When you’re in Yosemite, don’t just ogle at the world-class rock climbers ascending the park’s iconic El Capitan and Half Dome. Join them. The Yosemite Mountaineering School offers a beginner rock climbing class, “Welcome to the Rock.” Each group is limited to six students ages 10 and up and one instructor. Based at a beginner’s climbing area, you’ll learn all about rock climbing gear and how to climb Yosemite’s famous granite.
Otherwise, catch a striking view of the valley via river raft down the Merced River. You can rent a four-person raft at Curry Village kiosk (formerly known as Half Dome Village kiosk from 2016-19), but aim to get there early before the kiosk’s 100 rafts are rented out for the day. You can make in-person reservations 24 hours in advance. The three-mile float through the valley ends at Sentinel Beach where a shuttle will bring you back to the village.
For those interested in touring the area via two wheels, rent beach-style cruiser bikes with or without trailers and tag-alongs at Curry Village, or Yosemite Valley Lodge. There are 12 miles of designated bike paths in the valley.
But if you really want to avoid the crowds and find solitude, visit Yosemite in the winter. Badger Pass Ski Area (formerly known as Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area from 2016-19) offers beginning and experienced skiers an affordable vacation in one of only three ski areas in the entire park system. Built in 1935, it’s the oldest ski area in California. Cross-country skiing enthusiasts will discover miles of trails departing from the ski area, as do daily ranger-led snowshoe tours.
Learn more at travelyosemite.com