This summer, I stayed in a yurt. A yurt!
What’s a yurt?
A yurt is essentially a glorified tent. It bridges the gap between a tent and a cabin, actually. It has a door that locks, windows that you can open and close using flaps, and a little patio. They’re unique in that they’re round. The closest yurt to Omaha is in Clear Lake, Iowa.
McIntosh Woods State Park in Iowa has two yurts that are mere steps from the lake. The Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce invited us to stay in one for a night so I could tell you all about it.
The yurts in Clear Lake have a bunk bed and futon, plus a table and chairs. Outside, each yurt had a couple picnic tables, charcoal grill and a wood fire pit.
Pretty much, you get to feel like you’re camping without having to sleep on the ground or struggle with a tent.
Tips for staying in a yurt
- Bring your own bedding – and don’t forget pillows.
- Bring your usual camping supplies. If you’re making any meals during your stay, you’ll need to bring all of your cooking supplies in addition to the ingredients. Don’t forget to bring paper towels or wet naps, especially if you have kids.
- Bring towels, both for showering and if you’re visiting the lake.
- Clean up after yourself. There is a broom in the yurt, which was a good reminder to tidy up before leaving.
More about Clear Lake Yurts
The bathrooms are a short walk – there is a shower. You share it with whoever is staying in the other yurt. We were the only ones staying there that night, so it felt private.
Like a tent, though, there is no air conditioning, just a fan and windows for a breeze. We stayed at the end of June and with unseasonably cool nights, it was incredibly comfortable. But I’m no fool, I know what Midwestern summers can be like, so I can imagine how it’d be hot if the weather is.
What to do at McIntosh Woods
The state park is fairly small, but it does have a beach – one of three beaches easily accessible for families visiting Clear Lake.
It wasn’t our favorite one, but it’s a nice place to cool off if you’re staying in the park.
There’s also a playground.
Most people go to Clear Lake to boat, and there is a boat ramp to access the lake within the park. There were quite a few people fishing, as well.
It’s not a park for serious hikers.
What’s near the yurts
Clear Lake is a short drive from McIntosh Woods State Park, where you’ll find great restaurants, more beach access and cute local shops in the downtown area. I wrote about Clear Lake places to visit if you want some recommendations.
If you’re looking for dining with a view, I recommend PM Park – it’s not the closest restaurant, but it is the only one with a tiki bar. So it’s got that going for it.
The breakfast there is pretty good, too – try their French pancake.
If you go
Clear Lake Yurts at McIntosh Woods State Park
Where: 1200 E. Lake St., Ventura, Iowa
Cost: $35 a night/minimum 2 nights
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Plan your own Great Iowa Road Trip
Here’s an itinerary to plan your own Great Iowa Road Trip! To learn more about some of the destinations on this trip, check out these posts:
Rustic charm in suburban Iowa at Wildwood Lodge in Des Moines, Iowa
A room with a view: South Shore Inn in Clear Lake, Iowa
Fun on the rails with Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad
Get even more inspiration from my bucket lists for Des Moines and Clear Lake!
16 Fun Things To Do In Clear Lake - Let's Go Iowa
Saturday 23rd of October 2021
[…] yurt is that step between tent camping and cabin “camping.” There are yurts at McIntosh State Park near Clear Lake where you can have that rustic, in-between camping […]
Monday 27th of November 2017
I'm thinking about staying in one of the yurts during the conference next year...quick (maybe silly) question...do they have any power outlets? Thanks!
Tuesday 28th of November 2017
I'm pretty sure they did have at least one double outlet. I recall being able to charge my phone and laptop.
Monday 22nd of August 2016
What a fun way to camp! We might have to give it a try some cool fall weekend! Thanks for the packing list. Very helpful. I wouldn't have known to bring everything just like you do with a tent. Does the yurt have power?
Monday 22nd of August 2016
Thanks, Jen! It was definitely memorable - the fun of camping without the hassle of a tent or sleeping on the ground. It does have power - great question! We used the outlet to charge our phones and camera battery.