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: three windows standard in 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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Yurts, Tipis and Tents: You Need to See Them for Yourself!

You’ve dreamed about it. You’ve studied the great photos on our website and Facebook page. You’ve thought about the perfect spot. You’ve talked to your friends about it.

Yurts with windows

Now, maybe you should sleep on it. Or actually sleep in it.

We have a list on our website of many places to visit a yurt, tipi or tent. Some are at resorts, campgrounds or B&Bs- so you can sleep there. Others are at schools, camps or spas, which are usually available for a walk through. In all cases, we ask that you contact the owner to make sure they are okay with you coming to look.

Here are a few choice examples from our list of favorite places to see yurts:

Are you in the Denver area? The Plains Conservation Center in Aurora has a 30’ Colorado Yurt and several Earthworks Tipis. Visit them to see these great structures while discovering our local prairie.

You can reserve a yurt in our Colorado State Park campgrounds, including Ridgway, Golden Gate, Mancos and Pearl Lake.

Yurt at Pearl Lake State Park, CO

Great parks to stay in a Colorado Yurt outside our state include: GoblinValleyRockport and East Canyon State Parks in Utah, DeGray Lake State Park in Arkansas, Abilene State Park in Texas and the Manitoba Provincial Parks in Canada.

Yurt at Goblin Valley State Park, UT

The Ace Hotel in Palm Springs, CA has a yurt for their spa services, as does Orvis Hot Springs in Ridgway, CO. Or you could take a class at BE Yoga Yurt in Virginia.

Yurts in Colorado

Yurts at Orvis Hot Springs, CO

To see or stay in an Earthworks Tipi, try:

Mesa RV Resort in Gunnison, CO has a couple of beautiful hand-painted tipis at their campground.

Red Cone Retreat near Norwood, CO has tipi accommodations in a bed and breakfast setting. We are making a couple of new tipis for Red Cone, which will be available for rent later this summer.

Click to view larger picture

Tipis at Red Cone Retreat, CO

Want an adventure, followed by a night’s stay in a tipi? Try North Georgia Canopy Tours near Atlanta. They have one of the premier zipline adventures in the nation, and several Earthworks tipis outfitted with log beds, fine linens and air conditioning.

North Georgia Interior

Inside a tipi at North Georgia Canopy Tours, GA

Are you more of a river rat? Sands Whitewater in Jackson Hole, WY has tipis on the Snake River. You can raft out to them, spend the night and return to civilization the next day.

One of the best examples of Cimarron Tents used for lodging is at MaryJanesFarm in Moscow, ID.They are leaders in the “glamping” movement, and will treat you to wonderful accommodations and delicious organic gourmet food.

Tent interior at Mary Jane’s Farm in Idaho

On the other side of the country, in Pittsburg, NH, Enchanted Acres is a women’s retreat where Cimarron Tents provide rustic housing for guests looking for relaxation and rejuvenation.

And, we alwayswelcome you to our offices here in Montrose, CO where we have two yurts and a tipi set up for you to see.

After you visit, or better yet wake up in a tipi, tent or yurt we’ll know you’ll want one for your own.

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Service with a Smile: We design, deliver and install yurts, tipis and tents

We want your structure to be perfect for you, so we craft each one to your specifications. Did you know we also have several “extra” services available?

Do you need engineering calculations or a site specific report for your building department? We can do that. Our basic engineering is available to customers, or for a fee, you can order “wet stamped” engineering. We can usually get most state-licensed wet stamped plans (with enough time).

CORR brackets on a yurt- the start of our engineering.

What about the platform for your yurt or tent? We have platform plans available to download on our website. These are suggested plans for the supporting structure under your yurt or tent. We can also advise on other types of decks or platforms.

Do you want a tipi that is uniquely yours? We offer tipi painting. We have a catalog online to choose your design or custom designs are also available. Just tell us your vision, and we’ll design and paint it on your tipi.

Custom painted tipi 

Do you have a yurt, tipi or tent that needs repair? We are happy to take a look at it and see if we can fix it for you. If not, we’re always happy to make replacement canvas, whether it’s a new wall and roof to have your yurt looking brand new or new cover for your tipi.

Do you live in the Rocky Mountain region? It might be to your advantage to have our truck and trailer bring your yurt to you. In many cases, it’s less expensive than shipping.

Do you think you need a hand setting it up? Even though we send complete instructions, we understand the process might be a bit foreign to most. We have several ways to help you:

First, we are always happy to give you advice over the phone or via email. We have people on staff who are experienced at setting up yurts, tipis and tents- and can explain the process to you.

