Good Neighbors: Colorado Yurt Company & YMCA Snow Mountain Ranch


Good Neighbors.



Over the years, our local customers come back time and again for our quality Colorado-made structures. Whether it’s a campground, resort or ski area- our neighbors have come to rely on their “home state” yurt, tipi and tent company- just like customers all over the world.


The past few years, one of our best neighbors has been YMCA of the Rockies Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby. Colorado Yurt Company crew makes the yurts for the Y in the spring. Then we load our trucks and trailers, drive over to Granby and a skilled group stays around for a few days to pitch them on site. It’s an assignment that is highly sought after for our crew- a week away from their usual routine in the beautiful springtime weather in the Rockies. If it didn’t involve long days and hard work, some people would call that a vacation.



In 2009, the Y decided to start their yurt village. They developed a master plan to install yurts for guests who wanted a camping type experience, with more comfort than traditional tent camping. Snow Mountain Ranch selected a hilltop site, overlooking the valley, with a view of the Front Range Mountains to the east. Twenty-four yurts are in the master plan- two villages of twelve yurts each.  With the addition of the five new yurts we installed this spring, the first village is complete!  Snow Mountain’s yurts have been donated by generous families, and completing the second village depends on finding more interested families.


Snow Mountain Ranch has seen a great response to the yurts. Occupancy in the summer is nearly 100%, and they have reservations for months in advance. Guests have left guest book comments about their yurt stays, such as:

  • “We liked seeing the stars at night through the skylight!  We would definitely stay again!”
  • “We enjoyed staying in our yurt as much as we enjoyed saying the word”
  • “We were very impressed with the yurt.  It was great for the six of us.”
  • “Thank you so much for this unique opportunity- I may actually want to put a yurt on my property now!  Beautiful!”


Ranch guests aren’t the only ones impressed with Snow Mountain yurts. The press has been intrigued enough to feature them in several articles. The Denver Post featured the yurt village in a 2012 article, and they’ve been mentioned in Outside Magazine and Barrier Free Travels:


It’s been a neighborly relationship for both Colorado Yurt Company and Snow Mountain Ranch. We send some of our potential customers to Snow Mountain to see the yurts via our webpage and personal referral, and some become repeat guests of the yurt village. The Y has been a champion of our company with their site and customer referrals. It’s a relationship built to last. We’ll keep working together toward the completion of the two yurt villages at YMCA Snow Mountain Ranch in future years.


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Earthworks Tipi in Vermont- ready for summer camp!

We love camp.

Every year, we look forward to late winter and early spring. That’s when our schedule is filled with orders from camps getting ready for the arrival of kids. Tipis, tents and yurts are proudly made in Colorado and shipped to outdoor places where kids will be swimming, singing, roasting marshmallows, riding horses and hiking during the summer months. Many people first see one of our yurts at summer camp. Our platform tents are shelter to thousands of kids of all ages, and our tipis are part of what makes camp experiences memorable.

Pg14-C Tent Possibility 2

yurts at summer camp

We go to several camp conventions throughout the year, and many camp directors, activity specialists and operations managers have become our friends. We go to the ACA National convention, ACA Tri-State in New Jersey, ACA New England and ACA Rocky Mountain. Later this year, we will be in Philadelphia for the YMCA General Assembly and at CCCA in Colorado Springs.

We tried something new this year – we took entries at the winter conventions to win one of our 18’ Earthworks tipis. We took a lot of names into that hat. We drew for the tipi on April 16, and we were excited to see the winner’s name.


Camp Dudley at Kiniya is a camp we know well. We sent yurts to them on the shores of Lake Champlain in Vermont two years in a row. The camp was founded in 1919, and became a not-for-profit camp for girls in 2004. They have an extensive equestrian program, water skiing, Big/Little Sisters and many other fun programs.

dudley3 dudley

Kat Hood, Leadership Director at Camp Dudley at Kiniya, dropped her name into the drawing in Dallas at ACA National in February. Once we had gathered over 250 names, we randomly selected Kat’s and gave her a call. Needless to say, she was excited.  She says:

“We do have two yurts on campus and we love them but not everyone gets to use them. So, we hope to put the Tipi in a more central location, perhaps beneath the pines that you see in the pictures, and available to all. I can see myself using it as a cozy rest hour location or simply for girls during choice time to relax and make friendship bracelets.”


