Continuing with my ICE theme this month, how much better can you get than Yosemite National Park? If these photos don't convince you to bear the cold and head up there during the winter, then maybe the low crowd factor will!
I was the last person you'd think would visit Yosemite in the snow and freezing cold temperatures. I live in southern CA, I don't ski, and I usually avoid the cold at all costs. But a few years ago, celebrating New Year's there felt like a great idea. Right as we drove into the park I knew we made the right decision! The scenery was breathtaking, every corner was a picture that looked straight out of a holiday card!
One of the best things about visiting Yosemite this time of year is that there are no crowds. In summer, you face waiting in long traffic lines, no parking, and crowded trails. In winter, it's much easier to get gorgeous photos with no one else in it!
The downside is, well its cold and icy. A lot of the trails are closed or snowed in, and the roads can be dangerous. Chains are required unless you have a hard core 4x4 truck. The park is still very much enjoyable and you can get access to view points on most of the major sites like Yosemite Falls, Bridalveil Falls and Tunnel View simply by driving and making stops.
And of course there is much more to do than just look at the pretty scenery. Yosemite has plenty of outdoor activities that are in full swing- snow tubing, cross country skiing, ice skating and more. So while you won't be climbing half dome, there's much to fill your day. Every corner you turn has a shot worth taking - check out these huge icicles just along the side of the road, and overhanging the tunnel!
Quick tips when prepping for Yosemite in winter:
Bring chains - the rangers will require them even with a 4x4 vehicle on certain roads
Check for road closures as some of the park may not be open
Dress in good winter hiking boots, and snow gear - hats, gloves, scarves, etc.
If its icy and you want to walk off road a bit, invest in ice cleats/crampons like these at REI for your shoes
Buy a pack of Hot Hands - these things are amazing for your hands and feet if you plan on walking in the snow a lot
Bring a go-pro or DSLR camera along with your smartphone on a strap
Carry snacks - the stores close early in the park and not all of the restaurants and lodges are open
Make a stop at the Majestic Yosemite Hotel (formerly the Ahwahnee Hotel) - its absolutely beautiful to sit by the fireplaces even just for a glass of wine or a coffee
For being a non-winter person my whole life, traveling to places like this has given me a new appreciation for it. I have certainly learned to love it much more, and have become more tolerable in colder temperatures when I'm prepared. When you get photos like this, how can you not?
Winter, spring, summer or fall, Yosemite is one of my most favorite National Parks. Each season brings a different vibe! Full directions and info on the park you can find here. Enjoy!
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