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When it's winter, do as the Mongolians do. After all, yurt season is upon us, so it wouldn't hurt to get a yurt.
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These round tents, stretched over wooden frames and lit by circular skylights, are designed to conserve heat on the wind-battered steppes and, therefore, are perfect for cold-weather camping. That said, the Colorado State Parks department offers yurt rentals at six locations - Golden Gate Canyon, Mancos, Pearl Lake, Ridgway, State Forest and Sylvan Lake parks - year-round, for folks who'd like to rough it without freezing to death.
Golden Gate Canyon State Park, the closest yurt-equipped reserve to Denver, has two of the tents; they each bunk six and are outfitted with propane heaters and electric lights. Running water and toilets are available in the campground, though you'll have to bring your own bedding and cooking utensils. A yurt rental will set you back $60 a night, plus an $8 reservation fee; if you have an outdoorsy dog, only one yurt is pet-friendly, and it'll cost an additional $10. But the best part is that these tents are already set up and waiting: You can leave your pack-yak at home.
Nomad is an island: For information on how to reserve these or other yurts farther afield, visit http://parks.state.co.us/Reservations/YurtInformation. -- Susan Froyd