Putting on the roof

Do you have a group of friends who are willing to help set up a yurt? Maybe you just need some expertise? We have a great service called “expert assist”. That’s where we send one bossy, but knowledgeable, guy to help your crew do it right. He’ll pitch in and help, while teaching you the steps to getting it done the Colorado Yurt way.

Yurt in progress

If you don’t have a willing group of helping hands, we can send an entire crew to help. Whether it’s a couple of guys to set up a tipi, or an entire crew to set up a whole village of yurts- we can provide the service you need. You can sit back and watch or join in and help.

Our goal is to get your yurt, tipi or tent made exactly the way you want it, delivered to your door safely and pitched correctly. Give us a call to let us know how we can help and get a quote on our extra services. That way you can sit back, admire your new yurt, tipi or tent and start enjoying.


tent interior at Mary Jane’s Farm in Idaho

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Yurt Questions Answered: How to Use a Yurt

Sure, you think yurts are cool. You might even have ideas of how a yurt would fit into your life. At Colorado Yurt Company, we are amazed at the creative ways our customers use their yurts.

Yurt in Colorado

Are you close to retirement? Is your house taking too much time and money? Maybe you should consider retiring in a yurt! Retirement yurts are a growing part of our business, and many customers tell us they love retirement living in their yurt.

cozy yurt interior

Families are living with several generations under one roof for economic reasons or to keep a closer eye on a parent who needs more help. Perhaps a yurt is the way to make it work. Andrew Birden put a yurt in his yard for his mother-in-law. The local paper was intrigued enough to do a story about it.

How about the teenagers? Their music is too loud, they stay up too late and they think they need privacy. A customer in New Zealand had the perfect solution- a teenager yurt!

Dreaming of a mountain cabin? Joe Holmes, a designer and photographer in Denver, has a yurt at 11,800 feet elevation that he used a lot this past winter. He says, “I am looking forward to summer and many more years at ‘High Yurtitude’ with friends and family watching and photographing wildlife and exploring the forest around my yurt.”

Joe Holmes’ yurt in progress

Australian, Astrid McCormick bought a 16′ yurt to stay in while building her organic garlic farm. Now, they visit the yurt 3-4 days a week and love it. She says, “Living in the round, we feel safe and sound.”

Monarch Mountain in Colorado and McCauley Mountain in New York both have Winter Stout Alpine yurts for their ski schools. Eco Academy of Los Angeles has a yurt on their high school campus.

Colorado Yurts are used as a restaurant and overnight rentals at Tennessee Pass Cookhouse and Sleep Yurts near Leadville, CO. One review on Yelp raves, “Tennessee Pass Cookhouse is legit, people. We had the absolute best time here. I mean, it’s a yurt. On top of a mountain. How many times will you have THAT experience in your lifetime?”


We’ve seen customers use Colorado Yurts as yoga studios for many years. Krista Zember has BE Yoga Yurt in Virginia, where she teaches yoga to special needs kids and other groups. Her clients love the yurt!


BE Yoga Yurt

We use a 20′ yurt as an office here at Colorado Yurt Company. Nearby in Durango, Bill Graham of Ska Brewing Company has his home office in a Colorado Yurt. Bill says, “We couldn’t be more pleased with the decision to add a yurt to our house, rather than building on. It was inexpensive, works great, looks cool and we love it.” We like having a friend in the beer business- especially because Ska Beer is excellent!

Delicious Ska Beers

Yurts are versatile, low-impact, affordable solutions to many needs. How will you use your yurt?



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Tipi Questions Answered: Can You Live in a Tipi?

Ahhhh, the romance and beauty of the perfect indigenous structure… a tipi. You can imagine staying overnight, camping for a week and maybe doing a meditation workshop in a tipi. But, can you actually live in a tipi?

This question is the essence of our company- our genesis in fact.

Earthworks Tipis started in 1976, when Dan and Emma Kigar decided to live in a tipi of their own creation. Something about their simple lifestyle resonated—soon their friends and mountain neighbors were asking Dan and Emma to make them a tipi of their own. The Kigars lived in their lodge for four years in Colorado and a couple of years in a cozy spot near Ann Arbor, Michigan while finishing college. They learned to make their lodge a comfortable and cozy home. At times, they used an open fire to heat and cook; other times they used a wood stove. They learned how to adjust the smoke flaps to let in the breeze and keep out the rain and snow. In time, they even brought a baby boy into the world.

Dan, Emma and baby Sam in 1985

So, what is the reality of living in a tipi? First, you should not expect it to be like living in a house. The elements are right on the other side of a canvas wall. The wonderful parts of that are the sounds, smells and feel of nature every day.

