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Gooseberry Mesa
Yurt Rental


Review by Bruce Argyle
April 4, 2014


[ Yurt website ]


View from the deck
of the rental yurt on
Gooseberry Mesa

"What's a yurt?" asked my wife.

A yurt is a unique way of staying on Gooseberry Mesa.

Kind of back-to-nature, but not sleeping in the dirt.

This will be your first view of the Gooseberry Yurt as you drive up (looking left out the driver's window). It's located on private land on the north rim of Gooseberry Mesa, just 15 paces from the cliff edge. 

First, I guess I should make one thing clear. There's no "front desk" and no maid service. You're alone on the mesa. Key pickup and drop-off is simple (day or night), and you'll learn how when you reserve the yurt.

Here's your picturesque parking spot on the private road to the yurt. We're one-tenth mile from the end of the public road, just a rock throw from the Gooseberry Northeast Rim (Gander) trail. The Windmill Loop is 0.2 miles away.

The yurt sits on a wooden deck. The walls and roof are lightly insulated. It's a solid structure that happens to look like a tent. I'll let you read more about the yurt's construction on their website.

Staying at the yurt isn't as cheap as camping. But with six to nine bikers sharing the yurt, it becomes very affordable.

Light enters via the large plastic dome in the roof and through a window in the front door. The inside is much roomier and brighter than you'd expect. Note the framing timbers. Solid wood construction with space-age insulation makes the yurt secure and comfy.

In the center of the yurt is a dining and gaming table. (Note the bookcase with games and books.) Furnishings in the yurt may change as years go by.

For frosty nights, there's a wood stove. You may find a bit of leftover wood at the yurt, but you should plan to bring all the wood you need. The stove will accommodate 12 to 16 inch lengths.

Note the hatchet for splitting wood. But if you bring wood in long lengths you may want a pruning saw.

You're expected to bring your own bedding. For most of us, that's a sleeping bag and a pillow. (I did find sheets in a storage box by the big bed.)

The website says the yurt can sleep nine. It easily can, although that might be a little too much closeness for my sweat-encrusted flatulent homophobic riding companions. If there's no doubling up (a single sleeper per bed, no matter how big that bed is), the "biker count" decreases to seven.

There are two bunks. One has a double bed on the bottom. Notice the wood below the bottom bunks (and the hint of white sheet at the top of the wood). That's a pull-out trundle bed. I didn't notice the pull-out beds myself until it was pointed out to me.
So for those who are similarly clueless: There are trundle beds under the bottom bunks. 
The couch folds down to sleep two. So with three bikers in twin beds, two in trundle beds, two on the double bed and two on the couch, that's nine adults sleeping in the yurt -- which would be about as cozy as I'd care to get. But if your group includes kids or small adult couples, you could double up in the twin-size beds.

And on summer nights, you could use an air mattress to sleep on the deck, an especially valuable option if Mike and Chad ate at Taco Bell.

There's a butane stove for cooking. You'll find everything you need:  pots and pans, matches, lighter, coffee pot, bottle opener, prep table.

Plates, bowls, mugs and dinnerware are provided. Plus paper towels, dish soap, and everything else that you forget when you go camping.

I found the yurt stocked with plenty of water. But you're expected to bring your own water for drinking, dish washing, and showers.

There's an empty ice chest in the yurt. But to transport and store your perishable food items, you'll want to bring your own cooler plus ice.

If you've forgotten something, the Little Creek Station is 20 minutes away just south of the mesa. Major stores are in Hurricane 40 minutes away.

You're expected to tidy up when you leave by hauling out your trash, washing pans and dishes, and sweeping up. The yurt has what you need for basic housekeeping.

An RV-type toilet is provided. I'm told that the RV toilet is temporary until a pit toilet is constructed. So things may have changed by the time of your stay.

I suggest you visually compare your volume of beer to the volume of the toilet tank and plan accordingly. And perhaps your morning ride can take you past the mesa toilet building, 1.4 miles away.

The toilet can be deployed to the shower area, or you can find a contemplation zone among the pinion trees near the yurt. Your bike helmet is your "occupied" sign. As you walk the path to the toilet, clip your helmet strap around a branch on an easily-visible tree. No helmet equals "the john is open for a new customer."

For washing hands, I suggest a small bucket (or a water jug with the top cut off) with a drop of dish-soap and a tablespoon of bleach. Stick it next to the john.

On the west side of the yurt, a PVC scaffold provides a framework for a solar shower and privacy sheeting. The pinion pines do a pretty good job of screening the shower on two sides, including the side exposed to the private road.
I'd been looking for a good excuse to burn up the birch tree I cut down several years ago. There's a firebox between the yurt platform and cliff. Drag the camping chairs out of the yurt and discuss the meaning of life around the fire.

Do NOT collect firewood from the mesa. Bring or buy your own.

Cell phone reception at the yurt is excellent. Unfortunately. So turn the damn thing off and really get away from it all.

Of course, there's no electricity here. If you'll need to use something electric, come prepared with a battery-powered charging pack or a charger/inverter for your car.

So here's what you need to bring:
   Food (with ice and cooler for perishable items)
   Water for drinking, food prep, and dishwashing
   Blanket (or sleeping bag) and pillow
   Personal toiletries
   Wood for yurt stove during cold weather
   Your bike (rentals available in Hurricane)
Nice to have:
   Extra water for showers
   Tiny bottle of bleach for post-toilet hand-washing
   Pee-bucket so you don't fill toilet too quickly
   Firewood for firebox
   Ice for drinks
   Personal flashlight
   Batteries for anything important

For reservation information and further details see the yurt website.

Getting there: As you pass through Hurricane heading east on Highway 9, turn right at the Highway 59 sign. One block later, turn left and drive out of town. About 15 minutes later, you'll pass a gas station on the left-hand side, then some fields. Watch for a "Scenic Byway" sign, and turn left onto a dirt road (14.8 miles from the turnoff in Hurricane). Two miles later, just as you reach the mountain, the Gooseberry Mesa road turns off on your left. Another 3.6 miles after the turnoff, take the right fork as you pass the toilet and parking area. Drive 1.4 miles north (pass the Windmill Trailhead) until you hit a wide area at the north edge of the mesa where the main road ends. Turn to the right (on the left-most dirt road closest to the cliffs) and head northeast 1/10 mile. After passing the radio towers, watch for the yurt on your left. Park and take the 60-foot hiking trail to the yurt. N37 09.521 W113 09.900