Yurt lodging offers unique winter getaways that transport you in time
By Kathleen Curry and Geoff Griffin
When the Mongolians set up the first yurts in Central Asia some 3,000 years ago, they were definitely on to something. Angle wood and bamboo into a circular structure, wrap animal skins around it, and you’ve got the perfect way to keep warm while out staying in the wilderness in the middle of winter.
Fast forward to the 21st-century, and yurts are still a great place to spend a cold night when you’re traveling. Yurt options in Utah range from picturesque surroundings in state parks, to “glamping” level yurts or to those in remote locations that can only be reached in the winter by snowmobile, snowshoes or skis. Not only are they cozy, they are affordable, with prices ranging from $75/night at some state parks to $165/night for more nicely furnished AirBnB properties.
If you’re not ready to go for a full night, a yurt can be the perfect place for a four-hour, European-style dinner at local ski resorts. Check out these five options that can be found in the Beehive State.
Sleeping With Goblins
In 2011, Goblin Valley became the first state park to offer yurt camping. The park’s two yurts feature heat and air-conditioning, as well as sleeping arrangements for multiple guests. All cooking is done outdoor with propane grills provided. There are also outdoor decks and fire rings. Water can be pumped outside, and there are pit toilets by the road, just yards from both yurts. The best thing about this stay is you’re surrounded by the famous “goblin” rock formations for which the park is named.
Goblin Valley State Park
Goblin Valley Road, Green River, 435-275-4584,
East Canyon State Park is less than an hour’s drive from Salt Lake City, and a yurt here overlooks the 600-acre reservoir that sits along the historic Mormon Pioneer Trail.
The heated and powered yurts have bunk beds, pullouts and futons that can be arranged to sleep up to eight. The yurts are close to the road as well as restrooms.
Decks feature gas grills where you can cook, and fire pits are also available.
East Canyon State Park Yurts
5535 S. Highway 66, Morgan, 801-829-6686,
Off the Beaten Trail
For those looking to find adventure just getting to the yurt, this one sits six miles from the nearest parking lot. In the winter, it can be reached by snowmobile, snowshoe or cross-country skiing, and once you’ve spent a night in the yurt, you’re surrounded by a great landscape for recreating in snow the next day. Camp Mill Hollow, which has been around since 1964, was purchased by the YMCA of Northern Utah in 2017 and is the organization that rents out the yurt. Inside the yurt, which has four bunk beds that can sleep eight, you’ll find a wood stove for heating. Open the trap door and there’s firewood waiting underneath.
Mill Hollow Yurt
7480 S. Mill Hollow Road, Kamas, 801-839-3379,
Yurt Among the Red Rocks
For those looking to add a little more comfort to a yurt getaway, check out the “glamping” at Escalante Yurts. These sit among juniper trees on 20 privately-owned acres. Each yurt comes with a private bathroom complete with a shower. Five of the yurts are 450-square feet, have a king-size bed, and can sleep up to four. The two 900-square-foot yurts can sleep up to seven. Amenities include gas grills, mini-fridges, coffee makers and microwaves. They’ll even deliver continental breakfast to your yurt in the morning. Once the day gets going, recreation possibilities abound as Escalante is located close to Bryce Canyon National Park and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
1605 N. Pine Creek Road, Escalante, 844-200-9878,
Nordic Fine Dining
If you don’t feel ready to spend a full night in a yurt or face miles of snow to get there, what about a four-hour dinner where you’re hauled up the mountain in a sleigh?
The evening starts when you ascend 1,800 vertical feet up the mountain in a sleigh pulled by a snow-cat. The 23-minute ride allows for beautiful views of the Park City area below. When you arrive, you’ll be greeted with a glass of “glogg,” a hot, non-alcoholic, spiced berry drink. That’s the first of six courses you’ll taste during a four-hour dining experience that features an entree of braised short ribs with red wine loganberry braising jus.
The Viking Yurt
Park City Mountain Resort, Legacy Lodge, 435-615-9878,