Yurts are the best way to camp with little kids — and it’s already time to start planning for next summer.

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The first time I tried camping after having a child was when my son was six months old. We stayed at a friend’s cabin on her lawn in a tent. By about 10 p.m. I was convinced that it was too cold and moved the baby inside. Camping trip number one: fail.

The next summer I tried again — and again freaked out. This time, I was worried that the now-squirmy 18-month-old would get caught in the sleeping bag.

Another kid and three years later, and my husband and I were getting very antsy to get into the woods again. We needed to try something different, so we rented a yurt for one night at Kayak Point County Park, just north of Seattle. It changed everything.

Most yurts have electricity and small kicker heaters, so there’s no worrying about the cold. You bring your own linens, so you can use a sleeping bag, or whatever baby blanket your child is accustomed to. You can load it up with all your gear, and the kids can play inside if it starts to rain. And you can close the door for naptime and sit outside with your spouse and enjoy nature — almost like you used to.

Is it “cheating?” No way. You’re out of the city and the kids are in nature. You still cook outside and walk to the toilets. There are stands of trees overhead and the sound of birds in the morning. You pay more than for a campsite (they run $40–$70 a night), but a lot less than a cabin.

Yurts provide the perfect mix of camping fun and home luxuries to make getting into the woods with little kids a lot easier.
Yurts provide the perfect mix of camping fun and home luxuries to make getting into the woods with little kids a lot easier.

Yurts are also great for people with mobility issues, as you don’t have to crawl into a tent and sleep on hard ground (there are mattresses on bed frames). On a trip this summer to Seaquest State Park, the gateway to Mount St. Helens, our yurt village was filled with families with young children on the weekend, and changed to retirees by Monday afternoon.

Although campsites are increasing their use of yurts, they’re still a small fraction of sites. Most campsites open booking nine months out, and planning way in advance is necessary for securing weekend dates. So check your calendars now and give yourself a little gift for next summer. That way, as everyone heads out of town, you won’t be left in the city, dreaming of the woods.