What the Heck is a Yurt


Let’s talk about yurts, shall we?

Up until a few years ago, I’d never heard of a yurt. And since I get tons of comments and questions each time I post a photo of a yurt on my Facebook page, I thought I’d give you the basics.

A yurt is essentially a fancy tent that rests on a wooden platform. Typically the yurt will have a very basic set of beds, a wood stove for heat, screened window flaps, and a vent at the top that can be opened to allow some circulation.

So how are they held together? It’s tough to describe, so I’m going to borrow from Pacific Yurts‘ website:

“Rafters push inward on compression ring and outward on tension cable, which acts in a similar way to a hoop on a barrel preventing the rafters from moving/spreading outward.”

Yeah, what they said.

Yurts can also be very fancy and home-like, but most are pretty basic structures meant to keep you warm and dry. They’re popular at state and national parks (cheaper to build than cabins, more durable than a portable tent) and are gaining popularity among the general public, too.


Two sets of twin bunk beds, a wood stove, and decent-sized table accommodate up to four people.

Why a Yurt?

Here are a couple of the things I dig about the U.P. state park yurts:

1. The Hike In

Yurts tend to be in backcountry locations that require a hike in and reward you with solitude once you get there.

2. The Structure

Aside from just being a cool structure, I like that yurts usually have beds, tables, and a wood stove to keep the place warm if need be. I also like that they have high ceilings (since I’m tall) and they’re up on a platform, so you’re sure to stay dry if mother nature throws a torrential downpour your way.

3. Less Stuff Needed

Because the yurts have a bed, tables, mattresses, wood stoves, and cooking equipment, you can pack pretty light and still have everything you need and then some.

My Experience in a Yurt

I’ve been fortunate enough to sleep in some pretty unique places. I’ve crashed in a cave in Australia, a boat in Amsterdam, a treehouse in the rain forest, a hostel in France, and of course, a Yurt in the Upper Peninsula. And the Yurt was right up there on the cool scale.

I fully intend to stay in every Yurt in the Upper Peninsula, but the only one I’ve stayed in so far is the Teddy Lake Yurt in Craig Lake State Park, which I visited last year with my dad.

It came equipped with two sets of bunk beds, a wood stove, and a table. Outside the yurt was a cabinet filled with cooking supplies, two picnic tables, a fire pit, and a lake. (Nice feature, that lake.) A rowboat was provided. We paddled around a bit but didn’t fish because a lightning storm chased us off the water. We went inside and played cribbage for a while, then made a campfire once the storm cleared. Good times.

Speaking of Craig Lake State Park, there’s now a yurt on Kewaydin Lake which sleeps more people than the Teddy Lake Yurt. I’ll definitely be checking that one out soon!

Reserve a Yurt

Are you ready to stay in a yurt? Call the Michigan DNR and reserve the Teddy Lake Yurt, Kewaydin Lake Yurt, or one of the many Yurts in the Porcupine Mountains. At the very least you’ll have a good story to tell!

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