Nordic Ski and Snowshoe to Glacier Point

Badger Pass - Search Nearby - Added by The Outbound Collective

Glacier point is a great escape from the crowds, especially in the winter where you can get a new perspective of Half Dome and Vernal, Nevada, and Yosemite Falls

Known for its breathtaking vistas, towering granite faces, and thundering waterfalls, Yosemite National Park truly is one of the world’s most astounding landscapes. Though the park covers nearly 1200 square miles, the vast majority of the ~4 million annual visitors spend almost all their time around the 18 square miles of Yosemite Valley. Especially between mid-April and mid-September, the valley can be very crowded, and camping spots are all but impossible to find. You can get a bird’s-eye view of the valley and an escape from some of that crowd at Glacier Point, which sits 3200 feet higher, but even that gets crowded. In winter and early spring, though, it’s a completely different story. Near-solitude and sweeping vistas of Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and Yosemite Valley far below await the everyday adventurer who snowshoes or skis the Glacier Point Road, which closes to vehicles in November and is groomed for Nordic skiing throughout the winter.

From Badger Pass, California’s oldest ski resort, the route is 10.5 miles one-way to Glacier Point, making this an intermediate trip. March is an excellent month in which to make the journey; in most years, the snowpack is good, and the temperatures are milder than in January and February. I’ve made separate trips on cross-country skis and on snowshoes; choose your gear according to your skill/comfort level and the trail conditions. At Badger Pass, there’s plenty of parking, a ranger station where you can check the latest trail conditions and get your backcountry permit (required for overnight visits), and a shop that rents gear at decent rates.

The route winds through forest for most of the first 10 miles and has a gentle grade, making for easy skiing and snowshoeing. Once you reach Washburn Point, you get a truly outstanding view of Half Dome, and the road descends steeply to Glacier Point. Unless you have excellent skills and backcountry skis with metal edges, it’s a good idea to walk the steep parts, especially if you’re carrying a heavy overnight pack or towing a sled. Glacier Point is only 0.75 mi past Washburn, and there are great places to pitch a tent near the visitors center, which serves as a lodge in winter. Outstanding vistas of Half Dome, Tenaya Canyon, Cloud’s Rest, Vernal Falls, Nevada Falls, and Yosemite Falls can be had all around the rim, and you may very well have to share those views with nobody else. Nearby is a marked trail leading to the summit of Sentinel Dome, just over 1 mile away and up 400 feet. The combination of good but not crushing exercise, incredible views of many of the park’s most iconic features, and the quiet and solitude of having this spectacular part of Yosemite virtually all to yourself makes this an unforgettable trip.

Distance

21 Miles RT

Type

Out-and-Back

Activities

Photography, Skiing, Snowshoeing, Backpacking

Scenic
Waterfall

Nearby Lodging

From $152/night

High Sierra Camps

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

From $219/night

Yosemite Valley Lodge

9006 Yosemite Lodge Drive

From $90/night

Half Dome Village

Yosemite Valley, California

From $108/night

Housekeeping Camp

Yosemite Valley, California

Community Photos

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Ski through a massive forest to incredible views

I just finished a winter backpacking trip here on XC skis, do yourself a favor and bring/rent the backcountry xc skis (metal edges). The trail was very icy in parts and classic track skis won't be able to slow you down on the long descents. Overall this was a fairly enjoyable and easy xc ski on a groomed road; if you're in shape and ski, you'll definitely have a great time. We went out on a Friday and only encountered a few people the second half of the trail. There aren't many views on the trail itself but the massive trees make up for it.

Tours

More Tours

Nearby Adventures

Adventure

Cross-Country Ski to the Ostrander Ski Hut

Adventure

Winter Backpack to Sentinel Dome in Yosemite

Adventure

Backpack to Dewey Point, Yosemite

Adventure

Hike the McGurk Meadow Trail

More Nearby Adventures