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Best Yurts for Seattle-Area Families: ‘Camp’ This Way, You’ll Never Go Back

Tips and top-notch destinations for yurt camping around the Pacific Northwest

Published on: February 06, 2024

family camping in a yurt

Before I discovered yurts, camping with my kids seemed like one of those untenable dreams — just another family activity we’d put off until the kids got older. My older son, age 4, snored sweetly but powerfully; my younger son, age 1, was still prone to getting up in the night; and I was enough of a light sleeper that the prospect of staying in such close quarters was anything but appealing.

But then my friend Stephanie, whose kids are the same age as mine, invited us to go yurt camping with them on the Oregon Coast, along with five other families.

“You’ll love it — it’s like camping light,” Stephanie assured me.

Yurt bliss

The success of the yurt as a structure for familial bliss is well proven by now. Yurts originated as circular dwellings used by the nomadic peoples of central Asia roughly 3,000 years ago, and they now pop up worldwide. In the Pacific Northwest, they have attracted a strong following among travelers who value them for their high level of comfort, thin-walled access to the great outdoors and affordability — more expensive than tent camping but cheaper than renting a cabin.

A yurt’s round structure is created by forming a latticework of wooden wall sections and strapping material such as cloth or canvas over the top and sides. The structure is held together by the weight of the covering and can be dismantled easily for portability elsewhere. A skylight in the middle of the roof lets in sunlight and moonlight. These are the same houses that nomads valued, but for families in the Pacific Northwest, yurts no longer go with us — we go to the yurts!

Best yurt camping sites for families in the Pacific Northwest

1. Tolt-MacDonald Park

The 575-acre Tolt-MacDonald Park is located in Carnation (just 40 minutes from Seattle) in the beautiful Snoqualmie Valley. The park offers hiking and biking trails, river access and seasonal camping (April 1–Oct. 31). There are six yurts which provide two double/single bunk beds, a nightstand, heat, electricity, a deck, a picnic table and a fire ring. Two of the yurts offer wheelchair accessibility and each one can sleep up to six people. If you plan on bring a pet, they are only allowed in two of the yurts with pre-authorization. Note: The yurts are walk-in only and require crossing the park’s 500-foot suspension bridge. Reservations are required and can be made online

"Yurts you can reserve at Tolt-MacDonald Park"
Yurts at Tolt-MacDonald Park. Credit: Allison Sutcliffe

2. Lakedale Resort

If you are looking for the ultimate glamping yurt experience, look no further than Lakedale Resort in Friday Harbor. Each of the seven yurts are arranged to provide a private getaway. The long list of amenities include a king-size bed (and a full-size pull out sofa) with flannel duvet cover, rocking chair, dinning table, refrigerator, microwave, flat screen TV and more. And if that were not enough, each yurt has a full bathroom (with a shower, toilet and sink) and a private deck and hot tub. Make a reservation online, and get ready to enjoy “camping” like never before. 

"Lakedale resort yurt interior "
This still counts as camping, right? Credit: Allison Sutcliffe

3. South Beach State Park, Oregon

South Beach boasts the largest collection of yurts in one place in Oregon, as well as great accommodations within walking distance of the pristine beach, a bike trail to the Rogue Ales brewery and the Oregon Coast Aquarium, and an on-site playground. A pet-friendly yurt is available among the park’s 27 yurts.

4. Cape Disappointment State Park

A 1,882-acre camping park on Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula, Cape Disappointment offers dramatic scenery of steep cliffs overlooking the spot where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean. Draws include long stretches of sandy beach and rough seaside forests, a historic coastal fort, two lighthouses, and the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. Cape Disappointment has 14 yurts and numerous other overnight accommodations: mostly campsites but also cabins and vacation homes.

"Lighthouse at Cape Disappointment"
Lighthouse at Cape Disappointment State Park

5. Grayland Beach State Park

With 7,449 feet of direct access to the Pacific Ocean in southwest Washington, Grayland Beach is a must-visit destination for bird watchers, kite fanatics, beachcombers and others who like to beach it by day and retreat to stable camping by night. Grayland Beach has 16 yurts and more than 90 campsites. Pets are allowed in 12 of the yurts for an additional nightly fee.

View from Grayland Beach State Park. Credit: Michael Martin

6. Seaquest State Park

Editor’s note: Seaquest State Park is closed for major repairs. The park is expected to be closed until mid-February 2024. Check back in February for updates on the expected re-opening.

Ideally placed near Mount St. Helens, this park’s shoreline directly on Silver Lake furnishes boating and water activities. It also offers a mile-long accessible trail and six miles of woodland trails for hiking and biking. Seaquest has five yurts and 85 campsites.

7. Kanaskat-Palmer State Park

An hour and 40 minutes southeast of Seattle, this 320-acre camping park, set on a low plateau, is a favorite for exploring the Green River Gorge. Boat and raft launches provide access to the river for expert kayakers and rafters, while two miles of shore set the stage for wandering in the woods, fishing and exploration. Kanasket-Palmer has six yurts and 44 campsites.

"Green river at Kanaskat-Palmer State Park"
The Green River flows past trees at Kanaskat-Palmer State Park.

8. Nehalem Bay State Park, Oregon

This beach park, near the family-friendly town of Manzanita, is home to 18 yurts and two miles of biking trails, and offers great access to fishing and crabbing sites. In July, the park’s interpretive site provides junior ranger programs for kids ages 6–12.

"Oregon cost yurt"
Oregon coast yurt

9. William Tugman State Park, Oregon

A lesser-known state park on the Oregon coast, William Tugman is near Lakeside on Eel Lake, about a three-hour drive from Portland. This park offers outstanding fishing, swimming, canoeing, sailing and boating set amid a forest with many smaller lakes and inlets. Fauna such as ospreys, cranes, eagles and deer are highlights, and Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is less than a mile away. There are 16 yurts here, eight of which are pet-friendly.

10. Kayak Point County Park

Just 40 minutes north of Seattle, Kayak Point County Park is home to a village of 10 yurts, a great home base for exploring the 3,300-foot shoreline of Port Susan. Enjoy activities such as fishing, windsurfing, picnicking, hiking, camping and boat launching; access to a saltwater beach makes it a fisherman’s heaven. Bring your crab pot!

Kayak Point County Park. Credit: Elisa Murray

Tips for planning your yurt adventure:

  • Early birds win. You can make yurt reservations at state parks as far as nine months in advance. Beyond that, it’s first come, first served. Yurts are pretty popular, so it pays to plan ahead.
  • Check the location. Some yurts are better positioned than others for privacy and ambiance. You can call and ask, or check a map of the site online (as you would for tent camping).
  • Bring a blanket. If your children need absolute dark to go to sleep, bring something to cover the skylight so they’re not up until 10 p.m. and wide awake at dawn.
  • Make a food plan. Many parks with yurts are located near small towns, in case you don’t want to cook everything on-site. You may not cook on stoves or burners inside the yurts, but many have outside outlets.
  • Plan for pets. Some yurt sites are pet-friendly but will require an additional fee per night.
  • Close your door. Even the most well-trafficked site can be home to wildlife scrounging for crumbs, just like camping.
  • Try the off season. Prices are cheaper in the shoulder season and off season, and yurts are even cozier when it is drizzling outside.

More camping shortcuts (to lessen the hassles a bit):

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2015 and updated most recently in 2024.

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