Everything You Need to Know About Yurt Travel
Preface by Carrie: Recently, our resident graphic designer (and my Wear + Where + Well partner from the beginning) Ashley Cardoza vacationed in a yurt in Colorado! We were so fascinated by her experience that we invited her to share more here with all of us!
Hey y’all – Ashley here sharing a bit about an out-of-the-box kind of trip I recently went on…
My husband and I have an odd fascination with backcountry hiking, camping, and just being outdoors. We love camping with our daughters, and we love Colorado. I had this crazy idea that we should try snow camping this winter. Plus, I wanted to go go back to Colorado in the winter since we only ever visit in the summer. Fast forward to me googling yurts in Colorado, and I figured out that it wasn’t a terrible drive from Denver airport.
So, here is everything you might want to know about yurt travel…
To start, for those who don’t know, what exactly is a yurt?
- By definition, a yurt is a portable round tent that was used by nomads. According to the Travel Channel, “a yurt comprises a circular wooden latticework frame draped with canvas – a design that historians say was developed thousands of years ago by Asian nomads. Yurts allow people to remain close to nature in an ecologically friendly environment, without the typical discomforts of traditional camping.”
- For us personally, a yurt was an upgraded tent that felt more like a rustic cabin than your typical camping tent. Our yurt was on a wooden structure that was well off the ground, had a wood burning stove for heat, a propane cooktop for cooking, bunk beds, table and chairs, and an outhouse located a few yards from our sleeping area.
Have you stayed in a yurt before? If this was your first time, what were your initial thoughts?
- Before this trip, I had only seen yurts on tv, movies, and Instagram. Since we have done weeklong camping trips in tents with toddlers and babies, this felt like a big upgrade to our camping experience. While it wasn’t a Hilton, it certainly had comfortable enough beds and quarters that made me be very thankful we weren’t in a tent.
- The biggest initial thought was in regards to the bathroom situation. Most campgrounds we’ve stayed at had mostly real bathrooms or drop toilets. So, this little wooden shack was a bit too rustic for my pregnant self to love.
- (Side note from Carrie: Yes, Ashley too is pregnant! She is expecting her 3rd girl, and is due two days after I am. 🙂 )
Where exactly was your yurt? How did you decide on this particular yurt?
- When searching, I found this company called Never Summer Nordic, and their yurts are located in the Colorado State Forest State Park in Gould, Colorado – about three hours from Denver International Airport. Initially, we drove into Fort Collins Sunday night to have an early start for our two hour drive into the mountains. This all made for a fairly easy trip, since we were able to fly directly to Denver from Houston, and then journey onward to the yurt.
Do you stay in your own yurt or with other couples/people? How does it work?
- We had our own yurt! We could’ve invited up to 7 more friends, but it would’ve been cramped and not nearly as romantic for Valentine’s week.
- You book your yurt, they give you your entry information and inside the yurt are all the instructions for your stay. Before you even get there, you must go to the park office and pay your entry fee, rent snowshoes, and just soak up the views of snowcapped mountains you’re already seeing.
Can you drive to these yurts? I believe you snowshoed to yours, correct? How ‘in the middle of nowhere’ are they?
- Yes! Our drive into the State Forest State Park was a bit of a curveball for us Texans. The Park had plowed the roads from previous snow storms, but of course there was still packed down snow on the road. You drive in to find your trail head/parking spot for your booked yurt.
- Ours was the Medicine Bow Yurt, so our particular hike in was only a half mile from our car to the yurt. Some can be as far from your car as two miles, while some are so close you can park right next to it. I will say, since we had to carry all our stuff in and we hadn’t thought of bringing a sled to pull, our half mile was more than enough for us to experience backcountry camping.
No cell service or wifi connection, correct? How did it feel to be off the grid for a few days?
- I’ll admit, it was HARD. As soon as we left Fort Collins, we literally had zero cell reception. So for that 2ish hour drive in the car, I had music, my husband, and the open road to keep me occupied. Once we got to the park, I found intermittent signals. It was enough for me to text our friends who had our girls and hear that they were alive and well.
