As we were searching the internet for some fun things to do one weekend we tripped across a yurt at and I immediately called them and booked a one night stay in their tree house yurt. What's a yurt you might be asking - it's a circular tent of felt or skins on a collapsible framework, used by nomads in Mongolia, Siberia, and Turkey. Love to go to Mongolia, but it's a tad far when we can stay in a yurt tree house on Lake Buchanan just an hour from the house. Yurts are becoming popular as a way to camp and enjoy nature without the pain of camping - setting up a tent, no running water or AC, sleeping on a cot or air mattress that always goes flat by 2 AM, and no potty. Yurt camping is known as glamping or "glamorous camping."
We had an outstanding stay at Rainbow Hearth which offers lots more than just an overnight stay in a yurt tree house. They are an unusual combination of a Bed & Breakfast (but with 3 meals a day), a therapeutic spa (with more than just a massage), and a sanctuary retreat with unique lodging and an opportunity to get away from your frantic pace and the hustle and bustle of the city to relax, rejuvenate, and reconnect with nature or a best friend.
It's a beautiful drive on FM 2431 and on a one lane road to get to Rainbow Hearth - a very scenic twisting and turning back road just outside of Burnet that takes you through lots of colorful wildflowers, deer hiding in the woods, armadillos trying to cross the road, birds gliding on gentle winds, huge elevation changes (you're in the Texas Hill Country!), and scenic vistas of Lake Buchanan. The drive sets the stage for a unique experience. On your drive to Rainbow Hearth, make sure that you slow down, relax, and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Just about the time we think we may be lost, we arrive at Rainbow Hearth and as soon as we stopped the Jeep we were warmly greeted by Scott, two cats, and Shadow & Sunny - cute friendly dogs and Sunny guided us everywhere we walked - to our yurt, Medicine Rock, the lake, and breakfast! Scott immediately said "welcome, glad you're here, and let me show you around and then I'll help you with your bags up to your yurt tree house." It's very rare that we are warmly greeted and welcomed like that - unless it's at a close friend's house!. After a quick tour to get us oriented, It was a short walk up a hill to our yurt and when we opened the door we simultaneously said "how cool is this." Scott than added that we would be treated to a dinner and breakfast and he also recommended a hike up the mountain to watch the sunset over Lake Buchanan and a soak in the hot tub, followed by opening the windows and enjoying a night among the trees in our king sized sleep number bed - that's my idea of glamping!
Once we got settled into our yurt, we set off (with Sunny leading the way) on a hike up and down the hills on Rainbow Hearth's 7 acres - beautiful scenery, bench swings strategically placed for viewing the lake and surrounding countryside, and wind chimes adding to the peacefulness and serenity. I was starting to relax and unwind and after hiking through the hills I was ready for some wine (bring your own) and a good meal - and when I heard the dinner bell ring at 7 it didn't take me long to get down the hill and seated at a table with a view of the lake and a glass of wine. Mariah Wentworth (the owner, chef, and therapist) served us a delicious dinner salad (featuring homegrown organic sprouts, micro-greens, sesame seeds, avocado, and more plus freshly prepared organic salad bar toppings and a variety of dressings; a very tasty Indian Dahl lentil soup (wow!); and perfectly cooked stewed chicken. And that was complimented with a couple glasses of wine and some fantastic chocolate. Dinner is the lightest of the meals and a typical dinner might be stir-fry mixed with grains, soup, small salad, and squash or sweet potato.
After dinner, Mariah said we should head up the trail to "sunset point" to watch the sunset - Sunny seemed to know where we wanted to go so we followed him up up the trail to a beautiful spot with a bench seat overlooking Lake Buchanan. Unfortunately, it was cloudy and overcast and starting to drizzle - all of which meant no sunset for us! But we did enjoy a soothing and relaxing soak in the hot tub followed by a very good nights sleep.
I woke up refreshed and as I set on the deck with a cup of coffee enjoying the view and listening to the squirrels chatter and the birds chirping and the relaxing sound of the wind chimes in background, I started to get a sense of what Rainbow Hearth Sanctuary & Retreat is all about - peace and serenity and nature and more good food! The breakfast options include a self-serve breakfast (granola, grain toast with jam, hot oat bran, fresh fruit, yogurt, juice, tea, or coffee or something specially prepared by Mariah. I couldn't say no to Mariah's offer to cook an omelet with fresh yard eggs, sauteed onions, a little dill, and more plus a delicious smoothie made with fresh apples, home grown peaches, berries, bananas, apple juice, and more - wow, that was outstanding. Fresh and healthy!
Unfortunately, we had to leave before lunch which is the most hearty meal, usually served around 2, and typically includes sprout and mico-green salads, fresh salad bar toppings, steamed rice, and the Chef's choice of salmon, tuna, baked chicken, and vegetables. Snacks are available all day and include fresh fruit, tea, juice, organic popcorn, grain bread and jam or almond butter. Most of the food you'll sample at Rainbow Hearth is organic and natural. You need to bring your own beverages and you're welcome to store them in the refrigerator in the dining room. Make sure you sample the water - Rainbow Hearth collects it's own rainwater (if it ever rains in Texas), puts it through a series of three filters and ultra-violet light exposure and finally charges it in one final step - wow, refreshing, delicious drinking water.
