Yosemite Winter Guide: Road Conditions, Ice Skating, Skiing and Fireside Drinking | Nation


SACRAMENTO, Calif .– As winter approaches, there is already a lot of cold fun to be enjoyed in Yosemite National Park. The park’s most famous waterfalls and rock faces are easy to see any time of the year.

Here’s what to expect now and this winter in Yosemite, from ice skating to enjoying drinks in front of the best fireplaces in the park.

Which roads in Yosemite are open and closed?

All roads leading to Yosemite, Tioga Road except one are open year round. The Tioga road, which crosses the Sierra in the park, is temporarily closed due to snow and will likely close for the season soon.

Yosemite Valley is still accessible through entrances along Highway 41 (Wawona Road), Highway 120 West (Big Oak Flat Road), and Highway 140 (El Portal Road). Day use reservations are no longer required to enter the park.

Glacier Point Road also remains open. After the winter season, it is scheduled to close in 2022 for road repair work.

As of Wednesday, no snow tire chains or cables were required along the park’s open roads. When storms strike, they’re often needed for anyone without all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, or need to be hauled just in case. This usually happens between November and March. Snowplows are active to clear roads when it is snowing.

Check out Yosemite’s road conditions on the park’s website, nps.gov/yose, or by calling 209-372-0200, then pressing 1 and 1 again. Information on road conditions and restrictions outside of Yosemite is available on the Caltrans website or by calling 1-800- 427-7623. There are also several webcams of the park online.

How to enjoy winter in Yosemite

—Skating: The Curry Village rink in Yosemite Valley is scheduled to open for the season in early December. The weather has been too hot to make ice cream, said Yosemite Hospitality, a subsidiary of Aramark, the park’s concessionaire. The ice rink is located in historic Curry Village overlooking Half Dome.

Just outside of Yosemite at Fish Camp, ice skating started this week at Tenaya Lodge.

– Winter sports: Badger Pass ski resort along Glacier Point Road is scheduled to open on December 17 and will remain open until March 27, conditions permitting.

Badger Pass has 10 ski slopes and five chair lifts for all levels of alpine skiers and snowboarders. Cross-country skiers and snowshoers can enjoy the groomed trails along Glacier Point Road when it will be closed to vehicles in front of the ski resort this winter.

Visitors can also cross-country ski and snowshoe along the Tioga and Mariposa Grove trails.

—Hiking: Here are a few hikes in Yosemite Valley that are some of the safest winter bets:

Cook’s Meadow: A 1.5 mile flat loop trail that winds through the meadow closest to Yosemite Falls.

Lower Yosemite Fall: A nearly flat 1.5 mile loop to the base of Yosemite’s most famous waterfall. (Another iconic, Bridalveil Fall, remains closed due to ongoing construction, but can still be seen from the road.)

Mirror Lake: an easy to moderate round-trip hike, of just over 2 miles without the park shuttles, to a lake that looks more like a wide river, with a close-up view of the Half Dome standing stands above.

—Park Programs: There are a number of guided activities offered by park wardens and park partners, including Yosemite Conservancy, Yosemite Hospitality, and The Ansel Adams Gallery.

Just outside the park, Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad is still accepting reservations for train rides, at least until November 28.

—Snow Play: Once there is enough snow, here are some popular snow playgrounds in the Yosemite region to check out:

Goat Meadow Snowplay Area in the Sierra National Forest is located just outside the southern entrance to Yosemite along Highway 41 at Fish Camp.

Crane Flat Campground is located near the junction of Big Oak Flat and Tioga Roads in Yosemite.

The best lodges for a drink by the fire

And finally, some of the most charming lodges in the Yosemite area for a favorite winter activity: warming up by a fire.

– The Ahwahnee: the largest hotel in Yosemite Valley has several large fireplaces. Visitors can enjoy drinks purchased from Ahwahnee Bar on comfortable sofas next to roaring fire pits in the historic hotel’s majestic Great Lounge.

—Wawona Hotel: There are only a few days left this year to enjoy this historic hotel near the south entrance of the park. The Wawona Hotel is scheduled to close on November 29 and reopen on March 25.

—Tenaya Lodge: A little further south, this large Fish Camp lodge also has a few large fireplaces in its lobby and restaurants.

—Evergreen Lodge: This cozy destination just north of the park is a great place to relax in the woods near Hetch Hetchy.

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