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There are many good reasons that so many people look forward to visiting Yosemite in May. As the days grow longer and warmer, the Yosemite area comes to life.

The waterfalls are at their most impressive, fueled by melting snow in the high country, and singing their songs as they cascade over Yosemite’s granite cliffs. At lower elevations, like Yosemite Valley and Wawona, the flowers are blooming. The often-photographed dogwood blossoms peak in May, and no one cares that the brilliantly eye-catching white ‘flowers’ are not actually petals but are composed of bracts surrounding the true flowers clustered in the center. There are fresh green leaves on the oaks, alders and willows. The dogwoods, alders and willow trees are decked out in vibrant spring-green leaves – a welcoming sight after a mostly monochromatic winter.

If you’re tempted to visit Yosemite in May, read on for what you need to know to plan the best trip.

Yosemite weather in May

By the numbers, for Yosemite Valley and Wawona you can expect an average high temperature of 68F and an average low of 42F, and just three days of precipitation on average. That means that you might still want a puffy jacket and beanie if you’re spending time outside early or late in the day, but it’ll be just about the perfect temperature to hike mid-day.

Of course, it’ll be cooler as you gain elevation. If you climb from Wawona or Yosemite Valley at 4000 feet, to Tuolumne Meadows at 8,600 feet elevation, you’ll find yourself back in more wintry conditions with average high temps of only 54F (12C) that fall to 27F (-3C) at night.

In either case, it’ll be nice to have a variety of layers if you’re planning to be out and exploring during the day.

Snowstorms that require chain controls are rare in May, but not unheard of. Snow on the roads tends to melt quickly this time of year, but be sure to check the weather prior to your visit to be sure you have the proper equipment just to be safe.

What clothing to bring?

Like most times of year in Yosemite, it’s wise to pack a variety of layers that you can remove as the day warms up and then put back on when it cools off again in the evening.

Don’t forget rain gear. An average of 3 days of rain all month doesn’t seem like a lot, but Mother Nature still occasionally throws a snow storm into the mix, so be sure to watch the weather before your visit. Besides, if you decide to explore some of the amazing waterfalls, and it is waterfall season after all, you might want a bit of protection from the drenching mists. For example, in wet years, when the water is really flowing, people sometimes stop to wring out their socks at the top of Vernal Fall.

What can I see/do in Yosemite in May?

View of Vernal Fall from the John Muir Trail

A centerpiece of Yosemite in May is the beautiful waterfalls in the park. This is a view of Vernal Fall from the John Muir Trail. Photo: Theresa Ho

May in Yosemite is filled with water. Snow from the previous season is melting from the high country and rushing clean and cold through rivers and over cliffs. That makes lower-elevation areas like Wawona, Yosemite Valley or her sister valley in Hetch Hetchy ideal locations to go for a hike and marvel at the cascades and waterfalls.

The wildflower displays in the central valley and foothills are past their prime, and spring is moving up into the mountains. In addition to the dramatic flowering trees (dogwoods and planted apple trees), you’ll also find a myriad of wildflowers in bloom during this season as well. Look for the tall purple lupines in Wawona, or take a walk on the Wawona Meadow Loop to spot the many flowering signs of spring.

The wildlife is out and about as well, and the air is filled with bird song. Download apps like Merlin from The Cornell Lab, iSeek from iNaturalist or Yosemite Wildflowers from the Brecklings to learn about and identify some of the many sights and sounds you’ll find while out exploring. If you prefer a non-electronic version, we highly recommend The Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada. The author, John Muir Laws, has a knack for including most of the plants and animals you are likely to come across, in a small and easily-packed guide. It even has a section on exploring stars and the night sky in the back.

Hiking

On a good snow year, May is still early for hiking in the high country without skis or snowshoes to help keep you afloat. The popular trails will be packed out by those who have gone before, but higher elevation roads like Glacier Point or Tioga Road are often still snow-covered and closed for the season, so if you decide to hike in those areas be prepared to encounter snow. Snow-covered trails can make travel difficult, and can also make it hard to navigate if you can’t see the trail beneath your feet.

From the Wawona area near The Redwoods In Yosemite, check out the Chilnualna Fall trail. The trail passes many beautiful cascades along the way making it appropriate for an all-day journey or a quick after-dinner stroll.

Another area close to Wawona and well-worth your time is the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. Though not the tallest or the broadest, these ancient trees combine the best of both, and are the most massive trees in the world. If you arrive before the Mariposa Grove shuttles start for the summer season, you can walk the Washburn Trail through the forest up to the Lower Grove.

Biking

Bikes at Pedal Forward bike shop in Oakhurst

If you have the opportunity to bring bikes with you, you’ll love being able to ride them up to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias and around to different locations within Yosemite Valley.

There is also some amazing local single-track in the Sierra National Forest for the mountain bike lovers out there. Swing by Pedal Forward in Oakhurst to chat the team there for all the inside tips.

Hop aboard a Steam Train

Board the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad for a fun trip into Yosemite’s past. Take a 1-hour history tour, or go all-in for a 3-hour evening special with family music, a theater performance or live jazz depending on the evening. While you’re there, you can also visit the Thornberry Museum, and learn to pan for gold.

