When you open the door and smell the fresh, cold air, you take in the snow-laden trees and the mountain view. The cold nips at your skin and you feel the chill spread to your bones. The snow envelops your feet when you take that first crunching step onto the deck to see what makes camping in this yurt in the Idaho wilderness worth it.
A yurt consists of a dome-shaped structure with walls typically made of wood and canvas, and floors built with plywood to withstand the freezing temperatures. Each yurt comes with a stove, bed, kitchen supplies and a table. Outside are a toilet and a firepit. These yurts usually fit up to six people. The only thing you need to pack is food, bedding, warm clothing and any snow gear you have. Building and taking care of these yurts depends on dedicated volunteers. Idaho is home to several rentable backcountry yurts; here are two we recommend for an ideal winter camping adventure.
The Stargaze backcountry yurt at the Beaver Creek Summit near Idaho City is about 1.3 miles off the road. Blue signs on the trees help you find your way along the trail. This yurt is accessible via the Beaver Creek Summit Park N’ Ski parking lot located on Highway 21. From this yurt, you will be able to see the horizon in the east and Sawtooth Mountains. Stargaze yurt is one of the few in Idaho that allows dogs to accompany you.
The Rocky Ridge yurt is located in Boise National Forest. To access this yurt, you will need to park at the Whoop-Um-Up Park N’ Ski lot. Once parked you will take a 1.5-mile trek up the Lower Lamar Trail.
Tips for Winter Backcountry Yurt Camping:
- Melt the snow and boil the water using the stove for drinkable water.
- Buy an Idaho Park N’ Ski Permit.
- Bring a snow shovel for clearing the path to gather wood and to access the toilet.
- Bring cross-country skis or snowshoes to navigate the ungroomed trails to the yurts.