The Shooting Star Drive-In Airstream and RV Park is the marriage of two iconic symbols of freedom and adventure on American highways.
This All-American Road which winds its way 124 miles from Panguitch to Torrey has dozens of natural attractions from alpine forests and ancient sea beds to pink rock turrets.
But this awe-inspiring scenic byway also boasts a relatively new man-made curiosity—The Shooting Star Drive-In.
It’s a one-of-a-kind resort that combines Airstream travel trailers and vintage convertible cars with a drive-in movie theater, reports The Salt Lake Tribune.
Owner Mark Gudenas, a Chicago native, opened the resort about a year ago on 25 acres just west of Escalante.
The main attraction is the eight restored vintage Airstream trailers that guests can rent starting at $149 a night. There are seven vintage convertibles where travelers can sit and watch an old-time movie on a large outdoor screen.
The resort also has its own full-service RV Park.
A movie buff for as long as he can remember, Gudenas decorated the Airstreams in a manner he thinks John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, or Robert Redford would have liked when they were filming on location in Utah.
Each trailer has a kitchen, a tiny bathroom, beds, satellite radio and television as well as a wooden deck with Adirondack chairs and a propane grill. Gudenas even sells ready-to-cook packs of steak, salmon, chicken, brats, or hamburgers so his guests don’t have to hunt for the grocery store.
Gudenas is easy to spot: He wears 1950s-type bowling shirts—a style he adopted long before Charlie Sheen made them famous on “Two and a Half Men”—and a straw porkpie hat. He delivers dinner and breakfast on a vintage 1966 bright yellow electric golf cart.
Gudenas, who operates the facility with his son, said one of his first memories as a child was watching “The Bridge on the River Kwai” in the backseat of his parents’ Ford Fairlane at a double drive-in movie theater.
During his youth, he returned to the drive-in many times: He hopped the fence and pulled the speaker off the post before he was shooed away. He also remembers going in his first car, a 1966 Mustang, The Salt Lake Tribune reports.
About eight years ago, Gudenas began collecting Airstream trailers—as well as the vintage convertibles—from all over the country.
The Shooting Star Drive-In is the marriage of “two iconic symbols of freedom and adventure on American highways,” he said.
“Then there was the fun and unique adventure of a drive-in movie theater. So I built all of them and put them together.”
He searched all over southern Utah for the right place to build the resort, looking in Springdale, Kanab, Moab, and Panguitch and eventually settling on an RV park in Escalante.
“It had to be just right,” he said. The town of Escalante is almost exactly in the middle of the 124-mile stretch of Highway 12, making it a good home base to explore the recreational areas in either direction.
It took him nine months to build the resort, doing most of the renovations himself.
Shooting Star Drive-In Airstream & RV Park
The Shooting Star Drive-In Airstream & RV Park features 360-degree views of the Grand Staircase, the Escalante Mountains and Dixie National Forest.
It’s a one-of-a-kind resort along Utah’s Highway 12 where travelers can stay in restored Airstream travel trailers and sit in vintage convertible cars while they watch a drive-in movie.
There you’ll find 18 long, pull-through sites with 20/30/50-amp power, water, and picnic tables. Nine sites have a sewer connection and an easily accessible dump station is also available.
The 2,400-seat Pavilion in the Oaks is furnished with tables and seating for 36. The Pavilion is illuminated and great for Rally dining and gatherings.
When the sun goes down, enjoy a campfire in the river rock fire ring, or stroll west to the Shooting Star Drive-In and enjoy the evening’s entertainment up on the big screen.
The Resort Store features a wide assortment of food, beverages, and sundries. Located indoors, adjacent to the store, is a full bath and shower for guests. A wash and fold laundry service is also available.
Trailer Rental: Airstream trailers can be rented starting at $149 per night
RV Rental: Full hook-up sites, $40; power/water sites, $30
Address: 2020 West Highway 12, Post Office Box 290, Escalante, UT 84726
Phone: (435) 826-4440
Airstream trailer history
The distinctive-looking Airstream trailer dates to 1929, when Wally Byam purchased a Model T Ford chassis, built a platform on it and then erected a tent on it. His wife, Marion, refused to go camping without a kitchen, so he built a teardrop-shaped shelter that enclosed a small ice chest and kerosene stove. He published an article on “How to Build a Trailer for One Hundred Dollars” and sold 15,000 detailed instruction plans. After several friends asked him to make them trailers in his backyard, the Airstream Trailer Company went into full production in 1932. Airstream is credited with the first holding tank, ladder frame, pressurized water system and, in 1957, the first fully self-contained travel trailer.