Billed as a modern retreat in the Sonoma Redwoods, Russian River AutoCamp (autocamp.com) is the place to go to recharge your life and renew your spirit. And if all that sounds a little over the top, I guarantee you it isn’t just hyperbole. Truth be told, after a stressful week filled with deadlines, appointments and an overflowing in-box, a relaxing getaway in the redwoods was just what the doctor ordered. And Russian River AutoCamp was the perfect prescription.
The brainchild of Neil Dipaola and Ryan Miller, AutoCamp features modern Airstream trailers and luxury tent accommodations scattered against a backdrop of some of Mother Nature’s most stunning landscapes. The Russian River site is a short 90-minute drive from San Francisco, in the Sonoma County hamlet of Guerneville.
Unfortunately due to their compact nature, Airstream trailers aren’t exactly wheelchair-friendly, however that didn’t deter Dipaola and Miller from making AutoCamp a barrier-free experience. To accomplish that goal, a custom built accessible trailer was designed and delivered to a prime creekside location on the Russian River property. Add in a variety of accessible features in the public areas of Russian River AutoCamp, and you have a very accessible place to rest your head.
At first glance the accessible redwood trailer is somewhat reminiscent of an upscale Conestoga wagon, with its redwood exterior and a canvas top that gently curves over the top of the structure. There’s ramp access up to the large redwood deck, with barrier-free access to this accessible suite through a large double door.
A 26-inch high queen-sized bed with wheelchair access on the right side (as you face it) sits in a window-lined alcove at one end of the trailer. And since the site is surrounded by trees, this design feature really helps accentuate the natural setting — it brings the outdoors inside.
There’s plenty of room for a wheelchair to navigate from one end of the trailer to the other, with a large bathroom at the far end and a kitchenette in between. That said even though the kitchenette is compact, it’s quite well equipped. It features a small refrigerator, a wheelchair-height microwave, a roll-under sink and a nice selection of plates, utensils and even wine glasses. Add in a hot water kettle, a French press and some freshly ground coffee, and you have all the required essentials.
There’s level access through a pocket door to the large bathroom that features a full five-foot turning radius. It’s equipped with a roll-in shower with grab bars, a hand-held showerhead and a fold-down shower bench. The toilet grab bars are located on the back and right walls (as seated), and there’s plenty of room for even large power wheelchairs in this spacious bathroom.
Out in front there’s also level access to a cement pad which is furnished with two chairs and a raised grill. Add in a table with four chairs on the deck, and you have a very comfortable and accessible unit. Top it all off with a license plate and even tail lights, and you get that full camping trailer experience.
If you’d like to get a little closer to nature, yet still covet the creature comforts of home, then spend the night in one of the luxury tents on the other side of the AutoCamp complex. Tents 28 and 29 are the accessible units, with tent 29 being the closest to the clubhouse, and tent 28 located right next door.
Each tent is furnished with a 17-inch high queen-sized bed with wheelchair access on both sides. The accessible tents are equipped with electricity and they each include an ice chest, a water kettle, BBQ utensils and even a back-up lantern. You’ll be warm and toasty in bed too, as the units also have electric blankets.
The accessible luxury tents each offer level access to the front porch, which is furnished with a raised grill and a couple of chairs. And although the tents lack a bathroom, accessible facilities are available in the nearby clubhouse. The luxury tents are only available from May to October though, so plan ahead to avoid disappointment.
The Clubhouse and More
The public areas of the complex — including the cornerstone clubhouse — are equally accessible. There’s level access from the accessible parking area in front to the ramped clubhouse entrance. This open-air building includes enclosed bathroom facilities, the registration desk, a cozy fireplace and even a heated game area. And if the weather turns rainy or windy, a vinyl curtain can be pulled around the open parts of the building to help keep the heat in and the water out.
Accessible men’s and women’s bathrooms are located near the registration desk. Each side includes a large stall with an accessible toilet, and a private shower stall equipped with a roll-in shower with grab bars, a hand-held showerhead and a fold-down shower seat. Add in a roll-under sink and you have a very accessible bathroom.
The clubhouse also includes a small store if you’d like to pick up a s’mores kit, some local wine or even some chocolate or cheese. And in the mornings complimentary coffee and pastries are available for overnight guests. Additionally, there’s a large fire circle in back of the clubhouse, which is the perfect place to unwind after a long day. And although Wi-Fi is available at AutoCamp, take a lead from me and enjoy a technology-free stay. It really does wonders for your stress level.
Best of all, Russian River AutoCamp is just a short drive from Anderson Redwoods State Park, which offers several accessible hikes through an old growth forest. Check them out at emerginghorizons.com/a-trail-for-everyone-at-armstrong-redwoods.