Rock Climbing

young girl learning to climb in yosemite

Join the Yosemite Mountaineering School for a fun day on the rocks. Photo: Pacific SW Region USFWS

Whether or not you have tried rock climbing before, a visit to Yosemite is a great opportunity to experience a fun and challenging activity with uncommon and extraordinary views in a special place. Sign up for a beginner class at the Yosemite Mountaineering School for a great introduction, or if you have some climbing experience, consider springing for a private guided climb.

Art Programs

Cultivate your inner artist in an art class or workshop run by the Yosemite Conservancy, and create a personal memento of your time in Yosemite. Classes usually begin in May. Check the Yosemite Conservancy website for more details.

Stroll through the Yosemite History Center

Especially if you’re staying at The Redwoods In Yosemite, be sure to stop by the Yosemite History Center to visit historic buildings that have been relocated to Wawona from all around the park. Interpretive signs by each structure tell a story about an important piece of park history.

Horseback Riding

Grab the reins and go for a ride through scenic forests and meadows and cross mountain streams. Horseback rides at Yosemite Trails and the Wawona Stables typically start near the end of May, so double check the website to see if they will be available for your May visit.

And More

Find even more things to do in Wawona, Yosemite and the surrounding area.

Staying at the Redwoods In Yosemite in May

When you’re planning your May Yosemite trip, be sure to consider booking a vacation rental cabin in Wawona with The Redwoods In Yosemite. As you can see, there is so much to do near Wawona, and being inside the park gates, it’s an easy drive to Yosemite Valley for even more of what May has to offer. The Redwoods In Yosemite rental cabin listings make it easy to find just the home you’re looking for, plus you’ll save money by booking direct.

(Featured image of dogwood blossoms by Theresa Ho)

Rock climbing in Yosemite re-entered the spotlight recently with documentary movies like Free Solo and Dawn Wall. In Free Solo, Alex Honnold’s ropeless ascent of El Capitan more than earns its acclaim from the sheer audacity of tackling such a long and difficult climbing route without any protection – never mind the amazing storytelling by climbing filmmakers Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi. Meanwhile, in the Dawn Wall story, the strong bonds between climbing partners take center stage, as Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson dig deep to complete a visionary climbing project together.

These films underscore the fact that Yosemite has long been known as a rock climbing Mecca. Serious climbers from around the world aspire to test themselves on the soaring granite walls of cliffs like El Capitan, Half Dome, Sentinel Rock and so many more. But make no mistake, there are plenty of shorter and easier climbs here in Yosemite as well that are more suitable for mere mortals and aspiring rock climbers.

Whether you’re interested in trying rock climbing in Yosemite yourself, or you’d prefer to enjoy the stories from the safety of the ground, read on.

Watching Rock Climbers in Yosemite

Yosemite's El Capitan

Rock climbers from around the world travel to climb El Capitan in Yosemite. Photo: Theresa Ho

One of the remarkable things about Yosemite Valley and Tuolumne Meadows is how easy it is to get to steep cliffs and excellent rock climbing. For example, one of the most popular places to watch climbing in Yosemite is from below El Capitan. You barely need to get out of your car. Just find a spot to park on the side of the road, and look up. It can be hard to spot the climbers however, and you’ll want a pair of binoculars to see more than just tiny specks on the vast granite walls.

Fortunately, during the late spring, summer, and early autumn months, the Yosemite Conservancy sponsors a free program called “Ask a Climber”. Climbing stewards set up telescopes near the bridge at El Capitan meadow so you can see the El Capitan climbers up close. Plus, they are ready to share their knowledge and answer questions about different climbing routes, techniques, and more. Here are some of the most frequently asked climbing questions that the climbing rangers get.

If you keep your eyes open, you’ll also see rock climbers on numerous other cliffs around Yosemite Valley. Please be respectful when you see them. They may be happy to talk with you, but they may also need to focus on their climbing and safety.

Going Rock Climbing in Yosemite

rock climber in Yosemite

Lower elevation rock climbing crags like Pat and Jacks Cliff are ideal for winter rock climbing. Photo: Theresa Ho

Naturally, if you’re interested in rock climbing, and planning to visit Yosemite, you owe it to yourself to give it a try. Of course, you will be able to tick “rock climbing in Yosemite” off your bucket list, but there are so many more reasons than that. Climbing Yosemite’s clean granite routes is pure pleasure – whether you’re dancing up thin slabs on dime-edge holds, pulling for all you’re worth on splitter cracks, or pinching crystals in Yosemite’s high country. Plus, the view really is better when you’ve earned unique views from above the treetops and eye-level with the birds.

Experienced rock climbers will already know to grab a Yosemite climbing guidebook in advance to treat themselves to photos, stories, and plenty of advice before they arrive. Mountain Project also has plenty of beta/detailed advice on climbing routes. Swan Slabs near Camp 4 has a nice collection of easy routes to get started on, though during the summer months Tuolumne climbing areas like Puppy Dome are cooler and more comfortable to climb. Some of the best easy multi-pitch climbs can be found at Manure Pile aka Ranger Rock just east of El Capitan, or if you’re ready to turn it up a notch, choose one of the really long easy classics like Royal Arches, Snake Dike on Half Dome or a classic route on Cathedral Peak in Tuolumne.

From your cabin rental at The Redwoods In Yosemite, you can also make a quick exploration of the rock climbing right in Wawona. Look for areas like Mortar Rock or Powerline Rock for nearby climbs. Plus, there are also many routes on nearby Wawona Dome, though there is a longer hike to get there.

