I got to fulfill a lifelong dream of mine recently.

When I was in middle school we had to write a list of things that we wanted to do when we grew up.  One of the things on my list was to sleep in a yurt.  This was way before yurts were cool in the U.S.  I only knew about them because in fifth grade I read a book about a man who went to Mongolia.  I think this was my first historical fiction experience.  Ever since that time I wanted to go to Mongolia and sleep in a yurt.  (He also ate sheep eyeballs and I totally didn’t want to have to do that to have my yurt time.)

I managed the yurt and no sheep eyeballs were necessary.

We stayed overnight in the yurt camping area at The Wilds.  I don’t think that the guy in the book I read had a yurt this fancy.  I don’t remember any descriptions of air conditioning, full bathroom, or wi-fi.

The Wilds is a 10,000 acre reclaimed strip mine in Ohio. It is now managed by the Columbus Zoo. It is a little like Jurassic Park with large mammals instead of dinosaurs.


On the first day I went for a horseback ride. I was actually nervous about that. It has been a long time since I’ve ridden. We were told to mount at the mounting block and let the horse walk forward without putting our feet in the stirrups. I flat out panicked at the suggestion. They wanted to adjust our stirrups for us because I was the only person who had ever ridden before. However, stepping away from a mounting block without feet in stirrups is exactly what happened right before the accident where I broke my pelvis. I calmed myself though and got on and put my feet in immediately. Not doing that again.

The ride was fun once I let myself relax and stop overanalyzing. It was a trail ride on a horse who was used to this, not a ride on a high strung knucklehead like I owned.

After the ride we had a private dinner in a dining room reserved for overnight guests. We also had a large fire pit overlooking the camel pasture to relax at.


The next day we had breakfast provided and then we went on our tour through the park.


The Wilds is a fun way to see animals in a slightly more relaxed environment than in a zoo. The herbivores are all wandering huge pastures and living their lives in a much freer manner than in most zoos.


The Wilds is in Cumberland Ohio. It is absolutely worth a visit if you are ever in the central Ohio area.