Bear Claw Yurt in Uinta Mountains

I just returned from a short backpacking and snowshoeing trip with a friend into a yurt nestled on the north slope of the Uinta mountains in Utah. The yurt is run by BRORA and a permit is required to stay there, but it is well worth the trip. BRORA stocks the yurt with propane and wood (though visitors are encouraged to cut wood and restock what they use in the wood-burning stove within the yurt), and it has propane lamps, cooking utensils, a wood-burning stove that is completely amazing, and various sundry goods required for a comfortable overnight stay in the backcountry during winter.

Trail to the yurt


We began the hike at the trailhead, which is at an elevation of about 8,350 feet and, over two miles, slowly ascended to about 8,700 feet where the yurt is located. The trail was groomed a day or so ago (the Forest Service grooms several trails nearby for cross country skiers) but there had been six inches or so of snow that had fallen on the trail. Still, it was excellent for snowshoeing into the yurt. Off the groomed trail was very deep and very soft, so having a groomed trail to use was wonderful.

River bed in winter

Once at the yurt we began a fire in the wood-burning stove and explored the area. There is a nearby outhouse and a fenced off area where one can grab snow that has been (hopefully) unspoiled by wildlife and melt it down for water.

Within the yurt is the aforementioned wood-burning stove, bunk beds that can sleep eight moderately sized adults, propane lanterns, dishes, chairs, a table, and many other items that make for a quite comfortable backcountry stay.

We cooked our dinners and got a little carried away when stoking the stove, to the point that the temperature inside the yurt reached 87 degrees. I was astonished it got so hot so quickly, especially since the temperature outside was already -3 degrees by 5:00 PM. It eventually got to -20 degrees outside due to a fairly clear sky. Still, we were warm and toasty inside the yurt and easily got the temperature down to a very comfortable 65-70 degrees.

Yurt wide view

I didn’t pack a camera with me other than my iPhone, which was a first for me. I thought for sure I would bring my X-Pro1 along but decided against it due to the hassle of having to pull it from my pack to use it. When I got home my wife reminded me that my Fuji’s bag has a fanny-pack style option, which I’ll have to try next time, for while the iPhone camera is decent, it isn’t in the same league as the Fuji.

So, how was the trip? In a word, amazing. I love the winter, snowshoeing is a blast, we backpacked into some remote (during the winter) country, and there was nobody around. Fantastic. I highly recommend it and the folks at BRORA were great to work with in booking the yurt.