Did you know there are Yurts an hour away from Edmonton stocked with gear and ready for you to spend a night? Well they’re at Pigeon Lake Provincial Park and they are beautiful. (And the whole time you’re staying there you get to say “yurt” a lot. And “yurting”. And afterwards, “yurted”. It’s almost as fun as staying in the yurt itself.) Pigeon Lake Provincial Park is home to 8 beautiful new yurts, which smell of fresh wood and have lots of natural light. It’s like staying in a tiny cabin, only a little more rustic and a lot cooler. There’s no running water or cooking facilities inside the Yurt, but they do include a Fridge and all the utensils you need. It’s a simpler experience then staying in a tent and a different camping experience then a RV, kinda a happy-glamping medium. Even better, the yurts are all placed in beautiful treed campsites right by the shore of Pigeon Lake so you are still getting the full camping experience, just with better sleep on the big comfy beds. Our medium sized yurt slept six with giant double bunk bed and a futon pull out bed for the kids. It had ample space and was designed beautifully. It was the perfect temperature all the time thanks to its ability to have as much airflow as needed. It cooled off quickly but kept us warm in the cool evenings with the classic and practical design. There was also a small heater inside in case it got extra chilly.
The Provincial Park itself is a great space with lots of walking trails along the lake and through the forest, with a large beachfront playground and modern amenities. Unfortunately, Pigeon Lake had a very early start to the “Green Algae Season” and swimming was off limits. We did see lots of families wading in the water, but I didn’t feel comfortable letting my kids go after seeing the clarity of the water (and to be honest, I’m pretty comfortable with a lot). Instead we looked for Saskatoon berries and rode bikes along the trails. There was even a small bmx course my girls ended up adoring even after a few bruises and scrapes. Another highlight of our trip was renting backpacks ($3 a pack) from the ranger station and letting the girls explore with them. In fact, Violet said her favourite part of the whole trip was making plaster animal tracks with the “Tracking” backpack and Maeve said she loved seeing the bugs with the “Bug Identification” backpack (well, Maeve said she liked making and eating banana boats the best, but the bug backpack was the best non-food related part 😉 ) Overall, the packs were worth the money and I think would have really enjoyed renting the astronomy pack if my kids could stay up much past dark.
Packing for our trip was quite easy. You only really need bedding and food for your stay, but there are a few other things that really helped make our trip easier- steak knifes, (there was nothing more then butter knifes provided), a flashlight to make it to the washroom (there’s a new large shower house a very quick walk from the Yurt sites, but its’ still a dark walk in the night), and extra firewood. One bag is included in your stay and other bags are available for purchase onsite (bring paper and matches to get it going!). There’s a large BBQ and roasting sticks for your cooking needs and there is no need to pack a camp stove. There’s also a large water jug provided to haul water to your site. All in all, it’s incredibly easy to enjoy staying at the Yurts at Pigeon Lake.
Look Forward to-
-The fun and uniqueness of staying in a Yurt.
-The easiest camping experience you could imagine. There’s enough room in the Yurt for a playpen if you are staying with a baby or young toddler, making it a enjoyable experience for young families.
-Each Yurt site being well treed and very private.
-12 km of walking trails to explore and benches along the lake for fishing or relaxing.
But Be Prepared For-
-The campstore and grill being closed on Monday and Tuesdays. They have a quick-service restaurant (hamburgers, sandwiches and breakfast) and ice cream onsite in the park. There’s also a grocery section with lots of camping essentials like marshmallows, hot dogs and other fun stuff, but it’s closed 2 days a week.
-The Summer Village of Pigeon Lake is about a 10-15 minute drive away, so make sure you have everything you need before heading to the campground.
-Blue Green Algae. Check the warnings online before you head out to plan accordingly.
-No pets are allowed inside the yurts or at the sites. Check out the site rules here.
Our Insider Tips-
-Book one of the higher number yurts- 120 or around there for a larger deck. I liked site 122 best. C-112 (where we stayed) and C-114 don’t have a wrap around deck with chairs for relaxing, however these units are a little closer to the shower and the running water bathroom facility. The higher number yurts have more green space in the centre of the loop to run around on and also outhouses in the loop.
-If you are looking for a weekend yurting adventure, book early, even on opening day for the year if possible. Pigeon Lake does still have weekday availability for bookings for summer 2015 but I know that’s tricky for a lot of families. If no sites are showing up on the Alberta Parks booking website, call the camp office. There’s two new yurts (C-112 and C-114) that aren’t listed online but may have availably if you call the office.
-There’s a really cute mini golf course nearby (and 4 traditional golf courses) and on Sunday afternoon’s there’s a market at Ma-Me-O community hall that’s fun to take in. (Think antiques and little old ladies selling jam.)
If there’s no availability for the yurts but you’d still like to get out to Pigeon Lake, check out their Mid Week Camping Promotion. 3 nights for the price of two!
My good friend Andrea ventured to the Pigeon Lake Provincial Lake earlier this year and snagged one of the yurts with a large deck. She a great post about their adventure on her lifestyle blog (which is well worth following along for more cute kids exploring, crafting and creating)