While some may close up tents and winterize recreational vehicles this this time of year, there are others who look forward to a winter filled with adventures on U.S. Forest Service forests and grasslands. The draw is yurts and historic cabins available to rent that offer a bit of solitude for camping, a dose of adventure on skis, snowshoes or snowmobiles, and a lifetime of memories.
A yurt is a circular tent with canvas walls. There are many different styles and sizes of yurts, but generally each yurt is different in what it offers. Typically, you can expect to provide your own bedding, food, and cooking supplies. Some include beds, tables and chairs. Others have camp stoves and wood burning stoves. Check information on Recreation.gov before making your reservation and committing to a stay.
Last year, Johanne Tuttle and her friends chose the Grizzly Ridge yurt on the Ashley National Forest in Utah. After skiing three miles to reach the yurt, they found it had a wood-burning stove to keep warm when they finished cross-country skiing or sledding down a small hill. Inside, they could relax, play cards and cook their meals.
“We were actually really surprised to get up here and see how spacious the yurt is. It’s really spacious, big huge bunk beds, double sized, so you can easily fit two people on one bed,” Tuttle said. “It’s bigger than any yurt I've ever been in and plenty of room to move around and stretch out.”
Tuttle’s group stayed for several days, packing in everything they needed and adhering to outdoor ethics and packing out their trash and leaving the yurt ready for the next campers.
Staying in a yurt or cabin is easy to do depending on the location of the cabin and whether use is seasonal or year-round. All reservations are made through Recreation.gov. However, most facilities are locked and can be accessed only after contacting the forest or grassland office.
And as with any outdoor recreation adventure, preparation is key no matter which season you choose. Be sure you have the appropriate clothing, supplies and a local area map before you head out. The Forest Service offers paper maps for sale and digital maps for iOS and Android smart devices.
Still not sure you want to stay in a yurt? To learn more about unique camping experiences on the Ashley National Forest, watch videos on the Grizzly Ridge yurt; Trout Creek Guard Station; and the Carter Military Yurt.