Best Time to Go Rock Climbing in Yosemite

There are opportunities to go rock climbing in almost every season in Yosemite. You can find comfortable climbing in the winter at lower elevations along Highway 140, and it’s easy to beat the heat on high country granite in Tuolumne Meadows even during the summer. The climbs in Yosemite Valley are most inviting during the spring and fall months, though you can find top-notch climbers exploring big walls well into the winter months as well. Just be sure you always keep an eye on the weather.

Yosemite Rock Climbing for Beginners?

young girl learning to climb in yosemite

Join the Yosemite Mountaineering School for a fun day on the rocks. Photo: Pacific SW Region USFWS

Yosemite can be an intimidating place for people who are very new to rock climbing to climb independently. There are a small number of climbs where you can walk or scramble to the top to set a top-rope, but for most climbs, you’ll want to find someone who can lead up from the ground – putting in gear as they climb to protect themselves from a fall. There are also a few sport climbs in Yosemite, but most routes require placing stoppers or cams into natural features rather than simply clipping to pre-existing bolts for protective gear. Managing and placing your own gear introduces another level of skill and experience.

However, if you don’t have those skills, or simply don’t want to pack your full rack of gear for your Yosemite vacation, don’t despair. Simply hire a climbing guide.

Yosemite Climbing Guides

There is only one rock climbing guide service authorized to take you climbing in Yosemite National Park, the Yosemite Mountaineering School (YMS). YMS offers rock climbing lessons, guided climbs, and special skills workshops that can walk you through learning to lead, self-rescue techniques, or even help you prepare for your first big wall.

The climbing guides at YMS are expert climbers who are fun, friendly, and eager to share their extensive knowledge of rock climbing and Yosemite’s cliffs with you. They can accommodate all ages and all levels of climbers – from those who have never tied into a rope before to those ready to take on El Capitan – so if you want to go climbing in Yosemite, give them a call (209-372-8344).

YMS also leads guided hikes and backpacking trips. If you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, and simply listen to stories of rock climbing (as well as learning about Yosemite’s plants, animals, geology, and more), you can sign up for a hike instead. Group and private hikes are both available.

For those staying in Wawona with The Redwoods In Yosemite, another option for a rock climbing experience is the Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides (SYMG). SYMG’s rock climbing offerings all take place just south of the park on scenic cliffs in the Sierra National Forest. Like YMS, SYMG’s guides are top-notch and have climbing options for beginners and experts alike.

Whether you are excited to try something new in a beautiful setting or looking to challenge yourself on Yosemite’s legendary rock climbs, you’ll love your experience in Yosemite.

Climb on!

The Ultimate Guide to Planning a Visit to Yosemite in March

Yosemite in March is the sweet spot of winter’s first blossoming into spring. It’s a season of sandals and snow, of solitude and sunshine, and on top of all that, some of the most spectacular scenes Yosemite can dream up. Ready to plan a visit to Yosemite that will be ready for anything that March has in store? Read on.

Yosemite Weather in March

spring wildflowers at lower elevations

March is already the beginning of spring at lower elevations as hillsides blossom into beautiful natural bouquets. Photo: Theresa Ho

March weather conditions vary from year to year and from day to day. The average high temperature is 58F/14C, the average low is just above freezing at 33F/0.5C, and we get roughly 9 days of precipitation on average. It’s still winter here, but the temperatures are rising and the days growing longer. Combine that with warmer temperatures at lower elevations and cooler temperatures at altitude, and it becomes possible to bundle up for downhill skiing in the morning and then find a spot to relax in the sunshine in a t-shirt in the afternoon.

majestic wintery view from tunnel view

March can also be filled with winter’s quiet and majestic snow-covered cliffs. Photo: Heather Anderson

Another thing that the averages don’t tell you is the range of weather conditions that you could expect. We have had snowstorms in March that drop multiple feet of snow over the course of just a few days. However, more commonly we find ourselves in comfortably warm temps with plenty of sunshine inspiring people to relax by the river in t-shirts and sandals. Especially lately, we’ve seen more of the latter, but Mother Nature is fickle in March, and you never know when she might switch things up just for fun.

That playfulness includes some of the most stunning displays Yosemite has to offer. You’ll just want to pack some rain gear and a reasonable tolerance for rain/snow to get out and enjoy it. A few clouds turn the grandiosity of Yosemite’s landscapes to up to 11, with rose and gold clouds creating celestial landscapes upon landscapes at sunset or sunrise, or low-hanging clouds enhancing the drama of the steep cliffs and spires. It’s no coincidence that serious photographers scan the forecasts for these storm-filled sessions, and rush to the park at the first hint of precipitation.

What to Pack for March in Yosemite?

Given the unpredictability of the weather, there are two keys to ensuring that you have the right clothing packed for a visit to Yosemite in March.

  1. Keep an eye on the weather forecast. The weather forecasts 3-7 days out are reasonably reliable and should give you a sense of what to expect in the moment. If there is precipitation in the forecast, it’d be wise to pack a few extra warm layers and consider waxing the skis. However, if the forecast is for 60F and sunny, you’ll want to have enough lightweight layers, short-sleeves, or lightweight hiking pants.

