Winter Adventures in Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is one of the country’s most iconic—and most visited—national parks, often filled with so many people in the summer months that it can be hard to find a peaceful nature experience. In the winter months, however, the nearly empty park is often blanketed in snow, providing crowd-free activities that show off its natural wonders.
If hiking is your usual mountain activity, then low-impact snowshoeing is the way to go in the winter. Book a guided tour so you don’t have to worry about following a map as you traverse the snow-covered wilderness of Yosemite Valley, the giant sequoia grove, the high country, or other park locations. Most tours typically include use of equipment, so you won’t have to rent your own snowshoes and poles.
Unlike downhill skiing—where you take a lift up the mountain, zoom down, and repeat—cross-country skiing is done on flat terrain or rolling hills, providing a good workout while you explore the winter landscape. In Yosemite, the Crane Flat area is home to marked winter trails such as the Crane Flat Lookout Trail and South Landing Road Trail. Trails are designated “easiest,” “more difficult,” and “most difficult” and are used by snowshoers, too.
Follow in the footsteps of photographer Ansel Adams, who took some of his most famous shots in Yosemite. Book a photography tour of the park in winter as the season provides more solitude for getting shots without people in them, as well as a different perspective on nature, especially if it’s snowing. Note, however, that various sections of the park are closed in winter, so photo locations may be limited.
Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding
Most visitors to this area of California who want to ski and snowboard head to one of Lake Tahoe’s many resorts, but Yosemite does have its own designated space: Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area (formerly known as Badger Pass). The resort features gear rental, a handful of chairlifts, a terrain park, a tubing hill, lesson for kids, and 10 runs that range from beginner to intermediate to advanced.