What is a yurt? I have been asked that question a lot since I told friends and family that I booked a yurt for a recent weekend event in upstate New York.
If I was to explain what a yurt is in my language I would say it’s a big round tent like structure. It is portable. It has accordion walls and a heavy canvas (more circus tent than pup tent). It’s pretty darn cool!
Yurts hail from Central Asia. They date back to 400 bc and have been were used by nomads as the moved around the country. More here on the history of Yurts. And here is one more blog on the history of yurts.
I’m not sure how I came to know what a yurt was. Maybe while reading a book. Maybe in photos. I was always intrigued by them but they aren’t something you see often. So when I came across the opportunity to stay in a yurt I jumped right on it. Well I had to ask the family first bc this would be their dwelling for a couple nights as well. Good news! They were in! There were 4 yurts available at The Grist Mill campground in Granville, NY. I chose the 24 ft size plenty of room for the five of us – 2 adults- 3 teens. It had two sets of bunks a queen bed and a futon. There was a large table and small fridge and microwave. There was a hutch that held eating utensils, plates and cups. Oh and the most needed appliance- a coffee maker. Yes the yurt was equipped with electricity. This allowed the availability of a ceiling fan as well. I’m not sure the nomads would recognize the glamorous yurt we stayed in!
Our yurt also had windows. Much like a tent the windows zipped open and closed. The roof has a hole covered by a plastic dome which cranks open and closed. The windows allowed for ventilation as does the dome and in our case having windows was great as the yurt sat by a stream. The sounds of water at night were very soothing ESP for someone like me who wakes up often.
When you look for yurts to stay in in the US you will find many under the “Glamping” category of camping. Especially when you see how some of them are decked out. The only thing missing in our yurt was an attached bath. Hilary – the owner of the campground- said they were considering attaching a bathroom to each yurt. Their bath house was very nice and not far away but when some of us wake at night multiple times and need to go for a bathroom visit it would be nice to just have one steps away! But the yurt at Grist Mill was really great.
I will say a little about this camping area – Grist Mill Campground. If you are looking for a nice place to camp – you can rent a yurt or pitch a tent – you will be very happy with this location. There is a wonderful stream running behind each yurt which provides soothing sounds. Each yurt has a grill and fire pit and a number of chairs to sit outside. In addition, there is a large outdoor picnic table. The grounds contain a big barn they are now using for weddings and other events. The old mill is really cool and there is a large pond for fishing(there is a small camp store that sells bamboo fishing rods among other sundries) and trails along the pond and into the fields for nice hikes. Hilary- the owner- is wonderful and laid back. She makes you feel so welcomed right from the start. If you want a nice camping experience in a yurt or tent in the upstate New York area give Hilary a call at Grist Mill.
I have now fallen in love with yurts. I love the simplicity of them. I wonder if I could ever simplify that much that I could live in one for my home. When you have your entire family in one there is a lot of opportunity for closeness. After a couple days maybe it might even be just a bit too close for those used to a little more space! But we did great and nobody seemed to mind Kevin’s snoring!
Even if I could not make a yurt my permanent home at this point in my life, I would like to have one in my backyard. I am thinking of a writing place- a mom cave- a getaway from the craziness a house with three teens can dole out. Ahh the solitude. It will be something on my wish list and sometimes those wish list items become reality!
Yurts can be purchased online. Hilary told me you create the base (decking) and the yurts come as kits that can be put up on the decking. Probably, our nomads of the past did not create a beautiful deck with wonderful wide planked hardwood floors like our yurt floor had and you may not need an official floor if you want a yurt to tote to different places. But a solid non-dirt floor is preferable to dirt for us less adventurous campers. (I used to be a backpacker so i know rustic- I have just graduated to an easier camping experience! Yes Glamping…I know icky word to diehard campers). I will post more yurt info links below.
I am hoping that I will be able to stay in yurts more often. They are a really wonderful experience. There is such beauty in the simplicity and that is something I strive to find in my life. And when you find it you know you’ve found a gem… and just maybe one day I will be looking at one in my backyard!
Thanks for reading….