Yosemite in Winter: Cross Country Ski and Snowshoe Adventures

The solitude and serenity of a cross country or snowshoe outing highlights the beauty of Yosemite National Park wrapped in a stunning winter coat. Whether glittering in the daytime sun, or shimmering with moonbeams, this dramatic snowscape, with its peaks, pines, and perches, delivers breathtaking views on an outing that imprints lasting memories.

Short trips are perfect for inexperienced, young, or family group skiers. Either guided or self-led, trekking about the Valley on cross country skis for an hour or two rewards skiers with fantastic views on an exhilarating outing.

More challenging full day and overnight trips can be scheduled for those on an adrenaline mission. Long, lovely back country tours from Badger Pass to Glacier Point find skiers tucking in at the handsome stone and log cabin overnight, with warm bunks, hot dinners, and comfy sofas gathered around the woodstove. The 10.5 mile trip each way takes between four and five hours of travel each day, with time carved out for a delicious picnic lunch. Scheduling requires at least three guests, affording an opportunity to combine with other groups.

Self-guided trips accommodate groups of six or more, with packed lunches and dinners at the Glacier Point hut for overnight trips. Enchanting full moon tours are scheduled on appropriate nights, but book these well in advance. Popular and limited to two groups of twenty, spaces evaporate quickly.

The Badger Pass Nordic Holiday Race lets Yosemite show off its playful side with an 18K classic race inviting participants to don their best costumes. Downhill telemark races, a 38K freestyle skate race to Glacier Point and back, and a junior 10K race for the under-18 crowd present categories for just about every cross country passion.

The Badger Pass Nordic Center houses equipment for every need, renting winter sleeping bags, internal frame backpacks, touring skis, boots, and poles appropriate for varying levels of expertise for both children and adults. Equipment rental is not included in the price of most tours, but transportation from the Yosemite Valley to and from the Nordic Center is usually part of the package. The catering team can also accommodate dietary needs with advance notice.

If cross country skiing doesn’t appeal, snowshoe tours of the valley offer an easy, low tech option for navigating Yosemite’s winter carpet. From the “no experience needed” three-mile hike around the summit with views of Clark Ridge, to the all day adventure through the Tuolumne Grove, the experienced staff leads hikes appropriate for all ages and abilities.

Guides advise skiers and hikers alike to acclimate by spending a preparatory night at altitude before a trip. Lodging options abound during the winter season, so take advantage of availability and stay where you’ve always dreamed to make this a most memorable trip.

Navigating Yosemite’s 25 miles of groomed track, 90 miles of marked trails, and 350 miles of unmarked trails and roads yields a delightful combination of exercise and beauty, viewing the landscape both along the trails and across distant horizons. Holidays can be busy, but most winter bookings on these roads less traveled will reward guests with a serene landscape rarely experienced on a summer tour.