Beautiful Yurt, Valentine’s weekend, snow-covered trees, Muskegon State Park right on the shore of Lake Michigan, and attached Luge adventure sports park – I can’t think of another romantic place, considering everything going on with the travel. But it only took less than an hour in Yurt to realize that this is an epic fail and we should never make decisions on the fly.

Spoiler Alert: It is not the Yurt but it is our planning that ruined the trip.

Few Moments of Joy

I was checking the Yurt availability in Muskegon State Park for a while now, as it looked beautiful in the pictures. When I saw it is available for the next weekend where we can spend my birthday along with Valentine’s eve, I jumped and booked the Yurt right away. Yurt is colorful with ranger-made bunk beds and furniture. No water and electricity, but our Jackery 240Wh power station should be sufficient. And the wood stove for heat with firewood provided. Sounds fun.

I even purchased the annual recreation passport that is needed to enter the park. When we received the booking confirmation of Yurt from the State Park Manager, I made sure that the wood stove provides sufficient heat for the Yurt. And he was kind enough to give all the information and mentioned that once the woodstove is running, we should be all good, as the Yurt itself is insulating. Once.

That is all the planning we did and we are jumping in joy.


We started about 11 AM in Chicago to reach right before Check-In time and nightfall. We were stuck along the way a couple of times due to work and we reached the place when it’s dark. Winter darkness made it tough but adventure park staff helped us locate the Yurt. It isn’t too far from the parking. We did not unload the luggage but went to check out the Yurt. One Good move.

It would have been better if the check-in time is earlier than 4 PM. At least in winter, it is too late to occupy and get to know the place.

Few moments of stay

It is about -10°F outside and Yurt felt the same as soon as we entered. It is so cold that our hands felt numb almost immediately. We went back to suit up with our gloves and flashlights.

With all our past experience of setting campfire, we tried in the woodstove with provided kindling and firewood. They were dry enough and fire picked up instantly. We closed the woodstove door slightly which made the fire die and caused enough smoke that made the fire alarm go. That is the beginning of our panic.

If we try to close the wood stove door, the fire dies. If we open, the smoke alarm beeps. More kindling or firewood only brought more smoke and in turn frequent smoke alarms. Yurt door cannot be left open as we couldn’t bear the cold. There were valves above and below to control the fire but maybe it’s panic and cold, we couldn’t operate them to success. There is no T-mobile signal either to call the after-hours support. Our Skyroam picked a signal but it isn’t good enough to stream videos of tips to operate the woodstove.

We were there for less than an hour and we couldn’t stay anymore. We were unable to admire the beauty of those hand-crafted wooden bunk beds and chairs. Night view would have been awesome looking up thru that tiny sunroof of the Yurt. We would have tried all those board games. And the whole winter setting could be pretty during sunrise, with icicles hanging from the Yurt, snow-covered trees, and almost frozen Lake Michigan.

See you again

We came back to the car, at least it’s warm here. After some time, we went back and removed all the mess from the woodstove. Placed unburnt logs along with others and half-burnt ones in the pit outside. Locked the Yurt and went to have dinner. Never went back. The cold made it terrible and thought after all this, we are better home. Due to the extreme weather, our car’s check engine light illuminated which eventually made the costly timing chain fail, which is a story for another time.

Well, in the end, all it matters is experience. And the mistakes we learn from. We should have learned about the woodstove in detail. On a normal day, it wouldn’t have mattered much but on a cold day, when the time is crucial, it does. Also, checking in early will help. At least on cold winter days.

Anyways, Muskegon State Park management is very kind and helpful. When we explained the situation, they helped with everything they could financially. The manager is really nice and even offered help to set up the fire but we are already home in Chicago.

Well, there is always next time and we couldn’t wait to visit the Yurt during summer. It should be a lot of fun. Even in winter, next time with some preparation, because we love to be in the midst of snow-covered places. And we can’t miss trying one-of-a-kind Luge, it sounds so fun.

What other planning would have helped us? Let us know in the comments.

Don’t you think these are the experiences make the travel exciting? We have another wild experience to share with you:

Well, not every trip breaks. Some build relationships too. And that happened to us in Rocky Mountains.

How about Fjords in USA?

Or India:

You know what, you can get all these stories straight to your inbox next time. It is just a click away:

About Author

“Be a Roman when in Rome” is the first travel quote I heard. Soon I realize every place is unique. Wondering how it is? Well that's why the stories here are for. Enjoy reading them!

With so many lovely places on this earth, different cultures and variety of food, exploring one at a time while leading a crazy IT professional life. In short, call me Explorer, be it places, food or IT. See you around!

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