Written by Dan Lawton
Yurt camping is a great way to enjoy the fun of camping during the winter without braving the elements. Yurts were first used by nomads in Central Asia, but can now be found in state parks and camping areas across the U.S.

For novice campers who are not yet willing to spend money on camping equipment or give up basic comfort and conveniences, there is an alternate way to spend the night outdoors: yurt camping. Yurts, modeled after the domed dwellings first seen in Central Asia, have exploded in popularity at state parks and camping grounds around the world.

Advantages and amenities of the yurt

Modern day yurts are akin to semi-permanent tent structures. Yurts are usually eight-sided (though they can also be six and ten-sided) with a lattice supporting the canvas that surrounds the structure. There is a crown with a raised middle that covers the top portion.

Some of the more modern yurts found at campsites are constructed on wooden elevated decks and have screen windows and electricity. Depending on the amount of luxury campers are looking for, some yurts come with bunk beds, heating systems, bathrooms and televisions. These amenities are, of course, very dissimilar to the original yurts found in the 13th century.

The history of the yurt

While it’s nearly impossible to pinpoint when it was first created, the yurt has been traced back to the nomadic people of Mongolia and was likely invented around the time of Genghis Khan. At this time, yurts were basic tent-like buildings covered with felt mats and had an inner structure made out of slats and posts. What made yurts so unique was that most were transportable, so people could easily move them from one area to another. Yurts were typically set up on high ground so their owners could watch over livestock and survey the surrounding area.

Increasing popularity

From those early days in Mongolian history, yurts have remained present in Central Asia and other countries around the world. These comfortable huts, designed to enhance the experience of camping, are popping up at more campgrounds and state parks in the United States and Canada. Yurts are found in at least 28 states and each location has different types of accommodations. For example, yurts for rent at Yosemite National Park have refrigerators, microwaves and cable television.

Other uses for the yurt

While most people assume yurts are reserved for first-time campers or those seeking luxurious getaways, experienced outdoorsmen have been known to camp in them during harsh winters. Yurts allows campers to venture out on hiking trips while having the security of being able to go back to a warm shelter. Yurts can also be bought unassembled at stores for campers looking to set up at new, adventurous locations.

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