Yosemite sublime in winter

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Four years of California drought had reduced most waterfalls in Yosemite to a trickle rather than a torrent. But recent rain and snowfall have resurrected the sleeping giants. They are just one of the many reasons to take a pilgrimage to the lesser-seen winter Yosemite.

I’ve been lucky enough to be in the park in three seasons but have long daydreamed of seeing it in winter when quiet replaces bustling, meditation displaces mission, and solitude sends crowds packing. When dusted with fresh powder otherwise substantial peaks, riverbanks, evergreens and rock faces are something ethereal, fantastical.

Public services in the park are curtailed in the winter but much is still open including the Ahwahnee Hotel, Curry Village (with ice-skating and s’mores) and Yosemite Lodge, and even one campground–Upper Pines. The Badger Pass ski area, for both downhill and cross-country (and tubing!) are also in full swing.

Plan your trip with these winter travel tips and current conditions links from the National Park Service.

If, like me, you won’t make it to Yosemite this winter, we can still indulge our wanderlust with park webcams courtesy of the Yosemite Conservancy.

Photo courtesy, Yosemite Conservancy.

Buy the book! Prophets and Moguls, Rangers and Rogues, Bison and Bears: 100 Years of the National Park Service.