Kat Hood, Leadership Director of Camp Dudley at Kiniya, in front of their Colorado Yurt.

We are so happy to be sending the tipi to such a great camp. We’ll see you at camp conventions throughout the rest of this year and into next spring. Stop by and say hi when you are there, and maybe you can be the next winner of an Earthworks tipi for your camp!

We really do love camp.

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The Write Stuff: Colorado Yurt Company Hosts Outdoor Industry Writers Event

In March, our marketing partner, GrahamSpencer, hosted 10 world-class outdoor and ski industry brands and members of the ski and travel media at Telluride Ski Resort. The goal of the event, called the White Room, was to bring brands and journalists together for 3 days of showcasing products, talking about next year’s innovations, and building long-term relationships. Through expo style meetings, presentations, on-snow demos, and epicurean lunches and dinners, the journalists walked away with stars in their eyes and a number of great stories for their publications.

One of the key events of the weekend, and from what we’ve heard, a memorable one to boot, was the Colorado Yurt Company’s hosting of a european-style lunch at 11,000 feet in a Winter Stout Alpine Yurt.


Dan and Emma were on hand to talk about the origins of the company, its goals, and the many steps they take to enhance the company’s focus on people and planet. They also talked about the commitment to the ski industry and how the Colorado Yurt Company and its engineered Winter Stout Alpine Yurts are being installed at resorts, snow cat operations and nordic centers across the country for a number of reasons. First, they can withstand heavy winds and deep snow. But equally important, they are an inexpensive way to increase a resort’s visitor experience. How? Because yurts are interesting structures, and in a word, cool. Not to mention other factors like ease of installation, longevity, and the fact that we are wonderful to work with!


Besides having a great lunch and some great conversations, we met with journalists who represent a number of great publications including Outside, Men’s Journal, Ski Journal/Snowboard Journal, Viacom (MTV/VH1), Backpacker, Elevation Outdoors, The Summit Daily, ESPN, Backcountry Magazine, The Alpinist, Climberist, Kronicle, MSN, The Active Times, Triathlete Magazine, Sport One Source, Competitor Magazine, Runner’s World, The Chicago Tribune, Islands, Ski, Skiing, NBC Travel, Powder, Wild Earth, High Country News, Alternative Medicine, The Big Sky Journal, The Denver Post, and Bike.


So, we found that our yurts are great for yet another use: impressing journalists! Look for some great articles on the Colorado Yurt Company over the next few months!


photo credits: Ben Eng


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Colorado Yurt Company customer stories: Unique Yurt

Welcome to our yurt!

Fish weren’t meant to live in a box kid, it does things to ya.”  -Gill, inFinding Nemo”

A few years ago, I began to sense that I wanted to explore what it would be like to live with my family in the round.  After exploring many possibilities, we decided that adapting a yurt to our needs would be the simplest, most expedient, and graceful solution to our situation.

So we approached Dan Kigar of  Colorado Yurt Company with some pretty radical ideas:  I wanted to put the whole structure on stem walls so we would have enough room for a functioning upstairs; I wanted to insulate it with sheep’s wool insulation, and I wanted to attach a functional ‘mudroom’ entryway.


Dan was incredibly helpful and gracious to work with, supportive of my ideas and helpful with the design and layout of the whole thing.  Between the two of us, we designed a fairly elaborate and nicely functioning structure.  Palatial, maybe even…


So, welcome to our yurt: it has four foot straw bale stem walls, a poured adobe floor, earthen plasters throughout, a loft with over six feet of head room, sheep’s wool insulation, (it’s warm!) fully functioning glass windows, in-floor heat, a kitchen, a bathroom, and a lamp post to boot.


We’ve been in it a year now, and we all love it deeply, it’s warm, lofty (it has an 18 ft. peak!) and gorgeous to live in.  We’re so grateful to both Dan and Emma as well as the whole crew at Colorado Yurt Company for making it a reality!


