Yurts

Ah, the sound of quiet serenity that seems to always accompany the sight of a yurt as they nest right into a natural setting. They also seem to be ‘popping up’ in many unexpected places. Maybe it’s part of the quest for nature after being plugged into a cell phone, computer, television, or in the car and office for too many hours in a week, but they seem to be popping up in unexpected places. A quiet retreat in a lovely setting–that is just what a yurt promises.

Yurts are traditional tents that were used by Mongolian nomads for centuries living on the grassland steppes of central Asia, and still are used by many on Asian plateaus. Their beauty and functionality invites one to be in rhythm with nature.

As more park campgrounds are opening for business–or working to draw visitors to existing ones–yurts are becoming a wonderful and economical choice for owners and managers. More and more people are becoming environmentally conscious and yurts are an attractive alternative to traditional cabins because they are usually built on decks with minimal environmental impact. They are warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

In the world of eco-tourism, yurts are a real draw. One could be used for additional living space for visiting family and friends, (a very attractive and viable option for many for just that purpose). Originally constructed around a wood frame covered with wool, modern yurts are made of wood, but covered with vinyl or a combination of polyester and cotton.

A standard yurt uses the following basic structure:

•Deck

•Frame

•Lattice

•Door

•Window(s)

•Tension cable

•Center ring

•Top cover

•Dome skylight

There are options that can be purchased with a yurt to increase the high wind and snow load capacity, as well as other amenities, such as ADA accessibility. These structures can be primitive or very upscale, depending on preference and its use.

There is a wide variety of companies out there providing the basic yurt. The differences between them include cost of shipping, use and availability of green building materials and company-provided installation. Another includes the unique histories of the businesses’ origins. All the yurt manufacturers contacted are in the western, northwest, and very northwest United States.

Pacific Yurts

Pacific Yurts, located in Cottage Grove, Oregon, was established in 1978 by Alan Bair, president of Pacific Yurts. Beginning in an old Oregon dairy, it is the original manufacturer of the modern lattice wall yurt that is sold throughout the world today.

Aside from a quality product, the company has found success in maintaining a strong community commitment. During difficult economic times, Pacific Yurts provided jobs to people who were displaced from the timber industry. In addition to contributing financially to a variety of community causes, the company has a commitment to reverence for the environment and have created a product that helps people to feel closer to nature while disturbing it minimally. In addition, Bair has been a featured speaker at ecotourism conferences because of his commitment to the environment.

Pacific Yurts also has a reputation for responsible, environmentally-sound business practices. For example, small wood pieces are donated to crafters, and sawdust is donated to local gardeners for recycling and reusing.

Nomad Shelter Yurts

Jess and Lee Tenhoff’s first yurt was built in January 1987 after losing everything in a house fire the day of the birth of their first child in Fairbanks, Alaska. From that harrowing experience, they built their yurt the traditional way within a month, lashing poles to form the latticework in their yurt. The founders lived in Alaskan sub-artic maritime, central maritime and interior climates in their own family yurt.

Over time, they experimented with the yurt, and developed one which could withstand the harsh Alaska climate zones. Nomad Shelter has a test bed on the Bering Sea Coast where many of the yurt design challenges were addressed and solved. Their yurts come standard with climate protection features, which are optional with other yurts.

In speaking with Jess Tenhoff, she relayed Nomad Shelter Yurts is a family-run business–she does the fabric work, Lee builds the wooden framework, their son helps with set-up, and other family members help with the business. They also maintain nine rental yurts on trailheads accessible only by water in Alaska’s Kachemak Park. Their yurts are used primarily in expedition camps, as they are very rugged and durable.

Yurtworks

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