One of the best sources for this information is the National Park Service weather map because it has links not only for a general Yosemite forecast but for point forecasts of destinations in and around the park. This is critical because on the same day, you might find highs of 60F/ 15C in El Portal at 2500 feet ASL while the highs at Badger Pass Ski Area will be more like 40F/4.5C at 7700 feet ASL.

Of course, if you’re staying at one of the cabins managed by The Redwoods In Yosemite, we also have a full-time staff who lives and works in the area. Just give us a call the week before your trip. We’re happy to fill you in on what has been happening weather-wise and what to expect in the upcoming week.

  1. Pack a variety of layers. Plan your clothing so that you can put on or shed layers like an onion. For example, on the coldest mornings, you might start with a t-shirt topped by a long-sleeved shirt or sweater, a warm puffy layer, and a rain jacket/windbreaker. Then, as the day warms up, you can gradually peel off those layers to match whatever the day brings.

Hats and buffs are small items that add up to a lot of warmth, and you can even layer warmer mittens over thin gloves if your hands tend to get cold (just don’t squeeze them on – tight-fitting shoes and gloves can actually make your feet and hands feel colder.)

The California sun is powerful. Even in summer, most people are grateful for an extra layer when the sun dips behind the mountains. Expect to add and subtract layers over the course of any given day.

What Can I See in Yosemite in March?

Most of Yosemite’s most well-known attractions are viewable in March. Yosemite Valley landmarks like El Capitan are easily accessible, and ephemeral waterfalls, like Yosemite Falls, while not yet at peak spring run-off, have at least returned to life with the winter rain and snowfall. You can visit Tunnel View to get its iconic perspective on the length of Yosemite Valley and watch the sun rise over the Merced River from Valley View.

In a good year, much of the higher elevation cliffs like Half Dome or Cloud’s Rest will still be covered in a shawl of white snow. This makes them more difficult to hike to, but also enhances their drama and beauty from the comparative warmth of Yosemite Valley.

Wawona will, of course, be open. The tranquility of the season is doubly apparent in this peaceful valley, with the Wild and Scenic Merced River and several smaller but still scenic creeks winding their way through the landscape. The luxury of warming up in a cozy cabin in Wawona with a roaring fire after a day of exploring Yosemite can’t be overstated.

Nearby, the ancient sequoia trees in the Mariposa Grove will be drinking their fill of early spring run-off and melting snows. If there is still snow on the ground, you can rent cross-country skis or snowshoes to visit these majestic giants. Usually, the trail is relatively packed within a few days after a fresh snowfall which can help keep you from sinking too far into the snow, though waterproof footwear or some extra changes of socks are still recommended.

The far end of Glacier Point Road, like the higher elevation Tioga Road across the sierra, will be covered with snow and closed to vehicles. Instead, the Glacier Point Road stops at the Badger Pass Ski Area, where you can enjoy views of the snow-capped Sierra mountains from the chair lift and while skiing or boarding the family-friendly slopes.

Badger Pass is also a delightful starting point for exploration by cross country ski or snowshoe. Marked trails through quiet conifer forests and lead to snow-covered vistas. A groomed trail along the snow-covered portion of the Glacier Point Road leads all the way to the famous overlook. However, most people opt for the much shorter (7-8 mile/11-13 km round-trip), but still spectacular trail to Dewey Point for a view down into Yosemite Valley or an even shorter option to the top of Old Badger Summit for views of the High Sierra peaks.

What Activities Can I Do in Yosemite in March?

Hiking

Often the lower-elevation hiking trails will be mostly clear of snow by March, making for peaceful and easy hiking. Explore some of the short hiking trails in Yosemite Valley.

For longer hikes that lead up from Yosemite Valley or Wawona, you will be more likely to encounter snow the higher you go. These popular trails are usually packed out within a day or two of any fresh snowfall making snowshoes less useful. However, many people feel more comfortable on these slippery trails with microspikes like Stabilicers or YakTracks on their shoes, or with hiking poles.

Snowshoeing and Cross Country Skiing

family snowshoeing in Yosemite

Snowshoeing is an easy way to get around and explore Yosemite’s sights when there is snow on the ground.

If you want to get off the beaten path, both cross country skis and snowshoes will help you stay afloat in less-consolidated snow. As previously mentioned, you’ll find marked winter routes at Badger Pass and within the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. Depending on the snow conditions, these are also great ways to explore the meadows and golf course in Wawona for some closer-to-home options.

Cross country ski and snowshoe rentals are available at the Nordic Center at Badger Pass. You can also take cross country ski lessons or go on a guided snowshoe walk or ski tour.

Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding

Badger Pass Ski Area is fun and easy way to take advantage of the winter season. Badger Pass is a wonderful, family-friendly ski area where you can rent skis or snowboards, and take lessons. The mellow open slopes make it easy to stay connected with your group, and lift lines are rarely more than a few people deep.

Badger Pass has 5 chair lifts, 10 runs and a vertical drop of 800 feet. The expansive sun-filled deck is the perfect place to relax, grab a bite to eat, and keep an eye on the action slope-side.

Ice Skating

The outdoor ice skating rink at Curry Village is surrounded by history and stories of Olympic dreams, not to mention the extraordinary views of Half Dome you’ll have while gliding across the ice. Rental skates are available and be sure to bring some s’more fixings so you can roast marshmallows by the warming fire in between skating.

