What Is There to Do in Yosemite in the Winter? 

Yosemite National Park is a natural wonder located in the Sierra Nevada mountain range of California. Known for its stunning granite cliffs, waterfalls, and ancient forests, Yosemite attracts millions of visitors each year. But what is there to do in Yosemite in the winter?

While the park is most popular during the summer months, it also offers a wealth of opportunities for adventure and exploration during the winter season. Whether you’re interested in winter sports or hiking in fresh snowfall, we’ll take a look at some of the best winter activities.

If you’re looking for somewhere cozy to stay during your Yosemite adventure, take a look at our Yosemite Winter Overnight Lodging Tour. Enjoy exploring the park during this time of year feels like walking in a personal true winter wonderland with fewer visitors in the snowcapped mountains.

Perhaps you’ve never visited Yosemite at this time of year and need a little help planning your winter break. No problem! Just get in touch with our local team who will be able to help plan an unforgettable adventure in the snow.

Go Skiing or Snowboarding in Yosemite in Winter

First and foremost, winter in Yosemite means snow. From mid-November through April, snow covers much of the park, transforming it into a winter wonderland. This presents a unique opportunity for winter sports enthusiasts. 

One of the most popular winter activities in Yosemite is skiing and snowboarding. The Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area offers a variety of runs for skiers of all levels, from beginner to expert. It’s also an affordable option for those looking to hit the slopes without breaking the bank.

Experience Snowshoeing in Yosemite in Winter

For those who prefer cross-country skiing or snowshoeing, Yosemite offers some of the best terrain in the country. The park boasts over 90 miles of marked trails for cross-country skiing, ranging from easy to advanced. 

The snowy landscape offers a peaceful and serene atmosphere, making it the perfect activity for those who want to get away from the crowds and immerse themselves in nature. 

If you’re new to cross-country skiing or snowshoeing, there are several rental shops in Yosemite Valley where you can rent equipment and get expert advice.

Take a Hike in Yosemite in Winter

If you’re not into winter sports, don’t worry! There are plenty of other things to do in Yosemite during the winter months. One of the most popular activities is hiking. While some of the park’s trails are closed due to snow and ice, there are still many beautiful hikes to enjoy. 

Yosemite Valley offers several easy and moderate hikes that are accessible year-round, including the popular Lower Yosemite Falls Trail and the Valley Loop Trail. These hikes offer stunning views of the park’s famous waterfalls and granite cliffs.

For those looking for a more challenging hike, the Mist Trail is open all year but be prepared for snow and ice on the trail. The 3-mile hike to Vernal Fall offers stunning views of the waterfall and the surrounding landscape. 

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can continue to Nevada Fall, adding 2.5 miles to your hike. It’s important to note that the Mist Trail can be very slippery and dangerous during the winter months, so it’s important to have proper gear and experience.

Take Photographs in Yosemite in Winter

During winter, the park’s snow-covered landscape offers a unique and stunning backdrop for photography enthusiasts. Yosemite Valley offers several iconic photo spots, including Tunnel View, which offers a breathtaking view of the valley and its surrounding mountains. 

Other popular photo spots include the Merced River, El Capitan, and Half Dome. If you’re new to photography, Yosemite also offers several guided photography tours.

Try to Spot Wildlife in Yosemite in Winter

Winter in Yosemite also offers a chance to experience the park’s wildlife differently. During the summer months, the park is filled with tourists, which can make it difficult to spot wildlife. 

But during the winter months, the park is much quieter, giving visitors a better chance to spot animals such as coyotes, bobcats, and even bears. The park also offers several guided wildlife tours, which can provide visitors with a unique and educational experience.

Go Stargazing in Yosemite in Winter

Finally, winter in Yosemite offers a chance to experience the park’s famous night sky. The park is known for its dark skies, free from light pollution, which makes it a great location for stargazing. 

During the winter months, the park’s clear skies offer a chance to see constellations and other celestial objects that may not be visible during the summer. Yosemite also offers several guided stargazing tours, which can provide visitors with a unique and educational experience.

While that brings our list of Yosemite winter activities to a close, we have plenty more Yosemite tours available year-round for every type of visitor. Whether you prefer heart-racing activities or a more reflective pace, the park is one of California’s natural wonders full of things to do.

If you’d like any advice on planning your trip — whether it’s in the winter or otherwise — get in touch with our team who will answer any of your Yosemite questions. As regular tour guides who visit the park, we love sharing this beautiful spot with visitors from around the world.