FAQ: YURTS May 2021

Are Yurts permitted in San Miguel County?

Yurts may be permitted to be erected and used as dwellings or accessory structures in San Miguel County. Yurts are allowed in any zone district where single-family dwellings are allowed. However, some Homeowners Associations may have covenants that prohibit or limit structures such as Yurts. Yurts are considered permanent structures and must meet all Land Use Code requirements including how the structure is used, setbacks, and any other applicable standards. Even if a Yurt is “off the grid,” permits will be necessary. 

Is it a Dwelling Unit or an Accessory Building?

The yurt will be considered a Dwelling Unit if it has cooking and bathroom facilities, either in the Yurt or in a nearby structure. The Yurt may be the Primary Dwelling Unit or it may be an Accessory Dwelling Unit/Caretaker Unit (depending on the zone district). 

If the Yurt is a dry structure (no kitchen or bathroom facilities), it is considered an Accessory Structure. Accessory Structures are only allowed on properties where there is already a Primary Dwelling Unit. 

Are permits required? 

Development Permit: Development permits are required for a Yurt and if applicable, the driveway, well and solar. These are issued by the Planning Department. Please contact the Planning Department for more information.

Driveway and Access Permits: If the property does not have an existing driveway, an access permit must be obtained from the County Road and Bridge Department. (If access is from a state highway, the access permit would be issued by CDOT.) A Development Permit will be needed for the driveway. Driveways will be required to meet the standards and specifications for driveways; information can be found in San Miguel County Land Use Code, Section 5-502 DD. 

Onsite Wastewater Treatment System (OWTS): If the Yurt will be a dwelling with kitchen and bathroom facilities, a development permit for an OWTS will be required. Composting toilets are allowed, but there will still be grey water from sinks and tubs/showers, and that must be handled appropriately. It is not allowed to drain onto the ground. 

Building Permit: At a minimum, a building permit and inspection will be needed to ensure the yurt and platform meet minimum load requirements. In addition, if a yurt will only be heated with a solid fuel burning appliance, and contains no other utilities, the Building Department will conduct inspections to ensure that minimum clearances to combustible materials are met. If a yurt is designated as a dwelling unit (contains a kitchen and/or bathroom), or is heated with gas, propane, or electricity, it will be required to be in compliance with all San Miguel County Building Codes, including the “Prescriptive Energy Code & Green Building Standard.” 

Well Permit: Any Yurt that is considered a Dwelling must be served by water. You will need to obtain a Well Permit from the Colorado Division of Water Resources. A Development Permit is required prior to drilling the well. Cisterns are only permitted if approved by the Board of County Commissioners. 

Electrical and Plumbing Permits: Electrical and Plumbing permits are issued by the State. Yurts that are Dwelling units are required to have electrical outlets for a kitchen and must have cooking and bathing facilities. Additionally, any natural gas or propane-powered appliances require plumbing. Therefore, electrical and plumbing permits are required for a Yurt that is a Dwelling Unit, and may be required in a Yurt that is an Accessory Building. 

Solar Power: The installation of solar power will require a Development Permit, Building Permit and a State electrical permit. 

Can a Yurt be used as a Short-term Rental?

Only Yurts that are considered a Single-Family Dwelling Unit, having a full kitchen and bathroom, can be a Short-Term Rental. A Short-Term Rental permit is required, pursuant to Land Use Code Section 5-30, and it must meet all safety requirements. Yurts that are accessory dwelling units, caretaker units or accessory structures, or that have not previously been approved by San Miguel County as described above, cannot be used as a Short-Term Rental. 


See Article 5 of the Land Use Code for zone district and development standards. See Article 6 of the Land Use Code for definitions of terms. Link to the Land Use Code

Link to Planning Department webpage

Link to OWTS webpage 

Link to Building Department webpage

Link to Road & Bridge Department webpage

Link to Colorado Division of Water Resources webpage