Even closer to the cabins in Wawona, you can practice your triple-toe-loops on a rink with views looking out across the Sierra National Forest at the Tenaya Lodge Ice Skating rink.

Immerse Yourself in Yosemite’s Past

w

The beautiful covered bridge at the entrance to the Yosemite History Center is one popular spot for Yosemite wedding photos in Wawona.

Wander through the Yosemite History Center where each of the buildings represents different chapters of Yosemite’s past. As you explore, interpretive signs fill you in on the historical significance of each building so you can imagine what it would be like to live as an artist along the banks of the Merced River in the early 1900s, or imagine trying to escape from a building intended to contain explosives that was later turned into a jail.

Photograph sunset

Yosemite’s sunsets warm the winter landscapes with ruby and orange displays. There are several classic winter sunset locations that take advantage of that magical light reflecting off of Half Dome, such as Sentinel Bridge, Cook’s Meadow, or the ever-popular Tunnel View. You can also admire the sunset directly by pulling off the road on your way home from Badger Pass to watch the sun setting over the western hills, or stopping to enjoy the views along Highway 41 on your way back to Wawona from Yosemite Valley.

Soak in a private hot tub or jacuzzi

Congratulate yourself on your adventures in a wintry wonderland by returning to your home away from home at The Redwoods In Yosemite, and drawing yourself a nice hot bath in a jetted tub or a gloriously long soak in a private hot tub.

Curl up by the fire with a glass of wine or cup of hot chocolate

There is nothing quite like the crackle of a flickering fire to settle the mind and soothe away worries. Many of the vacation rental homes in Wawona feature fireplaces, and wood is provided during the winter months by The Redwoods In Yosemite so that you can settle in with a glass of wine or a mug of hot chocolate and reminisce about the discoveries of the day.

Getting Around Yosemite in Winter

While there is a great deal to see and do, March is still one of the wintery months in Yosemite. And while most of the time getting around is easy enough, the sometimes snow-covered roads deserve respect and a measure of caution. When road conditions warrant, you will start to see chain control areas in Yosemite and the surrounding Sierra. Chains give your vehicle extra traction to navigate the slippery roads and get you where you want to go. Especially if you see some winter weather in the forecast for your trip, you will want to be prepared by knowing about chain requirements and tips on winter driving here.

Where to Book Your Stay?

cozy Yosemite cabin in the winter

When you’re done exploring for the day, it’s time to snuggle into the comfort of your rental cabin. Be sure to check out The Redwoods In Yosemite’s easy-to-use website to find the perfect place to stay in March.

Naturally, we’re biased. Of course, you can reserve a hotel room in Yosemite Valley, but we think renting a private home is a better call for a month like March, and here’s why:

The Redwoods In Yosemite website makes finding the ideal vacation rental home for your group easy with plenty of filters to help you find the features that are important to you.

Plus, if you still have any questions about what to expect during your March trip, feel free to reach out to the friendly and knowledgeable staff at The Redwoods In Yosemite. Our staff lives nearby and will naturally be up-to-date on weather patterns and local conditions to help you fine-tune your vacation plans as well.

Take Advantage of March Deals

And last, but not least, keep your eyes open for great deals on rental cabins in March. The park’s relative quiet makes this a great time to take advantage of lower prices to extend your stay for the same cost or to upgrade to a rental home in the Luxury Collection to treat yourself to a few extra perks during your trip. How about a private fireplace or jetted hot tub for a long soak after exploring the park?

Let’s be clear, there is no “bad time” to visit Yosemite National Park. Every season has its own particular charm, and its own set of devotees who can sing the season’s myriad praises. However, February stands out, even among the delightful winter months, as a particularly inspiring time to visit Yosemite.

Why Visit Yosemite in February?

February is a prime time to see Yosemite in all her winter majesty. It’s the perfect place to discover wintery wonders, and the perfect time to take advantage of low off-season lodging rates.

During the middle to late parts of the month people flood into the park for a chance to photograph the Natural Firefall at Horsetail Falls. Everyone is hoping that all the conditions will come together to turn this normally unassuming waterfall into a molten cascade with the light of the setting sun.

But the Natural “firefall” is not the only magical winter scene in Yosemite. Keep your eyes open for Frazil Ice that turns Yosemite’s streams into flowing slushies. Snow rollers on warm days can become their own sculptures – or the spontaneous beginnings of snow people. Not to mention delicate icicles that hang from rich green conifers and sparkle in the sun or snow-covered ledges on Yosemite’s giant cliffs.

Combine all that winter wonder with a romantic Valentines Day evening celebration. The cabins at The Redwoods In Yosemite provide all the comforts of home paired with the exciting freshness of a mountain getaway – a place to prepare a special home-cooked meal or snuggle up in front of a fireplace after a day of exploring the park.

Not to mention that this is a great time to get discounted rates on those very same lodging options. Take advantage of great deals on Yosemite cabins at The Redwoods In Yosemite.

Things to Do in Yosemite in February

February Hiking Options in Yosemite

Can you hike in Yosemite in February? Absolutely. Many of the popular lower elevation trails in Yosemite Valley are either cleared of snow or quickly packed by other people so that you can explore without sinking far into the snow. Walking out to the Lower Yosemite Fall lookout, taking in Half Dome from Cook’s Meadow, or exploring the trail below Half Dome toward Mirror Lake are all easy hikes that you can do in February.

