Yurt camping is an experience that can suit all kinds of outdoors enthusiasts – the backpacker, the recreational camper, the summer vacationer and the adventurous family. Yurts offer the desirable elements of a traditional camping trip with the added benefits of comfortability, indoor living space, and modern conveniences.
Yurt camping was introduced to the US in the 1960s. It struck a chord with the culture at the time and has only continued to grow in popularity. Yurts can now be found across the country at campsites, online through vacation rental websites such as AirBnB and VRBO, and in several of Colorado’s state parks.
Six Colorado State Parks Offer Year-round Yurt Camping
There are six Colorado State Parks that offer year-round yurt camping – Golden Gate Canyon, Mancos, Pearl Lake, Ridgway, State Forest, and Sylvan Lake. All of these yurts offer basic furnishings for guests, space for larger groups, heat for winter stays, and, of course, beautiful views of our majestic Colorado outdoors. These round, tent-like dwellings are stationary and well-insulated to provide safe and comfortable stays.
Ancient Shelters, Modern Convenience
Traditional yurts were designed for the needs of the ancient nomadic culture of Central Asia, where easy setup and tear down and protection from the elements were a priority. As modern yurts do not serve the purpose of housing moveable communities, they are usually secured on platforms. Modern yurts provide suitable, comfortable shelter at any time of year. Wool coverings have been replaced with durable architectural fabric, created to last years at a time.
Expectations for a yurt camping experience in Colorado State Parks can be different than one would set for a weekend of sleeping in a backcountry tent. State park yurts boast an impressive number of amenities to make a stay memorable, tranquil, and even luxurious. Fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, propane, or electric heat can be found in each dwelling to enhance a winter vacation. Bathrooms with showers, equipped kitchens, and multiple beds help make a yurt a unique option for a family retreat. Yurt sites also include fire rings and grills for cooking the day’s catch, roasting marshmallows for S’mores, or savoring a morning cup of coffee by the fire.
Many Colorado State Park yurts offer the additional feature of privacy, located miles away from tent campgrounds, with some accessible only by snowshoe or snowmobile during the winter months. For those who recreate in the outdoors for peace and quiet, a secluded yurt experience would be ideal.
Preparations for a weekend in a yurt may include bedding if the host does not provide it (Colorado State Parks do not), food planning for cooking in the kitchen or on an open flame, backpacking equipment if the site is accessible only by foot or off-road vehicle, and water. Also essential to remember is a fun-loving furry companion, if the reservation is in a pet-friendly dwelling.
Yurt camping combines all the benefits of tent camping with just enough elements of an RV or cabin “glamping” experience to make for a one-of-a-kind voyage into the Colorado wilderness suitable for any age. It is an outdoor adventure for anyone’s bucket list, and is likely to transition from a one-time trial into a beloved family tradition.
Written by Lauren Cartwright. Lauren works as an Administrative Assistant at the Southwest Region office in Durango. Originally from Kentucky, she enjoys learning about western wildlife and ecology, and looks forward to exploring the region’s state parks this summer.