Yosemite National Park in the snow

  • Yosemite National Park in the snow

If you think America's national parks are special enough in summer (as we do), in winter, they take on a whole new dimension. Tour Leader Vicki Muenchow shares why Yosemite National Park is one of her absolute favourite sites to see under a blanket of snow...

Being one of the 'crown jewels' of our National Parks system, Yosemite is a site that I get to visit regularly with Trek America. I love watching the park change with the seasons, and winter is a favourite. The valley gets about 75 cm of snow annually with the higher elevations receiving even more precipitation. During a winter tour, I started off the trip into Yosemite with Mariposa Grove, which had just received a fresh dusting of snow.

Mariposa Grove is home to about 500 full sized Giant Sequoias. These trees can live to be over 3,000 years old and can reach heights of over 80 meters. My group and I went for an easy hike through the grove and got to play a game of roulette with nature.

Yosemite National Park in the snow

As the sun melted the fresh snow, small piles of it would suddenly drop from branches above and on to the hikers below. We decided to join the fun with a snowball fight of our own and a few snowmen. It was definitely a fun way to introduce my group to the park!

After Mariposa Grove we headed down into the Yosemite Valley for lunch. From there my group split up, some people took off to try the strenuous hike up to Nevada and Vernal Falls, while others opted to check out the visitors center and viewing area for Yosemite Falls. I went for a wander up to Mirror Lake.

Often towards the end of the summer the water dries up entirely, but this time of year there was plenty, although much of it was covered by snow. The trail was almost empty, and I was able to get in some good shots of Half Dome away from the crowds that sometimes build up in the valley.

Yosemite National Park in the snow

After that it was time to make our way back to our hostel, the Yosemite Bug. We left the park just as the sun was going down and we saw many small herds of deer as they began their evening grazing. After a day in the snow it was great to be able to head back indoors to warm up on the huge sofas back in the lounge at our hostel.

As I said before Yosemite is beautiful at anytime of the year, so if you fancy visiting this summer then we have a selection of awesome tours that pay Yosemite National Park a very well deserved visit, such as the Westerner 2, Pacific Coast and the famous Trailblazer!

See all winter tours 

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