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A Short Guide for Doing Retreat at Yeshe Khorlo

Yeshe Khorlo cabins are built by sangha members who wish to share the benefit of personal retreat with others. Much care has been put into the construction and maintenance of these small sanctuaries. By helping to keep the cabins and surrounding land clean and well-maintained, you assist future guests in their practice. Through your mindfulness these precious cabins will be available for many years after your stay.

To help your retreat go smoothly, please read the following advice about the cabin and its maintenance. If at any time you have questions regarding your stay, please do not hesitate to ask the retreat manager. On most days a Yeshe Khorlo staff member can be reached before or after the morning and evening practice at the main temple. These sessions begin usually at 7am and 6pm. Above all we want your stay to be enriching, safe and peaceful.

Chöying Dzong is located in the high mountains of the San Luis Valley of south central Colorado. It is a breathtaking place to hear and practice the dharma. It is also located at 8,500 feet above sea level, situated on steep and rocky terrain. We advise retreatants to drink plenty of water and avoid over-exertion when getting settled in order to help your body adjust to the altitude. People with health conditions should be aware of the environmental challenges when preparing for any length of retreat. Bring sturdy walking shoes, a warm jacket and clothes that can be layered for variable changes in the weather.

Please note: The following list is offered only as suggestion. The cabin you stay in may already be supplied with some dry food, candles, and shrine objects. Retreatants are welcome to use these but are also responsible for replacing items they use with items of similar value or usefulness before departing.
  • Personal shrine materials, books, paper, pens or pencils
  • Bedding, toiletries, sun shower, towel, toilet paper
  • Food, beverages, supplements, medicine
  • Candles, matches, lantern, flashlight, extra batteries
  • Clothes and shoes or boots for changeable mountain weather
  • Fire starter (recommended during spring and winter months)
  • Each cabin is equipped with a sink, a propane stove, and in the cabins with electricity, a refrigerator.
  • You will find dishes and utensils for use during your stay. 
  • Keep all food sealed in glass or plastic containers
  • Avoid mice and other creatures by doing dishes quickly after meals
  • Don’t leave food outside, regardless of the season: bears are ever-present and hungry
  • Avoid clogging the drain by putting food scraps in the garbage. You may also put your food scraps in the freezer in the storage shed and they will be taken out on garbage day by the caretaker.
  • Leave all dishes clean and put away when you leave the cabin
  • Please take any perishable food items with you at the end of your retreat
  • Take your trash down to the storage shed before Thursday, which is trash day.
  • In cabins with a fridge, please empty the fridge, turn it off, and leave the door slightly ajar. This is to prevent nasty odors and to save energy.
  • When using the propane stove, maintain a blue flame rather than a yellow one. When the stove is turned up high enough to create a yellow flame, the flame will cause carbon to build up on the bottom and sides of the pot, creating a mess when you set it down on the counter.

The wonderful water in Crestone is drinkable! However, you are welcome to use the water filter in your cabin to alter the taste. Please note that the top reservoir of the water filter should only be filled with as much water as the bottom reservoir can hold. but your help in conserving water is appreciated, as it is a precious commodity.

  • Your cabin will have up to 9 water jugs available. 
  • The caretaker will refill the empty jugs and deliver the 6-gallon jugs of water every two weeks to your cabin.
  • You must bring your empty jugs down to the storage shed for refill. 

Those retreatants on short-term retreat (less than 2 weeks) will not receive a water refill. If you need more than the allotted amount of water, please make special arrangements with the retreat manager to retrieve water from the temple yourself. There are outdoor spigots on the north and south sides of the temple from where you can refill the water containers.

At the end of your retreat, please bring all empties to the temple. Also, kindly notify the retreat manager if any of the bottles are leaking and set them aside.

  • Retreatants may use the temple shower once a week if they wish. Each person will have a designated day of the week to use the temple. After you use the facilities, please take care to wipe down the area with alcohol to leave it clean for the next person who uses it. 
  • A washing machine is available for use in the temple. Wet laundry can be taken back to the cabin to dry on the porch or clothesline.
  • Solar showers are an excellent way to make use of natural heat on sunny days. If you do not have a solar shower, you may take sponge baths using the basin provided in the cabins.

