A small but growing subculture of mountaineers has rooted itself in Colorado: Yurters. Dotting the Rocky Mountain landscape are tiny hybrid structures called yurts that strike the perfect balance between tent and cabin. People engaging in all manner of backcountry activity have begun relying on yurts as a way of shirking the weight of backpacking and resting a little more comfortably at night. In some regions of the Rockies, clusters of yurts provide an in-built hopscotch for multi-day expeditions.
Traditionally, yurts are round structures with a kind of conical, teepee-like roof. The size of a yurt can vary, but common features include a bedroom with furnished beds, as well as a kitchen equipped with a stove, cooking utensils and a table. Most yurts also have woodstoves for warmth.
Yurt-to-yurt expeditions can be mapped out at places like Colorado State Forest State Park, where Never Summer Nordic rents out weekend yurting expeditions, allowing people to bike, hike, snowshoe, ski, four-wheel, etc., from one yurt to the next. Other areas, like the San Juan Hut Systems in Ridgway, Colo., offer such a vast network of yurt-like huts that one can sign up for a biking expedition from Telluride to Moab.
But not everyone is drawn to the idea of yurts as a method for enhancing rugged mountain activities. To some, yurts represent luxurious, cozy, idyllic mountain structures where one goes to view the wildlife up close without getting dirty, and where a gourmet dinner awaits one in the evenings—a five-star hotel exported to your tiny cabin in the wilderness. The practice of yurting like you’re in the Hamptons is best known as glamping, and can be found in Colorado at the Black Canyon Wildlife Ranch near Gunnison. And for the really ambitious, you can even design and build your own yurt with the help of the Colorado Yurt Company.