The Wilds is a conservation park located in Cumberland, Ohio, about an hour and a half east of Columbus, Ohio. We scheduled a somewhat last minute visit last month after deciding to postpone a trip to Hawaii. We booked a Woodland Yurt and stayed for two nights. It was a really fun and unique experience. Keep reading below for a review of our stay at The Wilds conservation park in Cumberland, Ohio.
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We booked a two-night stay in a Woodland Yurt on Nomad Ridge primarily because it was the only option available for our last-minute booking. The Wilds also offers larger Grand Yurts and Premium Yurts but these were not available when we booked our trip. These larger Yurts offer king-sized beds and mini fridges. The Grand Yurt is also climate controlled (while all other yurts have portable air conditioning and heating units).
This was our first time staying in a yurt. The Wilds website describes a yurt is a “a nomadic-style structure made of canvas stretched over a wooden frame.” The traditional yurts at The Wilds have bamboo floors and indoor plumbing. They have solid wood doors, ceiling fans, and a private bathroom. It is truly an amazing glamping experience.
It was really fun to stay in such a unique setting. Each yurt has its own deck with chairs for stargazing or relaxing. All eleven yurts are located in a cluster on a wooded hillside called Nomad Ridge. This means that the yurts located higher up on the hillside (like ours) didn’t have a great view of the property, but the deck was still a really nice place to relax and have a glass of wine. All of the yurts include parking on Nomad Ridge.
We were assigned to yurt #4. Each yurt has a separate gravel path to its entrance. These paths are uneven in spots and have several sets of stairs, so you will want to be sure that you can easily carry your luggage. The yurts are spaced out enough so that there weren’t any problems with privacy or noise from other yurts. We were actually quite pleasantly surprised when we arrived. I had seen some photos of the yurts online, but they didn’t quite capture the quaintness of the structures.
Our yurt had two twin beds. They were positioned against a partial wall in the middle of the yurt. Located on the opposite side of that wall was the sink, shower, and toilet. I am not a fan of camping, but this experience just included the best parts of camping. In the yurts you have access to indoor plumbing, running water, electricity, and a portable air conditioning unit and heater. You can really enjoy being surrounded by nature and don’t have to worry about cooking or cleaning.
The yurts also have access to a beautiful shared observation deck overlooking several of the pastures on property. You can use your binoculars to view animals even after the park has officially closed. The observation deck also has a large fire pit. We found that most of the yurt guests tended to congregate on the observation deck after dinner. Just next to the observation deck is a concierge yurt. A concierge occupies this yurt for check-in and check-out and can help with any questions you might have. They also have beer, wine, and snacks for sale here. Nomad Ridge is only for guests 21 and over.
Other accommodation options
In addition to the eleven yurts on property, The Wilds also has seven cabins that house up to six guests each. The cabins have three bedrooms and two bathrooms each. They have a full kitchen, private dock with rowboat, and access to a communal dining hall.
Another option for staying at The Wilds in the lodge. The Lodge is a private luxury cabin that sleeps up to 12 people. There are six separate bedrooms with private bathrooms. The lodge also has a screened porch, satellite television, a gas fireplace, and a fully equipped kitchen. A stay at the lodge also gives you access to the exclusive lodge lake, boats, canoes, and fishing. There is even a water trampoline in the lake which looks like a lot of fun.
An overnight stay in any on-property accommodation includes an open-air safari tour (May through October). Read about our tours in my post on visiting The Wilds (coming soon).
Dining on Nomad Ridge
Both breakfast and dinner are included with every overnight stay at the yurts on Nomad Ridge. Meals are served in a private room off of the Overlook Café, which is part of the main welcome center and gift shop. It’s a short walk or drive up to the Overlook Café from your yurt. Breakfast is offered from 8am-10am and dinner is offered from 5pm-7pm. You seat yourself in the assigned dining room and a server will come by and take your drink order.
Breakfast and dinner
Both mornings we were there they offered a breakfast buffet. In general, it was pretty good (and generally better than expected). On both mornings the buffet included yogurt, strawberries, bacon, french toast, eggs, hash browns, sausage gravy, and biscuits. The first morning the buffet also included granola and sausage, but these were not included in the buffet on the second day. Unfortunately, I found that on our second day, some of the buffet food was also quite cold and unappetizing. Aside from this, we were really happy with the breakfast buffet.
There were different dinner menus each night of our stay. Every meal includes bread and a salad. The first night we both chose the steak option and thought that the food was quite good. I was a really big fan of the potato chips that tasted just like those I have had at higher-end restaurants. On our second night, I chose the chicken and Brian chose the pork. Neither meal was particularly good, but also not horrible. I would classify it as closer to cafeteria-level cuisine. Honestly, some of the meal combinations were a bit odd. For instance, my guacamole chicken was served with buttered noodles. Dinner also includes dessert which we enjoyed both evenings. Regardless, there are no other options on the property to eat at those times and it was very convenient.
For lunch, the Overlook Café was the only dining option available because we visited at the end of the season. A second dining option, the Terrace Grill, is located across the property at the Carnivore Center and is only accessible as a stop on the offered tours. The Terrace Grill was closed during our visit due to staffing shortages, but it typically offers burgers, hot dogs, and pizza. There is also a small Safari Snack Depot stand located up the hill from the Overlook Café in the Johnson Center (where the open-air safari tours depart). It was also closed during our visit but typically offers pretzels, popcorn, and ice cream.
Lunch at the Overlook Cafe was pretty typical for a zoo lunch. They offered burgers, hot dogs, chicken tenders, and salads. We attempted to order grilled chicken sandwiches but they were out, so we each got a hamburger and fries. The burgers were massive and pretty decent.
There are a few things to note before planning a visit to The Wilds. First, even though they advertise Wi-Fi in the yurts, it is spotty at best. It seemed to go in and out and certainly wasn’t good enough to stream online content (or in our case, to upload videos taken on our GoPro).
You should also note that there is a clear plastic bubble window at the peak of the yurt roof. This acts as a skylight and might normally be a nice feature, but the first night we stayed there was a severe thunderstorm. Although we stayed safe and dry in our yurt during the storm, I desperately wished I had brought a sleep mask with me. The thunder and lightning woke us up several times during the night and it would have been nice to have been able to cover my eyes from the lightning. It would also be nice to have a sleep mask in the morning. Because of the skylight, we tended to wake up with the sun.
What to pack
You will want to bring a few other items with you to make the most of your trip. I suggest bringing:
- These are fun to use on the observation deck and on your tours.
- The path from your car to your yurt is not well lit. If you need to run to you car or the concierge yurt after dark, you will want to have a flashlight.
- Books, games, or other entertainment
- There is quite a bit of down time when staying at The Wilds- especially in the evenings. You might want to bring a book or some games to keep yourself occupied. I really wished that I had brought my Kindle.
- A sleep mask
- For the reasons I mention above, make sure you bring a sleep mask. You will thank me, I promise.
- A trash bag
- There were only two very small trash cans in our yurt. We ended up using a plastic shopping bag to hold most of our trash (including the to-go containers from the desserts that we brought back to our room).
We really enjoyed our time staying in our yurt at Nomad Ridge. Two nights seemed like the perfect amount of time to see a lot of what The Wilds has to offer while still allowing for some time to relax. It was a truly unique experience and we look forward to going back.
If you are planning a visit to The Wilds, be sure to check out my post on some of the activities offered (coming soon). If you are interested in extending your vacation, consider adding a visit to Hocking Hills, Ohio or Columbus, Ohio.
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