It turns out hugging a miniature donkey is quite therapeutic, especially when said donkey is named Snowflake and has impressively soft fur. Had I not spent last weekend cozied up yurt-side on a camel farm nestled between mountain ranges, I might never have known.
The yurt, sunlight, and views in every direction.
Snowflake the miniature donkey gives Matt a kiss.
Yurts have always captivated me; maybe it’s their simplicity or their cute circular shape, but now that Colorado’s December temperatures don’t really allow for actual tent camping, I was excited to find the Mudita Camel Yurt available to book in Moffat, CO.
The Sangre de Cristo mountain range provides an epic backdrop.
A very doable drive from Denver along the scenic US Highway 285, the idyllic farm and working camel dairy has stunning views of a the white-capped indigo range of the Sangre De Cristo mountains. As I pulled up the dusty dirt driveway to the yurt, I spotted larger than life camels ambling slowly around the property, silhouetted against the peaks as in a dream of a far-off land.
The dreamy farm beneath huge blue skies.
Happy camels wander around the property at their leisure.
I was looking forward to my night spent alone under the stars, determined to make the most of the trip despite a few last-minute cancellations from friends. I had no expectation that Meghan and Matt, the owners of the farm, would make it a much more meaningful experience.
As soon as I pulled up, Matt came out and introduced himself. With sandy blonde hair, glasses, and a youthful smile, his laid back nature immediately put me at ease as he showed me around the property and introduced me to his furry family. First up was Anita Bonita, the sweetest camel I’ve ever met; she certainly wasn’t bashful and went right in for the hug and kiss. Before long I was petting camels of all different shades of brown, as they got wind of my arrival one by one.
This camel was not shy!
Matt gets enveloped in a camel hug.
Snowflake the donkey was especially affectionate, and I practically had to peel her off of me (I wasn’t complaining!). The three working dogs, various cats, and Matt and Meghan’s beautiful infant son completed the large, unlikely, tight-knit family that I was fortunate enough to stumble upon.
Snowflake thinks I’m kneeling for a hug but I’m really just trying to get a close up.
The story of how Matt and Meghan abandoned their ordinary 9-5 lives in Denver to apprentice on a camel farm in Michigan and then start their own dairy a few years ago is both fascinating and inspiring. When you visit, be sure to ask lots of questions as the hosts are absolutely brimming with interesting facts and stories about their camels and lifestyle.
Matt and some of his many farm animals.
After spending the afternoon making friends with woolly beasts, soaking in the afternoon sun on the porch with a book, and taking in the last of the views while the day slowly faded to night, I jumped in the car with Matt, Meghan, and little baby Liam. We drove a short distance to the nearby town of Saguache, the streets quaintly adorned with holiday lights. At a newly opened café called The Wapiti Coffee House I scarfed down a yummy BLAT and sipped on belly-warming loose leaf tea while we listened to a Celtic folk duo belt out melancholic melodies.
The hardest part is deciding whether to read or watch the sun set.
Admiring the mountains changing color as the sun goes down.
By the time I curled up in the comfy queen bed at my little yurt, the temperature had dropped to a biting 15 degrees outside. But with one of the propane heaters on high, and cozied beneath an indulgent stack of four blankets and a down comforter, I had a wonderfully restful sleep.
A peek inside the bright and cozy yurt.
Though the yurt has tons of rustic charm, this is no austere set-up; the yurt is glamped out with all kinds of thoughtful amenities, such as a camping stove and gas, cookery, a tea selection, bottled water, paper towels, books, lanterns, camel soap made from Big Mama’s milk- everything I could have asked for and more. Even the self-composting outhouse is very clean and feels luxurious compared to some of my dispersed camping experiences.
Homemade soap from Big Mama’s camel milk!
Is this not the cutest outhouse you’ve ever seen?
When it came time for me to pack up and wander north towards Boulder the next morning, I was sad to leave this magical, peaceful place so soon. Don’t get me wrong—raising camels is no easy job, and it is clear that Matt and Meghan work hard. But they welcome travellers with open hearts and provide a unique opportunity to learn about their lives and interact with their charismatic animals. I feel lucky to have had such a special experience and I plan to be back soon.
Looking out the front door of the yurt.
Camel kisses are the best kind.
All photos by author and Hipcamp Field Scout, Caitlin Fullam.
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