- Associated Press - Sunday, March 6, 2016

FORT RANSOM, N.D. (AP) - Families who sold land to Fort Ransom State Park in the scenic Sheyenne River Valley are immortalized with the parks’ newest additions - a pair of funky, luxurious yurts.

The Redetzke and the Pederson yurts move the humble yurt experience to a new level and exemplify the state’s pull beyond traditional campers to entice everyone into North Dakota’s great outdoors.

At about $50,000 apiece, the domed, round cabins deliver a lot of bang for the buck, the Bismarck Tribune (http://bit.ly/1oLa7Jm ) reported. Open the entry door and it’s hard to believe that a roomy kitchen, comfortable sitting area, two bedrooms with an overhead loft for kids and a bathroom can all fit in a circular structure 30 feet in diameter.

Besides that, the rooms have spacious windows and an under-floor system delivers warmed or cooled air, depending on the season, for a wrap-around feeling of cozy comfort.

All of this is in a setting that, with snow in the hills or sumacs blazing red in the fall, offers a slice of upper New England not too far south of Valley City.

The Redetzke yurt has been available since early January, and Fort Ransom park manager Tyler Modlin said the folks who have stayed so far have delivered rave reviews.

“With these, people don’t have to invest in campers and tenting equipment to come out and experience what the park has to offer. That’s what they’re for, so people without all that can still experience the outdoors,” Modlin said.

The Pederson yurt is still under construction and will be available in the spring.

In the meantime, the Redetzke yurt opens the park to a winter experience for those who simply want to hike through the wooded hills and along the river or snowmobile, cross-country ski or snowshoe, conditions depending. There are 2 miles of snowmobile trail through the park that connect to a longer trail system and 12 miles of groomed ski trails.

“This will bring more interest year-round and now that there’s a cardtrol gas station in the little town of Fort Ransom, people can snowmobile on the trail from Valley City, stop here for gas and stay overnight and continue over to Lisbon,” Modlin said.

The yurts also take a lot of the hassle out of camping; they’re fully equipped with everything from pots and pans to a full-sized fridge and stove and visitors need only bring their personal bedding and bath towels.

The yurts are part of the state’s $14 million commitment to improved and expanded recreation, and department director Mark Zimmerman is making the most of every dollar he’s got at his disposal.

Zimmerman said a new visitor center that evokes a barn is on tap for Fort Ransom State Park, with bid opening March 8. The current center, housed in the historic Bjone House near the park entrance, will be remodeled into a cabin for park visitor rental. The park is one of North Dakota’s horse parks and another 30 horse corrals will be available in the spring, along with electric pedestals and a water line to the horse camp area.

The yurts at Fort Ransom State Park add to the parks’ existing inventory of three yurts at Cross Ranch State Park and one at Lake Metigoshe State Park. Zimmerman said one more yurt -the larger “luxury” model debuted at Fort Ransom - will be built at Cross Ranch this year and Fort Stevenson State Park is angling for a couple, which will depend on future funding.

“They’re just that popular,” Zimmerman said

With a long list of improvements to state parks made possible by the special infusion of state money, including the development of a new Missouri River Day Park near Bismarck, the department is well on its way to giving these treasured public properties the attention they deserve.

“We’re moving ahead,” Zimmerman said.

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com

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