Several years ago while on a trip in the Grand Staircase Escalante I passed a park that looked to be an Airstream Park. After getting home from the trip I totally forgot to investigate what I had seen, and it only popped to mind a few weeks ago.
Since I’m trying to work with “Mom n Pop” parks across the country I cruise the web in different regions to see what RV Park sites look like. Do they need my help? Do they have it all good? And while searching the other week I decided to look into that “Airstream Park” I saw to see what’s up with it.
What I found was both interesting and a bummer at the same time!
The park is the “Shooting Star Drive-In.” It’s located near Bryce and Kodachrome Basin. Both incredible places for photography, hiking, mountain biking, slot canyons, and all the rest of the good stuff that is Utah. And currently the park isn’t open…..it’s for sale.
Reading through the park’s website I was immediately reminded of The Shady Dell. It’s another park on the outskirts of Bisbee Arizona. You can rent the trailers at the park like hotel rooms. Just like the Shooting Star. Of course, I think the Shady Dell has been around a bit longer. And I know that they’re a busy spot for tourists. I stayed there years ago with my Airstream, and really enjoyed checking out all of their vintage trailers.
So, The Shooting Star seems to have a similar model to Shady Dell. Why is it closed and for sale? I have a few ideas on that. It seems to be a newer park, and there’s a lot that went into making it. Classic cars parked in front of a Drive-In movie screen? Yeah, those probably weren’t cheap. Restored Airstreams with custom interiors? Yeah, probably not cheap again. So, a lot of expense probably went into making the place.
Could this be a profitable venture?
Since the Shady Dell’s business model seems to work you’d think that one more similar park in Utah could do it too, right? Maybe, but then again maybe not. There are a few differences.
- The Shady Dell has been operating for quite some time. Word of mouth has gotten around, and it’s been well publicized in the vintage trailer community. I’d never heard about the Shooting Star until I randomly drove past it.
- The Shady Dell can operate year round. Right on the Mexico border. The Utah Red Rock country on the other hand gets hit with some pretty harsh winter weather, so I think it could only be a seasonal park.
- Folks traveling to the Shady Dell are going there as a destination in itself. The Utah Red Rock country is a destination for a different kind of traveler (in my mind at least).
The Shooting Star is definitely a cool looking park. The trailers they have on site look pretty slick too. Overall it looks like a great place to visit. But honestly a lot of folks passing through the area may not be the target market that park has in mind. After visiting the area several times I’ve found the people coming aren’t necessarily looking for a drive in with classic cars.
- Many tourists coming to Escalante are there to see the canyons, mountains, and everything that goes with red rock country.
- Mountain bikers have a major play ground in the area.
- Hikers have so many places to hike that they’ll never see them all.
- The region is a photographer’s paradise.
- Basically, the area is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream.
Looking at the prices at the park for a night’s stay I was pretty much put off. Way too expensive for my taste. That could be part of the problem. The destination isn’t the park (unlike Shady Dell). The destination is Red Rock country and all it offers. I think to get guests in the place would have to target hikers, mountain bikers, canyon junkies, photographers, etc.
Honestly I could see the park getting in touch with tour groups like those that go on KelbyTraining classes. I know that several instructors come out to Moab every year to teach landscape techniques. I could see them shifting to the Grand Staircase Escalante easily, and using this place as a base of operations since it sits between so many cool spots. So I do see possibilities for the place, but I do think it would have to re-tool the target market to make it work.
With all of that in mind…… Anybody want to buy an Airstream Park in the Grand Staircase? I promise to come visit if you do! Of course, I’ll bring my own Airstream!