Yurt Camping at Tugaloo State Park

So I hear it all the time, “I don’t like camping,” “there’s dirt,” “I don’t want to sleep on the ground,”  and “eww bugs!” Ok, I get it – you don’t like being outside, but hear me out,  do you have any idea what you are missing?

  • Campfire chats
  • Cool evening breezes
  • Sounds of nature coming alive at twilight
  • Lighting bugs glittering the dark
  • Sunsets
  • Stargazing
  • Sunrises
  • Lakefront views.

If those things pique your interest, even slightly, then please keep reading. If they don’t, are you sure you are a Southerner? An American? A Human?!

So why not have the best of both worlds? Get your “outdoors” on, but sleep in a climate controlled room without dirt or bugs! Yurt camping allows those who aren’t into camping the opportunity ease into it. This honestly is how I got into camping. I wasn’t sure about the whole tent thing so a few years back, I booked my family a yurt over Thanksgiving. Six people in one yurt is a bit snug, but we all had a warm place to sleep that was not on the cold hard ground.

With yurt camping, you don’t have to purchase a ton of camping supplies, you can sit by the fire at night, cook over the open flame, take a stroll around the park or hang out near the water and then come inside to electricity to charge your phone and sleep in a warm bed at night.

Recently, a cold snap foiled our plans to tent camp. March is supposed to be warmish in the south, but it never fails the first week we always get a cold snap that sends us below freezing at night. When we saw the cold and rainy forecast, we changed our reservations from a walk-in tent site to a cozily heated yurt.

We were late arriving at the park because of a detour (see below) and it was already dark. Nestled down a winding path, the little yurt village at Tugaloo State Park was aglow in the darkness. The domes that adorn the top of each yurt shine dimly and the trail lights faintly illuminate the path. It is tranquil and serene. The image reminded me of something from a movie.

Ok, Y’all full discloser: It reminded me of the Ewok village in Return of the Jedi.

I wish I had snapped a photo as we carried our belongings to the yurt. I thought to myself, “I will get a picture tomorrow night,” and I am kicking myself now because that was the only night that the sky wasn’t leaking on us. I did snap a photo the next morning. ust imagine a lighted walkway with dimly lit huts reflecting off the calm water at night.

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As I unpacked, cranked up the heat, and made our bed inside, Shane cooked sausage and peppers outside. He also made me a hot beverage with our brand new Coleman coffee pot that we had just purchased at the Coleman outlet store in Cumming only an hr before (detour).  They had a massive 50% off everything sale, so we stocked up!

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Late into the evening, we sat chatting and listening to the crackle of the wood as it incinerated into burning embers. We didn’t hear the usual bullfrogs or crickets, but an owl hooted occasionally.

The accommodations inside the yurt are basic but functional. A table with two chairs is provided for dining. A bunk bed with a double mattress’ on top and bottom, a dresser and shelves for storage. There is also a futon couch that lays down into a bed. The walls are canvas, but a heater kept the indoor environment nice. There isn’t AC in yurts, but the windows open and there is a ceiling fan. Even in the summer sleeping in a yurt isn’t unbearably hot, because the temperatures cool down, the and the breeze from the trees at night flows through the windows.

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The bed wasn’t overly comfortable, and we could feel the bar, so we pulled the futon off the couch and placed it on top of the bed’s mattress. From then on we slept very comfortably in the heated room.

Off the back is a raised deck where we sat and watched the sun rise slowly over the water the next morning. The yurts at Tugaloo State Park are nicely shaded and spaced out, unlike at other Georgia State Parks where you feel like you are on top of your neighbor.

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After breakfast, I took a walk down to the shoreline and snapped some photos before we headed off to find the elusive and secret Contentment Falls near Toccoa.

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The weather held steady for us during the day, but the thunderstorms came in at twilight, so we grabbed dinner out at Gumlog Barbecue & Fish Lodge and oh… my… gaw, Y’all. The fried catfish and hushpuppies are unbelievably good. This restaurant is a local favorite, and as my daughter, Emily says, “The chickens always come back to their roost.” It was crowded, but we were sat promptly, and the service was outstanding. This chicken knows where the food is in Lavonia!

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With our legs aching and bellies full from a busy day, we didn’t care that it was storming and had no problems going to sleep listening to the rain falling on the roof of our snug yurt that night.

Give it a go Y’all. I promise you, this is not dirty, sleeping in a tent, sort of camping we usually do, and I think you non-campers would enjoy it! It is the best of both worlds! Check out all our photos here.

Keep the Lust for Wandering Y’all!

Fran and Shane

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