On steeper trails like the John Muir Trail or the trail to the top of Upper Yosemite Fall, you’ll encounter more snow as you climb. The snow on these popular trails gets packed out fairly quickly, so snowshoes are often unnecessary, though some people will still be more comfortable with shoe spikes that you can slip over your boots like Stabilicers or hiking poles that can help provide traction on the packed snow.

For a quick outing, take a walk through the Yosemite History Center in Wawona. The historic buildings capture various chapters of Yosemite history and give you an idea of what living or working here as an artist or trail builder would have been like.

Go Snowshoeing

family snowshoeing

Snowshoes make it easy for everyone to explore Yosemite’s winter wonderland. Photo: Nancy Robbins

Getting out into Yosemite’s true winter wonderland is as easy as strapping on a pair of snowshoes. It’s everything you love about hiking with the added excitement of giant shoes on your feet. Snowshoes provide both float and traction so you can feel confident exploring wherever you find snow.

Just a few minutes from the rental cabins in Wawona, you’ll find excellent snowshoeing (or cross country skiing) up to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. These ancient trees look even more otherworldly with their red bark shining against a backdrop of snow.

There are also many trails leading from Badger Pass Ski Area including the popular hike out to views overlooking Yosemite Valley at Dewey Point. That eight-mile round trip may be further than you think with snowshoes on your feet, so for a shorter outing, consider exploring Old Badger Summit, or taking a guided snowshoe walk with Yosemite Rangers or the naturalists at the Yosemite Mountaineering School to get an introduction to snowshoeing and learn more about Yosemite’s winter ecosystem.

Snowshoe rentals are available at Badger Pass.

Cross Country Skiing in Yosemite

Add a little adventure to your winter wanderings with some cross country skis. In addition to exploring the quiet snow-covered landscapes, cross country skiers also get to experience the joy of gliding over the snow. The lightweight skis and flexible boots make covering ground quick and easy – and gravity does all the work on downhill sections of trail.

There are a few groomed trails at Badger Pass, plus many skier-packed trails at Badger Pass, Crane Flat, the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, and more.

The Nordic Center at Badger Pass offers lessons and rentals for cross country skiing, skate skiing, and even backcountry touring and telemarking.

Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding at Badger Pass Ski Area


Of course, you may just want to ride a lift to the top of the hill and ski or snowboard down from there. The Badger Pass Ski Area is the oldest in California, with a long history of welcoming skiers to the joys of winter activities. Families, as well as beginner and intermediate skiers, love this friendly, unpretentious, and relatively inexpensive ski area.

You can also rent equipment and take skiing or snowboarding lessons at Badger Pass.

Sledding and Snow Play

bride and groom sledding in Wawona

There’s nothing quite like snow to bring out the child in us all. Wedding couples can get married in Yosemite by the river at their vacation rental cabin, hold a reception in the Wedding and Event Center at The Redwoods In Yosemite, and get out for a little sledding, all right within the small community of Wawona.

When there is snow on the ground, any small hill inspires hours of fun sledding or making snow people. Here are some of the best places for sledding and snow play.

You don’t have to go far from Wawona to find great snow fun. When there is enough snow, the golf course across the street boasts some fun family sledding with wide-open spaces. Plus an official snow play area is just a few minutes away just outside the Yosemite National Park boundary. As you drive south from Wawona on Highway 41, keep an eye open for the first road on your left that leads to the snow play area.

Sledding isn’t allowed at the Badger Pass Ski area, but you can enjoy tubing on the tubing hill. Check in at the Nordic Center to sign up. You might find families parked in the pull-out lanes along the Glacier Point Road on the way to Badger Pass enjoying the snow as well. However, these aren’t designated sledding areas though so be very careful not to hit any of the trees, and make sure you can pull your car fully off the road.

Ice Skating

Outdoor ice skating rinks are another popular Yosemite winter activity. The outdoor ice rink in Curry Village has a long history, including aspirations of hosting the Winter Olympics in 1932. Although Yosemite ultimately lost the Olympics bid, the current ice rink still boasts one of the best views of Half Dome.

Just 10-15 minutes from the Redwoods In Yosemite cabins, you can also glide across the ice at an outdoor rink at Tenaya Lodge, where the covered ice rink provides a little more protection from the elements while still providing scenic views of the surrounding National Forest.

And don’t forget one of the most important ice skating traditions – s’mores! Fire pits located at both Curry Village and Tenaya Lodge are perfect for staying warm, and roasting marshmallows for a delicious winter treat.

Parting Tips for Exploring Yosemite in February

cozy snow-covered cabin

February is usually a great time to find discounts on cozy Yosemite cabins.

See you in Yosemite in February!

Looking for what to do in Yosemite?

There are a lifetime of things to do in Yosemite. The park is the size of Rhode Island, and encompasses many different ecosystems within its borders, so it can be hard to figure out what to do. However, here is a 5-day itinerary that hits the best must-do sights and activities in the park.

Day #1: Settle in and Local Exploration

Welcome to Yosemite! After a long travel day, your private home away from home awaits in Wawona. Get acquainted with your rental, settle in, and then when you’re ready head for a walk around town to stretch your legs after your trip. There is a lot to see right in Wawona. Stop in at the Visitor Center and learn about Yosemite painter, Thomas Hill. Wander through some of Yosemite’s historic buildings at the nearby Pioneer History Center. If you have the energy, this is a great time to scope out Swinging Bridge for possible swimming later in your trip as well.

redwoods in yosemite cabin interior

Explore your new home away from home and get settled in.

