Yosemite in winter is just as beautiful (arguably more) in the winter - and MUCH less crowded. Here's everything you need to plan a trip to Yosemite National Park in winter!

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Freshly fallen snow dusting towering redwoods. A waterfall that appears like lava. A Seventeenth century English feast?? Wait, are we nonetheless speaking about Yosemite Nationwide Park? Sure, y’all: Yosemite in winter is a complete new park! For those who’ve solely visited Yosemite within the hotter months, put together to be dazzled, as a result of it’s simply as lovely (arguably extra) within the winter. And like, a LOT much less crowded.

Guests who enterprise to the park between November and April can be handled to beautiful views of snow-capped mountains, a fraction of the crowds, and lengthy nights with epic stargazing. 

We tapped Suzie Dundas, a northern California-based journey author and a frequent Yosemite customer, to present us the news on one of the best issues to do in Yosemite Nationwide Park within the winter. Take it away, Suzie!

Yosemite Nationwide Park At-a-Look ✍

Right here’s a bite-sized snapshot of the whole lot you want to know to plan your journey!

  • When to Go: Summer season is hottest, and most crowded. Go to throughout fall and winter to see a quieter aspect of Yosemite!
  • The place to Keep: Rush Creek Lodge is our suggestion for the place to remain close to Yosemite Nationwide Park, simply minutes from the Massive Oak Flat entrance.
  • Easy methods to Get Round: You will get to and round Yosemite on public transit, however we suggest having your personal automotive within the winter, deliver chains). Use Kayak to snag rental car offers.
  • High 3 Highlights: When it’s heat, watching the sundown at Glacier Level, mountain climbing across the perimeter of Yosemite Valley, and taking a dip in Mirror Lake – this guide has extra. When it’s snowy, ice skating in Curry Village, snow shoeing, and the Bracebridge dinner – go to our Yosemite in winter information for extra.This tour is a wonderful introduction to Yosemite, and this tour hits all the most important landmarks and departs from El Portal or Oakhurst.
  • Earlier than You Go: Guide your lodging nicely upfront – our where to stay in Yosemite guide will assist. We additionally suggest selecting up a Annual Parks Pass. And should you’re low-key morbid, learn this e-book on Deaths in Yosemite to know what NOT to do throughout your journey!

Psst: Exploring Northern California? We’ve a ton of journey guides for our house! Browse them all or check out these guides to locations within the Sierra Nevada mountains:


14 Epic Things to do in Yosemite National Park, California

Want some assist packing on your journey? Join beneath and we’ll ship a printable winter packing record straight to your inbox, plus our favourite journey ideas that can assist you plan your subsequent journey.

Printable Winter Packing Listing

This FREE 3-page printable packing record will assist ensure you do not forget something on your subsequent winter journey. We’ll additionally ship you our favourite journey ideas!

Yosemite National Park in the Winter
Tunnel View in Yosemite Nationwide Park is probably much more hanging throughout a winter whiteout!

Yosemite Nationwide Park winter FAQs

Desirous about visiting Yosemite Nationwide Park within the winter? Right here’s what you want to know earlier than planning your low season journey.

When is winter in Yosemite Nationwide Park?

Snow within the higher areas of the park (like Tuolumne Meadows) often begins round October and may final into June, shutting off the thru-roads within the park and dusting the encircling peaks in glistening snow. However at decrease elevation, winter doesn’t actually hit the Valley Ground round early December. Snow within the Valley is feasible by April, although huge storms aren’t a each day prevalence.

The typical temperature in Yosemite within the winter ranges from highs within the 50s and lows within the 30s. This implies on a sunny time out it will probably truly really feel fairly heat, however as soon as the solar goes down it will probably get downright nippy – deliver heat layers!

Although the higher peaks of Yosemite are pushing 9,000 toes in elevation, Yosemite Valley – which stays open year-round – sits at a fairly low 4,000 toes above sea degree. So whereas it does snow and snow flurry within the Valley right here and there, it doesn’t often get the loopy blizzards related to greater elevation areas of the park like Tioga Move. And if it’s sunny, chances are you’ll discover valley flooring temperatures within the 50s F, making it very best climate for low season mountain climbing. 

How do I get to Yosemite Nationwide Park within the winter?

Yosemite isn’t exhausting to succeed in – so long as you could have a automotive, and relying on the season (and the quantity of snow within the Sierra Nevadas). Yosemite is about 3 hours east of San Francisco and about 4.5 hours north of Los Angeles by automotive – assuming you don’t hit any site visitors.

One essential factor to notice when driving to Yosemite is to deliver snow chains on your automotive tires (until you could have all-wheel drive): they’re steadily required when driving within the Sierras within the winter! Verify the road conditions web page earlier than you begin driving to seek out out.

Yosemite has four primary entrances. For those who’re coming from San Francisco, the Massive Oak Flat entrance would be the closest. Guests coming from Los Angeles and Southern California will enter by way of the Southern entrance.

For those who’re coming to Yosemite from the east within the winter, nicely, suppose once more. Tioga Pass Road is the one entrance on the jap aspect and it closes all winter, which implies you may’t entry the park by way of that route. When it opens and closes depends on snowfall, but it surely’s often mid-November by Might. 

Public transportation isn’t a lot of an choice within the winter. The one public transport into the park is the YARTS (Yosemite Space Regional Transportation Shuttle). The one route that runs year-round is the one between Merced and the Valley, and even then, it solely runs about three or 4 instances a day within the winter. Fortuitously, since winter crowds within the park are a lot smaller, it’s often comparatively simple to seek out parking close to wherever you’re going. 

When you’re within the park, the Yosemite Valley free shuttle does function each day, although it makes fewer stops and runs much less steadily.

A snowy road during a snowstorm surrounded by a forest on both sides in Yosemite National Park
When roads are snowy, your automotive will want chains or cables to benefit from the wintery magic! (Photo Credit)

How do I get round Yosemite Nationwide Park within the winter?

Your finest guess is to drive – the park is gigantic and the roads working by the park are extremely scenic. And the shuttle programs are rare within the winter.

On a non-snowy day, any car must be superb. However should you’re visiting when there’s any probability of snow within the forecast, you’ll have to have an AWD or 4WD car with snow tires and/or tire chains or cables. Lots of the small roads across the park are topic to chain management throughout storms, and to move by the staffed checkpoints, you’ll have to have snow tires in your AWD car or have chains/cables accurately mounted. Verify the California Road Conditions Map (and the forecast, naturally) to see what’s required throughout your go to. 

When you’re within the park, the Yosemite Valley free shuttle is the one transportation open. There’s no transportation between the Valley and some other areas of the park. Along with the Tioga Move seasonal street closure, Glacier Point Road often closes across the identical time. Different roads within the park are topic to closure because of avalanche dangers and heavy snow.

Don’t be afraid to go to within the winter, although. You’ll know upfront what the climate goes to be like and most winter days within the Valley are sunny and within the 40 levels F. You ought to be ready for icy driving situations and street closures, however they’re precautions, not frequent occurrences. Apart from Tioga Move and Glacier Level Street, that are all the time closed within the winter.

For those who don’t have a automotive otherwise you solely have at some point within the park, a unbelievable choice is to take a guided tour from San Fransisco. You may sit again and loosen up as you’re pushed to many of the main websites in at some point, together with Tunnel View, Tuolumne Grove, and Yosemite Valley, plus lunch and mountain climbing.

You may also select to go to the park on a guided tour with transportation from Los Angeles. For those who’re involved about transportation, wanting so as to add Yosemite to an current California journey, or don’t wish to mess with the trouble of planning, these excursions are a unbelievable choice.


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