Lodging at Rainbow Hearth
Lodging is as unique as the rest of the experience at Rainbow Hearth and staying in Rainbow Hearth's tree yurt was a unique experience. Today yurts are typically covered in canvas, not felt or animal skins, and they are becoming very popular for glamping on Texas hillsides, among the trees, or by a river or lake. Yurts offer a different form of lodging for a weekend or a fun place for a romantic getaway.
Rainbow Hearth's tree house yurt is set on a hillside surrounded by trees. The yurt is 20 feet wide with wood lattice slats holding it up and a large dome skylight that filters in lots of natural light. Inside there are wood floors, a very soft and comfy king size sleep number bed with luxurious linens, two futons, a small work table, two air conditioning units, several windows, a ceiling fan, and no TV or radio - loved it! Step out the back door and there is a detached bathroom that's really cool - a huge tub with a large circular shower head coming down from the ceiling and windows open to the trees, plants, and rocks. It felt like taking a shower in a heavy rain in the middle of the forest - and I didn't mind the squirrels and birds but I did hear a couple of the younger squirrels squeal and head for the hills as they casually passed and saw me in the shower and I swear a couple of them sat on the rock giggling and pointing at my pasty white (too early in the season for a sun tan) chubby body. Regardless, I really enjoyed that shower! The bathroom also has a sink and toilet. Keep in mind that the yurt requires a two night stay and you'll most likely want to stay longer than that.
After a great nights sleep in my comfort number bed (set at 45 in case you're wondering) it just doesn't get much better than getting up in the morning with the sun peaking in the skylight of the yurt's ceiling, birds chirping, and the wind whistling through the trees - no lawn mowers or weed whackers, dogs barking, police sirens, kids having fun in the street, or garbage trucks cruising the neighborhood picking up the trash first thing in the morning! After a shower we really enjoyed a cup of delicious coffee sitting on the wrap around deck and soaking in the view of the hills and Lake Buchanan.
There are 4 other cool suites for a stay at Rainbow Hearth. The Sky Loft is one big bedroom with a queen bed, a living area with comfy furniture and a twin bed, big bathroom, and a deck with an unbelievable view of Lake Buchanan. The Garden Cottage is a cute one bedroom with a sleep number bed, bathroom, small sitting area, and a porch with 2 comfy chairs. Blue Heron has a bedroom and living area with a futon plus a covered porch and chairs. Sunset Guest House is the largest with two bedrooms and hide-a-bed in the living room and it can sleep up to 6. The Rainbow Hearth Website has more detailed descriptions and pictures of each of the suites.
Rainbow Hearth has 7 acres of rolling hills and several trails. We enjoyed some short hikes on trails that led up Thunder Ridge to Medicine Rock - which was used by indigenous Americans as a sacred ceremonial site.
The trails are thick with junipers, oaks and mountain laurels, squirrels, and birds, vibrant colorful flowers, and views of Lake Buchanan.
On your hike you'll come across several wind chimes and chair swings or bench seats that are strategically placed for you to enjoy the stunning views of the Lake, sunsets, or sunrises.
I mentioned the hot tub which is in a private structure that has a shower and floor to ceiling windows to enjoy nature - and it's recommended that you enjoy the hot tub "in the buff." What a great place to spend some time unwinding and soaking out the kinks from hiking or a stressful week of work. My wife was afraid I was going to fall asleep and drown - not a bad way to go!
One of the trails leads down to Lake Buchanan and over 150 feet of lakefront for swimming, relaxing in a floatie, fishing, or just relaxing with a good book.
There is a lending library with books, games and cards for guests to enjoy and the Retreat has internet - but leave you laptop and electronic games at home and enjoy nature.
Mariah Wentworth, a therapist with over 30 years experience, does the soothing and relaxing bodywork at the Little Spa at Rainbow Hearth. Her bodywork is different from a massage - a massage is typically relaxing and pampering while bodywork is far more therapeutic and requires years of experience to master.
Some of the services at Little Spa can include: Myofascial Release, Deep Tissue, Pressure Point Therapy, Swedish Massage, Energy Balancing, Breathwork & Focusing Techniques, Lymphatic Drainage, Hot Stones, and Aroma, Vibrational, or Polarity Therapy. Mariah will tailor her services to what you want with an emphasis on deep stress and relaxation body work. Unfortunately, we didn't have time for any body work - on our next visit it will be the top priority!
During your visit to Rainbow Hearth, if you want to get out and explore the Lake Buchanan area you've got lots of options for fun things to see and do, here are a few of our suggestions:
Rainbow Hearth's website also has links to several other fun things to see and do during your visit.
Rainbow Hearth Sanctuary & Retreat is perfect for a solo escape, a romantic getaway, or a new adventure for couples and friends. We really enjoyed Mariah's warm hospitality, the yurt was a cool experience, the short hikes are fun, and the food was delicious. We left relaxed, stress free, inspired, and I was told I looked more healthy - and then kissed the cute little squirrel to say thanks for the compliment. And after eating some delicious organic and home grown food, I was almost ready to convert!