Enjoy dinner in your cabin and get packed up for your big hiking day in Yosemite Valley.

Day #2: Yosemite’s best and brightest

When people think of iconic Yosemite landmarks, they are almost always thinking of Yosemite Valley. With majestic cliffs like Half Dome and El Capitan towering above and waterfalls plunging over cliffs into plumes of mist, you will want to spend more than a single day in this part of the park if you can.

Autumn Trips to Yosemite

Exploring Yosemite Valley’s iconic scenery in number 1 on the list.

There are many walks to choose from. Easy strolls take you to the base of Lower Yosemite Falls or out into one of the valley meadows, like Cook’s Meadow, with great views of the surrounding cliffs. Mirror Lake / Mirror Meadow is another popular easy hike with views straight up at Half Dome and across at Mount Watkins.

If you’re up for something more challenging, hike the Mist Trail. Although it’s steep, there are so many things to see along the way. By the time Vernal Fall first comes into view, you’ll already have passed views of Upper Yosemite Fall and Illilouette Fall (1.6 miles/2.6 km round trip). And if you have the energy, continue up through the mist of Vernal Fall to the top of the waterfall (a 2.4 mile/ 3.9 km round trip). Beyond that, the top of Nevada Fall is a 5.4-mile/8.7 km round trip.

On cool or cloudy days, the trail to Upper Yosemite Falls also beckons with promises of a warm, sun-filled hike.

Biking is another great activity to explore Yosemite Valley. Bike trails in the eastern end of the valley keep you out of the flow of traffic and allow you to cover more ground than you might on foot. But it’s still easy to stop at any point and admire the view without having to find a parking space. If you can’t bring your own, cruiser-style bikes are available for rent at Yosemite Valley Lodge and Curry Village. Or, you may want to rent a mountain bike at Pedal Forward in Oakhurst on your way in. You’ll find many uses for it during your visit.

Regardless of what you choose, be sure to leave plenty of time to appreciate the magical scenery and take photos.

Day #3: Walk Among the Giants

Man & boy looking at Sequoia Trees

The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias is only a few minutes from your new home in Wawona.

From Wawona, the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias is only a short drive (or a long walk) from your cabin. When the shuttle buses aren’t running, there is a 2-mile/3.2 km walk one-way from the parking lot at the Welcome Plaza to the lower grove of Giant Sequoias. The trail winds peacefully through the forest along the Washburn Trail. Though you can see some giants from the Arrival Area in the lower grove, most people continue on to marvel at the Grizzly Giant and walk through the California Tunnel Tree. This is an additional 1.5 miles/2.4 km round-trip. If you have the energy, keep going to become acquainted with other named giants like the Faithful Couple tree or the Clothespin Tree.

If you have a bike, you can ride up the road all the way to the parking lot for the Grizzly Giant, and start your walk from there. It is uphill on the way in, so you’ll enjoy coasting down at the end of the day.

Day #4: Rest Day Activities: Ride Don’t Walk

After a few days of hiking, it may be time to give your legs a break. Fortunately, there are many options for this as well.

Option 1: See something new – outside the park

Horseback riding

Saddle up for a real western experience and let your trusty steed do the walking. The team at Yosemite Trails provides a top-notch riding experience through the scenic national forest and across mountain streams.

Boating/Swimming

Spending time on the water is a great way to stay cool and rest weary legs in general. Combine that horseback ride with Yosemite Trails with a trip to Bass Lake where you can rent anything from jet skis and wakesurf boats to kayaks and stand up paddleboards at Millers Landing Watersport Rentals (Guests of The Redwoods In Yosemite get 15% off.) But you don’t have to go far for some relaxing time in the water. Wawona itself is well-known for its local swimming holes.

steam train at Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad

Ride a steam train back into history at the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad.

Ride a Steam Train

On the way back to Wawona from Bass Lake, climb aboard a vintage steam engine with Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad. The soulful song of the steam whistle will take you back in time to another era. The 1-hour narrated tour is a delight. Also, consider treating yourself to the Moonlight Special. Close the day with a delicious dinner, the narrated tour, and entertainment during a stop in Lewis Creek Canyon.

Option 2: Relax in Wawona and Yosemite Valley

No matter how much you did on Day 1, I guarantee there is more to see in Yosemite Valley. Here are just a few ideas for what to do.

Shop for Gifts

Not everyone got to visit Yosemite like you did. Let them know you’re thinking of them with a few presents from one of the gift shops.

Express Yourself with Art

horseback riding in wawona

Saddle up and explore Wawona by horseback. Photo: Theresa Ho

Pause for a few quick sketches of Yosemite Valley. You’ll notice more beauty when you take the time to observe and record the environment around you. The Yosemite Conservancy offers daily art classes during the summer months for a nominal fee. While you’re in the mood, stop by The Ansel Adams Gallery where you can see amazing photography and artwork exhibits, and pick up a few things for friends.

