Cloudland Canyon State Park on Lookout Mountain is celebrating the opening of a new yurt village, offering a unique “glamping” experience within one of Georgia’s most scenic parks.
Made of wood and canvas, a yurt is a circular tent that feels like a cabin. An ancient structural form able to resist high winds, evidence of yurt dwellings has been found in Bronze Age rock etchings in Siberia. Today, yurt dwellings are the primary style of home found in Central Asia, particularly Mongolia.
A relative novelty in the Southeast, yurts are popular out West and can be found at several state and national parks.
The idea to introduce yurts to Georgia state parks came from then-director Burt Weerts, who recognized that yurts would fill a niche. The state’s first yurt opened at Red Top Mountain State Park in 1996.
Cloudland Canyon’s yurt village is located along the park’s West Rim Trail and features 10 yurts, a bathhouse, picnic pavilion and playground. Yurts are elevated, weather-tight and designed to keep out wildlife.
The yurts feature wood floors and hand-hewn furniture, and each provides for basic overnight comfort, with amenities that include a bunk bed and two futons that sleep up to six people, electrical outlets, large windows and locking doors. Space heaters and ceiling fans allow for seasonal comfort. Outside, each structure features a private deck, picnic table, water spigot and grill/fire ring.
“All you need to bring are sleeping bags and linens, cooking utensils, a cooler, food, and family or friends,” Cloudland Canyon State Park ranger Rene Everette said.
Situated on the Cumberland Plateau atop Lookout Mountain, Cloudland Canyon State Park straddles a 1,980-foot-deep canyon and protects 3,485 acres on the western rim of the mountain. Two waterfalls within the park cascade over layers of sandstone and shale into pools below, with their flow depending on recent rains.
The park offers spectacular views, bluff-line trails and steep, stair-stepped hikes down to the canyon floor. Hiking trails include the infamous two-mile Waterfalls Trail, featuring a 600-step staircase; the 4.8-mile West Rim Loop; the two-mile Backcountry Loop; the nine-mile Cloudland Connector Trail; and the 6.5-mile Sitton's Gulch Trail.
Cloudland Canyon’s yurts rent for $70 per night with a two-night minimum. Reservations are highly recommended and can be made up to 13 months in advance by calling 800-864-7275 or visitinghttp://gastateparks.org/cloudlandcanyon.
Cloudland Canyon also offers two modern campgrounds and 16 fully equipped cottages.
The park also offers 72 tent and trailer sites with water and electricity, 30 walk-in tent sites, 13 backcountry sites, four pioneer sites, a group lodge and 16 cottages. Additionally, the park also has an 18-hole disc golf course.
Three other Georgia state parks offer yurt camping: Red Top Mountain, located on Lake Allatoona north of Atlanta; High Falls State Park, located outside of Macon; and Fort Yargo State Park, located between Atlanta and Athens.
To learn more about Cloudland Canyon State Park, visit http://www.gastateparks.org/CloudlandCanyon.
Jenni Frankenberg Veal is a freelance writer and naturalist living on Walden’s Ridge. She enjoys writing about the natural world and exploration opportunities found within the southeastern United States, one of the most biologically and recreationally rich regions on Earth. Visit her blog at www.YourOutdoorFamily.com.