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Experience winter in the Yosemite Valley

Yosemite Valley, California


Added by Wendy Zhao

Although beautiful in every season, winter time in the Yosemite Valley is truly magical. With everything covered in pristine snow, the woods and creeks that you might have once just driven past in the warmer seasons now become places to exploreAlthough certain roads (e.g., Glacier Point) and trails (e.g., 4 miles trail, mist trail) are closed in the winter, there are plenty to do and see within the valley. At least a 1-night stay is definitely worth the journey*Activities in the valley include: hikes around the valley floor (e.g., Lower Yosemite Falls, Mirror Lake), ice skate and make s'more in Curry Village, snowball fights, photogrraphy

How to get there/driving in snow:Because I grew up in warmer climates, the idea of driving in the snow/car tire chains was daunting at first. However, the initial investment to get car tier chains and learn how to install them are definitely worth the effort. The preferred driving route into the park in the winter if Highway 140 (instead of 120) because it is lower in elevation. Cars are required to carry chains at all times within the park. During our visit, we were required to put on car chains 3 miles into the park (past the entrance). The roads inside the park are visibly more icy/snow covered, so it would make everyone feel better if you put on tire chains or have snow tires

Where to stay:The most economical option within the park is Curry Village. You could reserve heated tents (~$75/night) or non-heated (cheaper in price). The village provides some blankets, but I strongly recommend bringing warm, winter-ready sleeping bags and extra blankets. The heaters are great, but they will NOT keep the room warm in the night due to lack of insulation in the tent. I love Curry Village and all, but you still need to bring blankets/sleeping bags! The more expensive options are the hotels - Yosemite Lodge and Ahwahee Hotel.

Food & drinksCurry village's dining area is great! Plenty of hot chocolate and food to keep you warm and well fed. There is a lovely fireplace right at the entrance to keep you warm! Given we stayed at Curry Village, we didn't want to venture far or drive around to get food, so we ate all of our meals inside the village. Other dining options include Yosemite Village grocery store (there is also a grocery store in Curry Village), the food court at Yosemite Lodge

Activities:Drive to Tunnel View for photography (the road is NOT closed). Some people also hike up to Inspiration Point from hereStrongly recommend taking the free valley shuttle to get around within the Valley. There are two shuttle stops right by the curry villageHike to the Lower Yosemite Falls (1 hour). Take the shuttle to Yosemite Falls and follow the well-marked trail from thereHike to Mirror Lake (3-5 hours)Explore the valley: walk into the woods, by the creek, across bridges. Winter can turn the most mundane-looking log into a beautiful piece of artIce skate in Curry Village: ~$15/person for rental + skating. The rink is located within Curry Village, right in the shadow of Half Dome. It's a beautiful experience to ski to those views. Right by the rink, there is a fire pit where people can make S'Mores! Make sure to take advantage of these

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Leave No Trace

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