Retreat cabins at Tara Mandala provide a rare and precious opportunity to be completely secluded and alone in a remote mountain setting. Here you are free to maintain intensive practice and connect with your innermost being. The retreat cabins have been created through the loving kindness, generosity, and hard labor of many people.
Currently we have three cabins: Karuna, Ratna, and Two Trees. All are well insulated and suitable for year-round practice. Large windows provide light-filled space during the day with hardwood decks for outdoor yoga or meditation. Small, high quality wood-burning stoves (for which we provide wood) offer warm nights even in deep winter. The cabins are clean and empty. There is a twin bed with a pillow and blankets and a kitchen area with gas stove, stocked with pans and utensils. A meditation mat and cushion, oil lanterns and altar space are also provided in each cabin.
You must provide your own food, bedding and practice materials. In winter, it is essential in the mountain climate to bring warm outdoor clothes and boots. You may also want to bring snowshoes in case of heavy snowfall.
Remember that our facilities are rustic. There is no running water or electricity (some very limited solar) and no phone or Internet service. Each cabin has an outhouse. Wildlife abounds.
No smoking, drugs or intoxicants are allowed at the cabins.
Individual Cabin Descriptions
Karuna is nestled into the south side of our northernmost east-west ridge on the land. This 200 square foot wood cabin has sweeping mountain views with Ekajati Peak and the Tara Shrine in the foreground. The wraparound, hardwood deck is a great place for yoga or meditation, and a covered portion protects firewood. Inside, the cabin holds a twin bed and kitchen with oven and four burner stove. Secluded and serene, Karuna facilitates inner stillness and is an ideal location, especially for long retreats. Access to Karuna is a steep 1/3 mile walk uphill.
Ratna, our largest and most remote cabin, faces south into the ‘Secret Valley.’ There are large windows on three walls, featuring sweeping views of the South and West. About 350 square feet, there is plenty of room inside for yoga, tai chi, and other movement meditations. There is a choice of meditation seats at a full length window looking out over the valley (perfect for mornings or just after sunset), or facing the altar. Inside, there is an oven and four burner stove and limited solar electricity. This cabin is notable for the unparalleled silence and solitude, far removed from the world. Access to Ratna is a steep, winding, ½ mile walk downhill. Note: Ratna is not accessible November through May unless you are a hearty winter hiker.
Two Trees is our newest cabin and is quickly becoming a favorite. Built higher into the south side of our northernmost east-west ridge than Karuna, it features a stunning view of Ekajati Peak from a hillside of majestic Ponderosa Pines for which it is named. The hardwood deck provides the perfect outdoor meditation spot while the inside has been described by departing retreatants as “the perfect size” for a solo retreat. This cabin has a twin bed and kitchen with oven and four burner stove. Access to Two Trees is a steep, winding, ½ mile walk uphill.
Arrival and departure days are Mondays and Fridays.
Minimum stay: 3 nights over a weekend or 7 nights if during winter and severe mud
- 3-5 nights…………………………………………………………….……$95/night
- 7 nights to one month…………………………………………………….$65/night
- One month thru 6 months………………………………………………..$950/month
- 6 months to one year……………………………………………………..$800/month
All registrations must be in writing. Please read our cabin information pages completely before filling out your application. Your application will be reviewed. We will contact you upon approval with payment information. To hold your place, a deposit equal to half of your retreat fee for retreats less than one month, or 30% of your retreat fee for retreats longer than one month, is due within 10 days after your application is accepted. The balance must be received at least 30 days before the start of your retreat.
Cancellations must be in writing. Refunds and credits are dependent on the timing of the written request. We recommend that you send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject: Retreat Cancellation Request. For retreats less than three months, cancellations received at least 60 days prior to the retreat start date receive a refund of the payment, minus a $100 fee. For retreats longer than three months, cancellations received at least 60 days prior to the retreat start date receive a refund of the payment, minus a $200 fee. For all retreats, cancellations received between one and two months prior to the retreat start date receive a refund of 50% of their deposit, minus the cancellation fee. No refunds can be made for cancellations received less than one month prior to the retreat start date.
Apply online here
Check-in time is strictly between 10:00 am–1:00 pm. Our Retreatant Care Manager will greet you in the office upon your arrival for orientation and escort you to the retreat cabin. The long dirt driveways into the cabins are rough and unfinished and range in length from 1/8 to 1/2 mile. They are not passable by car during snow or mud, so you may be required to hike your gear into or out of the cabin. In case of severe weather or late arrival, you may be required to delay your check-in.
Preparation for a solitary retreat is essential. This can include mental, emotional, social and practical details. It is helpful to schedule a portion of the beginning and end of your retreat for transition time. Because you are totally secluded, it is important to have everything you need before beginning. Let those close to you know you will be out of touch; emergency messages can be delivered by your retreatant care person. We do not recommend a retreat of more than one week if you have not done solitary retreat before.
