Home to over 250 state parks, the Oregon State Park system is known and loved across the West Coast for its scenic trails, beautiful vistas, and whale-watching opportunities. For many visitors though, a highlight is unwinding in one of OSP’s yurts after a busy day exploring. 

This wasn’t always the case, though. Back in the ’90s, Oregon State Parks were in dire straits. With a revenue crisis on its hands, the parks were struggling to juggle a backlogged maintenance system and low winter occupancy rates. In 1993, Oregon State Parks regional manager Craig Tutor chanced upon a Pacific Yurts display at the Oregon State Fair, and things instantly clicked. 

How Craig Tutor Brought Pacific Yurts to Oregon State Parks

Since childhood, Craig had always enjoyed camping with his family. So when it came time for him to go to college, majoring in Resource Recreation Management at Oregon State University and eventually landing a job with the state park system were a natural fit. But even with the park system in need of a shakeup, it was hard to get buy-in for Craig’s idea to bring yurts in. 

“It puzzled me when I had managers that said they didn’t want yurts,” Craig says. “We were in a financial crisis, and from my perspective, we had to try something bold.” 

After overcoming the initial reluctance, Craig was able to persuade the agency to add 16 Pacific Yurts along the coastline. That’s when things really kicked off. And as it turns out, this out-of-the-box thinking was just what parks needed. 

“You go camping in a cabin, everybody knows what that is. But go glamping in a yurt, and now you’ve had an adventure,” he explained. For park goers, that new sense of adventure inspired a level of demand the park had never experienced. Today, guests looking for the perfect glamping getaway have their pick of over 200 yurts across the Oregon State Parks system – all from Pacific Yurts.

Why Yurts Are a Bottom-Line Booster 

For Craig, the ultimate challenge of yurts isn’t installation or upkeep, it’s convincing people to take the leap of faith. But he says once managers and businesses are convinced, they never go back. Along with their unique design, Craig says yurts are great money makers, and can help give businesses a leg up from the competition. 

According to him, the top business cases for yurts include: 

  1. Solving for Seasonality

During the rainy winter months, guest volume naturally dropped at Oregon State Parks. Yurts turned that trend around. “When Labor Day comes and all those campsites are empty, you have yurts where people can stay dry and warm. At our parks, that’s exactly what happened – yurts really boosted our offseason.”

  1. Quick ROI
    If your site already has water infrastructure, Craig says yurts are a relatively easy add-on. “If you’re a campsite or a state park system that already has the infrastructure for restrooms and showers, then getting a return on your investment in yurts happens relatively quickly,” Craig explains.
  1. A New Kind of Experience

While yurts have skyrocketed in popularity over the years, they’re still a unique, novel experience for a lot of folks. That novelty is what helped Oregon State Parks climb out of financial crisis, and Craig says news traveled fast from there: “The word of mouth sell was tremendous.”

Exploring Other Commercial Uses for Yurts

Over the years, Craig has not only seen yurts transform state parks, but commercial businesses as well. From wineries and farms to breweries and golf courses, Craig says the practical application of yurts are endless. 

For farms and other businesses that rely on seasonal staff, yurts can also offer the perfect, low-maintenance worker housing. “Everybody’s looking for ways to keep employees. Usually the people you’re getting would think it’s really an adventure to be able to have that kind of housing.” 

Craig’s ultimate dream? Floating yurts, which he says is actually fairly easy to implement. 

“I always wanted to do floating yurts because it’s so much easier than most people probably expect. You just build a dock and you can put in all the infrastructure you need. I think it would be kind of novel and really put you on the map.”

Make Your Vision a Reality

Thanks to Craig’s forward-thinking ingenuity, the Oregon State Park system continues to thrive three decades after adding their first Pacific Yurts. “People tell me I should have been an entrepreneur instead of working in state parks,” Craig says. “I feel really fortunate that I got to do both.”
Interested in bringing yurts to your business? Our 3D Yurt Builder is a great place to start.