Yurt reborn in high country

Weber State University students will soon be able to utilize a new yurt installed in Bloomington Canyon by WSU’s Outdoor Program.

Nestled in a grove of quaking aspens, the permanent tent-like structure lies at 7,619 feet on a ridgeline of Bloomington Canyon in the Bear Lake Valley approximately 108 miles from WSU’s campus.

“Opening the front door and seeing the mountains in your face, it’s like boom,” said Ben Bauter, a trip coordinator for the Outdoor Program. “You open the door to paradise.”

The current yurt replaced an original structure which was built in the early 1990s by local outdoor enthusiasts. After changing hands several times, the permit to operate the yurt, which is on Forest Service land, fell into the hands of the WSU Outdoor Program, which jumped at the opportunity to have such a great asset for students.

“In essence, it’s an outdoor classroom,” said Daniel Turner, coordinator for the Outdoor Program.

The new yurt was in part funded by student fees through a one-time allotment. The funds helped to obtain necessary yurt components which were then assembled by members of the Outdoor Program staff.  The materials, purchased from a Washington-based company specializing in yurts, included wood lattice structuring and a durable woven canvas covering.

According to Turner, the yurt can be shared by 12 individuals and is equipped with a wood burning stove, gas cook stove, and kitchenware.

”It’s another way to survive the winter,” said Tim Nguyen, assistant coordinator of the Outdoor Program. “People say they hate winters out here, but you need to embrace it.”

Turner said the yurt is most easily accessed by snowmobile but can also be accessed via touring skis or snowshoes. Within 15 minutes of the yurt, the surrounding area offers diverse terrain with 30-35 degree slopes and areas of 800-900 vertical feet of skiing.

Students in an annual cross-country skiing class taught at WSU make trips to the yurt every winter to experience all it has to offer.

“With the yurt, you can get a whole weekend of backcountry (skiing) for the price of a day pass to a resort,” Bauter said.

Reservations to rent the yurt will be taken starting Nov. 1 for interested student groups and the general public. The WSU Outdoor Program also coordinates several student trips offered throughout the ski season.These trips are offered on the weekends of Martin Luther King Day and President’s Day.

“The rate for students is unreal,” Nguyen said. “Students can rent the yurt for $75 a night. That’s $6.25 a piece.”

This gives people the opportunity to get out and enjoy the outdoors during the winter, and most people aren’t used to that.

“It’s a beauty you don’t normally get to experience,” Bauter said.

The yurt is only one of many outdoor activities that the Outdoor Program offers to students. These opportunities are designed to teach students new skills and gain valuable experiences.

For more information, contact the WSU Outdoor Program at 801-626-6373 or online at www.weber.edu/outdoor.