California’s Yosemite National Park is known for its amazing scenery, breadth of outdoor activity options, and, of course, those wonderful waterfalls. It isn’t, however, generally known as prime-time destination beyond the summer season – something local tourism execs suggest is a shame.
“Yosemite is open 365 days a year and offers unique experiences in each of the four seasons,” says Terry Selk, executive director of the Yosemite/Mariposa County Tourism Bureau. “Travelling in off-peak periods actually can provide a much more pleasant experience than in summer when the park is generally overflowing [with visitors].”
Winter, in particular, is a “magical” time in the Park. Dubbed the “season of snow and solitude,” the December through March period offers a unique perspective on the area with spectacular (uncrowded) scenery and such seasonal activities as winter hiking, skiing (downhill and cross-country), tubing and snowshoeing at the Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area (formerly Badger Pass), and skating in the Yosemite Valley. Most park facilities remain open.
• WINTER – The Yosemite Conservancy, Yosemite’s philanthropic organization, which helps provide valuable funding for major restoration projects in the Park, provides a wide range of customized and intimate tour experiences year-round, including this winter, such as guided snowshoeing and photography excursions. The outdoor programs provide Yosemite visitors with more in-depth and personal ways to experience one of America’s greatest national treasures with tours ranging from half- to full day, as well as evening programs. For more, visit:
• SPRING – The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias is undergoing a major restoration project and will re-open to the public this Spring, with the date dependent on road and weather conditions. The major restoration project, done in partnership with Yosemite Conservancy, is the first major project in the majestic grove of Giant Sequoias. When finished, the public will see a new, elevated boardwalk through the Lower Grove, handicap accessibility to the Grizzly Giant, removal of all commercial operations, improved hydrology, and the majesty of several hundred mature Giant Sequoia Trees.
• FALL – Each fall and winter, Yosemite National Park presents three unique food & wine events at The Majestic Yosemite Hotel where visitors can enjoy the spectacular scenery, endless activities and all things food & wine: Grand Grape Celebration, Bracebridge Dinner, and Taste of Yosemite event.
Located on the southwest side of the park, Mariposa County includes most of Yosemite and Mariposa town is a key gateway to the park. It is also a historic gold rush town with an abundance of activities for visitors, as well as providing a broad range of lodging for every comfort and price level as well as destination experiences, both in and out of Yosemite.
• The Majestic Yosemite Hotel, located in the heart of Yosemite Valley and considered by many as the crown jewel of national park lodges, is remodeling all guest rooms in the main hotel building. The hotel offers first-class service and it features stunning architecture and design elements that focus on the natural surroundings. The interior design is a remarkable blend of Native American, Middle Eastern and Art and Crafts elements. The Majestic Yosemite Hotel is open year-round and offers a variety of services and activities for visitors to enjoy Yosemite National Park. (
• Located 3.2 kilometres from the southern entrance of Yosemite National Park, Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite is a full-service luxury resort that makes a perfect basecamp to explore Yosemite by day and enjoy creature comforts by night – “like roughing it, minus the rough part.” Coming to the lodge this Spring are Harley Davidson/Indian motorcycle rentals as well as sleek and sporty three-wheel Slingshots, which don’t require a motorcycle license to enjoy. (
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yosemite in winter

Yosemite National Park is a “special place” during the winter months, when crowds are fewer and the scenery is a different kind of spectacular.

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