Calif. Campground Hosts ‘Trailers in the Trees’

August 3, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The campsite already full, Debbie Lennen was busy Thursday (Aug. 2), registering the early arrivals for this weekend’s “Trailers in the Trees.” The event is one of only a few RV rallies in Northern California each year.

The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported that “Trailers in the Trees” has been held since 2006 at Felton’s Smithwoods RV Park, drawing RV enthusiasts from around the state for a weekend of camaraderie. But during a four-hour window Saturday, they’ll also get the chance to show off, opening up their intricately restored RVs for public tours. Though the campsite is full, up to 30 vehicles can be accommodated at the site during the open house, said Lennen, one of the park’s managers.

As of late Thursday morning, owners have registered 42 vintage trailers for the event, twice the number that showed up at the rally’s first year. It’s the brainchild of Santa Cruz resident Penny Cotter and her husband, who in 2006 restored the 1962 Shasta Airflyte that they’ll bring to the show this weekend. They spent about $2,000 to restore the trailer, but kept costs down by doing the work themselves. But “some people get them professionally restored and pay $20,000 and $30,000,” Cotter said.

Smithwoods has been family owned and operated since 1920, when Charles and Frances Smith purchased 13 acres and named it Big Trees Auto Camp, according to the park’s website. Through the years, subsequent generations have taken the reins, and it’s now operated by the original founders’ granddaughter and her great-grandsons.

Because Smithwoods is relatively small, the number of participants has held steady in recent years at about 40 trailers. But at the next Northern California RV rally, held in Petaluma in early October, organizers hope to double that number.

Cotter also operates a website that’s geared toward vintage RV enthusiasts and aims to “promote and preserve vintage trailers and motor coaches through gatherings and information exchange.” To view a list of upcoming rallies, go to

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