When Autocamp first opened in California wine country in 2016, it instilled a sheen of sophistication to the camping experience thanks to founder Neil Dipaola’s vision and a smartly devised blueprint by Anacapa Architecture and Geremia Design. Located near the Russian River among the towering redwoods of Sonoma County, the property is comprised of custom kitted-out Airstreams, pared-down Scandi-style tents, contemporary prefab cabin suites, a retrofitted Americana-era camper, and a clubhouse with a striking midcentury fireplace feature. The second property, AutoCamp Yosemite, delivered more of the same with tiny cabins designed by M-Rad and an even grander clubhouse inspired by Mies van der Rohe‘s Barcelona Pavilion and the modernist work of Richard Neutra. A Cape Cod outpost, originally slated to open this past fall, will make its debut in spring.
AutoCamp Announces New Outposts in Joshua Tree, Zion National Park, and The Catskills
Founder Neil DiPaola’s elevated camping concept is perfectly suited for the age of pandemic, when urban dwellers are fleeing cities in an attempt to reconnect with nature. We got the skinny on the brand’s expansion to some of America’s most pristine wilderness destinations.
By Nate Storey
February 12, 2021
Dipaola’s intent was never to create a glamping experience—the world has enough of those— but more like camping+. At AutoCamp, guests get the full immersion of raw wilderness, only it comes with a good cocktail, strong wi-fi, and spa-like communal showers. The model is looking quite prescient in the age of COVID-19, when urban dwellers are fleeing cities in an attempt to reconnect with nature. Now comes the announcement of new locations in three of the most popular pandemic hideouts: Joshua Tree, Zion National Park, and the Catskills.
Situated among rock formations and the Mojave Desert flora, Narrative Design Studio looked to traditional Quonset Huts when conceptualizing the clubhouse for AutoCamp Joshua Tree, fashioning the interiors with handcrafted tile, original local artwork, and a hand-woven tapestry by the Brooklyn studio Avo. Outside, a full-service bar, mobile kitchen for chef residencies, and hybrid plunge pool/hot tub will be accented with cultural notes such as artist Ana DiGiallonardo’s wall sculpture and a mural by Jaque Fragua. The property is set to open this fall.
“There’s a much greater appreciation of outdoor hospitality spaces among today’s traveler and the design of AutoCamp Joshua Tree highlights the beauty of the natural landscape around it,” says Thomas Sprinkle, principal of HKS Architects, the firm spearheading the project. “From a design perspective, it was important to use elements of passive design to inspire guests to have that deeper connection to nature. Including orienting the building to shelter from winter winds to take advantage of summer breezes, expressing shading elements on all facades and using simple compact architectural forms.”
Launching in 2022 and also led by HKS, AutoCamp Zions National Park promises a “series of revealed experiences around each bend.” The 81 units (72 Airstreams, 10 tents, five accessible suites, and four X Suites) and Clubhouse will be accessible to the Virgin River with views of the Gooseberry Mesa. Workshop/APD’s design for Autocamp Catskills, opening later that year, nods to traditional agrarian architecture and the storied local music culture with a vintage-style aesthetic. The centerpiece will be a modern communal barn with exposed post-and-beam features. Like the first three properties, the newcomers will be car-free environments. We expect there will be many laptops, however, as the work-from-anywhere cohort endows the term digital nomad with its literal meaning.