Half Dome at Sunset by thomas pix
Yosemite National Park in central California is often touted as the world’s best park with its sparkling waterfalls and bright-colored wildflowers, and not to mention massive crowds. And Winter is the least busiest and possibly the most beautiful season at Yosemite, turning the park into a very small town. The waterfalls freeze at night, the wildflowers are buried in blanket of white, and the crowds go home.
300 miles north east of Los Angeles, this is the perfect winter wonderland getaway. Snow is likely and drivers are required to carry chains; and four-wheel drive is recommended.
Where to stay:
Ahwahnee Hotel: The rich, royal and renowned regularly reside at this historic property. This luxury hotel is nearly always booked during the summer months, but usually has availability in the winter. (801-559-4884)
Curry Village: This more affordable alternative was originally founded in 1899 as a summer camp. The cozy cabins are in the heart of Yosemite beneath towering evergreens and Half Dome. While the cabins are heated there are not telephones or televisions in the room allowing you to revel in the beauty of Yosemite.
What to do:
Yosemite National Park may be the cliché winter wonderland.
The world’s most beautiful outdoor ice-skating rink at Curry Village (209-372-8319)
The Badger Pass Ski Area is idea for families. It includes cross-country runs, a snowboarding terrain park, and plenty of downhill skiing slops. Free shuttle service is provided from Yosemite Valley up to Badger Pass. (209-372-8430)
Also at Badger Pass are guided snowshoe hikes with professional guides for all levels. For an even more magical experience, check out the Full Moon Snowshoe Walk. The Yosemite Association also leads outings. (209-379-2646).
Check the National Park Service website for current weather, snow reports, river water levels, road conditions and more. Yosemite Valley is at 4,000 feet elevation and even if it snows, it seldom stays very long. At higher elevations, more snow accumulates and it can stay all winter long.