TL7To read more about the yurt, and see photos of the building process:



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2012: Colorado Yurt Company year end blog.

Wow. Just wow. We look back at 2012, amazed at our good fortune. The Colorado Yurt Company has much to brag about, and much gratitude.

The year started with some changes in our company culture. We were growing, but our production and management styles were still rooted in our free-spirited roots. In early 2012, we made a significant step- hiring a very innovative and skilled production manager, Doug Severson. Doug previously worked at Chaco, instituting efficient and leading edge production techniques. We were incredibly fortunate to have him join our crew. His arrival was just in time to start one of our biggest orders to date…

Doug Severson

…Coachella. For non-hipsters out there, we might need to elaborate. Coachella Music Festival is THE big event in California every spring; two full weekends packed with bands like “Florence and the Machine” and “Radiohead”. There’s onsite camping in tipis and safari-style tents. In February and March, our crew made 200 tents and 100 tipis to ship to Indio, CA. It was a huge undertaking- but we shipped with a couple days to spare.

Tipis at Coachella Music Festival

It’s been a media year-we were on television in a big way. Late last spring, a crew from Colorado Yurt Company took three 20’ yurts to California for the filming of  HGTV DesignStar (an interior design competition reality show). Three finalists were challenged to design a bedroom yurt. We were excited to see the show in July- and were very opinionated about the judging (Hillari was ROBBED!). That night, our website had the most gigantic spike in hits we’ve ever seen. The next few weeks, we had many people call to ask questions and order our catalogue. It went a long way toward answering the question: “What’s a yurt?”.

HGTV DesignStar

In late 2011, we had three days with the crew of  “How it’s Made”. They filmed production of tipis and yurts for segments we thought would air in early 2012. The post-production took longer than anticipated, and we just recently saw the tipi episode. The yurt episode will air on December 30th (10:00pm Eastern on Science). It has been an honor to be associated with this fine program- and it will be seen by lots of yurt/tipi-curious folks around the world.

Colorado Yurt crew and How It’s Made crew.

We had some unique orders this year, including yurts for a private resort in Greece. We sent a group of eleven painted tipis to a Native tribe in Quebec, tents to new camping resorts in Kentucky and France and structures to wonderful summer camp customers. There are new yurts at ski areas, continuing the trend of quick and affordable structures on the slopes. We made individual customers’ dreams of a yurt, tipi or tent become reality, and our facebook page and email in-boxes have been full of stories.

Tipis in Quebec

We asked for feedback this year via a customer survey. Results were overwhelmingly positive, but we did learn a few places where we can improve. We hope to debut new pitching guides and some improvements in other services, thanks to our amazing customers.

It has been a year of excitement and changes. One thing that hasn’t changed is the quality of our staff. We have the most dedicated and talented folks that walk through our door every work day to make this an awesome company. We’re all looking forward to 2013 and the challenges it will bring. We already have work lined up, and we are anticipating another year to remember.

Thanks to all of you for your interest in our company.


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Earthworks Tipi in Massachusetts: A Customer’s story

Three years ago, an artist friend built a tipi with her father. After a blissful summer of living in the tipi, Sarah needed a more long term home for it. I had smudged the tipi and did an ad-hoc pipe ceremony, so she knew where to move it. On a warm December night, I suddenly had a tipi in my back yard. I fell in love.

Not a drop of Indian blood runs through my veins, but it runs through my heart.  I live in Massachusetts where wigwams were the local tribes’ abode. While a wigwam is very cozy, it just isn’t the same as a tipi.

By early spring of this year, Sarah’s tipi was moldy and saggy, and we could no longer have a fire inside. The cover came down, and I looked longingly at the naked poles for a few months. Then I said to my husband, Dave, “We need to get our own tipi”.

In April, we started tagging trees to cut on our 2 acres and on our neighbor’s property. We are in our fifties, and we cut 17 trees together! I’d like to say I helped strip the poles, but my incredible husband did it all. Our poles are trees of northeastern Mass.– green ash, shagbark hickory and two maples. They are not as straight as lodgepole pine, but they are beautiful.

