Yosemite is magnificent in winter, and there is a host of things to do and see during those months when we practically have the place to ourselves.
Whether you’re flying down the slopes at Badger Pass on skis, traipsing through the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias on snowshoes, or capturing the perfect photo of the light on Horsetail Falls, there’s plenty to experience in and around the park this time of year.With fewer crowds, shorter days and beautiful natural winter light, make sure to bring your camera along, because whatever you do, you’ll want to capture the memory.
So bundle up and get ready to head outside where the wild things are, or sit by an open fire in the lobby of an historic hotel, sipping a cup of hot chocolate or a spot of tea. Any way you plan it, a winter adventure in Yosemite could be just what you’re looking for.
Mariposa Grove Snowshoe Trek – Jan. 12
Yosemite Conservancy offers a series of moderate-to-challenging hikes through the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. Led by ranger Dick Eward, a veteran hiker and skier who has been a ranger-naturalist in Yosemite for over thirty years, the snowshoe trek covers 7-8 miles at elevations from 5,000 to 7,000 feet and is recommended for mature teens and adults. Cost is $92, other dates are available.
Yosemite Insider Experience – through May 12
If you’re looking for the ultimate insider experience in the park, the Yosemite Conservancy has partnered with Delaware North Companies to create the perfect package for you. Spend two comfortable nights lodged in Yosemite Valley, and a fascinating day-and-a-half out exploring with a Conservancy expert.
You’ll see Yosemite in a whole new light, and appreciate not just the majestic cliffs and scenic waterfalls, but also the stories behind the landscape. You’ll get answers to how the landscape came to be this way, become familiar with the rivers, wildlife and ecology and be delighted with tales of the people who helped to shape the national park as we know it.
2013 Dates – Jan. 4, Jan. 11, Jan. 25, Feb. 1, Feb. 8, Feb. 15, Feb 23, Mar. 3, Mar. 10, Mar. 17, Mar. 31, Apr 7, Apr. 14, Apr. 21, Apr. 28, May 5 and May 12
Free Admission to Yosemite National Park on Martin Luther King Jr. Day – Jan.21
All US National Parks offer complimentary admission on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and Yosemite is no exception. Rangers will waive the regular $20 admission fee on entrance, making a day in the Park free.
Winter Landscape Photography – Jan. 17 – 20
Experience Yosemite’s winter wonderland, a landscape rich in snow, ice patterns, wildlife, clouds and remarkable light. Join professional photographer and Yosemite naturalist John Senser for three days of exploring Yosemite in winter and learn the specialized techniques that photographing the season requires.
John will cover a variety of topics essential to working with landscapes in winter to ensure that you capture the best that Yosemite has to offer during this beautiful season. All levels of experience and all camera formats are welcome, including digital and film, color and black and white. The workshop starts in Yosemite Village on Thursday evening.
Hiking: Easy, mostly level terrain, up to 2 miles a day. Snow conditions could add challenges. Elevation: 4,000′. Registration fee: $338
Ski and Snowboard at Badger pass – now until season ends
This 90 acre gem is reputed to be the first ski lodge in California. With 10 runs and 5 lifts, Badger Pass is one of only three ski lodges operating within a US National Park. Located at about 7,200 feet elevation, Badger rents out gear, sells merchandise and serves food and drinks. Full day passes run $47 with discounts for children, teens and seniors. Season passes and other discounts are available online.
Horse Drawn Sleigh Rides from Tenaya Lodge – now until season ends
As in days of yore, horse-drawn sleigh rides depart directly from Tenaya Lodge, taking guests on a charming adventure, gliding through a pristine forest of Sugar Pines and Incense Cedars. Looking for something fun, daring, or romantic? This could be all three. Cost is $20/kids and $30/adults.
Birding Excursion – reservations required
Author and guide David Lukas creates and leads a custom-designed five- hour birding excursion tailored to needs from absolute novice to those seeking a special bird sighting. Minimum two participants, $150 each.
Dine at the Ahwahnee Hotel – all seasons
Let’s face it, not everyone wants to be outside when it’s cold. So what’s a body to do? Try having lunch at the grand Ahwahnee Hotel, in the majestic dining room with its high ceilings, sugar pine trestles and giant picture windows. Casual dining takes place for breakfast and lunch, with a slightly dressier interpretation in the evenings. Call for reservations or make reservations online. Prices vary.
These are just a few suggestions for winter-time fun in Yosemite. What’s your favorite?