Tips and information for yurt camping in Oregon
Have you ever gone yurt camping? It’s a very popular thing to do in Oregon, but despite living here for more than a decade we had never tried it until recently. Now that we have, I’m happy to share my tips, so that you can give it a try!
What is a yurt?
A yurt is a little bit like a cross between a tent and a cabin. They are dome-shaped structures (with tall enough ceilings to stand up and walk around) and canvas walls, but usually have electricity including space heaters making them more comfortable during inclement weather. Historically, they were developed to be portable and assembled much like a tent, but to hold up under more extreme weather. While yurts have been around for thousands of years, they became popular in the states in the 1960s, and Oregon was the first state to incorporate them into their state campgrounds!) (Source: OregonLive.)
Where can I rent a yurt in Oregon?
The Oregon State Parks website has an extensive map and list of available yurts here. The Oregonian/OregonLive also has a resourceful article here with specific recommendations. We camped at Beverly Beach State Park, a family favorite for tent camping for many years, and had an outstanding experience. A few other locations I have had my eye on for future trips are Cape Lookout State Park, Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park, Fort Stevens State Park, and Wallowa Lake State Park.
In general, campground reservations for Oregon State Parks can be made online at oregonstateparks.reserveamerica.com, or by phone at 800-452-5687 Monday – Friday.
When should I go yurt camping?
The great thing about yurt camping is that you can do it year-round because yurts are more comfortable than tent camping during bad weather. Yurts are a great option if you want to get away during the winter or spring months but don’t have a big budget for a hotel, or, perhaps you just enjoy a bit more rustic of an experience.
You will still need to prepare food outside your yurt and trek to the bathroom in the sleet and cold, and if you or your family members want a hot shower after getting soaked you’ll have to do so in the communal bathrooms. And then, factor in a soaked and dirty family dog in your dwelling, and you get the gist. Considering all of this, for me, I’d probably book during fairer weather next time (it poured rain during our first experience).
Pros of Camping in a Yurt
- Yurts are economical – about $42-$62 per night – more expensive than camping, but much less expensive than a resort room.
- They are more comfortable than tent camping unless you are seriously equipped (we found the futons to be quite comfortable).
- Most yurts have electricity and heat, and a few are even “deluxe” with their own bathroom.
- Many yurts are pet-friendly, so you can bring your pup along, too.
- Yurts are a very COVID-safe lodging option, we found ours to be clean and well ventilated, and you bring all your bedding which makes it even more COVID-safe.
- Although we couldn’t cook in the yurt, we could access electricity outside the structure, meaning we could bring our electric skillet.
Cons of Camping in a Yurt
- You must plan pretty far in advance or go during less desirable times – they book up quickly!
- Because the yurt walls are thin canvas, they can be quite loud, both from elements (pounding rain) as well as whatever is going on nearby.
- They get dirty quickly.
- There is no privacy, which we noticed was a bit of an issue for our older kids because they had nowhere to change and didn’t want to do it in the public restroom either.
- There is no bathroom in the yurt, which can be an issue when the weather turns, or at night.
- You can’t cook within the structure, so you’ll have to come prepared with your camp cooking set up, or plan a budget to eat out.
More Tips for Yurt Camping With Your Family
- Set up availability alerts! Recently, I learned you can set an alert, and receive an email when your chosen yurt becomes available. I also set reminders on my phone and calendar to get on it six months in advance.
- Consider booking during the shoulder season months, remember, yurts are much cozier than a tent and have electricity.
- Double-check that you are indeed booking a pet-friendly yurt.
- Double-check the location of your yurt and make sure you are happy with its proximity to bathrooms etc.
- If you are camping with older kids and teens, consider bringing a tent along, or another privacy escape hatch.
- If you are yurt camping with more than two people, bring a few more folding or camping chairs along, we didn’t do that and there were only two within the yurt.
- Bring board games, cards, and puzzles.
- Consider bringing an extension cord and electric skillet instead of your camp stove.
- I also wished I had remembered headlamps, paper towels, wet wipes, and some type of privacy drape.
- We appreciate that there were lots of hooks for hanging gear and the covered porch was nice, but DON’T leave all your shoes under the covered porch! We did that the first night and found ALL shoes saturated the next day from the driving wind and rain the night before.
Bottom line? There were many pros as well as cons to yurt camping, but we’d do it again with a few lessons learned for next time. There was a “cabin fever” dynamic that we had to navigate, with four people and one dog packed into a small space when the weather turned, but we’ve experienced that at $400/night resort rooms on the coast too. All told, I might consider booking a yurt from now on and save that expensive resort money towards a bigger ticket trip.
Have you ever been yurt camping? How did it go?
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