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While most visitors to Yosemite arrive in summer, the national park is also a winter wonderland that glitters under a blanket of snow. Wispy clouds sift through Yosemite Valley, adding an element of drama to the spectacular views. And there’s no shortage of winter activities, from cross-country skiing and snowshoeing to hiking: rangers maintain several marked winter trails and lead guided showshoe walks. California’s oldest downhill ski run is here. And an outdoor ice skating rink is open from mid-November to mid-March at Curry Village.

A highlight of any winter visit is the Bracebridge Dinner, when The Ahwahnee Hotel is ...

While most visitors to Yosemite arrive in summer, the national park is also a winter wonderland that glitters under a blanket of snow. Wispy clouds sift through Yosemite Valley, adding an element of drama to the spectacular views. And there’s no shortage of winter activities, from cross-country skiing and snowshoeing to hiking: rangers maintain several marked winter trails and lead guided showshoe walks. California’s oldest downhill ski run is here. And an outdoor ice skating rink is open from mid-November to mid-March at Curry Village.

A highlight of any winter visit is the Bracebridge Dinner, when The Ahwahnee Hotel is transformed into a 17th-century English manor for a feast of food, song and mirth. You can also attend a Bracebridge concert, sans dinner. Arriving by car, you’ll need tire chains. When winter snows fall, the Tioga Pass road (Highway 120) is closed to traffic for the season, sometimes into June. By early spring, snowmelt feeds the waterfalls, which are at their finest.

Christopher Baker
About the Expert

Christopher P. Baker has authored guidebooks to Costa Rica, California, and various Caribbean islands for Frommer's, Lonely Planet, and National Geographic, among others.

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Christopher Baker for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Yosemite National Park is a United States National Park spanning eastern portions of Tuolumne, Mariposa and Madera counties in the central eastern portion of the U.S. state of California.
  • Research: Wikipedia
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Christmas is the best time, due to special activities. By March and April, waterfalls are beginning to pick up speed. High mountain roads are often closed December-March or later.