Last winter, I got the chance to stay in one of the yurts at Fundy National Park. A massive blizzard had rolled through New Brunswick the week before and many of the snow banks were higher than the trail heads when I stopped at the visitor centre to check into my site.
After getting a map and a set of keys, I drove to the end of a long road, its icy surface covered in a fresh layer of salt. There was already a fire burning in the cookhouse and I spotted several other people staying nearby.
Inside my yurt, I found a sofa, pine bunk beds, a large table, and two benches. Several solar lights were hanging from the walls and Parks Canada left a lantern on the table, along with a few other supplies. Standing near the propane stove, I was relieved that the space felt warm and comfortable. Later that night, I unpacked my dinner and curled into the bottom bunk with a book, listening to the wind howling while fierce waves pounded on the beach below. Despite the blistering February cold, these yurts, modelled after traditional dwellings in Central Asia, are more than capable of withstanding a Canadian winter.
It might sound a little crazy - going camping when the temperature outside is well below freezing. But having roofed-accommodations in the national parks, like yurts, oTENTiks, and rustic cabins, makes the whole thing less intimidating. You’ll need to pack a base layer, dishes and utensils, food, matches, and a warm sleeping bag. Most of the other gear is provided and many of the national parks have sleds, bikes, and snow shoes available to rent.
If you've never visited a national park in the off-season, Fundy is accepting reservations until the end of March, so there’s still plenty of time to experience it for yourself.
Travel tip: Despite having a propane stove inside the yurt, I'd still recommend bringing a four-season sleeping bag. If you don't have one of your own, you can rent camping equipment from stores like MEC for a pretty reasonable price.