County to review proposal for second yurt above Fulford
Eagle County is reviewing a proposal for installing another commercial yurt on New York Mountain, about two miles above the Fulford summer cabin community.
Yurts are insulated, tent-like structures with canvas walls, wooden floors and the type of cooking facilities common in the 10th Mountain Hut system. Ralph and Terri Thomas, owners of the existing Hidden Treasures Yurt, want to add a second, eight-bed yurt on their 36-acre mining claim. The yurt, approved seven years ago by the county, is used primarily on winter weekends by cross-country skiers and snowshoers, who bring in their own food and bedding.
Yurts are advertised as an opportunity for a private mountain experience that is an alternative to staying in a large luxury resort.
Wednesday, the Eagle County Planning Commission will review the proposal for an amendment to a special-use permit. The proposal could go to the county commissioners as early as July 29.
The Thomases are former valley residents who now live in California. Ralph Thomas says the request for a second yurt is a business decision.
“Basically, our business falls in two months of the year,” he says. “Between the high overhead and liability, it’s tough to make it as a small business. Two huts will actually show a little bit of income and will not have that great of an impact.
The yurt would be located at about 11,000 feet in elevation, making it usable in the summer for a period from about July 4 to late September.
The Thomases say they hope the county will agree to a change in the conditions of their 1996 approval, which limited development to one yurt.
The Thomases also are asking the county to allow them to replace one of the yurts with a 20- by 24-foot cabin at some time in the future.
“When you put a yurt up at 11,000 feet, you don’t really know how long it is going to survive the elements,” says Ralph Thomas.
Winter access to the site is limited to non-motorized vehicles, except for the owners, who may use such vehicles to stock supplies. In their application, the Thomases are also seeking permission for summer guests to drive their own vehicles to a designated parking area within 50 feet of the yurt. They are specifying that no all-terrain vehicles, dirt bikes, or snowmobiles would be allowed, because such vehicles detract from the backcountry experience.
The New York Mountain hiking trail already goes through the property, and is maintained for public use.
Both yurts would be located below tree line, on heavily timbered, steep slopes. If the second yurt is approved, the Thomases say they plan to erect the new structure in the fall for use during the upcoming ski season.