The vast majority of Yosemite visitors go to the park in spring, summer, and fall. That means that the winter season is left to the rest of us, and we get to see the park at its most peaceful and serene. Be sure to carry chains, or check with us in advance to rent/reserve some.
All the main roads are kept well plowed into the Park, except for Tioga Pass Road from Crane Flat to Lee Vining and the Glacier Point Road past Badger Ski Area. Both are closed in the winter.
Do you wonder what activities are available near Yosemite during the winter? Here is a list of the some of the best.
From early November through March, weather permitting, Curry Village's outdoor ice skating rink is open daily (209/372-8341). Where else can you practice your figure-eights with a head-on view of Half Dome? Sessions are held in the afternoons and evenings on weekdays and from morning until evening on weekends ($7 adults; $5 children). Ice skate rentals are available for $3-4.
If you find yourself falling down more often than you are performing graceful pirouettes, head for the warming hut's fire pit and snack stand and treat yourself to a cup of hot chocolate. The skating rink has a long history in Yosemite Valley. It was first constructed in 1928 by the Yosemite Park and Curry Company.
No experience required--it's as easy as walking. (Snowshoe sizing information.) Snowshoe rentals are available from the Blackberry Inn, Curry Village Mountain Shop in Yosemite Valley, and various establishments in the town of Groveland. There is almost always plenty of snow near the Big Oak Flat entrance to Yosemite (a mere 20-minute drive from the Blackberry Inn).
Our favorite close-by snowshoe trails include the Merced Grove of Giant Sequoias, the Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias, the Crane Flat Fire Lookout, and Carlon Falls. If you'd like to snowshoe in Yosemite Valley, the best chance of good snow is in the canyon beyond Mirror Lake. A four-mile loop can be made from Mirror Lake up Tenaya Canyon. And at Badger Pass Ski Area, snowshoers share the trails with cross-country skiers to scenic destinations such as Dewey Point.
Numerous cross-country ski trails are located 20 minutes from the Inn at Crane Flat.
Badger Pass Ski Area is located in the southern region of Yosemite, a little more than an hour away from the Inn. Considered to be California's oldest ski resort, Badger Pass offers family-style skiing and snowboarding, with five lifts and 85 acres of slopes.
All skiing and snow play equipment, including snowshoes, can be rented at Badger Pass. For an update on ski conditions, phone 209/372-1000 or visit www.badgerpass.com . If you don't want to drive all the way to Badger Pass on snow-covered roads, leave your car in Yosemite Valley and take the shuttle bus that departs Yosemite Lodge every morning, then returns in the afternoon.
Think you have to be rich and famous to be a welcome presence at the Ahwahnee Hotel? Definitely not. The Ahwahnee's public rooms are just that-open to the public, not just to people who are staying at the hotel. Bring along a good book and find a soft chair near one of the massive fireplaces in the Great Lounge.
Or, get yourself a drink or some appetizers at the Ahwahnee Bar (for a fraction of the price of what you'd pay at the Ahwahnee's famous restaurant) and listen to the piano player tickle the ivories.
A hike in winter? What about all that snow? Well, with elevations in the park ranging from 4,000 to 10,000 feet, there is almost always some place to hike where there is no snow on the ground. For a few short, easy strolls, head to Yosemite Valley and walk to the base of Bridalveil Fall or Lower Yosemite Fall, or head up to Mirror Lake. For something more ambitious, make your way to Vernal or Nevada Falls or ascend all or part of the trail to Upper Yosemite Fall. Or, ask about the wide variety of hikes in Stanislaus National Forest. Many of these trails are snow-free year-round.
Explore Yosemite Adventures- Professionally Guided Hiking Tours and Photography Workshops in Yosemite National Park. Custom Tours in Yosemite National Park are available to Individuals, Families, and Groups of all ages and experience levels at all times throughout the year. They guarantee smaller group sizes for a more custom experience.