A comforter, pillows, meditation mat and cushion, altar table, lantern and oil, kitchenware, pots and pans, propane stove, small First Aid kit, cleaning supplies, drinking water, ax, matches, shovels and toilet paper.
Suggested personal items:
Twin sheets and pillowcase
Boots and slippers
Extra blankets or sleeping bag
Sturdy hiking boots
Candles (votive or pillar)
Bath and dish towels
Flashlight/headlamp and extra batteries
Cash or credit card for groceries (if staying longer than a week)
Toiletries including biodegradable soap
Sunscreen, hat, sunglasses (even in winter)
Suggested Food Items:
• Dried fruit • Crackers • Nut butters
• Oil/vinegar • Jam • Pasta
• Granola/oats • Butter/ghee • Spices
• Coffee/tea • Nuts/seeds • Canned or dried soup
• Dehydrated food • Ice block
• Sweetener • Whole grains (rice, quinoa, oats)
• Cookies/chocolate • Long lasting fresh fruit and vegetables
• Rice/soy milk (especially handy in snack pack size)
• Canned or condensed milk
Please bring enough food and supplies to last you one week. For retreats lasting more than one week, it is helpful to bring with you as much non-perishable food as possible. Generally, camping food that is lightweight, non-perishable, and easy to prepare is ideal. Please keep in mind that there is no refrigeration; a medium-sized cooler is provided. If you need refrigeration, you must bring in ice (we recommend two blocks of ice per week in the summer)– we will restock your ice supply on weekly shopping trips. Do not leave food outside because of animals.
Fasting is discouraged. If you do intend to fast during any part of your retreat, please note this on your intention form.
If you are in the cabin for a week or less, shopping is not provided. If your retreat is longer than one week, a shopping service is provided at no additional cost, and a shopping schedule will be arranged when you arrive. Usually we will pick up your shopping list (and weekly trash) at a pre-arranged spot on a Tuesday and drop off your groceries/supplies on the next day, Wednesday. Cash or a credit card must be provided each week to pay for supplies.
Every cabin has slightly different cooking facilities. Each cabin has a four burner gas stove and oven. All have a sink (Karuna’s drain water must be carried outside,) a variety of cooking and cleaning supplies, and a medium sized cooler for refrigerating perishables. In the winter this is as easy as filling zip-lock bags with snow. During the rest of the year, ice blocks must be hauled in with your groceries.
All of our cabins are at an elevation ranging from 7600 – 8000 ft. Please be sure to prepare for this by drinking more water than usual for 2 – 3 days before your arrival. — three to four quarts of water a day is a good guideline. Doing this is a very important step to avoid headaches, irritability, insomnia and other signs of high altitude distress. If you live near sea level, please expect to take 5-10 days to acclimate to the altitude. During this time you may have less energy than usual or experience headaches or body aches. We recommend drinking at least twice as much water as you are used to and taking extra rest as needed.
During the winter or muddy months, it may be necessary to hike your gear to the cabin from the main road: approximately 1/3 – 1/2 mile, sometimes uphill or downhill. This hike may be strenuous for those coming from sea level or those with a lack of physical fitness. Often, snow shoes are necessary. Please check current weather conditions and pack accordingly. A large backpack is preferable to a suitcase. A small sled is available to haul your gear and belongings; closed containers that can be bungeed down are best. (Bring your own bungee cords.)
During Your Retreat
If this is your first private retreat at Tara Mandala, a support staff will check in with you personally on the second or third day of your retreat, if desired. After that, written communication will be checked once a week throughout your stay. If a meditation teacher is available and you would like a teacher to visit you, this may also be arranged upon your arrival. Once you are in the cabin, please do not leave the land, but maintain your retreat without visits to town or the office, except in an emergency. In the same way, in order to preserve the quality of silence, it is strongly requested that you do not use a cell phone or play audio with the exception of practice materials you may be using.
If you’re not familiar with using a wood stove, be sure to ask for instructions on how to keep the stove warm and safe. Wood and an axe will be provided; you will make your own kindling. General guidelines include using a lighter wood (such as pine) for kindling and fire starter. You can also collect dead twigs and branches for kindling. After a base of coals has been established, oak may be introduced. Newspaper and plain paper make excellent fire starters. Burning cardboard, colored paperboard (cereal box material), or colored paper is not recommended. When burned, colored inks release toxins.
All cabins have water catchment systems. This water can be used for washing but not for drinking. Drinking water in 5-7 gallon containers will be in the cabin when you arrive and can be replenished as necessary on weekly shopping runs. Tara Mandala provides filtered drinking water from the land which nonetheless has a high mineral content. You may bring bottled water if you prefer.
