Yosemite National Park In The Winter

Yosemite National park is located in Calaveras county in California. Californians usually camp in this national park during spring and summer months however this park is visited by millions of people from all over the world each year. Hikers love it here because once you have hiked to your destination you can be sure to be mesmerized by glorious mountain peaks, lakes, wildlife if you are lucky, and best of all, the majestic waterfalls.

The best time to visit Yosemite is in the spring to about end of fall. Most roads are closed in the winter because the park is mostly blanketed with snow. Even though we knew this, we went to visit the park in January! And it was the day before Super Bowl too! We just had to get out of the house and go somewhere because the kids really hadn’t gone anywhere for Christmas and we were all well overdue for a road trip. We were lucky because the sun was actually out and it did not snow up in Yosemite until we left the next day. However, we did go prepared with heavy warm gear because we expected it to get cold out there fast.

There are 4 entrances into Yosemite park depending on where you are coming from. Traveling from Sacramento, CA, we took the highway 120 route and traveled all the way through the park to Oakhurst where we stayed the night.

Tips For Traveling Through The Yosemite Park

  • The park is very large. If you were planning on hiking to all the famous spots in the park, it may take you 2 to 4 days to do the entire park. I would highly recommend staying at a hotel or camping out at least 1 night to get the whole gist of the park. We stayed in Oakhurst CA, at Yosemite Southgate Hotel and Suites because it was the best priced online for a late reservation. We were pleasantly surprised at how friendly the staff and clean the hotel was. As a bonus, since we ran out of food and the kids were getting hungry and cranky, they had a Denny’s right on the lot. The city was not too far either so more food options, grocery, pharmacy etc. were all close by. Other hotels right next to ours included Best Western, Holiday Inn, Fairfield Suites. If you want to stay closer to the entrance you can check out Yosemite View Lodge.
  • There are roads to several of these hiking spots that you can drive to, and then take a short hike to the spot. This might be the ideal way to travel if you have kids. However these roads maybe closed in the winter so check the website.
  • They are very little food options in the park, and even several miles after you exit the park too. So carry plenty of food and water with you and I mean plenty of it because kids will get hungry as they are out and about hiking and enjoying the environment.
  • Make sure you travel with emergency supplies such as first aid kits, medications if you need them, toilet paper, hand wipes, sanitizer.
  • If you prefer, you can also take some rain coats as you will get wet underneath the waterfalls.
  • If you were traveling in the spring and winter months make sure to dress warm as it will be very cold.
  • Carry empty plastic bags to keep wet clothing and garbage in. Yosemite is very adamant about keeping the park clean.
  • print out a map and or take pictures of your route on your phone before because as you start heading to higher elevations you will lose phone reception.
  • Prior to your visit, check out the website and note down all the famous spots that people visit and how to get there, print out a map of the park, and look up any alerts that the park has issued regarding the weather etc.
  • During the winter there are few road closures, please check out the closures before traveling.
  • The roads are very windy. So take care of your passengers that may not have strong stomachs. For a little kids you may have to stop several times and let them rest as a right can make them very nauseous. If you prefer you can purchase one of the anti-nausea bracelets before your travel.
  • The visitor’s center is right at the entrance of the park which has a lot of information plus nice clean bathrooms.
  • The entrance fee is $35 and is good for 7 days so don’t loose your ticket!
Visitor Center

Must See Places While In Yosemite.

Tunnel View.

As you enter the park from the Big Oak Flat entrance you will encounter many Vista points as you drive along. One of the most famous places that people like to visit is called the tunnel view. Appropriately named, it is a Vista point right next to one of the tunnels. As you approach the tunnel you will see people pulled over in the Vista point area. this would be a good spot to get out, stretch. The tunnel view is the best spot to take pictures because you can all the famous mountains find a spot. El Captain, Horsetail fall, Clouds Rest, Half Dome, Sentinel Rock, Cathedral Rocks, and the Bridal Veil Fall can all be seen from here. The tunnel view is a very famous picture spot so this is definitely a must see place in the park. After you have got your perfect pictures, you can head down through the tunnels and stop over at the other Vista Spots to get different angles of the mountains. Sunset is a nice time to get great pictures. The ride through the tunnels is really fun for the kids. Just be sure to drive slow through the park as wide animals can jump out at any time and the roads are quite narrow.

Bridal Veil Falls

The Bridal Veil Fall is a magnificent waterfall that you must not miss if you go to Yosemite. It is located off of Wawona road, which would be closer to the North entrance of the park. The best time to visit this fall is during the springtime when the ice is melting in the waterfall is at its peak and it truly looks like a bride’s veil flowing from the top . There is plenty of parking near the waterfall, however it can get full pretty fast during peak visiting season. There is a small hike, about .4 miles which can take you right up underneath the waterfall. So if you go during the spring time you can be sure to get soaking wet by the magnificent water that is flowing from the top of mountains. Take raincoats, and towels to dry yourself off afterwards. Keep in mind that it may still be a little cold during spring time so go prepared with extra pairs of clothes if you get soaking wet. This site has both a paved road and a hiking trail to get to the waterfall.

Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias

The Giants Sequoias are a must see for all nature lovers. It is located in the Wawona and Fish Camp area. Since we stayed in Oakhurst California(HWY 41), we were able to visit this area on our way back up to the park the next morning. however the roads were closed, so we cannot drive up close enough to see the sequoias. The girls did try to hike up since the trails were still open, however it would be a long hike in to see the trees and we have to make it back home to watch the Super Bowl so we skipped the height for this time. However when we go back period.

Source; Yosemite Visitor Guide Brochure

Merced River

On the way back home, we decided to take highway 140 as we were told my staff at the hotel but it would be a lot less windy. I’m glad we took this highway home as it was a beautiful scenic route along the Merced River. We stopped by several places To take more breathtaking pictures of the falls and the mountains. We pulled over and let the girls play by the River and took some awesome pictures.

Horse tail falls

The Horsetail Fall is another famous waterfall that only flows for a few weeks in February . When is the sunset in the perfect position it appears as though the fall is on fire . People flock from all over the world to come see this magical view . Unfortunately for us , we were not able to see this . But this is a must see if you were visiting the park in February .

Embers pour over a cliff (left) while a waterfall is illuminated by sunset color (right)

Yosemite falls

The Yosemite Fall is the tallest in all that America and it takes a good 8 hours to hike to the top of it . However you can get good views of the fall with just a two mile hike in. Be sure to carry plenty of water and sunscreen if you are going to pursue this hike

Glacier Point

This is another one of the famous tourist spot that we were not able to visit due to road closures. You can access the glacier point by car , or you can hike to it and there is also a shuttle available seasonally . You can also book a bus tour. The glacier point is famous for its instagramable pictures especially at sunset

There is so much more to see in Yosemite than what we were able to see in the Winter. For the best experience check out the park’s website and plan your trip beforehand. I hope you enjoyed this read. Please like and share if you did and happy travels.

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