Camping season is coming -- here's where your family can try a yurt

Do you like the idea of camping, but not the part where you sleep on the ground in a tent?

March 13, 2018
Yurt camping in the woods

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If you're a fair-weather camper like me, I've got one word for you: YURT.

My wife Melinda is a former camp counselor and lifelong outdoorsy nature lover who can build a fire in the rain and pitch a tent at a campsite before I’ve even lugged the cooler over from the car. Here in the Northwest, conditions can be iffy when you’re near the mountains or the coast, especially in the spring and fall. So I’m always a little less than gung-ho about a weekend camping trip if the weather isn’t warm and sunny. Or at least that’s the way I felt before we discovered the wonderful world of yurts.

A lot of campgrounds in Washington have at least a couple of yurts in the mix which you can reserve. And I can’t tell you what a difference it makes when you head out on a “camping” trip but leave the tent in the garage. And the inflatable pads that go under your sleeping bag but barely protect you from the uneven, rocky surface beneath you.

Yurts aren’t fancy, unless you’re doing the full-on “glamping” thing, which gets pricey. The inside of a standard state campground yurt looks like a cross between a very basic dorm room and a prison cell. Most of them have a primitive but sturdy wood bunk bed with a mattress encased in hard plastic. You put your own bedding or sleeping bag on top of that. There’s usually a couch, and some kind of table/desk combo if you want to eat indoors or play board games or something. Many have electricity so you can charge your phone and have some light to read by. And if you’re seeking a little extra peace of mind for yourself or your gear, most of them have a door that actually locks.

My family’s favorite place to yurt-camp is Cape Disappointment State Park, way down at the far Southwest corner of the state. You’re footsteps from the Pacific, you have all the outdoor amenities you expect at a campsite like a fire pit and a picnic table, and the yurt is heated! They have 14 yurts at Cape Disappointment, so with some advance planning, you can usually snag one.

And if you want to get a little fancier, there's Doe Bay Resort on Orcas Island  Lakedale Resort at Three Lakes on San Juan Island, both of which have acutal beds with linens and pillows and stuff. Swanky. (And spendier.)

But there are at least another dozen spots where yurts are available all over Washington. Here’s a great rundown of some of the best, courtesy of the family activity website Red Tricycle. Summer’s coming – make those reservations now and put that tent on Craigslist before camping season begins.