I’ve recently taken up camping (blame it on the economy), but despite having learned to appreciate setting up my tent, sleeping on the ground, and spending the evening huddled around a fire, I’ve found myself wondering about options with a little more coverage (and less equipment to lug).
Enter the yurt. Sort of like the BMW of tents, it’s a self-supporting dome dwelling made of a wooden frame and a durable fabric cover. It usually has lattice walls, radial rafters, and framed doors, making it a step up from a tent but not exactly a cabin. Yurts are more weather-resistant than tents, too—good news for anyone who’s struggled through a stormy night of camping.
Photo via Flickr
Umpqua Lighthouse State Park, Oregon
This scenic site has campgrounds around Lake Marie and a small sandy beach that’s ideal for swimming or just basking on a folding chair. The park has both rustic and deluxe yurts available—the deluxe versions include bathrooms, small kitchens, televisions, and beds. The wooden structures sleep up to seven people; all guests need to bring are their food, utensils, and bedding.
Photo via Treebones Resort
Big Sur Treebones Resort, California
This California campsite has been featured in National Geographic for its panoramic views of the Pacific and its picturesque natural beauty. On top of having a wide array of yurts from which to choose, Treebones has a heated ocean-view pool and hot tub, a cozy lodge, and an outdoor sushi bar. In between taking in the vistas and enjoying magnificent sunsets, vacationers can browse the local 1960s-era shops for tie-dye, eco-souvenirs, and local art.
Falls Brook Yurts, New York
These rustic yurts are nestled in the Adirondacks less than a mile from the Falls Brook waterfalls. Even though it’s a snowy region, the site is actually an ideal vacation spot year-round, thanks to a plethora of winter activities, like backcountry skiing and snowshoeing, while summer offers hiking, fishing, and swimming. The quaint abodes sleep up to eight guests and sport sky domes, so campers can look up at the stars as they drift off to sleep. Oh, and these yurts also have propane heating systems (so you won’t have to worry about freezing after a day of snowshoeing).
Photo via Yosemite Hikes
Yosemite Pines RV Resort and Family Lodging, California
This site’s just thirty minutes away from one of the main park entrances, just far enough from the tourist buses but still close to all the park’s wonders. In Yosemite there are limitless options for hiking, rock climbing, and taking in the scenery. The site also offers a handful of convenient amenities, like a pool, gold mine tour, volleyball court, tetherball, and horseshoes. It’s extremely kid-friendly, with a playground and petting zoo, and pets are welcome to stay, too.
Luana Spa Retreat, Hawaii
What better location in which to commune with nature? The comfortable yurt available here, named Hal Ka?uiki, is a spacious sixteen feet wide. (A second yurt is the site of the resort’s spa treatments.) It’s perched up on a hill and boasts views of Hana Bay, so, in addition to doing the usual vacation activities (swimming, surfing, snorkeling), yurt sleepers can spend time taking in their personal panoramic view.
Frost Mountain Yurts, Maine
While you should be aware that Frost Mountain’s yurts do not have electricity or running water, each one has three bunk beds and two pullout couches, a kitchen table and chairs, a wood stove and fire-starting necessities, lanterns, cooking utensils, a fondue set, games, an outdoor fire pit, hammocks, and tiki torches. This spot is ideal for travelers who really want to get away from it all. A boat launch and a handful of hikes keep visitors active and entertained during the day.
Photo via Southwest Nordic Center
Cumbres Nordic Adventures, New Mexico
A Colorado: Hut to Hut guide reviewed the lodgings here, nestled in the southern San Juan Mountains, as “unusual and especially comfortable.” Those staying in Spruce Hole Yurt have the Rio Grande National Forest at their fingertips, where skiing, snowshoeing, and hiking trails abound. The cozy yurt offers beds, cooking supplies, and furniture that create a camping feel but with a sturdy structure overhead—useful when it’s cold and snowy out.
Hidden Treasure Yurts, Colorado
Another backcountry gem, Hidden Treasure supplies campers with the necessary amenities to make a yurt stay a comfortable, easygoing experience. The site actually melts snow for drinking water during the winter (talk about straight from the source) and offers both propane and wood-burning stoves, propane lamps for nighttime activities, and mountains for alpine skiing and mountain biking, depending on the season.
Photo via Wildwater Rafting
Falling Waters Adventure Resort, North Carolina
National Geographic also selected this gem for its “Stay List,” based on the overall experience the resort offers guests. Falling Waters is adjacent to the Nantahala Gorge, which offers horseback riding, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, whitewater rafting, and mountain biking (whew!), including the internationally recognized Tsali mountain-biking trail. It’s also just a short drive away to the Chattooga National Wild and Scenic River. The yurts feature outdoor decks, skylights, French doors, queen beds, coffeemakers, and windows.
Whether you’re looking to ease into camping or just try something besides the usual tent, spending a night or two in a yurt allows travelers to experience nature without waking up sore in the morning. And with the extra money you’ll save by staying in a yurt, maybe you’ll be able to afford a plane flight to a locale just a little farther from home. Hawaii, anyone?