Have you ever wondered, "what the heck is a yurt?"
They can make an amazing camping adventure... or totally awful, depending on what you're staying in.
Kayla and I stayed in a yurt once and had a horrible experience. We basically stayed in a free, state government-owned yurt that's open to anyone.
(Thinking about it now, it was a pretty bad idea to begin with. What were we thinking?!)
But just because we had a bad experience, doesn’t mean that you will!
A yurt is a step up from regular tent camping and can be an awesome way to experience nature (if you do your research).
Some yurts are so big they can sleep up to 15 people comfortably(!), but they’re also so easy to set up and take down (if you ever decide to own one) that the whole process only takes 30 minutes to 3 hours.
With that much room, your whole family or group of friends can enjoy a fun camping trip—with some tips from our own experience, of course!
In this guide, you’ll learn what a yurt is, the different kinds of yurts, some tips to have the best yurt camping experience, as well as some awesome places to stay in a yurt. Let’s dive in!
What is a Yurt?
Yurts are basically giant, portable, circular tents that could be as luxurious or as simple as you want them to be!
If you were to look it up in the dictionary, the actual definition is “a circular tent of felt or skins on a collapsible framework, used by nomads in Mongolia, Siberia, and Turkey.” They have come a long way and become a camping staple in the US.
Some people even live in communities of modern yurts because they have a lower environmental impact.
The yurt life can be a temporary camping experience for some or a permanent way of living.
What is a Yurt Made Out Of?
The frame of a yurt is made from a number of flexible poles that form lattice walls, with felt or another fabric covering to create the walls.
Construction materials for the wooden frame can include any kind of flexible wood in a criss-cross or vertical pattern.
The covering can be made of various types of fabric, such as a canvas, tarp, felting wool, or another sturdy material. Back in the day, animal hide was a popular covering because it provided natural insulation, especially in extreme weather.
Modern yurts (North American yurts) have small differences from the original central Asian Mongolian ger (see above) that it stems from. They’re both portable, circular tents. The only real difference is that the Mongolian ger (means home) is slightly less fancy than our modern yurts!
Fun Fact: These traditional yurts were often used by nomadic herders in the Central Asian regions!
Where Did The Yurt Come From?
Who thought of this awesome way to camp? How did yurts even become a thing?
Believe it or not, the yurt life has a long history dating all the way back to Central Asia and Ghengis Khan’s time when the central Asian Mongolian ger was the standard of living.
Thousands of years ago, in Central Asia, nomads wandered freely and lived in the world’s first yurts. They were everywhere! People used them along the Silk Road and the yurt life was the norm in those times.
Fast forwarding to modern yurts, people far and wide use them as another way to glamp it up. They can be found at several camping hotspots, and some brave individuals even live in yurt communities throughout the US. Pacific Yurt even hires yurt builders to craft custom-ordered yurts!
Why Do People Live in Yurts?
Why would anyone take the big leap to live in a yurt?
For many, it saved money and created a lower environmental impact. With climate change as a big issue, people are wanting to leave less of a footprint on the world to save it.
Another reason is that many modern yurts have all the comforts of home. They can be just as big as a log cabin in some cases, and I have seen some with interior walls to separate the space. So you can live in nature without giving up your creature comforts!
Fun Fact: The world’s largest yurt is 94’6" in diameter!
What Is Yurt Camping?
It’s no secret that yurts are more affordable, closer to nature, and more unique than staying at a hotel. Yurt camping is a step up from your standard tent because it offers more room and sometimes more amenities.
Unlike in Central Asia, you can choose to go bare bones with only a bed, or you can stay in a high-end yurt with electricity, a bathroom, and even a kitchen! That’s the beauty of choosing these as your base station.
5 Tips On Staying In A Yurt
Ready to go on a modern yurt adventure now that you know what they are? Awesome! I highly recommend it. But to help you avoid our crappy experience, here are five tips to help you make this an amazing camping trip:
1. Bring Multiple Layers Of Clothing
Bringing multiple layers of clothing may not seem like much, but camping can get cold. Inside or outside of the yurt, you want to feel comfortable. When you have multiple layers, you can add more when you get cold or take away when you start to get hot.
2. Have A Fire Starter Handy
Depending on what comes inside of your yurt, you may be doing your cooking outside. A fire starter is a good tool to have if you need to use a fire ring or outdoor grill. It’s also great to have in case you want to have a bonfire.
3. Don’t Forget Your Lantern
Although most yurts are equipped with electricity, you never know when the power might go out. It’s always good to have a lantern for back up.
4. Close Your Door
It may not seem like much but closing your door is huge. Not only will it keep spiders and bugs out, but it will also keep some bigger bandits out as well. You don’t want to wake up sharing your bed with a raccoon!
5. Don’t Forget The Bug Spray
Camping is camping. You never want to forget the bug spray and become a buffet for mosquitos and other bugs. This is a camping essential that you should never leave home without.
5 Places Where You Can Stay In A Yurt
Now that you’re excited to stay in a modern yurt, here are five amazing places you can stay in one (that’s MUCH nicer than the public one we stayed in—don’t do what we did!):
This wraps up how to go yurt camping like a pro. You now know the answer to the “what is a yurt?” question! I hope these tips help you to prepare for the next camping trip of your dreams.
If you have any tips or have had your own yurt camping experience, share them in the comments below!