The portable yurt—those circular domed, tent-like structures—was the preferred shelter of Genghis Khan and his Mongol horde as they swept across the harsh empty plains of northeastern Asia and built an empire.
Today, yurts are used in more peaceful pursuits.
"Yurt" in Mongolian actually means "home," and these structures are some of the more comfortable options when it comes to camping shelters. Luckily, modern yurt camping is more convenient than what Mr. Khan and his bunch had to contend with. In his day, enormous camps had to take down their units, which could take up to two hours each, pack them up onto wagons, and drag them great distances across the uneven grasslands to the next site of battle.
You, on the other hand, simply make reservations ahead of time and then show up where you'll find everything waiting for you.
Sometimes known as a form of "glamping," or "glamorous camping," yurt camping can range from a bare and basic plywood structure with dome roof to fully furnished units. Glamping yurts might have queen-sized beds, cozy comforters, relaxing couches, stylish tables and lamps, closets, even porcelain sinks with hot water, polished wood floors, heat and electricity. The more upscale models are frequently set up on raised decks, and may be outfitted with a barbecue pit, picnic table, and a food storage safety locker in regions where wildlife may present a hazard.
Yurts can range in size from a standard 12 feet in diameter, to a palatial 30 feet wide. And newer two-story models can stand over 16 feet tall.
Just bring your clothing and gear and you're all set. When it's time to leave, pack what you brought and hit the road to the next yurt campground. No fuss, no hassle.
Where Can You Go Yurt Camping?
There are hundreds of yurts for glamping at campgrounds, retreats and B&Bs in 40 states, five Canadian provinces and in Mexico. Here are a few in the U.S. to get you started:
When Can You Go Yurt Camping?
Depending on where you live or want to go, yurt camping is available year-round. Modern-day yurts are extremely well made and weather tight. And because of their time-tested design, they can stand up to heavy snow loads, strong winds and driving rains.
Today's yurts are also well insulated, so they'll keep you and your family surprisingly snug when it's nippy outside. And with some models sporting large windows, even skylights, summertime is great as well.
So give it a try the next time you hit the road to go camping. After all, it couldn't "yurt."
Find a yurt at ReserveAmerica.com.