In the summer, you can roll up the side walls to catch a breeze for cooling. You will burn wood or have some other type of heat source in the winter. Whether you have a firepit, a woodstove, or gas heat you’ll want a liner. Not only does it create a draft for the smoke to travel up and out the top, but it creates insulation and privacy and finishes the interior. With a liner, you can also have an ozan or extended ozan… which brings us to rain.

The sound of rain on the canvas is a soothing, calming way to relax inside your tipi. But, there’s the hole up at the top (where the poles cross and the canvas wraps around). Yes. Rain can come in that hole. Usually, the water will travel down the poles and out behind the liner. Or, it will drip into the center of the lodge. To protect the bedding area from rain, we recommend the ozan or extended ozan. It’s a fabric canopy that hangs in the tipi- diverting rain off of the living area to behind the liner. It also helps hold in heat.

Tipi home in Colorado

We have customers who are living in tipis. A family in Idaho lost their home a few years ago. Since they had some land, they decided to shelter themselves with a 26’ Earthworks tipi. They say, “We got it up within 2 hours of that winter’s first blizzard and moved in on January 3 almost two years ago.  Thank you for making us a strong and beautiful tipi that has withstood all weather and has kept our little family protected.”

Interior of family tipi in Idaho

In Maine, another family has a home- but chooses to sleep every night in their tipis. They enjoy the sounds of the woods around them, the feel of the breeze through the tipi and snuggling under the blankets to stay warm in the winter (-25 degrees one night). Their commitment to tipi sleeping is something they feel very strongly about. They recommend it highly, saying, “Ever feel stress? You need a tepee. That’s what’s missing in your life.”

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Yurt Questions Answered: How Long Does a Yurt Last?

We like to talk about yurts. The best part of our day is spent talking to our customers and potential customers about yurts (and tipis and tents). We’ll be using this blog to address some of these common questions and concerns, and hopefully get the word out about these unique and useful structures.

Yurts in Colorado

Yurts in Colorado

So, this blog: “How Long Does a Yurt Last?”

This question doesn’t have just one answer. Many things contribute to the longevity of a yurt. Our customers have yurts that are over 20 years old, and still going strong. Since a yurt is a structure with several components: frame, dome, doors, fabric walls and roof- you will replace different pieces at different times.

Yurt in progress

The wood frame of a yurt is long-lasting, and should not have a “wear out” date, just like other wood structures. We use quality lumber and it’s built to last. Doors occasionally need refinishing and sometimes need replacing, as they wear out because of weather conditions and use. 

All rafters are MSR lumber. Frame is clear, vertical grain Douglas fir.

It’s all about the conditions your yurt lives in- a yurt in the rain forest in Washington faces much different environmental factors than one on a sunny mountainside in the Rockies. Since yurts are covered in fabric, environmental factors play on that fabric in different ways. Snow and wind are not as hard on fabric as sunshine. Here in Colorado, we have over 300 days of high altitude sunshine a year. So, we have seen first hand how our fabrics hold up. We’ve found that vinyl fabrics (ProTech, ProStructure and DuroLast) hold up better in the sunshine than canvas fabrics. One reason is the seams. Our vinyl is seamed with a welder, not thread, (which tends to degrade faster than the fabric around it). In sunny, high UV conditions, a little bit of shade on your yurt makes a big difference.

Seams are welded on vinyl fabrics.

Most people get many years of use out of yurt walls, but at some point they will need replacing. If thread is showing through the vinyl, the roof is leaking or your windows are coming apart- it’s probably time to call for a price on replacements. We do offer replacement walls and roofs, and can usually fit them to your yurt- (even if you didn’t purchase the yurt from us).

We recommend trying to replace the wall and roof fabric at the same time- just for installation ease. If there wasn’t insulation on the yurt originally, adding roof insulation is much easier when replacing the fabric.

Installing insulation and a roof.

One component of a yurt that will need replacing over the years is the dome. The acrylic is tough, but it will crack or break under certain conditions. We estimate that a dome might need replacing in 7-9 years under normal conditions.

Acrylic dome at the top of every yurt.

Taking care of a yurt will ensure many years of use. Wash fabric walls as needed with a mild soap, such as Ivory Flakes (never pressure wash a yurt, as it can damage the fabric). Re-staining or re-coating the doors and outside wood might be necessary every few years, depending upon the climate.

We are always happy to answer your questions, take your suggestions or make replacement parts for your yurt. We hope you enjoy your yurt for years.

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