While Yosemite in the summer is one of the most amazing places in the world, taking a trip during the winter can help you beat the crowds and see the untouched beauty of this magical park. If you are looking for a unique adventure and a beautiful place for photography, then you need to add Yosemite in the winter to your list. Here are my seven favorite things to do. This post is from 2013, there is a newer version of the post here.
I also made a video of a more recent trip to Yosemite for the winter as well; here is my video.
Snowshoe to Dewey Point
Snowshoeing is a must to experience Yosemite fully in the winter, as it gives you access to so many different and more remote places in the wilderness. For the intro snowshoer, I recommend the trip to Dewey Point, even though it is a hard hike at over 7 miles, it is still accessible for most people. When you reach the Dewey Point Overlook, you will be blown away at what you accomplished as you are greeted with the immense vista that awaits you of the valley below. There is no more pristine winter scenery then this trail after a fresh snowfall. Read more about it here.
Ice Skate at Curry Village
This small ice rink in Curry Village is a great place to relax and skate with the whole family. It’s around 10 dollars a person, but it is in the shadow of Half Dome, so at least you have a beautiful view if you fall. Camp Curry itself is a great place to walk through; it has a Christmas tree and Christmas lights.
Dine at the Ahwahnee
The Ahwahnee is the self-proclaimed jewel of the national park system and one of the most historic hotels in any of the national parks. It is an old beauty, and it has a large lounge area with multiple fireplaces where you can simply relax and enjoy the cold nights. If you have some extra money, a dinner at the famous Ahwahnee Dining Hall is an experience you will remember.
Walk to Mirror Lake
A stop right on the shuttle bus that runs through the park, this two-mile round trip hike is a beautiful way to explore the winter views of Yosemite without leaving the valley. It is a popular trail even during the winter, and it leads to a lake that is usually frozen, as well as a ton of beautiful views of Half Dome from below it. An excellent hike for the whole family.
Take in the Tunnel View
A great lookout at any time of the year, the tunnel view is especially surprising when the valley is covered in snow. The peaks are dusted with snow, even Half Dome and El Capitan, while the trees below are a beautiful white. It’s one of the best views you will probably ever see.
Sunset at the Cook’s Meadow
Sunset for the photographer is the perfect time of day for beautiful shots; there is almost no better view then Cook’s Meadow with the famous tree from Ansel Adams photography and the sun beautifully setting over Half Dome behind it. Even if you are not a photographer, you will become one when the sun plays its tricks on the granite rock face in the distance.
Walk to Yosemite Falls
Another short walk to the beautiful lower Yosemite Falls is a great winter escape. It’s not hard to make it to the bridge, but if you walk on the rocks, then it gets a lot more dangerous. I would recommend just walking up to the bridge and enjoying the beautiful lower falls if it is clear you may be able to see the upper falls as well.
These are just a few of my favorite spots in Yosemite during the winter. I only wish I was able to spend more time up here exploring more. If you have been, feel free to provide additional recommendations in the comments, as I would love to know what I missed out on.