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What Is Yurt Camping?

What Is Yurt Camping?

If you’ve never been yurt camping, you may be missing out on a unique camping experience. Why? Because many yurts are located in remote areas. On the other hand, you may find a beautifully themed unit situated in state and national parks. You will get closer to nature in any yurt while staying cozy and comfortable.

What Is Yurt Camping?

A yurt is a circular tent made with some sort of fabric and wood braces. While many are single-room tents, some are divided into rooms or have lofts built into their interiors. Yurts can often be found as additional lodging options at campgrounds and resorts for a “closer-to-nature” experience. But these “tents” can offer a very cozy camping experience!

Some refer to yurt camping as glamping — glamorous camping with amenities like actual beds and a real kitchen and bathroom. Some consider it a more luxurious way to camp. Being in a bed under a well-made canvas structure is a bit different than your traditional idea of camping.

yurt camping with family

Some yurts won’t have indoor plumbing. You may find restroom facilities located a few feet away. You can also cook outside on a grill or fire, but many will come with some sort of indoor cooktop. Some considered it a bit closer to traditional camping.

Whatever the definition, yurt camping gets you close to nature more comfortably. Read on to learn more about yurt and the amenities you might expect.

What Is the History of the Yurt?

The Russian word yurt, or ger in Mongolian, means home. The earliest reference to a yurt was 3,000 years ago by the Greek writer Herodotus when he came across a horse-riding nomadic nation in Central Asia.

yurts in the mountains

Yurts today are most commonly attributed to the Mongolian Empire at the time of Ghengis Khan. Their nomadic lifestyle necessitated a shelter that could move with them. 

According to Original Yurts, Marco Polo, a famous Italian merchant, visited the Mongolian Empire in the 14th century and described the yurt.  “They have circular houses made of wood and covered with felt, which they carry about with them on four-wheeled wagons wherever they go. For the framework of rods is so neatly and skillfully constructed that it is light to carry. And every time they unfold their house and set it up, the door is always facing south.” 

traditional central asia yurt decoration

For people that were living north of the equator, having a south-facing door was advantageous. Many yurts still used in this region continue to have the entrance facing south. 

Yurts are still the prevalent housing structure for over half of Mongolia’s population, including the capital city. They are also commonly found woven through history and modern-day use throughout Central Asia.

In the travel sector, yurts are gaining popularity for a one-of-a-kind camping experience. Yurts can now be found across the globe made with various materials and layouts, but all with homage to the original nomadic dwelling.

Tom and Caitlin Morton in front of a yurt
Tom and Caitlin Morton in front of a yurt

What Is the Difference Between Yurt Camping and Tent Camping?

Yurts are circular and dome-like in shape. While originally mobile lodging, most modern yurts stay in one place and have doors, windows, and residential furniture. Tents, on the other hand, are portable, temporary, and involve frequent set up and take down.

Generally, they construct the exterior with heavy fabric such as canvas. Some interiors designed with crisscrossed beams expose the canvas exterior, giving it a romantic, cozy look. Tents consist of polyester or nylon material with carbon or metal poles that easily slip through loops to support the tent.

feeding woodstove inside a yurt

Yurt camping provides many conveniences such as a bed. You’ll just need to supply the food and bedding and enjoy the experience. With tent camping, you’ll have to pack a bed to bring with you. 

Both tent and yurt camping get you closer to the outdoors, where you can relax, enjoy campfires, the sights and sounds of nature, and proximity to trails and other outdoor activities.  

What’s Yurt Camping Like?

Yurt camping can compare to tent camping with just the basic structure. You may find them fully furnished, like staying in a cabin, hence the name glamping.

Yurts withstand all types of weather, making camping in any season more enjoyable. Whether in driving rain, freezing snow, and scorching heat, a yurt can protect you from the elements.  

yurt campers

Do Yurts Have Running Water? Electricity?

