Tiny houses have captured the imaginations of a lot of people in recent years. Teeny dwellings encompassing less than 500 square feet tend to appeal to minimalists and individuals who desire to live as simply and sustainably as possible. An entire television series on HGTV has been devoted to people undergoing the search for their perfect mini-manse, and our region will celebrate the trend this July when the inaugural Tiny House & Green Living Festival comes to the Ulster County Fairgrounds in New Paltz.
Locals don’t have to wait that long, however, to check out some unique tiny houses up close. The Jellystone Park™ Lazy River Camp-Resort in Gardiner will be the first stop on the Jellystone Park Tiny Home RV Tour running from May to November. Three tiny houses designed in the spirit of Yogi Bear and his friends will be available to view at an open house at the campgrounds this Saturday, May 20 from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is free and refreshments will be offered. Visitors can book stays in the tiny houses from Sunday, May 21 through Wednesday, June 28. After that, the house tour will move on to make stops at Yogi Bear Camp-Resorts in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia.
Several groups have already booked stays in the tiny houses during their stay in Gardiner, according to Tessa Wiles, marketing manager for Northgate Resorts, the Michigan-based company that owns and operates the family-friendly Yogi Bear-themed Gardiner camp-resort and seven others across the country. Reservations may be made online or by phone.
“When we started with this tiny home idea for Northgate,” says Wiles, “we thought it would be really cool to have the homes designed to reflect the bears. We’re getting three tiny homes, and there are three main characters: Yogi, Boo Boo and Cindy Bear.”
Northgate Resorts partnered on the project with Sonoma, California-based Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, the nation’s largest tiny home builder. A design challenge was established, with designer Kristin Rieke of Kansas City-based RAK’Designs becoming the clear winner. She has a background in interior design and construction that spans generations of her family. Her style is streamlined and functional, with a focus on blending heirloom touches with contemporary.
“Kristin took the idea of the bear theme to a level we couldn’t have come up with ourselves,” says Wiles. “It was wonderful. We loved her designs because they were fun, yet functional. They were inspired by the bears; not too literally but not so abstract that you didn’t see the bears reflected in the designs.”
Yogi’s house is “kind of earthy,” says Wiles, green in color on the outside with lots of woodsy paneling inside. His sidekick, Boo Boo, who wears a blue bow tie, inspired a sweet little blue house with a design both rustic and fun, featuring a wood-paneled interior, a functional full porch, an emblematic lancet window and symmetry showcased in its entry. And Cindy Bear — who may or may not be Yogi’s lady friend — was the girly influence for a pink house with a mint green kitchen, sweeping bay windows, a corner porch and hipped roof.
All three houses include a kitchen and bath, with maximum occupancy at five.
Parking is available at the camp-resort for the open house.
Launched in 1969, the Jellystone Park system is the second largest chain of campgrounds in the country. There are 84 franchises with more than 17,000 campsites and vacation rentals in 33 states and four Canadian provinces. The emphasis at the camp-resorts, says Wiles, is on providing fun, friendly, clean and service-oriented parks with a number of amenities for every type of camper.
The camp-resorts feature a variety of accommodations, says Wiles, from the tiny houses that will be more like “glamping” to rustic tent sites and RV sites. The resort aspects include a number of activities one might not usually associate with camping, including two large outdoor pools and interactive water features with a number of slides, laser tag, playgrounds, horseshoe pits, fishing, miniature golf, sports facilities, sand volleyball, basketball, gem mining, live music on Saturday nights, a dog park., “hey” rides with costumed characters, an arcade and a “jumping pillow.”
Wiles says they have yet to determine what they’ll do with the tiny houses once the tour ends in November. “The homes will be placed at one of our parks, but we’re not sure which one yet, or whether they’ll tour again… first we’ll see how this year goes.”
Photographs and floor plans of the tiny Yogi Bear-themed houses are on lazyriverny.com, where more information is available along with a link to make reservations, or call (845) 255-5193. Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park™ Lazy River Camp-Resort in Gardiner is located at 50 Bevier Road.