The Official Website of the State of West Virginia

Inspired by nomads' shelter, yurts take the edge off camping


On a spring afternoon deep in West Virginia, Frankie ran around and around and around the deck of Solar Solitude, a rental yurt. To the uninformed observer, the Puerto Rican rescue dog, a guest at the property, was chasing an imaginary squirrel. But I knew better. Frankie was embracing one of the hallmark traits of the yurt: its roundness. 

The pandemic has pushed us outdoors, but when it's time to come in, we don't want the same old four walls. Unusual lodgings have become commonplace, and few more than the yurt. The Airbnb Report on Travel & Living, which the company released in May, noted a 31% increase in the number of unique accommodations since 2019; the collection now exceeds 170,000 listings. Demand has risen with supply: According to the study, searches for rentals in this category has grown 94%, and interest in yurts has surged by about 1,700% - more than earthhouses, barns and tiny homes.  

Campspot has noticed a similar upswing. The booking site for outdoorsy stays features more than 100 yurts in a variety of settings, such as a gnome-themed campground in Pennsylvania and the grounds of a reproduction fort along Colorado's South Platte River. Over the past year, the company noted a 13 percent higher occupancy rate for yurts than for other types of accommodations at vacation spots with mixed lodging styles. 

“Yurts remind me of being a kid again," said Colin Sternagel, who lived in Mongolia for seven months before founding SunTime Yurts, which imports the shelters from the Central Asian country. "They are like the ultimate fort made of blankets and have the coziness of a [Volkswagen] Westfalia, but are better insulated.” 

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