All of our retreat cabins have a private outhouse.
Karuna and Two Trees do not have solar electricity. Ratna has limited solar electricity. Depending on the amount of sun, this may be adequate for powering a laptop, but high wattage appliances will not work. We recommend bringing your own solar-powered battery charger.
Pagosa Springs has limited recycling and does not recycle plastic bags. Place recycling in the large container by the Community Building when you leave. We encourage you to limit your trash output as much as possible, and take any materials Pagosa Springs can not recycle home with you if your local recycling program is more inclusive.
Keep in Mind
What to remember while on retreat:
• Keep garbage can firmly closed and indoors at all times
• Do not leave food lying around outside (even scraps) to keep from encouraging rodents, bears, etc.
• Never leave candles unattended
• Do not leave mattresses outside in case of sudden storms
Small animals and insects
Love them–they are sentient beings. If by chance a bird, mouse, or squirrel does get in, just open the doors and windows. By dusk it is sure to find its way out; animals move towards light and fresh air in the evening. Insects (flies in particular) do this as well. Insects like wasps that you’d rather get rid of immediately can be caught in a drinking glass against a window. Slide a piece of paper under the glass and carry it out.
Snakes and other wild animals like bears and lions
Remember, they will only engage with you if they feel threatened. Wear boots if you walk off the trail. If you’re lucky enough to see one, don’t go near a snake or bear, etc. Stand still, back off slowly and send it away with blessings.
Bears in particular have been more active in our area due to unusual weather patterns and a long drought. If a bear comes looking for food near your cabin, you can encourage it to leave by creating a loud noise such as an air horn or whistle, both of which are in the cabins. Never leave your cabin doors or windows open while away. If you are hiking, it is a good idea to make noise while you are hiking by clapping or hollering along the way. If you do see a bear, back away slowly. Do not turn and run, as it can be perceived as threatening.
Although rarely seen, mountain lions are native to the land. If you encounter one, stay calm and maintain visual contact with the lion. Talk calmly yet firmly to it and make enough eye contact so that it knows you have seen it. Slowly back away, but stay upright and facing the lion. Running may stimulate a lion’s instinct to chase and attack. Raise your arms and position yourself to appear bigger by getting up on a stump or a rock and opening your jacket if you’re wearing one. Similar to when you see a bear, a loud, sustained noise will often drive the animal away. It is a good idea to bring an air horn and a walking stick with you while hiking.
Coyotes are common, and hearing packs hoot and howl around dusk is a regular occurrence. Coyotes have a natural fear of humans, and generally do not pose a threat to us.
If you would like an interview (private meeting) with Lama Tsultrim while you are on retreat, please request this at the time of your reservation. Lama Tsultrim is not always available for interviews.
Tara Mandala is located in the foothills of the San Juan Mountains at 7600 – 8100 feet. The year-round weather varies tremendously. We recommend checking a weather website (look for a trip planner) to learn about weather patterns for the time you are in retreat. The coldest months of the year are December and January, with highs in the 10’s – 30’s and lows below zero. Snow cover is typical December – mid-March, and large storms of up to 3 feet of snow are not unheard of. We have over 300 sunny days per year. Summer months are warm, with highs in the 90’s and lows in the 50’s. Afternoon thunderstorms are common in August and September.
In case of emergency, you may use the phone in the upstairs office of the main building to dial 911. Pagosa Springs has a small hospital with an Emergency Room, ambulance and air lift services, as well as a Primary Care Clinic. It is about a 30 minute drive from Tara Mandala.
Pagosa Springs Medical Center: (970) 731-3700
Clinic: (970) 731-9545
95 S. Pagosa Blvd, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147
Directions: Turn right out of Tara Mandala and go 3.8 miles to Trujillo (“T” junction and cattle grate). Turn left on Trujillo for approximately 5 miles. Turn left onto Cascade for 1/2 mile and then turn right at the “T” onto S. Pagosa (unmarked). Follow S. Pagosa toward Hwy 160 (traffic light). Turn at the second driveway on your left, before you get to the light.
If you would like to give an emergency phone number to friends or family, please use (970) 731-3711. This line is checked regularly M-F.
As You Depart
Please review and complete the check-out form before you depart. You will receive this form when you arrive on the land. We welcome your comments and feedback on your retreat experience.
Please consider offering a donation to Tara Mandala for the continued maintenance of the retreat cabins and general support of our mission. Tara Mandala is a nonprofit organization. Our lifeblood is the donations of those who are inspired to support us. Please consider becoming a member of Tara Mandala by joining our Sustaining Sangha. Details are available on our website at: https://taramandala.org/donate/
You may apply online by clicking: here.