The yurt now being used at some Manitoba campgrounds has kept the name and a similar domed shape, but uses more high-tech materials.
Do you enjoy the outdoors but aren’t keen on sleeping on the ground? Do you want to try camping this summer, but don’t own a trailer or a tent? Do you enjoy new adventures? If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, then perhaps you are one of those who would enjoy something different in Manitoba camping experiences: the yurt.
The original yurt was portable – a dwelling made of felt stretched over a circular lattice frame. It was (and still is) used by wandering nomads in the steppe regions of central Asia, and was designed to be dismantled and carried by yaks or camels from place to place.
The yurt now being used at some Manitoba campgrounds has kept the name and a similar domed shape, but uses more high-tech materials. It is permanent, built on a wooden platform several centimetres off the ground, and uses fabric instead of felt over the frame. About five metres (16 feet) in diameter, the yurts have a skylight as well as screened windows with covers that roll up to admit light and air, so the interior is much brighter than inside a tent. A lockable door provides security, while electricity, lights and a heater give comforts not easily available in a tent. The yurts also have a small porch or deck outside.
Inside features include rustic log furniture: a bunk bed, futon sofa sleeper, table, chairs and a small storage cabinet. Four adults or a family of five are allowed per yurt. Supplies for housekeeping (broom, mop and garbage bags) are also provided, and water taps are nearby. Other camping supplies are up to you, so don’t forget your sleeping bags, pillows, food, dishes, cooking pots, and whatever else you require.
Cooking is not permitted inside the yurt. Campers use the firepit (firewood is available) or bring their own camp-stove and/or portable barbecue. Parking is on site at some locations, or nearby at others. The Spruce Woods site, for instance, has parking at a nearby parking lot, with wheelbarrows available so campers can easily move their equipment and luggage to the yurt.
This year, seven of our provincial parks are offering yurt camping: Spruce Woods (Kiche Manitou); Asessippi; Bakers Narrows; Clearwater Lake (Camper’s Cove); Camp Morton; Nutimik Lake; and Stephenfield. The fee is $40 ($44.80, including taxes) per day. Since the number of yurts is limited, I’d recommend making reservations. Most of the campgrounds have five or six so far; up to about 10 at Spruce Woods.
Although yurt camping has only been offered a couple of years in Manitoba, it is becoming very popular and I imagine more of the structures will be built in coming years. This
summer might be a good time to try one, especially since entry fees in Manitoba’s provincial parks have been eliminated for this year.
Yurts are a step up from a tent, and in more than one way! They’re listed on the provincial website under “Comfort Camping.” Find more information at www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/parks/ or 888-482-2267.
– Donna Gamache writes from MacGregor, Manitoba