08 Apr Camping in a Yurt at Afton State Park
We were picturing white fluffy snow, hats and mittens, toasty wood burning stoves and hot, steaming coffee. Instead, we were met with an early spring and temperatures that reached almost 70ºF.
We definitely weren’t complaining, though—an early spring is always a welcome treat in Minnesota. You never really know what the weather will hold in March, and we were glad for a warm day even if it didn’t last for more than that first day.
There are three state parks in Minnesota that have yurts for rent, so for a little midweek adventure, we made our way to Afton State Park to stay in one of those yurts for a couple of nights.
I’d been itching to stay in a yurt for quite some time, so I was excited that we found open dates in both the yurt’s schedule and ours. Afton State Park has two yurts available, and dates seem to fill up at a fairly rapid rate.
Inside each yurt you will find a table with chairs, a wood stove and sleeping space for seven. The sleeping space consists of three bunk beds—two of the bunks are twin beds and the other has a twin mattress on top with a full size futon couch on the bottom. The yurts do not have electricity, running water or bathrooms, so think of it as a step up from camping but in an adorable, circular hut.
You need to bring your own bedding and all of your own supplies, but leave your gas stove and lantern at home or in your car because they are not allowed inside the yurts. Firewood is provided free of charge for the inside stove during the colder months, but if you want an inside fire when it’s warm outside, you can purchase wood for an additional fee. If you want to have a bonfire outside, wood is available for purchase year round. And for restroom facilities, there is an outhouse conveniently located along the path from the car to the yurt.
Although we lucked out with a gorgeous first day of weather, the temperatures dropped pretty quickly after the sun set, and unfortunately, they remained that way through the rest of our stay. Feeding the fire to keep the yurt warm throughout the night was not a welcome task, but somebody had to do it, and Micah was that person, much to my appreciation! On a brighter note, we didn’t have to pay for the firewood to use inside the yurt—so I guess, yay for that silver lining!
We planned our stay at the yurt to work on a video project, but we were really excited to get away from the city for a few days. That’s one of the aspects about Afton State Park that I love the most—we were 30 minutes from our apartment in the city, but it felt like we were hundreds of miles away from civilization. Afton is a wonderful gem in that aspect; you can really get away from the hustle and bustle without having to spend a lot of time getting there.
Our days were spent relaxing, playing cards, cooking meals over the bonfire, reading and to be honest, working a little bit. But, even though we couldn’t completely turn off our laptops, it was such a refreshing break from working at home for what felt like weeks on end.
Cooking and preparing food inside the yurt isn’t allowed, but you can eat inside as long as you store all of your food in the bear-proof box outside. We went the simple route and cooked brats over the fire for dinner and lunch and we brought along muffins for breakfast. I love preparing fun and creative campfire meals, but the week was about as much simplicity as possible and that definitely didn’t include elaborate campfire meals. I do have to say though, having a bonfire again made us giddy for summer evenings at the lakes up north. There’s something about a lakeside bonfire that can’t be beat.
We were so excited that we got an early taste of spring while camping, and we had a wonderful time checking out a type of lodging we’d never experienced before. It was a fantastic couple of chilly nights out at Afton State Park!