Before the pandemic—and subsequent rise of the nomadic lifestyle and #vanlife—tens of millions hit the open road in RVs. It was simply less glamorous than skoolies (school buses refurbished into homes) with rooftop desks. Back in the spring and summer of 2019, an estimated 25 million people stayed at 18,000 campsites in what we now view as tiny homes on wheels.
Largely inspired by the nostalgia of the great American road trip and the legendary Route 66, Texas-based entrepreneur Charles Tate built his first hospitality concept alongside the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. At about a five-hour drive from Las Vegas and Salt Lake City, Yonder Escalante offers direct access to 1.87 million acres of public land within the monument, which is known for striking views and landscape, its scientific significance as one of the most important sources of dinosaur fossils, and as the last place in the lower 48 states to be explored.
“[Charles] had an appreciation for places within the United States that are really exceptionally beautiful that a lot of people never get to experience because they’re harder to get to or people don’t necessarily know how to do it,” explains Emma Sallquist, Yonder’s director of sales and marketing.
Tiny cabins outside of the communal fire pit on the property.
Operating since 2021, the roadside accommodation is open seasonally from March through November and features 32 tiny cabins that are 135 to 150 square feet, 10 refurbished Airstreams, 67 RV campsites, and an open-air lodge with a general store, communal bathrooms with indoor and outdoor showers, and a pool and Jacuzzi. (Rates start at $69 for campsites, $129 for RVs, $199 for cabins, and $249 for Airstreams.) Spread across 20 acres of land, the property purports to offer a home base as a sense of community for travelers with an emphasis on connecting with nature and what the area has to offer.
However, Yonder itself was not originally established to be a travel destination. Similar to how the dating app Hinge advertises the ultimate goal being to delete the app because you’ve found someone to date, Yonder Escalante was built to offer explorers of this unpopulated area a more modern place to stay. Sure, it’s a welcome and comfortable reprieve with amenities like Dyson hair dryers in the bathrooms and nightly movies shown at the drive-in screen to be enjoyed in a fleet of vintage cars with snacks and free popcorn, but the point is to get off the property.