Satisfying everyone from diehard outdoorspeople to high-maintenance glampers, yurt camping may be the perfect middle ground for keeping everyone stoked on sleeping in the wild.
I had a hunch, but put this theory to the test during a recent girls’ weekend. I knew we all liked to play outside, but not all of us, including myself, ever seem to get a proper night’s rest in a tent.
Our yurt let us curl up in bunk beds and chitchat until the wee hours like real cheapskate campers, yet have access to solid sleep, electricity to charge our phones, a fire pit for a lingering nightcap and even some tidy private showers.
“We brought wine, s’mores and fancy snacks to complement the more-than-adequate yurt experience,” says Mara Kormylo, who was yurt camping for the first time. “Gathering from all our neighbors, it’s clear that it’s the way to go for parents of adventurous kids, but those moms shot envious glances our way.”
Yurts, which are cheap to build and leave a minimal footprint on the planet, seem to hit that sweet spot between rouging it and keeping it real. Nomads in Mongolia, Siberia and Turkey first used these traditional circular huts, made from a latticed steam-bent wooden or bamboo frame overlaid with a tarp wrap (skins or felt in the past) for protection from the elements.
It’s thought that “yurt” stems from a Turkic word that denoted the imprint left in the ground once the tent-like structure was moved with the transitory nature of nomadic tribes.
An extension of the tiny-house trend, modern yurts, which are seeing a resurgence after a previous spike among counterculture types in the 1970s, typically have raised wooden floors that help keep the cold out. Ours also had charging outlets, reading lights and a mini fridge, but no heat.
“The yurt adventure is camping without all the bulky gear, plus a clean, comfortable bathhouse just a few yards away,” Kristen Spronz, brand manager at Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby, Colorado, told GrindTV.
“With nearby fire pits, guests enjoy the s’mores tradition and take in the stars before tucking into the yurt, with electricity as an added bonus.”
Yurts can be bought as a kit for the backyard, rented for a weekend way off the grid or reserved at an existing property close to amenities, like our setup. The downfall of staying in a developed multi-yurt camp is that you run the risk of being on top of someone else and missing out on a more rugged experience.
While we traded a couple of early mornings — awoken by a raging baby in the next yurt over — for a real bathroom, it was an accommodation that in the end we were happy to make. We slept deeply for most of the night, which made our days of biking, hiking and horseback riding much more pleasant.
In a single yurt there was plenty of room for five girls — four on bunk beds and one in a queen bed — along with three food- and gear-prep tables. A bubble skylight, which created some airflow to release heat and stink during the day when we were out on activities, opened via an interior hand crank. Functioning windows with screens were a nice addition for natural light, venting and listening to wildlife.
Yurts heat up fast in the sun, but cool quickly in the night mountain air. Snuggling under blankets and in sleeping bags is a must, but also makes the experience that much more “campy.”
For times when you want to camp, but not really, a yurt does the trick. Rustic yet realistic: Yep, that’s just how we like our outdoors.
More camping ideas from GrindTV
For access to exclusive gear videos, celebrity interviews, and more, subscribe on YouTube!