Yurts Go Global

For most people, the term “glamping” is associated with luxurious tents, and for good reason.  From Africa to the American West, savvy travel outfitters have been offering ready made safari-style tents to discerning travelers for many years now.

The art of glamorous camping, however, is no longer limited to just canvas tents.  Today, everyone from alpine skiers to birdwatchers seeking access to the great outdoors can choose between yurts, tipis, airstream caravans, and cabins to get closer to the action. Options can range from rustic, no-frills shelters to luxurious, temperature controlled enclosures offering up more resort-style amenities.

The Marine Corps Times recently published a story, Yurts Take Camping to  the Next Level, about one increasingly popular choice among glamping enthusiasts: yurts.  The following is an excerpt from that article:

First made famous by Genghis Khan’s fabled cavalry of Central Asian nomads who conquered Eurasia some 2,000 years ago, these circular domed tents still serve as homes for thousands of modern-day Mongolians.  These days, most yurts used for camping have at least plywood floors, canvas-and-lattice sidewalls and a skylight, and are typically equipped with at least beds, chairs, a table and cooking equipment. The higher-end yurts can rival fancy hotel suites.

Few people in the U.S. know yurts better than Alan Bair.

He fell in love with their simple, intrinsic beauty entwined with rugged, functional design about 40 years ago, so he built is own yurt in Oregon and lived in it through the mid-70s while working on reforestation projects.

It wasn’t long before word got out and requests began to pour in. Today, Bair’s Pacific Yurts not only is the original U.S. manufacturer, but it’s also one of the biggest, supplying everyone from resorts and state and national parks, to even the military.

If you stay in a yurt, chances are it will be one of Bair’s.

Over the years, he’s added plenty of improvements, while staying true to same basic design used by Central Asian nomads for thousands of years.

“The traditional yurt’s encircling rope or woven tension bands are now a steel aircraft cable sitting neatly on top of the lattice wall,” he says, while the latest in modern architectural fabrics have “replaced the outer covering of felted wool or canvas, and NASA-developed insulation provides lightweight but effective temperature control.”

Some of Bair’s favorite yurt getaways:


1. Orca Island Cabins, Alaska

Comfortable “off-grid” rental yurts located on a small private island in Resurrection Bay, just nine miles from Seward. Rates start at $239 per person per night and include round-trip water taxi to Orca Island, use of kayaks, rowing skiffs and stand-up paddle boards, fishing gear, binoculars and firewood.

cliffside yurt

2. Cliffside Park, Wash.

Yurt rentals for active-duty and retired service members and their families on beautiful Whidbey Island. Overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic Peninsula, this Navy-run campsite offers six furnished 16-foot yurts with twin-over-queen bunk beds and a full-size futon. Rates: $25 per night in summer/$20 per night in winter.

umpqua lighthouse state park oregon

3. Oregon State Parks

“Yurt rentals are scattered throughout the state, but the majority are … along the beautiful Oregon coastline,” Bair says. With more than a dozen campgrounds now offering yurts, you can choose from rustic rentals situated near a central bathhouse or deluxe yurts with indoor kitchens and bathrooms. With its sandy beaches and towering sea cliffs, eight-person rustic yurts at Sunset Bay, for example, range from $36 to $50 per night.


4. Treebones Resort, Calif.

This 16-yurt resort includes “comfortable accommodations perched on Big Sur hillside with breathtaking ocean views,” Bair says. Enjoy the heated pool and outdoor sushi bar. An ocean-view yurt for two with a queen-sized bed starts at $255 per night and includes a breakfast buffet and morning yoga classes. All yurts are located near a central bathhouse.

Fort Tuthill Recreation Area AZ

5. Fort Tuthill Recreation Area, Ariz.

Near Flagstaff and operated by Luke Air Force Base, Fort Tuthill is the perfect launching pad for a slew of outdoor adventures that range from whitewater rafting to skiing and snowshoeing. Yurts include two twin bunk beds, a wood-burning stove, as well as a refrigerator and microwave. Take in the views from each yurt’s large deck. Rates: $25 per night in winter, $50 per night in summer.


6. Summit Mountain Lodge, Utah

A secluded luxury venue, the lodge offers 14 tastefully decorated yurts in southern Utah near several major skiing venues. Some include bathrooms, while others share a large bathhouse. Rates range from $75 to $225 per night. Be sure to ask for the 10 percent military discount.

Emily Elizabeth Smith. Austin, TX

7. Cypress Valley Canopy Tours, Texas

What Bair describes as “one of the most unique yurt rentals” you’ll likely find, these accommodations are built high in a Cypress tree and accessed by suspension bridge. You’ll have your own private bathhouse with a waterfall-filled tub that overlooks the ravine below. Located near Spicewood, Texas, overnights for two adults start at $300.

Main Forest Yurts FisherRidgeYurt

8. Maine Forest Yurts, Maine

Located 30 minutes from Portland, this 100-acre wilderness property includes comfortably furnished yurt rentals and plenty of tent sites. Best yet, stays are free for all active-duty service members and veterans.

savage river lodge

9. Savage River Lodge, Md.

These luxurious yurt rentals come complete with radiant floor heating, oversized shower, fully plumbed bathroom and king bed. Located near Frostburg, Md., double occupancy rates start at $225 per night.

killington resort

10. Killington Resort, Vt.

If you enjoy a good meal after a full day on the slopes, consider the Ledgewood Yurt at one of Vermont’s most popular ski resorts. Enjoy a snowcat-drawn sleigh ride to a comfortable heated yurt, where you’ll feast on a five-course meal. Prices start at $59 per night.