Yosemite National Park hotels, winter activities and more

By Rachel Schnalzer
Design and illustrations by Jade Cuevas

Hello, dear escapees. Thinking back to my travels in 2021, a weekend visit to Yosemite National Park stands out. It was late spring and I vividly remember watching a sea of ​​bright green foliage from the top of Yosemite Falls, mule deer staring at me through the pines and, of course, the crushing crowds after being descended to the bottom of the valley.

A week after my trip, the park started requiring day-use reservations in an attempt to reduce congestion.

Seven months later, it’s decidedly quieter in Yosemite, although there are people who like to visit during the winter. My colleague from The Times, Christopher Reynolds, is one of them. In his winter roundup of the 40 best Californian experiences, he mentions the joys of walking in the snow along the iconic granite walls of Yosemite Valley and the icy Merced River.

In this edition of Escapes, you will find four essential winter activities in the park. What’s your favorite activity in Yosemite? Let me know your recommendations and advice, so that I can pass them on to other readers.

❄️ Treat yourself to a stay in a historic hotel

With nightly rates exceeding $ 450, stays at Ahwahnee Hotel don’t come cheap. “But it’s such a big building,” Reynolds writes in his guide to winter experiences in california. “And the snow-covered Yosemite Valley is priceless.”

Since its opening in the 1920s, the architecturally remarkable Ahwahnee has hosted such figures as Queen Elizabeth II, former presidents such as John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama, and a number of artists (” Judy Garland… was really no longer in Kansas when she checked in at the Ahwahnee ”, Yosemite’s tourism site jokingly reports.)

If you are booking a stay, be sure to allow time to relax by the fireside in Ahwahnee’s Great Room, which Reynolds calls his “favorite part of the 1927 monument”. Plus, due to COVID-19 precautions, don’t expect creature comforts like dining room table service and room service.

Are you not sure you want to go find a room at the Ahwahnee?

AT the Wawona hotel, which dates back to 1856, you can still experience the history and beauty of the park at a fraction of the price. Located near Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, the hotel accepts reservations during the holiday season before it opens in March 2022.

Vacation rates start around $ 150 per night.

With a new layer of snow from a nighttime storm, a new morning dawns at the venerable Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite Valley.

(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times; photo illustration by Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)

️ Ice skating in the shade of Half Dome

Yosemite National Park is a world-class destination for hiking and rock climbing. Turns out its granite-walled valley is also quite a memorable place to go ice skating.

the Curry Village ice rink, included on the Reynolds list Californian ice rinks, is open for the season, weather permitting, and it’s hard to find a nicer place to skate. Half Dome is visible from the rink, and after spending an hour or two on the ice, skaters can warm up at the nearby fire pit and take in the views.

The skating rink is also part of the history of Yosemite National Park. “Pretty much every winter since 1928 there has been ice skating on a seasonal rink in the Valley’s Curry Village,” Reynolds writes.

Tickets can be purchased at the Curry Village Tour & Activity Desk next to the registration desk. Adult tickets cost $ 14 ($ 12.50 per child 12 and under) plus $ 4.75 for skate rentals.

Two people skate on an outdoor ice rink in winter.

The Half Dome, seen from the Curry Village ice rink.

(Yosemite Hospitality)

?? Skiing and snowboarding at the Badger Pass

Did you know Yosemite is home to California’s oldest ski area and one of the only ski lifts in American national parks? Badger Pass ski area, off Glacier Point Road, offers trails and trails for skiing, snowboarding, tubing and more.

Descent operations are scheduled to begin on December 24. The Nordic Center, which offers snowshoeing and cross-country skiing activities, will open its doors for the season on December 17.

With introductory lessons available for beginners and a stimulating snow park, Badger Pass can accommodate travelers of all levels of snow sports expertise.

For those hoping to learn more about Yosemite, it seems hard to beat the Yosemite Mountaineering School and Guide Service snowshoe hikes. About the group Moderate snowshoe hike, visitors will learn about the park’s winter ecology on a 3-4 mile hike through the snow. Tickets cost $ 60, including the rental price of snowshoes.

Those interested in more than one challenge might consider the Advanced snowshoe hike at Dewey Point, a 13 km day trip with views of El Capitan, Half Dome, Clark Range and more. This adventure costs $ 95.

Ski lift with illustrated hat and snowflakes.

(Photo illustration by Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times; Getty Images)

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?? Mark your calendar. Fire season is almost here.

If you love to travel to California, chances are you’ve heard stories about Yosemite’s famous ‘Fall of Fire’.

Each February – weather permitting – visitors can see the Yosemite Valley Horsetail Waterfall “bathed in a golden backlight that makes it glow like a flaming waterfall,” Reynolds writes. In 2022, the fire is expected to appear from February 13 to 25, he reports.

The blaze typically attracts photographers as well as non-artists hoping to witness this bucket list-worthy experience. If you go, make sure you follow the rules in place for crowd and traffic control.

A wide angle shot of the firefall effect of Horsetail Falls in Yosemite caused by the light of the setting sun.

In Yosemite, the “firefall” effect of Horsetail Falls is caused by the light of the setting sun. The phenomenon occurs in mid-February if there is sufficient slush at the top of El Capitan and clear skies in the west at sunset.

(Raul Roa / Times Community News)

Speaking of rules …

When visiting Yosemite National Park – and other destinations – in the winter, it’s important to Pay attention weather forecasts and warnings. To verify closures and restrictions, and remember that snow, sleet, and ice can make driving conditions unsafe, especially when combined with areas of uneven elevation and cell service. It’s a good idea to keep snow chains in your car in case you need them.

Check with park officials or other authorities if you are unsure of how to stay safe while traveling.

What i read

An illustration with a plate of food says "The 101 best restaurants in Los Angeles"

Southern California’s superior agriculture combined with LA’s miraculous pluralism make the area one of the most exciting places in the world to eat.

(Illustration by Luke Lucas / For The Times; photograph by Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Photo of the week

A snow-capped mountain dotted with conifers and orange clouds above.

The orange hues of the sunset color the sky above the Half Dome on a snowy late winter evening in Yosemite Valley.

(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

Song of the road

Song: “Everything is cool” by John Prine

Best lyrics: I was walking the road, man, just looking at my shoes / When God sent me an angel, just to chase my blues away.

Where to play: While stuck in traffic in Yosemite Valley

Photo of visitors to Yosemite Valley inside Polaroid style illustration.

(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times; photo illustration by Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)

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