If there has ever been a true wonderland on this planet it must surely be Yosemite National Park in winter. The Park transforms into a magical, snowy wonderland, frozen in time yet very much alive with an array of exciting outdoor activities and thing to do. Simply put, most travelers who spend their vacations or sightseeing Yosemite sights and wilderness during the winter months, spend the rest of the year dreaming about returning.
So, what can you do in a place covered with mountains of snow?
There are so many fun activities to enjoy in Yosemite in winter. With the abundance of snow, you’ll be able to engage in a myriad of winter sports in the Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area (formerly known as the Badger Pass Ski Area). Here, you can try downhill skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, snow tubing, and even ice skating at their outdoor ice rink. Yosemite winter hiking is another beloved pastime. Although many trails are closed, a good number are still accessible during the winter. The ones in the Yosemite Valley are open year-round for you to explore and so much to see and do there. Trails within the Hetch Hetchy region are usually available during the winter season as well. Wawona Meadow Loop and Wawona Swinging Bridge are two other places on the top of the list to visit. The Yosemite Zipline and Adventure Ranch is open year-round and you can even record your adventure by renting a GoPro video helmet!
If the sports activities are not your scene, you can relax with some winter sightseeing. Try Horsetail Fall in February when the sun hits the water and lights up the falls at sunset. Here you can see frazil ice and frozen waterfalls – a fairytale world suspended in ice.
Stargazing is another favorite. Head out to Bass Lake to explore the dark winter skies or attend a night event at Bass Lake. Or what about a ride in a horse-drawn Sleigh? Your whole family will enjoy a sleigh ride pulled by Belgian Draft Horses complete with jingle bells.
Then, after all the outdoor sights, you can spend time at the local museums. Winter is a great time to avoid the crowds at popular museums such as the Yosemite Visitor Center, Ansel Adams Gallery, Indian Culture Museum. Outside the park, don’t miss a visit to Railtown, the Navel Museum, the Eastern California Museum, or the Mariposa Museum and History Center.
There are also a number of fun events organized throughout winter and you can participate in local traditions with holiday parades and theater performances.
Just to make sure that you don’t forget the culinary delights of the region, America’s most renowned chefs come together at The Majestic Yosemite Hotel each winter, to share their cuisine at this exceptional event. The Taste of Yosemite package includes lodging, a Meet the Chefs reception, cooking demonstrations and a five-course dinner with wine pairings.
Where to stay in Yosemite?
There’s no greater convenience than staying right in Yosemite National Park – waking up with all the Park’s natural wonders right at your doorstep. With a range of accommodation – from elegant hotels with exceptional service to simple canvas tent cabins—you’ll find the perfect place to settle in, surrounded by some of the most majestic natural wonders on earth. Choose from Yosemite Majestic Hotel, Yosemite Valley Lodge, Big Tree Lodge, RV and camp grounds, Glacier Point Ski Hut and many more.
Due to the amount of snow Yosemite Park gets each winter, certain roads are closed to vehicles until spring. Three of Yosemite National Park’s entrances stay open year-round: CA 41 from Oakhurst, CA; 140 from Mariposa; and CA 120 West from Groveland. So, it’s best to check the Road Access information from the official website when you are planning your trip. The best way to explore Yosemite in winter is by 4X4 SUVs or book a private tour of Yosemite all included, and worry-free.
The temperature of Yosemite Valley and Wawona usually averages around a high of 53 degrees Fahrenheit and a low of 28 degrees Fahrenheit, but if you go prepared you will enjoy every moment of the crisp air and dreamy landscape. Because weather can change so quickly at Yosemite, and temperatures drop quickly as you gain altitude, it’s important to be prepared for any weather you may come across—especially if you’re cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. It’s possible to be gliding along in the sunshine one minute and hunkered down for a squall the next. Always bring plenty of layers, extra food and extra water—even if you’re just going out for a quick trip.
If you want a hassle-free Yosemite experience, why not use the services of an experienced tour company?
Join the only Yosemite Private Tours specialist and trek through the winter wonderland of Yosemite National Park. While many bus tour operators cancel their tours during winter, we continue to run our 4×4 SUV guided tours because our vehicles can handle the weather and the snow. Let our dedicated and passionate guides take you on a magical ride along the breathtaking winter scenery in Yosemite National Park. These adventures are available from November to April, and you can save more by booking more days or tours or combine Yosemite National Park with Lake Tahoe or Sequoias National Park or even with Mammoth Lakes and enjoy an incredible vacation destination, regardless of the time of year! If you’re craving a getaway with your special someone, Yosemite in winter is truly stunning. Discover everything you need to know about what Yosemite National Park is like this time of year and start making plans to visit!