Note: Yurt availability and amenities may be affected by COVID-19. Weekends bookings fill up quickly, so plan your trip in advance.
The word yurt is of Turkic origin and describes a portable round tent covered in animal skins used by the nomadic peoples of central Asia like the Mongols (who actually call them gers).
Yurts have been in use for thousands of years because they insulate well and hold up to high winds and snow loads due to their superior wood framed engineering. During summer, yurts can easily be adapted to suit hotter temperatures.
Modern yurts are generally built on wooden platforms and covered with canvas or tarp, with a plexiglass dome to allow natural light to enter, and for stargazing at night. Yurt hosts will offer a variety of amenities, so check the details before you head out to ensure a good time in Idaho’s beautiful winter landscape.
Yurts Near Boise
Idaho City Backcountry Yurts
If you’re looking for some winter exercise on nordic skis or snowshoes within an hour of Boise, check out one of the six backcountry yurts managed by Idaho Parks and Recreation. Located in the Idaho City area, these yurts were constructed for the outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy during every season.
All six yurts cost $115 per night and allow up to 6 occupants. Four of the yurts (Stargate, Hennessy, Skyline, and Rocky Ridge) are dog friendly.
Reservations for the yurts must be made at least 48 hours in advance and weekend bookings are the toughest to land, so plan ahead. Yurts can be booked on the Reserve America website. If you’re feeling lucky and want to book without 48-hour notice, call DeEtta Peterson via landline (208) 514-2418 or cell (208) 781-2296.
Parking for each yurt is located in lots north of Idaho City off Highway 21. Park N’ Ski permits are required in lots with trail access from Nov. 15 through April 30. The Boise County Sheriff’s Office fines unpermitted vehicles up to $100. Parking directly on Highway 21 is not allowed.
Winter weather can be severe, so avoid storms and make sure you and your companions have appropriate winter gear and knowledge of the trail systems and yurt sites. Check out Idaho Parks and Rec’s Winter Yurt Manual for detailed information about parking, access trails, and yurt locations.
Yurts Near McCall
Blue Moon Yurt
Nothing beats a well-crafted meal after some vigorous exercise. Get the blood flowing and relax after with a trip to the Blue Moon Yurt in Ponderosa State Park near McCall. Visitors trek to the yurts via nordic skis or snowshoes on groomed trails lit by tiki torches, then experience a group multi-course meal with international culinary delights.
Due to COVID, Blue Moon Outfitters are offering outdoor dining options on their heated, open-air deck, set off the ground among the pine boughs. Blue Moon Yurt takes reservations in advance for their October 2020 season and, according to their website, is announcing plans for the 2020 winter season by Nov. 1.
Lick Creek Yurts
Experience central Idaho’s abundant powder and breathtaking scenery at the Lick Creek Yurts, hosted by Payette Powder Guides. With 30,000 acres of pristine snow and an elevation of nearly 7,000 feet, backcountry skiers and snowboarders call this place heaven.
The Lick Creek site features two yurts, a wood-fired sauna, and outhouse, so skiers can relax after a satisfying day in the snow. Access to the site is no joke. Visitors hitch a ride in a heated snowcat, which traverses 12 miles of Forest Service road. Each skier or snowboarder is allowed up to 75 lbs of gear and are dropped off right next to the yurts.
Access to the yurts via snowcat and rental costs $960 roundtrip for up to eight people (an additional $60 per person for more than eight). The Payette Powder Guide website doesn’t list rental prices, and they couldn’t be reached at the time of writing.
Check out their website for contact info and specific info about their guided trips and avalanche education courses.
Yurts Near Sun Valley
Sun Valley Mountain Huts
The Sawtooth Mountains are considered by many to be the crowning jewel of the Gem State. The guides and hosts at Sun Valley Mountain Huts combine the majestic scenery of the Sawtooths with world-class backcountry skiing and snowboarding.
The six available huts sleep between 14-20 people, depending on layout, and are placed in breathtaking locations with spectacular views of the Sawtooth and Pioneer Mountains. The yurts contain cooking amenities and a wood-fired sauna for city luxury among nature’s splendor.
Each hut costs $400 per night for up to eight people, and $50 per additional guest. Additional kids aged 6-12 cost $25 per night.
