, star-filled evenings, you won’t even remember it’s there.
In addition to the signature Airstreams, they also have:
- 10 BaseCamps, which include an Airstream and a luxury canvas tent (each with a queen-size bed)
- Nine cabin-like X Suites, each with a queen-size bed, walk-in shower, kitchenette, and a small living room area with a flat-screen TV and sofa
- 5 ADA Suites containing a queen-size bed, full living area, and fully accessible shower.
The food and drink
If you don’t feel like cooking in your kitchenette, the Clubhouse offers complimentary granola and coffee each morning. The on-site restaurant, the Kitchen, serves simple but tasty ready-made meals, like pizza and burgers, which guests can enjoy poolside or by the communal firepit. Finally, its on-site shop, the General Store, fills the gap with beer, wine, snacks, and cooking supplies. I recommend lighting up the campfire and grabbing a grill kit from the General Store, which includes everything you’d need for a complete dinner for two: steaks or chicken, cornbread, sides, and—of course—AutoCamp’s signature artisanal s’mores.
In addition to its Airstreams, AutoCamp Zion has five ADA cabins located in a tree-shaded area next to the clubhouse. Each one has a ramp and accessible bathroom and kitchenette.
Excursions and activities
AutoCamp Zion partners with Zion Adventure Co. to set guests up with tours and any equipment they might need for exploring Zion National Park and its surrounds—be it hiking the Narrows, mountain biking near Virgin, or joining a knowledgeable guide on a scenic sunset drive to learn more about the area’s natural and human histories. On-site, there is a pool, playground, and loaner bikes.
Commitment to sustainability
AutoCamp Zion donates $1 from every night booked to the Zion National Park Forever Project, which helps to restore trails and care for Zion’s plants and animals.