Yurts are soft shelters with bunk beds in them found in some provincial parks, conservation areas and other campgrounds. They are a fantastic way to spend outdoor time with your family. They are usually heated if they are available in the winter, so it’s a great way to go winter camping without needing all that gear and experience. You’ll find it much easier to manage being outdoors with little kids if you’re staying in a yurt.
You’ll probably have to book months in advance to get your yurt, so as the weather gets colder, you can look forward to your trip, and start planning for it. If you’re more of a last minute kind of person, you can look online every week for a spot to open up in a week or two.
What to Bring
Before you leave find out what’s included in the yurt. Here is a handy list of items you may want to bring:
- Bring your own bed sheets, sleeping bags, and pillows. You don’t need to buy the best sleeping bags. You will want to cover the mattress with your own sheets.
- Bring mini-lanterns and a flashlight or headlamp.
- Bring cutlery, plates and bowls, pots.
- Dish soap and a dish cloth, and an oven mitt that can get dirty.
- Bring an electric kettle if your yurt has electricity.
- Bring your cooler; leave it in the car at night.
- Bring a red checkered picnic tablecloth.
- If there is a BBQ, you may have to bring your own BBQ propane tank.
- Bring matches and fire starter for your campfire.
- Bring fold up camping chairs to sit around the campfire in comfort.
- In the summer, bring bug spray, in the winter bring layers of extra clothing.
- Try to avoid wearing cotton clothing. When cotton gets wet it gets cold.
- Wool is great, but if you find it too itchy, acrylic and polar fleece are great alternatives.
- Stay away from navy and black as the bugs love that colour.
- Bring indoor shoes, sandals, water shoes in the summer, slippers at night.
You don’t need fancy gear. If you don’t have something, visit a thrift store to see what they have. You can find pants and acrylic sweaters, sleeping bags and blankets. You can take an old pot and remove the handle, put some soap on the outside and you have a pot for the campfire.
Winter in a Yurt
Rather than renting all your winter camping gear like a winter sleeping bag and a tent, you can stay in a heated yurt in the winter and enjoy all the activities the park has to offer. You can even BBQ outside your yurt if there is one provided.
Before leaving on your trip, contact the campground to find out about the conditions, and what kind of winter activities they offer. If there is skating there, bring your own skates. There may be a toboggan hill nearby and cross country skiing and snoeshoeing. You may be able to tow your children in a sled or toboggan as you enjoy the trails.
You’ll want to drink lots of warm liquids to stay warm. Bring either an electric kettle and an electric element and a pot to boil water. You can buy packets of hot chocolate, tea and apple cider to drink, and bring a thermos to take it with you on your day trips.
Bring extra clothing, and layer your clothing so you can take off layers if you get too warm, and put on more layers as you cool down. Make sure you and your kids have good waterproof boots, and try to find ski socks or wool socks for them as well. You will want to bring snow pants to stay dry and warm. For long johns, you can bring stockings or pajamas to put on underneath.
Yurts in the Summer
Last year we introduced our friends who have a one year old and a three year old to camping by reserving a campsite and a yurt that were relatively close to each other, and close to the beach. Even though we set up our bug shelter and tent on our campsite, we ended up spending all our time at the yurt. It had a patio with a BBQ and picnic table, was closer to the beach and the kids loved playing inside on the bunk beds, especially with their little mini-lanterns.
Our friends rented a canoe and we paddled across the lake to a jumping rock. We like to put a thin sleeping mat on the bottom of the canoe so that the kids don’t have to sit on the bottom of the canoe. It was a great trip, and most likely they wouldn’t have gone camping if not for the yurt.
Note that most yurts do not allow pets inside so if you have a dog you may have to leave him at home with someone to look after him, or you’ll have to stick to your tent or RV.
Pictures courtesy of Pinery Provincial Park’s Twitter feed.