In June, we were ready to order our cover. Ivy at Colorado Yurt was indispensable in helping us make decisions. When the cover arrived in July, it was like a huge present waiting to be opened. I like to wait as long as possible to open presents, savoring the anticipation, so we didn’t take the cover out of its bag for 3 weeks.

On a warm day in August, we opened the big canvas bag and unfolded the tipi cover slowly over our green lawn. The canvas was stunning. Beautifully stitched, everything reinforced, nylon backing, lacing pins, ropes, stakes and of course the door!

Then, it was time to paint! The river was my daughter’s idea, since we live near the Ipswich River. The rolling green hills are representative of our part of the country. My sister designed the red tailed hawks for me, and we spent many happy hours painting them together. The yellow star at the top is for our son who is serving in Afghanistan. The design was ready, so we spread the canvas on the lawn and painted. Mother Nature had other plans……. she rained on the paint!!!

After mopping up wet paint, I emailed Ivy at Colorado Yurt. She said, “Just go with it”- so we did. Now we have a rainy, tied-dyed river on our tipi, and we love it. We moved the canvas inside the garage and painted for two more weeks.

My mother, step-father and daughter all helped pitch the tipi. I am overflowing with the love my family showed making this happen for me.

Thank you Colorado Yurt and Earthworks Tipis.

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Yurt in Paradise

Have you ever dreamed of sitting on the deck of your yurt, looking out a the ocean horizon? Perhaps you might also like to take a walk on your private beach as the sun sets? Oh, you’d like a pasture and some nearby world-class golfing, too?

Well, you are in luck. We know of just such a place. A good friend and customer of Colorado Yurt Company is selling his beautiful property with all the amenities above- and more. It’s truly an opportunity to get away from it all in New Zealand. It would be an awesome retirement home or perhaps a summer place during the winter here.

The yurt is on a stunning coastline property, situated above Red Island with sweeping Pacific Ocean views. It also has an organic rolling pasture with many mature trees. It is just 25 minutes from Havelock North and Hastings, and just 5 more minutes to Napier and the local airport that serves New Zealand and beyond.

The family has set up the 20 foot diameter Colorado Yurt with two decks and an outdoor shower and water storage facilities.

You can build on one of the two house sites and use your yurt as a studio or guest house. The property slopes up to the horizon on three sides then down to the ocean, providing privacy and seclusion.

So, if you’ve always dreamed of paradise, here’s your chance. Follow the link to the information page- and remember to send us some photos and a bottle of New Zealand wine.

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Yurt Questions Answered: Aren’t All Yurts the Same?

When people start to think about yurts, they usually go through several stages of yurt-exploration. Starting with “Those are so cool!” and ending up with “Where should I buy my yurt?” For many, they compare yurts based on price, without looking at what they actually get for the money.

Yurt in Colorado

First, let’s get it out there, Colorado Yurt Company yurts are not the least expensive yurts available. We pride ourselves on engineering, quality materials, customer satisfaction and our nearly 40 year reputation. We want to make a yurt that goes together perfectly and lasts our customer a really long time. Our prices are competitive, and we strive to make them the best value.

There are two basic distinctions in yurt makers- the engineered yurt and the yurt without engineering. The difference is the ability to meet building codes and give snow and wind load ratings on the yurt. Our yurts are the best engineered yurts you can buy. We give you snowloads up to 150 psf of unbalanced load– no one else even comes close. Our wind ratings are equally as impressive. So, when you go to sleep at night in your Colorado Yurt, you won’t wake up wondering if that snow on the roof is going to end up on your feet.

Wintery yurt in Utah

Beyond engineering, when you look at yurts, the comparison is not really like apples to oranges. It’s more like comparing those tiny apples in the red net bag to the fresh, big, yummy apples straight from the orchard. In other words, we give you a quality yurt – the best quality yurt, in fact.

Best quality yurts

We throw in lots of extras at no charge. Things like: a single wall height that eliminates the cost of a tall-wall upgradethree windows standard in every yurt, handicapped accessible doors on every yurt, heavy duty zippers with covers on each window, all window flaps convert to awnings, our standard door includes a window, a rain diverter over every door, our exclusive wall to roof lacing system, smooth sanded rafters to prevent wear and tear on fabric, lattice to floor “L” bracket at every other crown instead of every fifth and many more.

