Mongolian yurt-style camping is oddly at home in southern Indiana

Bloomington, Indiana, carries with it a mindset similar to that of Austin, Texas.

This open-minded, university-centric enclave, located in the rugged, rolling southern section of the state, recently captured a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index — for the second year in a row.

It’s no surprise, then, that no one bats an eye at the four rentable yurts tucked away in the peaceful, mostly wooded, 108-acre Tibet Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center (TMBCC) in this invitingly diverse community.

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A clean and causal sleeping scene elevates camping at these rentable yurts just outside Bloomington, Indiana. Photo: Courtesy of Visit Bloomington

His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s eldest brother established TMBCC in 1979 to preserve Tibetan and Mongolian cultures and promote interfaith harmony through intercultural and interfaith dialogue.

“You don’t have to be spiritual or religious to enjoy this beautiful space,” says Erin Erdmann, a director at Visit Bloomington, who has been answering questions about these cool camping shelters for years.

“We just ask that everyone have an open mind and celebrate our differences.”

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The yurts, however modernized, are modeled after traditional Mongolian structures. Photo: Courtesy of Visit Bloomington
Drop-ins for public meditation, teachings or prayers on Wednesdays or Sundays, as well as an occasional yoga class, are welcome, but you can also drop out and do your own thing.

Each clean but modest yurt comes with a full-size kitchen and grill for cooking your own food. Erdmann recommends scoring a six-pack of locally brewed Upland Campside Session IPA to kick back with.

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A simple kitchen setup in the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center yurts. Photo: Courtesy of Visit Bloomington
Though traditional in style, the one- to two-person yurts are fully modernized with air conditioning and heat, run $100 per night and can be rented for up to a month at a time.

Although you’ll feel far away both culturally and physically here, there’s so much adventure within a short drive of the TMBCC property. Use your yurt retreat for rest and relaxation after one of these close-in adventures:

Cycling

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A singletrack trail in Bloomington’s Wapehani Mountain Bike Park. Photo: Courtesy of Visit Bloomington
Sample some rolling singletrack at Wapehani Mountain Bike Park or cruise around B-town on the B-Line Trail.

For road cycling, try famous State Road 446 for rolling hills and scenic landscape.

Hiking

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A serene view from above in Hoosier National Forest. Photo: Courtesy of Visit Bloomington
Hoosier National Forest, especially the more remote Charles C. Deam Wilderness Area and beautiful Monroe Lake, is about 10 minutes away.

Back at camp, walk clockwise on the Kora Meditation Trail, which winds through the trees around the TMBCC estate.

Water sports

Lake Monroe Boat Rental offers both motorized and non-motorized boats for a daily fee at Paynetown State Recreation Area.

Town adventures

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Rose Well House on the scenic Indiana University campus. Photo: Courtesy of Visit Bloomington
When you’ve tired yourself of outdoor pursuits and meditation time in the yurt, venture into Bloomington for a reconnection to modern life.

Visit Bloomington has the beta on breweries, electric bike rentals, culturally creative culinary treats, craft coffee, campus treasures and more.

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