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 an entire new park! In case you’ve solely visited Yosemite within the hotter months, put together to be dazzled, as a result of it’s simply as stunning (arguably extra) within the winter. And like, a LOT much less crowded.

Guests who enterprise to the park between November and April will likely be handled to gorgeous 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 offer us the news on the very 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 all the pieces it is advisable to know to plan your journey!

  • When to Go: Summer time 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 advice for the place to remain close to Yosemite Nationwide Park, simply minutes from the Huge Oak Flat entrance.
  • Methods to Get Round: You will get to and round Yosemite on public transit, however we suggest having your individual automobile within the winter, carry 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 foremost landmarks and departs from El Portal or Oakhurst.
  • Earlier than You Go: Ebook your lodging nicely upfront – our where to stay in Yosemite guide will assist. We additionally suggest choosing up a Annual Parks Pass. And if you happen to’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 have now a ton of journey guides for our dwelling! 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? Enroll beneath and we’ll ship a printable winter packing checklist straight to your inbox, plus our favourite journey ideas that will help you plan your subsequent journey.

Printable Winter Packing Record

This FREE 3-page printable packing checklist will assist be sure 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 maybe much more placing throughout a winter whiteout!

Yosemite Nationwide Park winter FAQs

Fascinated with visiting Yosemite Nationwide Park within the winter? Right here’s what it is advisable 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 encompassing peaks in glistening snow. However at decrease elevation, winter doesn’t actually hit the Valley Flooring round early December. Snow within the Valley is feasible via April, although large storms aren’t a each day prevalence.

The common temperature in Yosemite within the winter ranges from highs within the 50s and lows within the 30s. This implies on a sunny day trip it could truly really feel fairly heat, however as soon as the solar goes down it could get downright nippy – carry 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 stage. 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 Go. And if it’s sunny, you might discover valley ground temperatures within the 50s F, making it ultimate 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’ve gotten a automobile, 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 automobile – assuming you don’t hit any site visitors.

One essential factor to notice when driving to Yosemite is to carry snow chains on your automobile tires (except you’ve gotten all-wheel drive): they’re continuously required when driving within the Sierras within the winter! Test the road conditions web page earlier than you begin driving to seek out out.

Yosemite has four primary entrances. In case you’re coming from San Francisco, the Huge Oak Flat entrance would be the closest. Guests coming from Los Angeles and Southern California will enter through the Southern entrance.

In case you’re coming to Yosemite from the east within the winter, nicely, assume once more. Tioga Pass Road is the one entrance on the jap aspect and it closes all winter, which suggests you’ll be able to’t entry the park through that route. When it opens and closes relies on snowfall, however it’s often mid-November via Might. 

Public transportation isn’t a lot of an possibility 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 straightforward 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 continuously.

A snowy road during a snowstorm surrounded by a forest on both sides in Yosemite National Park
When roads are snowy, your automobile 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 wager is to drive – the park is big and the roads working via the park are extremely scenic. And the shuttle techniques are rare within the winter.

On a non-snowy day, any car must be high-quality. However if you happen to’re visiting when there’s any probability of snow within the forecast, you’ll must have an AWD or 4WD car with snow tires and/or tire chains or cables. Most of the small roads across the park are topic to chain management throughout storms, and to move by the staffed checkpoints, you’ll must have snow tires in your AWD car or have chains/cables accurately mounted. Test 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 another areas of the park. Along with the Tioga Go seasonal street closure, Glacier Point Road often closes across the similar time. Different roads within the park are topic to closure as a result 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 need to be ready for icy driving situations and street closures, however they’re precautions, not frequent occurrences. Apart from Tioga Go and Glacier Level Highway, that are all the time closed within the winter.

In case you don’t have a automobile otherwise you solely have at some point within the park, a incredible possibility is to take a guided tour from San Fransisco. You may sit again and calm down 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. In case you’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 incredible possibility.


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