Many yurts meant for glamping will have running water, electricity, and a full bathroom, including a shower. Some might have the added amenities of a microwave or toaster oven or even air conditioning and heat. You may find one with a full wrap-around deck made just for you and your morning cup of coffee.

Magical Yurt with Spiral Staircase Loft & Exterior Wooden Shell - Full Tour

Some yurts may have none of that. They might have a bedding structure and a couple of tables and chairs, and that’s it. You may need to carry in your water or melt and boil it from the snow or rivers outside. The heat may come from a wood-burning stove, and the bathroom facilities might just be an outhouse in another building down the path.

yurt with basic camping amenities
Yurt with more basic camping amenities

Most yurts, however, will have something in between.  You’ll often find beds ready for your sleeping bags, wood-burning stoves, and pre-cut wood. It may have a full kitchen, possibly including running water and even utensils. Yurts in remote locations will probably have an outhouse, while others less remote will have a community bathroom nearby. 

Not all yurts will have running water or electricity, but all will give you a unique camping experience.

furnished inside of yurt

How Many People Can Sleep in a Yurt?

Yurt sizes can range from the basic 12 ft in diameter to a whopping 30 ft. Some come outfitted with two stories and can be up to 16 ft tall. Depending on the size and number of beds, most yurts will sleep anywhere between eight to 15 people.

Most are reserved for private groups, while others are open to the general public. This means they may sell beds per person per night to anyone finding an open spot, similar to a hostel. You may have never considered bunking with strangers, but this could be a great way to make new friends.

couple on yurt bed

Where Can You Go Yurt Camping?

You can find hundreds of yurts in almost every state in campgrounds, remote areas, or rented out as vacation property. You can go yurt camping in state parks, national parks, next to ski resorts, in a jungle, on a mountain, or almost anywhere your imagination can take you.

How to Find a Yurt Campground

So, if you can go yurt camping almost anywhere, how do you find a yurt? You can find yurt camping options on many familiar apps and websites.  

You can search over 300 yurt options on Airbnb, or try your luck at Reserve America. Known more for campground reservations, you may also find yurts at state campgrounds and other public lands at this site.

You can even find yurts on federal lands. Check out Recreation.gov for access to more remote, off-the-grid yurts. You may not consider this glamping but still comfortable. Glamping Hub is a site geared more toward beautifully themed yurts with all the bells and whistles.

You can also find yurts through privately run companies or other government agencies, depending on the state you plan to stay in. Some states, such as Colorado and Montana, offer backcountry hut and yurt trip rentals. 

Colorado’s 10th Mountain Division Hut System has many backcountry cabins and yurts available for rent. They are quite rustic and open to the general public, meaning you can reserve one spot or the entire yurt. Montana’s YurtSki offers similar lodging and backcountry excursions.

How Much Is a Yurt Per Night?

Nightly pricing depends on the type and location of the yurt you rent. Basic yurts with bare-bone necessities and off the grid in the backcountry can start at around $40 per person per night. Glamorous yurts with all the luxuries of an opulent home can get to around $350 a night.

With a large price range, on average, you should expect to pay anywhere between $60 to $150 for an overnight stay in a yurt. What about a traditional yurt in Mongolia? That’s possible for just under $500 per night. 

Is Yurt Camping Worth It? 

In the end, it all depends on the type of experience you want for your yurt camping experience. Search for one as an adventure and part of the experience. Take the time to find one that suits your needs and desires. There’s nothing worse than getting excited for a yurt camping trip expecting glamping with a hot tub and a catered dinner only to get a bare-bones one.

Yurt camping is worth it if you do your research to find one you are excited to stay in and fits your camping style.

Yurt Camping Takes You Away From it All

Skip the tent this time around and go for a yurt instead. Whether you want to travel “back in time” to a classic bare-bones yurt or live it up in true glamping style, yurt camping takes you away from it all — at least for the weekend.

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About Mortons on the Move

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of The RVers, producers of “Go North” on Amazon Prime, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for Hwy.co and an Arizona travel guide.

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