Friday, February 24, 2012

Skiing & Snowshoeing in Yosemite National Park

With California experiencing one of the worst droughts in the last century, everyone in the Sierra Nevada keeps asking, "Where's the snow?" Believe it or not, you can still find it in Yosemite National Park, which is where we traipsed around with our skis and snowshoes this week. Bathing in the Zen silence of giant sequoia groves, spotting the tracks of snowshoe hares in fresh powder, and gazing at granite peaks glistening with icy snow all draw us back every year in late February, around the time of Yosemite Valley's famous but unpredictable firefall.

Bare patches of brown grass, mud filled with twigs and dead leaves, and small melting pockets of snow are mostly what you'll find on the valley floor right now this year. But if you head up to Glacier Point Road to Badger Pass, the snow coverage is still 99%. Strap on a pair of XC skis from the nearby rental shop and start gliding down the rolling park road, with its groomed skiing terrain. Snowshoers break off onto the winter trail to Dewey Point, which stretches toward panoramic views of the Yosemite Valley and its waterfalls below.

It's not only Badger Pass that keeps the snow secrets of Yosemite. The Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias, near the park's southern Wawona entrance, is open to hikers (bring YaxTrax for better gription) and snowshoers; we even saw a hardy couple setting off with backpacks for overnight camping in those ancient woods. Up north near Crane Flat and closer to the park's Big Oak Flat entrance station, you can snowshoe and/or hike to the more mellow Merced Grove and Tuolumne Grove of ancient sequoias, the latter with interpretive signs to pique your interest.

Looking for a cabin to cozy up inside after your snow trekking? Our number-one choice is always the Evergreen Lodge, just outside the park's Big Oak Flat entrance station off Hwy. 120. If you're on a budget, try the Yosemite Bug hostel off Hwy. 140, under an hour's drive southwest of the valley.

Got a great tip for visiting Yosemite or any other national park in winter? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

Related posts:
Catching the Firefall in Yosemite Valley
Freeze and Stay Cheap (or Even Free!) in Yosemite
10 Steps to a Perfect Day in Big Sur

Photo credits: Yosemite National Park (Michael Connolly Jr.)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for these great tips for skiers in Yosemite. I never made it there at this time of the year, but I know the park well from countless stays in spring, summer and fall.