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MailTribune.com
  • Yurts for the modern nomad

  • With the price of gas going nowhere but up, many RV campers are turning to yurts as a compromise between getting away from home while bringing along home's amenities.
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  • With the price of gas going nowhere but up, many RV campers are turning to yurts as a compromise between getting away from home while bringing along home's amenities.
    "You still get the comforts, and they're a lot bigger than they look from the outside," says Doreen Ferguson, the parks manager for Josephine County.
    Built on the model made successful by Oregon State Parks, Josephine County has a growing yurt-rental system, with five available at Lake Selmac, two each at Schroeder and Indian Mary and one each at Almeda, Griffin and Whitehorse parks.
    Modern yurts are built on a design pioneered by the nomadic tribes of Mongolia thousands of years ago. These cylindrical dwellings are composed of a latticework wooden structure covered by fabric. Ancient nomads used yurts for the ease of construction/deconstruction, and because they are wind-resistant, lightweight and easy to carry.
    They've become popular with modern nomads — campers — because the construction costs are much lower, which translates into cost savings for renters.
    The cost for staying overnight in Josephine County Parks yurts is $30. Oregon State Parks charges $35-41. Both use www.reserveamerica.com to take reservations.
    Yurt rentals are popular, so plan ahead. Showing up with no reservations will leave you out in the cold.
    "If you want to reserve one of our yurts, there's about a nine-month window in advance where they're full in the summer," says Ferguson. "You can usually find a few in the winter without that much advance reservation."
    Yurt camping is a cross between tent and cabin camping. Unlike cabins and motels, you'll need to bring your own bedding. Commercial yurt rentals typically provide lights, electricity, a space heater, tables, chairs and beds (bunks and singles) with mattresses. Most prohibit smoking, cooking and pets inside the yurts. A new program through Oregon State Parks now allows dogs and cats indoors at a single, specific yurt at many of their campgrounds.
    Yurts provide a great base for visitors to take day trips into the surrounding areas. This style of camping appeals to a broad demographic.
    "We have families, seniors, couples," says Josephine County's Ferguson. "We even had one couple get married in the park and honeymoon in the yurt."
    Daniel Newberry is a freelance writer living in the Applegate Valley. Reach him at dnewberry@jeffnet.org.
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