SouthwestTop Nature Vacations

Yosemite: A Brilliant Winter Spectacle

By , November 17th, 2014

Yosemite National Park’s busiest season is the summer when the kids are out of school, the weather is warm, and the meadows are green. But what most people don’t know is that Yosemite is equally spectacular in the winter. Yosemite’s nearly 1,200 square miles of wilderness are a winter playground for snowmobilers, snowboarders, ice skaters, snowshoers, cross-country skiers and those who just want to play in the fluffy stuff. The meadows are white, the mountains are snow-capped and the California sun still shines — inviting visitors to indulge in the Yosemite winter.

Learn to ski or snowboard

Learning to Ski at Yosemite

The most beautiful no-pressure place to learn to ski or snowboard. DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite

Yosemite is home to world-famous Badger Pass — California’s first ski area. This affordable and easy-going ski area offers rental equipment, childcare, a ski shop, cafeteria, lounge and ski and snowboard lessons for all ages. Badger Pass has five ski lifts, 10 runs and a beginner-friendly terrain park. The area is open from the middle of December to the middle of March and is an ideal place to learn to ski or snowboard without the high-pressure atmosphere of a large ski resort.

Hit up the fresh powder

Yosemite back country skiing

Your own private, powdery terrain. Photo by Mitch Barrie CC BY

Badger Pass is composed of 85-percent beginner and intermediate terrain, but the Yosemite high country opens up an entirely different atmosphere of more advanced terrain for skilled skiers and riders. The Yosemite Mountaineering School offers a variety of guided backcountry ski trips, which include lodging, food and tons of first hand knowledge of the Yosemite backcountry from the park’s qualified tour guides.

Learn about the little things

Guided walking tour of Yosemite

Learn all of Yosemite’s secrets. Photo courtesy of DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc 

Yosemite provides free 1-2 hour guided walking tours with the park’s knowledgeable rangers year round. A wide variety of tours are available at all times of day, and they’re 100-percent free to the public, so just call ahead to register for a winter tour that interests you.

The Yosemite Tubing Area

Tubing in Yosemite

Tube down the badger pass. Photo by David CC BY

Yosemite caters to kids of all ages with the Badger Pass Yosemite Snow Tubing area. The tubing park is only open for two tubing sessions a day — from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and again from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. — so get there on time to ensure your kids get the most out of their $17 session.

Explore Yosemite’s beauty from a heated interior

Yosemite Van Tour

Remain cozy while taking in the breathtaking views. Photo by Udax CC BY 

You don’t have to be a fan of cold weather to enjoy the beauty of Yosemite in the wintertime. Register ahead of time for one of the park’s many professionally guided tours — ranging from natural history to astronomy — and enjoy the wonders of Yosemite from the warmth and comfort of a tour bus.

Glide across the ice

Yosemite in the Winter

Hockey from the olden days. Photo by Jeff P CC BY

Ice-skating has been a staple of Yosemite winter vacations since the 1930s. The park’s unique skating rink sits between Half Dome and Glacier, making it possibly the most scenic ice skating rink in the country. The outdoor fire pit and Curry Village Gift and Grocery provide an idyllic spot to enjoy warmth and relaxation after an evening of family fun on the rink.

Which one of these fun cold-weather activities do you want to try first?


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