Yosemite National Park is a popular summer destination, but what many people don’t realize is that winter paints a whole new experience when visiting the park.
Iconic cliffs frosted with ice stand like sentinels over the quiet winter wonderland where visitors enjoy little traffic and a slackened tourist pace.
Badger Pass Ski Area
A favorite destination within the park during the winter months is the Badger Pass ski area which is located 3,000 feet above the valley floor. Here skiers enjoy great views and more snow than elsewhere in the park.
This is one of the original ski locations in California and has been open since 1935. By today’s standards, it’s small but still boasts 88 groomed acres for skiers and snowboarders. It’s a great place to learn to ski and its smaller size provides a more intimate atmosphere perfect for family outings.
Badger Pass also offers more than 90 miles of marked trails for cross country skiing and 25 miles of groomed ski tracts. It’s an ideal place to enjoy solitude and the beauty of nature.
Along with skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing, the park also features a tubing hill which is a perfect activity for family time. The run is about 100 yards long so it’s not too intimidating and provides a great option to still have fun for those who don’t want to try some of the other activities.
For the adventurous who enjoy backpacking, December through April almost always includes snow camping, too. Outside of holiday weekends, backpackers traveling via skis or snowshoes, will find camping in the winter very different with few neighbors at the campground.
Wilderness permits are required for all overnight wilderness trips in Yosemite. (These can be obtained at Big Oak Flat Information Station.) Also remember that it gets cold, so it’s important to have the proper cold-weather gear to explore Yosemite’s winter landscape.
With this said, visiting Yosemite in the winter does bring with it, its own set of cautions. The Department of Transportation recommends stocking a basic winter survival kit (flashlight, batteries, blanket, snacks, water, gloves, boots, and a first-aid kit); tire chains, an ice scraper, jumper cables, and even road flares. Along with all this, be sure to let someone know your plans including your route and when you’re due back.
Photo credits: finleyholiday