Yurt camping is a great solution for so many different situations. Whether you want to get out into the great outdoors, but don’t really love the idea of tent camping, or whether the temperature is just a little too chilly, yurt camping might be just the thing for you!
Our family has always loved camping and we try to go every summer. There have been years where we’ve suggested that we might not go camping that year and the kids have always protested loudly enough that now we know it’s something that just has to happen. 🙂 We’ve also gone camping a few times during the cooler months in the spring or the fall and that’s when we’ve loved staying in a yurt rather than our usual tents. I know that we have a lot of readers here who either already love camping or who are curious to find a way to love camping so I try to share a little bit of our camping experience each time we go. We just got back from a little spring yurt camping excursion, so I thought I’d share a little bit about our experience! If you’ve never heard of a yurt, or if you’d just like to learn a little bit more about yurting, this one’s for you.
What is a Yurt?
When our kids told their friends that they were going to a yurt for March break, most everyone said “A what??” so it’s fair to say that a lot of people have never heard of a yurt. Basically, a yurt is a tent-like structure on a solid base – kind of like a tent on a deck. The walls are usually made of a heavy, durable material and they may even have an insulated layer to keep them warm inside. Yurts that you can rent at campgrounds are usually heated, have lighting, and have electricity. You’ll also usually find bunk beds inside and simple furniture like a table and chairs, and maybe even a bit of counter space. Think of a yurt as a step up in comfort and amenities compared to tent camping, but not quite like renting a full cottage.
Who Should Rent a Yurt?
I love yurts because they allow you to be in the park or campground and enjoy all the trails, beaches, programs, and natural surroundings, while still being relatively comfortable. We like to use them so that we can extend our camping season into the cooler months, or even into the winter without having to worry too much about the cold because we always have a place to go back to so we can warm up.
The thing that I think is really exciting about a yurt though is that they allow people who think that they “aren’t camping people” to take a baby step toward real tent camping without having to go too far outside of their comfort zone if they aren’t read. You don’t have running water in a yurt so you’re still washing your dishes in a plastic bin and you’re still walking to the washroom before bed with a flashlight, but you can turn the lights on when you get inside the yurt and you don’t have to sleep on the floor. So people who are scared of tent camping can still get out to the campground, enjoy all the atmosphere there, and see that it’s not such a scary place. 🙂
Types of Yurts
Yurts can range from super rustic and basic, to pretty fancy and decked-out, so you really need to look into the details of exactly what you’re getting when you rent a yurt, kind of like you would if you were booking a hotel room or a cottage. We’ve rented yurts before in Algonquin park and this time we stayed in one in Pinery Provincial Park where we usually camp in the summer. The one we had this time around was considered their “deluxe” yurt and it had a fireplace, microwave, barbecue, and mini fridge, which was super convenient. Ones we’ve stayed in before just had electric heat, lighting, and a barbecue. Having things like a fridge and a microwave will really have a big impact on how you plan and pack your camping meals, so that’s important information to know before you go!
The Pinery also seems to have just installed a few brand new yurts this season, which we can’t find any info about on their website, so hopefully they’ll be updating that before the summer camping season. They all seem to have really big beautiful decks and they’re quite large, so I’m interested to find out what they have inside!
Some Thoughts on What to Pack
Generally, we like to pack basically the same things that we pack for camping, minus the obvious things like tents, air mattresses, and tarps. Here are a few other things that we find handy for yurting:
- Fitted sheets for the bunk beds (twin size for the top bunks, queen for the bottom for the yurt we stayed in)
- A little over-the-door hook. This is the type of hook that fits over the top of an interior door that you would usually use on a bathroom door to hang a towel or a bathrobe. These almost always fit perfectly over the rails of a bunk bed and are great for hanging jackets or towels.
- A nightlight or even a little lamp. Because yurts have electricity, you don’t need to use up your flashlight battery if your kids like to have a light on during the night.
- Board games! If you’re staying in a yurt during the cooler season, you’ll have less daylight hours for exploring and this is the perfect time to sneak in a family game night. 🙂
- Download movies onto an iPad so you can have a yurt movie night. We found we were pretty exhausted from all of our hiking and dune-climbing so we had a pretty fun little yurt movie night one night. Not exactly what you think of doing when you’re camping, but a fun thing to do on a chilly night!
- An umbrella for the deck. If you’re renting a yurt in the summer and your yurt has a nice big deck like ours did, bring along an umbrella so you can take full advantage of it! Most of the yurts that we’ve seen aren’t built in really heavily-treed areas so they can be really exposed to the sun on hot days.
Have you ever stayed in a yurt before? What do you pack/do differently compared to tent camping?
MORE IDEAS LIKE THIS
- The Family Camping Gear Packing Checklist
- How to Love Camping, Even if You’re Pretty Sure it’s Just Not Your Thing
- Camping Lighting Ideas
- The Potato Chip Campfire Starter Trick
Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.