First of all, you may be wondering “what is a yurt??” - so let’s start there! A yurt is a very large, insulated tent with space for beds, a kitchen area, and a wood-burning stove. Because of the warmth, you can stay in a yurt year-round to enjoy the camping experience but with all the amenities of staying in a cozy room!
Going into this yurt trip at Tennessee Pass I knew I would enjoy it, but honestly it was about 8473875x better than I even imagined!!! I cannot say enough about the experience of staying in one of the cozy yurts at Tennessee Pass. So instead of just telling you how cool it was, I am going to give you allllll the deets so you can just get out there and experience it for yourself!
Tennessee Pass is located very close to the town of Leadville, CO (about a two hour drive from Denver). The land is owned by a couple who turned it into a magical wonderland of yurts, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and even a little hill for downhill skiing! The staff at Tennessee Pass has the whole experience dialed in, making it extremely easy and hassle free for you. Here’s a step-by-step guide to booking your stay at Tennessee Pass, as well as what you can expect.
1. Booking Your Trip
Check everything out + book through their website linked here. You do need to book a few months in advance if you want to snag a weekend spot. I only went for one night and that was great but I would definitely go for two next time! The yurts sleep 6 people comfortably and the cost is $250 per night no matter how many people you have.
2. Meal Planning
They will send you some follow-up emails asking if you prefer to reserve a dinner at their iconic Cookhouse (around $100 per person) or have food delivered to your yurt. We opted to go with the food delivery. It was only $20-$25 per person and still amazing food. However, I know going to the Cookhouse is a special experience, as you can only get to it by snowshoeing or hiking. If you have the budget for it, I’d say go for it! Even if you decide to order your food to be delivered to the yurt, you do need to pick your meals at least a week in advance. They will send you your options. Same goes for getting a breakfast basket delivery (10/10 recommend getting mimosas)- remember to order everything in advance!
3. Preparing for the Trip
Pack some warm layers if you go in the winter (you can visit the yurts year-round!). For the snowshoeing to/from the yurt I had on leggings, snow pants, a dry-fit base layer on top, Patagonia better-sweater over that, a coat over top, a beanie, a warm pair of socks (bring two pair just in case), my snow boots and a good pair of gloves. Once you arrive at your yurt, they already have the fire going for you and it’s quite warm! You can keep it as warm as you’d like by adding logs to the fire (they have it chopped and stacked in advance for you). They even provide these little booties for inside the yurt that you can wear outside too if needed! One thing I would pack that came in handy for us was a big thermos. The yurt already has water jugs to hook up to the faucet, bedding, a wine opener, silverware, plates, mugs, glasses, coffee, creamer packets, hot cocoa, matches, a kettle to boil water, and nearby outhouses. Keep in mind that there are no power outlets in the yurts (electricity is solar powered) and cell phone service will vary. If you absolutely needed to use/charge your phone, there are emergency phones at both the Cookhouse and the Nordic Center.
4. When You Arrive
It’s ideal to check in to the Tennessee Pass Nordic Center between 2-3 PM. However, if you’re heading there on a Friday like I did, you can check in up until 5 PM at the latest and it’s still fine. If possible, go earlier so you can enjoy more daylight while hiking to your yurt. Once you arrive to the Nordic Center, check in with them. If you need to rent snowshoes or cross-country skis, you’ll do that there as well. 10/10 recommend getting some hot mulled wine and filling up that thermos you bring too. Obviously. There you can also buy cookies or to-go type of food in case you want anything. They will have you drop off your car at the overnight parking lot and shuttle you back from there. The staff will also take your bags so that you don’t have to hike/snowshoe in with everything which is soooo nice. Basically, they make it as easy as possible for you to simply enjoy. They will give you a little safety talk before sending you on your merry way and point you towards the yurts. The trail you take it very packed down, so we didn’t even need our snowshoes to get back there; snow boots were just fine. But if you arrive earlier and have time to do some extra trails on the way, definitely wear those snowshoes! The trail to get to the yurts from the Nordic Center is 1.3 miles. You’ll pass the Cookhouse along the way so if you have reservations you can head there easily. And don’t worry about getting lost- they provide you with a simple map of the trails, as well as signs all over to guide you along.
5. Get Cozy + Enjoy
I kid you not when I say my night in the yurt was one of the most peaceful nights of my life. We enjoyed our candlelit dinner that was delivered right to us, enjoyed some wine, played games and stargazed. It’s rare and special to have nights with nothing pressing to do, no distractions, just complete quiet. Check out is 11 AM at the latest the next day (you’ll set up a time in advance for them to come grab your bags). During the day get out and enjoy those trails! They all loop together and are fairly easy. I’d say they are ideal if you’re a beginner cross-country skier or snowshoe-er.
So there you have it- I hope you enjoyed my longgggg, detailed account of my stay at Tennessee Pass and it’s convinced you to book a trip of your own. You won’t regret it!