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Yurts of The Natural State

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As the mom of a busy family, I’m always looking for opportunities to get away with my family.  Recently we started taking advantage of the great state parks that are in Arkansas.  We enjoy the natural settings and love staying for more than just a day trip.  One of our favorite ways to have an extended stay and fully explore the parks is to stay in a yurt.

“You stay in a WHAT?!”

A yurt.  The name never fails to grab the attention. Traditionally a yurt is a portable, round tent dwelling used by the nomads of Central Asia.  But the yurts popping up in our state parks are permanent structures that offer an alternative to tent or RV camping.

Yurt at Petit Jean State Park at sunset

Yurts fall somewhere between a rustic cabin and a traditional “roughing it” tent-style campout experience.  Sites come with a picnic table, fire pit, charcoal grill, and a propane cook stove; so you have plenty of convenient cooking and eating spots.

Cooking outside of the yurt at lake DeGray State Park

Electrical and water hooks up are available outside.  Inside the yurts are simple but comfortable with lights, an electric outlet or two, and bunk beds.  They are also equipped with a table and chairs, a fan for when the temperature is warmer, and an ice chest for food storage.  The windows can be unzipped and rolled up to let the light in and further unfastened to reveal a screen so you can enjoy a nice breeze through your yurt.  Some parks even equip their sites with canoes, life jackets, and paddles so that you can fully enjoy the recreational water areas.

Canoe supplies at the yurt site at Petit Jean State Park

Along with your usual camping supplies here are some items I always plan for when staying in a yurt.

Bedding

What kid doesn’t enjoy a bunk bed? And you’ll enjoying having a sleeping spot that isn’t so low to the ground.  Traditional bedding choices of sheets and blankets make for a nice homey feel but if you’re rolling out the traditional sleeping bag you might want to bring a sheet to cover the mattress.

Glamping out the inside of a yurt at Petit Jean State Park

Lighting – outside

Each site has a light pole outside with a hook for a lantern.  We fitted an old chandelier with an outdoor plug that I love to use.  It adds a bit of fun, glampy flair and is always a conversational piece with other campers in the area.  And since you have an electrical outlet outside don’t forget the string patio lights.

Chandelier lighting at the yurt site at Lake DeGray State Park

Lighting – inside

The yurts have a main central light but it’s nice to bring along smaller battery operated options for each bunk just in case someone has brought a good book they can’t put down when everyone else is ready to go to sleep.  Small tap lights or LED lanterns work great because you can Velcro or tie them up on the bed posts.

Power strips and extension cords

Even though you are fortunate to have electricity at your yurt, the outlet could be a ways from where you want that electrical item to be. Or you may have multiple items in need of electricity and don’t want to trip the outlet.

Electric Coffee Pot

I love campfire coffee as much as the next coffee addict. But first thing in the morning I don’t want to wait for a fire to get hot, then wait for water to boil before I can get my coffee.  Everyone is happier when I have my morning coffee with as little effort as possible.  And trust me you’ll be glad you packed that power strip with the coffee pot too.

Electric coffee pot is a smart idea when you go camping if you want your morning joe in a hurry

Temperature Control

Even though the yurts come with a box or standing fan, I would suggest bringing an extra one if the humidity and temperatures become uncomfortably warm and muggy.  If the weather is leaning toward the cooler side, a small electric space heater can easily beat the chill and keep you toasty inside the yurt.

Other useful items

  • Duct tape – you never know when it will come in handy
  • Clothespins
  • Sticky backed Velcro
  • Zip ties
  • Five gallon bucket – sometimes the bathrooms are quite a hike and buckets come in handy in the middle of the night.

Staying in a yurt provides a nice balance between traditional camping and the conveniences of home. Some might say this isn’t real camping, but I ask what is the real purpose of your trip? I know that when my family stays in a yurt, it’s about being together, sitting around the fire, sharing a meal outside, and enjoying The Natural State.

Yurts of the Arkansas State Parks

Petit Jean State Park – Morrilton, Arkansas

Degray Lake Resort State Park – Bismark, Arkansas

Lake Catherine State Park – Hot Springs, Arkansas

Lake Charles State Park – Powhatan, Arkansas

GLAMPING

Glamping_Petit_Jean_State_Park_ACH_8807-1

A fun idea for the ladies: Have you heard about Glamping?  Glamour + Camping = Glamping! The Park Wife and some her friends went Glamping at Petit Jean State Park, go check out her post, get inspired, and go rent a yurt in the Natural State!

Meet the
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A little about .

Jeanetta Darley is an artist, blogger, and sometimes homesteader. A native Arkansan, she creates art and writes about the day to day victories & failures with family, farming, gardening, cooking & life in general at jeanettadarley.com.

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