What’s a Yurt Anyway?


A yurt is a portable home (think round tent) traditionally used by nomads (think yak herders) in Central Asia (think Mongolia) where they’ve been dotting the plains for at least three thousand years. The frame consists of one or more expanding lattice wall-sections, a door-frame, bent roof poles and a crown. They’re usually covered by layers of fabric and sheep’s wool for insulation and weatherproofing. A yurt is designed to be dismantled and the parts carried compactly on camels or yaks to be rebuilt on another site. Complete construction takes around two hours. The word, yurt, is Turkish in origin and referred to the imprint left in the ground by a moved yurt.

Our yurts were purchased as a kit from Pacific Yurts in Eugene, Oregon and we picked them up with a truck and trailer (the word “compact” didn’t exactly come to mind). We built our yurts in 2009 in the midst of the Siuslaw National Forest. It took us six months to build them, since we’re not Turkish but the thick instruction book was. Our insulation is high-tech silver stuff purportedly used in the space shuttle (I now picture those poor astronauts shivering) and no sheep, camels, or yaks were used nor harmed in the process. We’re hoping not to say, “Look, a yurt,” in the traditional sense of the word, as unless they blow down in the fierce Oregon coast winter winds, we’re hoping we don’t have to move them anytime soon.