Chism’s Auto Camp was started by Harry Chism in the summer of 1927 on property his father purchased in 1880. Harry created the campground to accommodate a joint Nevada/California industrial fair that was held on the sight of what was to become picturesque Idlewild Park. At that time, the campground consisted of campsites, a large kitchen tent, and another large tent that was used as a boathouse. The office consisted of a living area and a small gas station and convenience store. When Harry died in 1929, his son John decided to take over the park and try to make a living from it. It was decided that the park should expand to accommodate mobile homes. John created 8 motel units and 16 cold water cabins with an adjoining bathhouse to earn income from the property. After WWII some of the property was set up with modular house units to house veterans coming back from war and using GI Bills to attend the University of Nevada, Reno. Five years later, the GI housing made way for more permanent mobile home spaces. The same fate found the motel units as four were converted to studio aparetments and four were moved to the Schurz Indian Reservation. In 1958, even more trailer spaces were added by developing a vacant lot that had long served as a stomping ground for local kids.
In 1960, John purchased the old Chism home that stood on 2 acres adjacent to the auto camp.

One of the acres was kept as part of the house grounds, and the other acre made room for 15 more trailer spaces. Shortly after that the cold water cabins were taken down, making room for the first 6 RV spaces, and the overnight trade began.

For the next 20 years, the park stayed the same. The next generation for the Chism family took over the park making it possible for John and his wife Miriam to retire after managing the park for 32 years. In 1979, David and Gordon Chism formed a partnership consisting of the four children of John and Miriam and expanded the park by replacing 8 of the permanent spaces with 28 RV spaces. In 1980, William Chism joined his brothers to help manage the park which now consists of 124 permanent spaces, 28 RV spaces, two houses and four apartments. Chism’s Trailer Park is still bordered by the beautiful Truckee River and scenic Idlewild Park.