SALT LAKE CITY — On New Year’s Eve, my wife and I met up with a group of friends and rode snowmobiles to a remote yurt in the Uintas. The snow at the trailhead was only a couple feet deep, but that changed as we ascended above 8,000 feet in elevation. When we reached our destination, the yurt was barely discernable under a blanket of snow several feet thick. We cleared a path to the door and started a fire in the cast iron stove.
It snowed throughout the night, but we were unfazed. We ate chicken parmesan, played games, and rang in the New Year with Bigfoot stories. The old stove kept our yurt so toasty that we only needed light blankets while we slept. It was definitely one of the most memorable New Year celebrations I’ve ever been a part of.
While yurts may sound too exotic or rugged for some people, the truth is they are extremely convenient to stay in. Utah has a wide range of yurts for rent, meaning your yurt trip can be as accessible or adventurous as you want to make it. Regardless of what kind of yurt you choose, here are five reasons you should make 2013 the year of the yurt.
Yurts are affordable
Yurts are generally much cheaper than hotel rooms and rental cabins. For as little as $30 a night, you can rent an eight-person yurt in the Uintas. At $3.75 a person, these gorgeous mountain yurts are cheaper than even the trashiest of hostels. Large yurts with more lavish features can definitely be more expensive, but when you figure how many people they can accommodate, their prices are still reasonable.
What is a yurt?
Yurt designs have evolved for centuries, but the basic structure remains the same. They are based on portability and are generally compact enough that a single pack animal can carry a collapsed yurt.
Yurts in the United States and Canada are made out of heavier materials and are rarely portable. For this reason, traditionalists consider them to be more "yurt-inspired" structures than actual yurts.
Yurts are located in amazing places
There are yurts for rent in some of the most stunning areas of Utah. For example, Utah State Parks and Recreation rents out a beautiful yurt near Goblin Valley for only $60 a night. It sleeps five people, has an outdoor grill and a wrap-around deck that faces the San Rafael Swell. Whether you love red rock or alpine lakes, you’ll find what you looking for because there are more than 30 yurts available in a wide range of scenic locations across the state.
Yurts are comfortable
While the mattress pads on most yurt bunks are far from plush, the structures offer plenty of comfort. Our yurt in the Uintas included a couch, a large table, and six chairs. The kitchen area had a stove and all the pots, pans and utensils we could ever need. There were even storage bins full of games like Battleship, Uno, and Stratego. Outside our yurt was a huge woodpile, ensuring that our fire never waned in the night. And only a few paces from the front door was a sauna built from logs.
Yurts connect you with nature
Although I love sleeping under the stars, there are times when I want a roof over my head. Yurts provide the perfect link between open air camping and staying in a cabin. You get all the benefits of a solid roof above you, but the thin walls allow you to hear wildlife and feel the wind. Our yurt in the Uintas had a large skylight in the roof to let the sun in by day and make stargazing possible by night.
Yurts bring people together
Hotel rooms, cabins, and tents often have a way of segmenting groups. With a spacious yurt, an entire family can comfortably stay together. Being in the same room encourages group games and storytelling, two things that are increasingly endangered in our technological world. On our New Year’s Eve trip, our group spent seven hours playing games and sharing scary stories. It’s this kind of interaction that makes a yurt trip so memorable.
Grant Olsen joined the ksl.com team in 2012. He covers travel, outdoor adventures, and other interesting things. Contact him at email@example.com.