Winter in Yosemite is magical! We are talking snow covered peaks, frosted trees, frozen waterfalls, frazil ice, little to no crowds, and a heap of activities including ice skating, downhill and cross-country skiing, hot cocoa, quality time next to a roaring fireplace, and more. And these are just a few of the essential activities to create your perfect winter family vacation. Here are some of the best reasons to visit Yosemite during the winter season:
Downhill and Cross-Country Ski, Snow-tube or Snowshoe at Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area (formerly Badger Pass)
Open since 1935, the terrain park located at Glacier Point Road is California’s first official ski area. Filled with beginner to intermediate slopes, there are options for the entire family. A perfect place to learn how to ski, or perfect your skills. Ensure that you bring tire chains and know how to properly use them when required to within the park. Otherwise, there are other modes of transportation offered throughout the park. And yes, for you avid cross country skiers, the Hut at Glacier Point is open in winter (reservations are required for overnight stays) and rewards with one of the most breathtaking views in the Sierras with Yosemite Valley and Half Dome vistas, the ones willing to do the 21-mile round trip trek. Fingers crossed for more snow and don’t forget to check road conditions when traveling to Yosemite by calling 209-372-0200.
Cuddle next to the Fireplace
Ending a long-day in the snow next to the fireplace in your cabin is an experience like no other. So grab that hot cocoa, or tea, grab a blanket and a good board game, and enjoy amazing quality time with your loved ones. Guaranteed to make lasting memories!
Witness Frozen Waterfalls and Rivers
The water levels may be low, but there will still be water flowing, if you can believe it! It’s absolutely phenomenal to witness frozen Yosemite Falls, and partially frozen rivers, under the stunning views of the cliffs and mountains.
Go on a Ranger-led Snowshoe Hike or Full Moon Snowshoe Walks
The National Park Service offers daily donation-based snowshoe hikes from mid-December through March. There is also an option to go on full moon snowshoe walks led by naturalists through the Yosemite Conservancy. Don’t worry, no experience is required!
Snowshoe or hike through Mariposa Grove
Hike in or snowshoe into Mariposa Grove through the south entrance, and witness the unforgettable sight of the red giants blanketed in white snow.
Open since the 1920’s, ice skating is a Yosemite winter tradition that will never get old. Enjoy the spectacular backdrop of Half Dome while you skate, and then unlace and unwind by gathering around the nearby fire pit with your family.
Take a Quiet Hike
Weather permitting, there are hiking trails that are still open. Be sure to speak with a ranger before embarking to check current conditions. Feel more comfortable being led by a naturalist? Check out both the national park and Yosemite Conservancy’s schedule to find ranger or naturalist-led hikes.
Take a Valley Floor tour
The Valley Floor tour continues to operate in winter but you’ll be in a warm, cozy bus rather than an open-air tram this time.
Get dolled up and enjoy an unforgettable Christmas feast, which includes a four-hour pageant and an indulgent seven-course meal (aren’t you glad you spent the day burning calories while Snowshoeing?). Hosted since 1926, this culinary experience is another Yosemite winter tradition that’s fun for the entire family.
Perfect your Winter Photography Skills
Yosemite’s giant granite rocks blanketed in white snow is awe-inspiring and perfect to post on social media. Just be sure to check the weather, and layer up while waiting for those ideal panoramic shots throughout the park.