Exclusive wall to roof lacing system.

We are experienced with shipping all over the world- and our customer service and customer satisfaction is second to none. Our company’s reputation is everything. We don’t want to be known as the cheapest yurt maker. We strive every day to be known as the best yurt maker.

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Colorado Yurt Company and Reality TV

We recently had a very positive experience with reality television. No, we weren’t featured on Swamp People or Jersey Shore. A little classier programming for us- HGTV’s Design Star, in fact.

In the spring, we were approached by the producers of Design Star. They wanted to use yurts as the challenge format for their final three interior designers. We were intrigued- and thought it was a great opportunity to show a significant number of people our yurts.

Yurt in Colorado

Originally, the production company was going to buy the yurts. However, as we’ve seen in the past, the structures are often warehoused or discarded after the shoot is over. We thought that was a terrible waste of yurts. So, we arranged to “rent” the yurts to them. After the shoot, we brought them back to our shop and sold them at a discount (remember the “gently used yurt sale”?). This way- we were able to guarantee the yurts would be enjoyed for years to come.

Clint, Jon, Anna and Ricardo spent a couple of dreary rainy days in L.A. setting up the three yurts for the show. (Yes, we heard it never rains in Southern California- not true apparently). The skies cleared for the actual filming with the designers, and they did a pretty awesome job with the challenge- which was to create a luxury bedroom in a yurt.

We were excited to hear one designer say our company name on camera- and the film crew got a great close up of our logo. That night, after the episode first aired, our website lit up! A ton of people were intrigued by the yurts, and visited our site to learn more. We saw increased activity on the facebook page, and our phone has been ringing too.

So, we don’t think we’re ready to start appearing on Big Brother or Survivor- but we are really pleased with our brief foray into reality TV. Design Star did an exceptional job showcasing our yurts, we saw some creative solutions to the challenge and we had a blast with the whole experience.

Did you watch the show? You can watch it again this Saturday, July 24 at 8:00pm Eastern time. Or- here’s a link to the HGTV website- where you can see the episode online:


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Colorado Yurt Company: Working Small AND Delivering Large

Colorado Yurt Company definitely qualifies as a small business. We have one location in Montrose, Colorado. We are family owned by Dan and Emma Kigar, who founded the company in 1976. Colorado Yurt Company employs about 30 people in four different departments: office, wood shop, tipis/tents and yurt fabric shop. We each have our job to do, and we all take pride in our work. We have employees who have been with the company for over 20 years, and have couples where both husband and wife work for us (and sometimes their kids too).

Anna, Ricardo and their son Gus. One of the families that work for Colorado Yurt Company.

In a world where so many things are made in far away places and shipped across the world to a big box store, we are proud to make everything right here in western Colorado. In a world where you are much more likely to get a recording asking you to “press 1 for sales”, we are proud to answer each call with a real, live, friendly person and exceptional service.

Rebecca is the newest member of the office staff.

We hand craft and inspect every yurt, tipi and tent in our shop. Each structure is custom made to your specifications. We place the windows, choose the fabric, paint the canvas, locate the stove pipe outlet… all according to what the customer wants. Our skilled craftspeople take pride in each stitch, wood joint, phone call and shipping crate. Our sales people get to know many of our customers’ stories and take a personal interest.

Henry and Maya working on a large tipi.

Despite our diminutive size, we work on large scale projects. We’ve delivered large yurt orders for state parks, resorts and campgrounds around the world. We recently shipped a substantial order of uniquely-designed yurts to a new project in Greece, produced 100 tipis and 200 tents within a five week period for the Coachella Music Festival in California, and we are currently working on several other major jobs.

Tipis at Coachella Music Festival

We’ve achieved what we feel is the perfect balance. By utilizing some cutting edge production management techniques, while staying small and flexible, we are able to meet the needs of each customer. Whether it’s a resort that needs 30 yurts or a family that wants a small tipi for the kids, we will deliver just what the customer orders. We do it on time, professionally and with the best product quality and customer service in the industry.

Yurt at dusk- Ridgway State Park, Colorado


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