Each cabin is equipped with a propane stove. If you run out of propane, please notify the retreat manager. In some situations a replacement tank will already be available at your cabin. To change tanks, make sure the valve is turned ‘off’ and unscrew the fitting from the empty tank and screw it on to the new tank’s fitting. When attaching a new bottle, please note the following:

  • Turn gas 1/3 turn on at the tank outside the cabin
  • Inside, light the stove by holding a match over the burner and turning the gas knob to ‘on’
  • Put a little soap on the hose coupling (brass part) inside. If it bubbles, there is a leak. Tighten the coupling, wipe off soap and try again
  • When coupling checks out ok, turn outside tank on full
  • Don’t turn propane stove on too high when lighting the burner inside
  • If you need help, please ask the retreat manager for assistance
  • When using the propane stove, maintain a blue flame rather than a yellow one. When the stove is turned up high enough to create a yellow flame, the flame will cause carbon to build up on the bottom and sides of the pot, creating a mess when you set it down on the counter.

Although Yeshe Khorlo cabins receive excellent passive solar heat, fires are sometimes necessary, especially during the winter months. Please observe these simple directions when using the wood-burning stove:

  • Use fire starter to aid in getting the fire started, especially if no paper or dry wood is available
  • Make use of abundant dead wood lying around in the forest. It breaks easily and burns great.
  • Open damper on the stove door to start fire
  • Once fire is going, damper down for a longer lasting fire; damper open for a hotter fire
  • Keep items away from the stove and off the window ledges (items may melt, especially water jugs)
  • For humidity, keep water in a kettle or pot on the stove top
  • Remove ashes using the metal bucket.
  • Wood stove ashes must not be dumped anywhere outside for at least one week after removal from the stove.
  • Don’t conspicuously dump ashes and coals outside
  • Once the ashes are thoroughly cooled, mix them into the forest floor covering or use in the outdoor composting toilet.

All the cabins have outhouses. In order to facilitate decomposition, please note the following:

  • Add a handful of wood shavings after each use to reduce odor and speed composting.
  • Try not to urinate in the bucket all the time. It is okay to pee in the forest.
  • When bucket is 3/4’s full, remove and replace with an empty bucket. Put a lid and the date of removal on the old bucket. Try to find a sunny and flat location for the bucket to rest. After approximately nine months, the contents will be composted and safe for the earth.

As Crestone is located in a high mountain desert, fire safety cannot be overstressed at Yeshe Khorlo. Although fire may be used under special circumstances, please assiduously observe the following rules:


•Don’t burn candles unattended or without proper holders
•In summer & autumn, absolutely NO fire, smoking, lit candles, or burning incense anywhere outside
•There is no smoking of tobacco products or drugs allowed in the cabins or on the retreat land.

We are extremely lucky to live with exquisite wildlife at Yeshe Khorlo. The surrounding forest is home to hawks, owls, coyotes, bears, mountain lions, and many others. Our cohabitation with these creatures necessitates careful observance of certain rules. For your safety and the safety of the animals, please be mindful of the following:

  • DO NOT leave any food items outside or near an open window
  • DO NOT leave windows open when you are not at your cabin. Bears can and have opened them after getting a claw-hold!

Helpful hint: If bears come around, they are often times just as afraid of you as you are of them. Make noise, ring a bell or call out. The bear will very likely run away. If you encounter cubs while you are walking, leave the area immediately. It can be very dangerous to get between the mother bear and her babies.

There is no smoking of any kind permitted on the retreat land. Please do not bring or use substances for smoking during your stay. Although we appreciate that animals can be a great support for practice, we do not have a place for pets at the retreat center, therefore, please make arrangements for them to be cared for while you are away.

Weather in Crestone can change quickly and without notice. If you are away from the cabin, please secure windows and belongings in case of rain, snow, or wind.

Please do not make any adjustments to the cabin (i.e. remove screens, furniture, etc.) without permission from the retreat manager. In addition, if at any time you discover damage in or around the cabin, please notify Yeshe Khorlo. Every effort is made to keep the cabins in good repair and hospitable for retreat. As a retreatant, your observations about the cabin are invaluable and can aid in making sure problems are dealt with swiftly.

Before Leaving:

We sincerely hope your stay is of great benefit to your practice and that you are able to take retreat again at Yeshe Khorlo. Your practice leaves undeniable blessings on this land, and every one of us benefits from the energy generated by your choice to spend time in contemplation in our retreat cabins. Thank you. As a final request before leaving, please take care to complete the following:

  • Sweep and clean the cabin
  • Take all perishable food items with you
  • Take your garbage down to the shed below the temple
  • Check to make sure the propane is turned off at the tank
  • Replenish any items borrowed from the cabin

As you approach the town of Crestone, you will see an entrance to the Baca Grande (large white pillars) on the right. Turn right. Follow this road until it turns to gravel. After the road turns to gravel, the entrance to Yeshe Khorlo Chöying Dzong will be the first left onto a gravel road heading uphill. It is marked by five prayer flags and a dharma wheel sign under a small roof.. Drive all the way to the top.

May the merit of your retreat be a source of unending happiness and peace for all beings!​