I am not a camper.
It’s not that I’m against it, but growing up, it just kind of…never really happened. And now here I am, a real adult, with a real job, not confident if I can set up a tent in under two hours.
So when the opportunity arose to spend some time “camping” at one of the many beautiful provincial parks in Manitoba, I must admit I hesitated. That was until I found about what my wife and I would officially coin as “Yurt Life” at Stephenfield Provincial Park.
Stephenfield Provincial Park is a beautiful gem for camping. Just over an hour west of Winnipeg, it’s got a little bit for everyone: a beautiful lake, scenic hikes and activities, seasonal camping spots, group areas, weekend rentals, and for people like me - it’s got yurts.
If you ask me, traditional camping is hard. You’ve got to roll with the punches, you’ve got to battle the elements, you’ve got to go with the flow - and if you’re used to that kind of thing, maybe it’s easy. For my wife and I? Not so much. Last week there was a bug in my house, and I screamed, panicked, and tried to kill it with a nine iron.
But spoiler alert: I had an amazing time at Stephenfield Provincial Park. And that’s why I feel the need to tell everyone I know about Yurt Life.
Yurt Life is for people like me. People who forgot to bring pillows (true story). Yurt Life is for the prepared, but forgetful. Yurt Life is for the outdoorsy indoorsman. Yurt Life is for the parent who wants to camp with their family, but still needs a break. Yurt Life is for the people who can do it all, but just don’t want to do it all this weekend. Yurt life is for everyone, really. And this, my friends, is why Yurt Life is the life for me:
*Disclaimer: I’m going to sound pretty spoiled and posh throughout this post - it’s mostly for effect. Camping is awesome. People who camp are awesome. I just suck at it. And I really liked these yurts*
Yurts are cozy, but not cocky
Yurt Life is about the simple things. It’s about hanging out on a bunk bed instead of an air mattress. It’s about reading a book on a couch instead of a lawn chair. It’s about having a table inside to play Monopoly on. It means no worries, for the rest of your da…umm, actually I’ll stop here before I get sued.
But seriously, the yurts at Stephenfield Provincial Park are a happy medium. While you’re not staying at the Hilton, you’re definitely not in a tent either. You’ve got space to sleep six, a cozy table, a comfy couch, private (and new) outhouses, and even a heater for those cold nights in the spring. Plus, they look cute too! You get the cabin vibe and the comforts of a true shelter, all with a modest $56.50 per/night price tag.
Pro tip: Manitoba Parks has a great reservation system to help you through your booking - but remember, weekends and prime times can go quickly, so you need to plan ahead before the summer to get your spot!
A yurt has a deck, and decks are the best
Summertime is patio season, and Yurt Life is no exception. One of my favourite features about the Stephenfield yurts is the beautiful deck that looks out onto the lake. Whether you’re hanging out reading a book, preparing your meals, or taking in the INSANE sunsets, the deck is where I spent the majority of my time during my Stephenfield visit.
Yurts are dry, but still outside
Full disclosure: Other than a glorious sunset, and right when we were leaving, it rained 90% of the time during my two-night visit. But that's life, it happens. And when you’re camping, rain can do a lot more than just dampen your gear, it can dampen your spirits!
So even though it rained, I still had one of my favourite weekends of the summer. Why, you ask? Two words: Yurt Life.
After sneaking in a morning hike before the storm rolled in, my wife and I were able to sit back, relax, and slow down as the rain hit. We played games, read our books, and I had one of the best naps of the year with the soothing sound of raindrop hitting the roof above as the soundtrack. Thankfully for us, the sun came out just in time for a glorious sunset that I'll never forget.
Would it be nice to be on the beach? Sure. But being forced to slow down was exactly what I needed. The beauty of the yurt was that I could actually relax, and I didn’t have to worry about a leak in my tent, or whether I covered everything outside, or how we were going to cook in the rain. Which brings us to our next point:
Meals without the misery
Camping meal prep has never been easier than when you’re living that Yurt Life. With an awning covering you from the elements, and a stain resistant prep area right at the front door - cooking, preparing, and cleaning up is stress-free and comfortable.
And if you want to keep camping as authentic as possible, there’s a fire pit right next to the deck so you can roast your wieners and make your smores with your lovely little yurt and the quiet lake at Stephenfield acting as a picturesque backdrop for feeding time.
But if you really want to be posh, or you’re just looking for a break, you need to look no further than Sparks Drive Inn, located right at the entrance of the park. Sparks has everything: burgers, fries, chicken burgers, wings, hot dogs, wraps, tacos, deep fried pickles, salads, ice cream & and more. Their menu is ridiculous. And if you forgot sunscreen, or bug spray, or even smores supplies, they’ve got that too. Honestly, camping has never been easier and I love it.
This was my first time at Stephenfield Provincial Park, and I’ll definitely be back. With the short drive from the city, top notch washrooms and facilities, a beautiful and quiet lake, hiking trails, and the general family-friendly vibe of the whole place, the park is simply a peaceful and happy place to be.
There’s so much to do, and while rain kept us away from some of the sights, we were still able to take in more than enough to bring us back. Whether you’re a true camper, or a glamper like me, Stephenfield has got your back.
In conclusion: Yurts are the best. You should try a yurt.
*FYI: Stephenfield’s not the only Provincial Park with yurts. Asessippi, Bakers Narrows, Camp Morton, Campers Cove, Childs Lake, Nutimik Lake, Paint Lake, Spruce Woods and Tulabi Falls offers them as well! Check out more details on the Manitoba Parks reservation portal. Yurt Life for Life!