- On the second day we were there, we drove into Steamboat Springs, and admittedly I soaked up that LTE service until we left the area. You want to share your experiences as you have them, but you also want to experience them without interruption. I think had we spent one more day in the woods, I would’ve gotten used to it. Momma just missed her babies and wanted to know they were okay!
- Editor’s note from Carrie: For more tips on disconnecting, be sure to read Mari’s recent article on Why & How to Unplug.
What should one know before booking a yurt vacation?
- Before booking a yurt vacation, know that you are camping.
- Unless it is a glamping yurt that has electricity and wifi and tv, realize that you’ll be camping in the a lot of ways.
- Camping is an adventure in itself. There is no maid service, there is no one to call in case you’re out of water, and there is a sense of outdoorsy respect you have on this trip.
- But don’t worry. Basic camping skills, a little research on how cold it will be, and being okay with being alone with your partner is all you really need to know beforehand.
Who is this type of trip for and not for? Is it kid friendly?
- Ask yourself this, “Can I handle using an outhouse for a few days?” If your answer is emphatically nope… then this is probably something that you won’t enjoy. If your answer is like mine, a begrudging yes in the spirit of experiences and adventure, then this trip is for you.
- At this yurt, we were right on the trail for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and hiking. Our trip was in the dead of winter. Think single digit temperatures in the mornings, three feet of snow, and all the gorgeous snowcapped mountain views you can manage.
What was your favorite part of the trip?
- My favorite part of this trip was just being kid-free with my husband! Aside from that, the snowshoeing through fresh powder and seeing all we could see in this area was my favorite. We saw maybe five other people the whole two days we were there. It was quiet, still, and refreshing.
What did you pack to eat?
- Camping food is our favorite! On our way out of Fort Collins, we stopped at Whole Foods and another store to grab essentials.
- Since we had to carry all our food and water in, we went super basic. We brought a dozen eggs, a pound of bacon, a half a loaf of sourdough bread, fruit, one box of pasta, one jar of red sauce (we probably should’ve brought two), and of course three gallons of water (which wasn’t enough drinking water for the 2 of us in dry Colorado).
- Here’s a sampling of our menus during the trip:
- Breakfast: bacon, eggs, sourdough bread with fig jam
- Lunch: peanut butter and fig jam sandwiches
- Dinner (both nights): fettuccine, red sauce, broccoli, and cheese
- Valentine’s Dinner : cheese plate, chocolate, and pasta.
- Snacks: homemade trail mix (M&Ms, pumpkin seeds, raisins, dried cranberries, almonds, and cashews), Starbucks Via (I brought the Vanilla Latte), Emergen-C, ramen noodles, fruit snacks, and airport candy.
Any specific packing tips for a yurt vacation?
- What made this trip feel enjoyable was good gear. We packed super light since we knew we had to carry our clothes, food, water, and sleeping bag on our backs. The biggest thing I can’t stress enough is that you will need to rent snowshoes, if you don’t already own them. Immediately getting out of the car and seeing our trail, I was glad we had snagged our snowshoes from the park office for the days we were there.
- We are not expert campers by any means, so we didn’t pack enough warm stuff for sleeping. I put together the basic packing list in a collage for you below. I figured that seeing what I packed would be super helpful when you consider filling a larger than normal backpack for your adventure.
- Some personal things that I couldn’t have lived without include sensitive anti-bacterial wipes. That was my “shower” after a long 3 hour hike. You’d be surprised how refreshing just using wipes felt when you changed clothes.
- Other than underwear, you don’t really need new outfits for each day. I wore the same get up each day we went out. I had a travel outfit for the way there and way back home, but to keep packing light, I didn’t bulk up on extras.
Yurt Travel Packing Essentials
Have you been yurt traveling before? What did you think of it?
If you haven’t been, is it something you might consider doing? Let us know in the comments below!