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