Yurtville with Boreale Explorers: Yukon Territory's most unique destination

A Canadian couple annually builds luxury Yurts, offering travelers to one of Canada's most remote destinations a unique adventure. Photo: Matt Payne

WHITEHORSE, YUKON TERRITORY, CANADA - September 6, 2012 - On a backcountry ski trip in the Kootenays in British Columbia In 2006, the lives of Sylvain Turcotte and Marsha Cameron, a high-spirited, adventurous Canadian couple changed forever. While the trip itself was an epic one, they also discovered a new unique kind of lodging that would ultimately change the direction of their lives.

Not the typical cabin, nor campground but something far more curious; a tent-bio-dome hybrid that looked equal parts Mongolian tent and Greenhouse. What they had stumbled upon were yurts. 

Cliffside morning at Yurtville

Six years later, on a high bluff in The Yukon Territory in Canada, overlooking the town of Whitehouse, Marsha and Sylvain, under the moniker Boreale Explorers, featuring guided mountain biking, local hikes, and rafting trips have built a one of a kind yurt oriented lodging facility.

Each year with the help of a few friends and several six packs of local brew, by hand, they turn the empty bluff each year for four months into a luxurious solar-powered adventure destination.

They call it Yurtville.

With two luxury yurts that sleep up to four, two tents also sleeping four, and a community yurt where guests eat locally sustainable meals from a menu prepared by Chef Carol and socialize around an indoor fireplace, listening to carefully made playlists and sipping local brews.

Meals range in scope from Huevos Rancheros, omelets fresh fruit, locally made granola and yogurt for breakfast to multi-coursed dinners consisting of local elk, bison, antelope, and salmon to name a few.

Wine in the Communal Yurt around the fireplace.

Yurtville has the familial feel of a Bed and Breakfast with notes of camping and luxury. Each morning, a guest is selected to operate a “Bike Blender” in order to make the daily smoothie. Capturing the biking spirit, a blender is attached and powered by a stationery bike located in the communal yurt.

Usually to much applause, the smoothies are blended in about thirty happy seconds.

The yurts themselves are circular structures elevated on platforms upon which a hardwood floor is laid. Lattice is then wrapped around its perimeter then beams lead up to a doom on the yurts top. It is then covered entirely by canvass giving it the feel of a tent but the protection from the elements one would expect from a hotel room.

They are then furnished with comfortable beds, dressers, rugs, coffee tables and futons making your tent in the wilderness feel more like a bedroom.

Though the yurts are heated, as the nights can get cold, there is no electricity in the private yurts. They do, however, come with battery-powered lanterns, but given that The Yukon is the Land of the Midnight Sun, synthetic light is rarely needed. The doom at the yurt’s peak is clear, perfect for stargazing if guests manage to be awake during the three or so hours of darkness each night. 

Bathroom facilities are a walk across the property so guests should either bring slippers and a robe or a water bottle if they have confidence in their aim.

Bedroom yurt.

“Right now our max capacity is 10 people and we would like to double that in the next 3 years. We have also increased our capacity by partnering with local hotels in Whitehorse, which increases the amount and types of travelers that we can introduce to the Yukon. While the yurts are awesome, we recognize that some travelers would prefer to stay in a ‘regular’ hotel during the evening and adventure during the day,” said Marsha.

Each day, under the name Boreale Explorers, Marsha and Sylvain offer a variety of outdoor activities to both guests and tourists. Marsha and Sylvain are seasoned mountain bikers and the town of Whitehorse alone has over five hundred miles of riding trails. Guests can rent high-end bikes for forty dollars a day or can bring their own to avoid the cost.

Trails range in skill level from novice to expert but no matter the skill level, guests are guaranteed a day of thrills, Boreale forests, alpine vistas and a picnic lunch complete with fresh sandwiches, local chocolates, and fresh cut vegetables.

Boreale Explorers also offer local hikes, walking tours of the town of Whitehorse, and trips to the incomparably beautiful Kluane National Park, a two-hour drive from the yurts. Kluane National Park is a pristine, and dramatic park with endless trails and few guests. 

Bikes getting ready for a day ride.

To miss out on a picnic on the shore of the glass-like Lake Kathleen is an injustice to the journey. 

Half-day canoe rides leaving from Whitehorse offer guests the chance to see local wildlife. Bald eagles, deer, fox, and beaver are common play. Moose and bears have been known to grace not only the river’s edge but also take residence all over the Yukon, which is larger than the state of California, but has the population of right around 37,000 people.

To the traveler that really wants to get away from it all, there is no finer place than the Yukon. Yurtville and Boreale Explorers, built from the ground up, radiates passion. It offer both peace and adventure in one of the wildest parts of North America while managing with equal success to create a communal, delicious, and luxurious experience.

Whether it is a mountain bike getaway, or just the need to get away from it all, few merge both of these needs like Marsha and Sylvain. 


More information

Boréale Explorers, Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada.


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Matt Payne

Matt Payne has lived and worked as both a television writer and producer in Los Angeles for nearly ten years.  Matt grew up in Oklahoma City and began his career with a degree in Film and Video Studies from the University of Oklahoma.  Since then, he has worked as part of writing staffs for such hits as 24 andWithout A Trace. Most recently Matt wrote and produced episodes of CBS’s The Defenders starring Jim Belushi and Jerry O’Connell and Memphis Beat, starring Jason Lee, which is set to air on TNT in August of 2011.

In addition to a successful television-writing career, Matt has developed features with major production companies and continues to work as a freelance script analyst for Relativity Media, the production company behind such hits as The Fighter, Zombieland, and Catfish where he has provided script feed back on nearly a thousand features.

When he is not writing and producing television, Matt works as contributor to the Washington Times Communities Travel section, where he has writing skills have taken him from the top of the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpar to the jungles of the Philippine Islands.  New York City’s finest restaurants to the earthquake ravaged Port au Prince Haiti. 

Matt was the winner of the 2004 Comedy writing award for Scriptapolooza, a finalist for the Warner Brothers Television Writer’s workshop, and is an active participant in Los Angeles’s Young Storytellers Program.  

Early in his career, Matt spent two years working as an assistant the Endeavor, which is now part of WME, the second largest talent agency in the world, working closely with such talent as Christian Bale and Michael Douglass.

Matt  is a member of  the Writer’s Guild of America and the Screen Actor’s Guild.

Contact Matt Payne


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