Hut Meisters, which are mandatory for any first-time visitors to any one of the six yurts available, guide outdoor junkies to each yurt location. Meisters go over the yurt amenities and cover current snow conditions and stability for skiers and snowboarders for optimum safety.
Meister rentals are $300 for all yurt locations but one location – Boulder Yurt – which costs $200.
If carrying gear isn’t on your checklist, hire a porter to carry up to 50 lbs to your yurt for $225 a day. Groups can also hire snowmobile services starting at $600 for up to six people to tow in people and gear at three of the six locations: Coyote Yurt, Tornak Hut, and Pioneer Yurt.
Check out the Sun Valley Mountain Huts website for booking and more detailed information.
Galena Lodge Yurts
Located half-an-hour north of Ketchum on Highway 65, Galena Lodge serves as a stopover for hikers, snowshoers, backcountry and nordic skiers, and sightseers. Visitors can enjoy a hot meal and tasty beverage and recharge their batteries for the next adventure, but they can also rent one of the four yurts available.
Three of the four yurts – Senate View, Star Perch, and Honeymoon Yurt – are located on a ridge near the lodge and can be accessed via snowshoes or nordic skis. The Miners Yurt is located at the top of Senate Meadows (about 30 minutes away on skis) and is next to the Jenny’s Way Nordic Trail. Make sure to buy an $18 Nordic pass if you plan to ski in.
Star Perch and The Miner’s Yurt sleep eight people while Senate View and Honeymoon Yurt sleep four. Each yurt is solar power and has a propane stove with fuel for cooking. Cooking utensils, coffee, firewood, and games are stocked at each location. Firewood is also available, but must be split for use.
Star Perch yurt has a wood-fired sauna nearby for extra relaxation opportunities.
The cost of booking one of the huts runs $200 per night, except the Honeymoon Yurt, which costs $150.
Galena Lodge does host dinners, but not nightly, so be sure to check their schedule and pack plenty of your own grub just in case.
A pull-behind sled is provided by the lodge for each rental and snowmobile service is available for an extra fee. Dogs are allowed only in the Honeymoon and Miner’s Yurts during the winter season.
For booking and additional information, see the Galena Lodge website.
Yurts Near Stanley
Williams Peak Hut
Located high in the northern Sawtooths, Williams Peak offers excellent back-country powder for all skill levels. Operated by Sawtooth Mountain Guides, the two 16 foot and 20 foot yurts are stocked with wood stoves, a kitchen, cooking utensils, and bunk beds.
The yurts sleep 16 and include firewood, solar lighting, outhouse, and sauna. You’ll need to pack food and snow gear. Private rentals cost $440 per night up to eight people, with $50 additional cost per extra person. A $260 first-time hut orientation fee is charged for new visitors. Groups who’ve been before can waive the fee if they have a leader who has completed a Level 1 Avalanche Course.
To access the Yurts, visitors follow a summer trail 5 miles up 1,600 feet of elevation into the Sawtooths with great views along the way. No snowmobiles are allowed on the access trail, so get ready for some exercise. See the company’s website for detailed information.
Eastern Idaho Yurts
Harriman State Park Yurts
Travelers on their way to or from Yellowstone National Park may want to consider booking one of the two Cygnet and Wyethia yurts in Harriman State Park.
The yurts sleep 6, cost $55 per night or $385 per week, and feature amenities like:
-Indoor picnic table
-Two bunk beds (two-person futon on bottom and one-person single mattress on top)
-Propane stove and lantern
-Raised porch with sky views
-Drinking water access
-Nearby toilet and wood supply
If you love wildlife access, the two yurts are located in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, one of our Earth’s last, nearly intact ecosystems in the northern temperate zone. Depending on the season, yurt visitors may get a glimpse of elk, moose, sandhill cranes, trumpeter swans, and/or black and grizzly bears.
Book a stay at one of the yurts or get more information on Reserve America.
Privately Owned Yurts
If you already have a destination in mind and don’t see any openings from any yurt hosting companies like the ones listed above, check for yurts privately hosted on AirBnB.
There are several listed in various parts of Idaho, especially in scenic and mountainous areas.
Regardless of who you rent from, make sure you have the proper gear and provisions, especially if you must snowshoe or ski into the backcountry to reach the site.
Check the weather forecast before you head out on your winter adventure and pack tire chains if you don’t have a vehicle equipped for travel during winter conditions.