15 Things to Do in Winter in Yosemite Country

Winter is a beautiful time to explore the park and gateway towns. With fewer visitors, you can find peace in this winter wonderland, and also adventure without lines.
By Staff ,
Tunnel View in winter in Yosemite National Park.

Winter is a beautiful time to explore Yosemite and its gateway towns. With fewer visitors during the season, you can find peace in this winter wonderland, and also adventure without waiting in lines.

1. Cross-country Skiing

Of the hundreds of miles of trails, our favorites wonder past giant sequoias.

2. Snowshoeing

Ranger guided snowshoeing tour of Yosemite

Tromp through a wintry landscape on your own or take a guided trip.

3. Ice Skating

Couple skating at Yosemite's Curry Village Ice Skating Rink. Photo courtesy DNC

Skate at the outdoor Ice Rink under Half Dome in the park or head to covered rinks near the south and west entrances.

4. Sledding and Snow Tubing

Snow tubing in Yosemite. Photo by Chris Falkenstein courtesy of Yosemite/Mariposa County

There are two official snow play areas inside Yosemite plus sledding hills at the south entrance and in Strawberry near Sonora Pass.

5. Winter Sightseeing

Horsetail Fall in February when the sun hits the water

See frazil ice, frozen waterfalls, and in February, watch Horsetail Fall light up at sunset.

6. Stargazing

The Milky Way at Bass Lake. Phot by Darvin Atkes courtesy of Yosemite Sierra

Head out on your own to explore the dark winter skies or attend a night event at Bass Lake.

7. Winter Camping

Get a free wilderness permit and snag a camping spot near Dewey Point or Glacier Point. Outside the park, camp near Bishop and in the Sierra National Forest.

8. Stay at a Backcountry Hut

Glacier Point Ski Hut in Yosemite. Photo courtesy of DNC

Three popular ski huts are inside Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks.

9. Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding

Skiing and snowboarding at the Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area (previously called Badger Pass). Photo by Trey Clark courtesy of Yosemite/Mariposa County

Learn to ski at the Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area (previously called Badger Pass) inside the park (4th graders ski free) or try the more challenging runs at Mammoth and Lake Tahoe.

10. Ride a Horse-drawn Sleigh

Horse-drawn sleigh ride. Photo courtesy of Yosemite Trails

Your whole family will enjoy a sleigh ride pulled by Belgian Draft Horses complete with jingle bells.

11. Ride a Mini Snowmobile at Leland Snowplay

Kids ages 5-12 will enjoy the thrill of revving miniature snowmobiles while zipping around the oval course. It's like gocarts on snow.

12. Visit Museums

Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite Village. Photo by Grant Ordelheide

Winter is a great time to avoid the crowds at popular museums such as the Yosemite Visitor Center, Ansel Adams Gallery, Indian Culture Museum. Outside the park, visit Railtown, the Navel Museum, the Eastern California Museum, or the Mariposa Museum and History Center.

13. Take a Zipline Tour

Ziplining with Yosemite Zipline and Adventure Ranch. Courtesy photo

Yosemite Zipline and Adventure Ranch is open year-round. Record your adventure by renting a GoPro video helmet.

14. Celebrate the Holidays

Father Christmas at Fresno Flats in Oakhurst, CA. Photo by Peter McLean courtesy of Yosemite Sierra

Participate in local traditions with holiday parades, theater performances, and events.

15. Dine at Yosemite's Majestic and Big Trees Hotels

Special winter dinner events include Renaissance-style Bracebridge dinners in mid-December, a special Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner, and a New Year celebration. Yosemite’s Chefs' Holidays at the Majestic Yosemite Hotel (previously called the Ahwahnee), held each year in January and February, feature some of the country's most innovative and acclaimed chefs.

What is your idea of winter adventure in Yosemite country? Share your experiences and pictures on our Facebook page.