New Jersey state parks' quirky yurts are going away

One of the more quirky camping experiences in New Jersey has been renting a yurt at one of five state parks, from the Shore region, to the Pinelands, to the northwest corner of the state.

No more.

State officials said the yurts — large, cylindrical canvas tents with skylights and plenty of standing room — were simply too hard to maintain, according to Larry Hajna, a spokesman with the Department of Environmental Protection.  They were prone to grow mold.

The yurts rented for about $40 a night.  They will be replaced by small, rustic cabins complete with bunks, windows, a kitchen table, and wood stove.  No word yet on how much they will rent for. 

New Jersey had yurts since at least 2000, although Hajna was not sure when they were first erected.

Yurts were most notably used by nomads in Central Asia, especially Mongolia.

The Jersey yurts had odd charm that sparked write-ups in publications including the Washington Post and New Jersey Monthly magazine.

New Jersey’s yurts were placed on wood frames and featured wood floors, a deck and plexiglass skylight — leading some to declare that they were a glamorous form of camping, or “glamping.”  Each yurt had a lockable wood door, window screens and flaps.

Inside, they contained two double bunks, and could sleep up to four.

The yurts were available to rent at Allaire State Park in Monmouth County, Belleplain State Forest in Cumberland and Cape May counties, Brendan T. Byrne State Forest in Burlington and Ocean counties, and Swartswood State Park in Sussex County. 

Camera icon Frank Kummer
The New Jersey State Park Service is getting rid of the quirky yurts it used to rent at five different campgrounds, spanning north to south, as well as in the Pinelands. The yurts were available near natural features such as this lake at Belleplain State Forest.

The yurts aren’t the only change at Jersey’s campgrounds. State officials say they are moving away from the privately run ReserveAmerica online reservation system for its campgrounds, in favor of another contractor.

A notice posted on the state parks and forests website says the new system will go live Dec. 1 “or sooner” and will have “reduced transaction fees.”