Lunch at The Ahwahnee

The beautiful history and decor of The Ahwahnee make the lodge a destination on its own. Order lunch and enjoy it on the back lawn, and don’t forget to stroll through the public area. See how many animals you can find in the Mural Room, and reminisce about the old days with historic photos of Yosemite’s winter activities in the Winter Club Room. The magnificent dining room gives Hogwarts a run for its money.

Horseback riding

Return to Wawona for your western horseback riding experience. The Wawona Stables offers guided tours around Wawona Meadow / the golf course on horses and sure-footed mules.

The River Beckons

Tubing in Wawona, Yosemite National Park

Cool off with a refreshing dip in one of the local Wawona swimming holes.

Wrap up the day with a dip in the South Fork of the Merced River or one of the nearby creeks. Wawona is well-known for its many swimming holes, such as the one near Swinging Bridge. (Crossing the bridge, which unlike the one in Yosemite Valley actually does swing, is an extra bonus for this short walk.)

Day #5: A Birds-Eye-View from the Glacier Point Road

Glacier Point Road provides access to the South rim of Yosemite Valley and there are several gorgeous hikes to get the bird’s eye view of the valley below. (Drones are not allowed in Yosemite National Park, but you can get drone-like photos from the edge looking down into the valley.)

NOTE: The Glacier Point road is scheduled to close for construction and renovation work in 2022, so be sure to take advantage of this corner of the park while you can.

Taft Point and Sentinel Dome

glacier point sunset

Half Dome turns orange at sunset with the reflected light of the sun.
Photo: Theresa Ho

Either of these destinations is a short roughly 1-mile (one-way) hike from the parking area along Glacier Point Road. Standing at the railing at Taft Point provides a dizzying view down to the valley below. Keep your eye open for fissures that hint at the geological process that resulted in the steep Yosemite cliffs. Standing on the summit of Sentinel Dome gives you a 360-degree view of Yosemite’s high sierra, as well as Half Dome and other iconic Yosemite cliffs. Connect the two with a trail along the rim of Yosemite Valley for more extraordinary views. The full loop is about 5.5 miles.

End the day with a visit to Glacier Point’s famous overlooks for sunset. The broad side of Half Dome and Cloud’s Rest catches the light from the setting sun and turns fiery oranges and reds as the sun goes down.

Bonus Day #6: High Country Sights

5 days in Yosemite, and you still haven’t seen one huge region of the park – Tuolumne Meadows! This area is the furthest away from your cabin in Wawona, and with so much to do nearby, it can be a hard sell. However, if you have the extra time, you might want to slide it in mid-itinerary as part of a rest day. It’s an incredibly scenic drive with many views worth stopping for along the way.

What to do:

Are you ready to get your group together again? There is nothing like meeting in person for making connections, celebrating achievements, or planning for the next big thing. It’s time to unplug, turn off your screens and make some real-world connections.

When you’re ready, you’ll want to bring your group to Yosemite. The list of things to do is endless, not to mention the promise and excitement of simply viewing Yosemite National Park’s iconic scenery. Then provide a space to gather, connect and reflect at The Redwoods In Yosemite. It’s an ideal location, and here’s why.

1. Convenient and Off The Beaten Path Location Inside Yosemite National Park

Host your group in style a range of cabins all located inside Yosemite National Park in Wawona. This puts your group inside the park gates. Forget about worrying about long lines at the entrance gates, or the possibility of the day-use reservations that would limit access to the park.

Plus, Wawona shines as a getaway’s getaway. The open meadows and sparkling rivers that run through the community allow you to relax and recharge. There are many things to do right here. The iconic views that make Yosemite famous are just around the corner, yet you’re also apart from the tourist frenzy of Yosemite Valley.

2. A Range of Comfortable Private Cabins Provides Something For Everyone

The large variety of rental cabins nearby allows families and groups to find the best lodging for them. The Redwoods In Yosemite manages the largest selection of rental cabins in the park. Choose a luxury log cabin perfect for a large extended family or a close-knit 12-person crew. Or settle into a cozy 1-bedroom home that gives couples or individuals a small place of their own.

3. A Well-Equipped Indoor/Outdoor Wedding and Event Center has everything you need.

Group gathering on the deck at the Wedding and Event Center at The Redwoods In Yosemite

Gather your group together outdoors on the spacious deck. The Wedding and Event Center has many options to accommodate your needs.

The new Wedding and Event Center at The Redwoods In Yosemite is centrally located within Wawona. This makes it an easy and scenic stroll from most of the lodging units in the area.

There is some parking available at the Event Center. However, we recommend getting the blood flowing with a short morning stroll from your private cabin. The peaceful community, fresh air, and sunshine hold the promise of a new day. How is that for a morning commute?

The spacious Banquet Room at the Event Center brims with natural light. Open doorways lead out onto an expansive outdoor deck. This flexible space can be set up for event registration, presentations, or conference tables. Hold smaller conversations in the nearby Meeting Room. An adjoining catering kitchen makes it easy to host banquets or serve hors d’oeuvres.

Take advantage of the California sunshine and set up your meeting on the deck outside. Shade umbrellas and outdoor seating are available. Two magnificent stone fireplaces on the outside deck lend ambiance and keep things cozy. Outdoor electrical outlets make powering devices and/or extra lighting a cinch.

4. Rental Cabins Double as Informal Gathering Locations

Large cabin becomes an intimate wedding reception venueFor smaller groups or breakout groups in larger gatherings, many rental cabins provide even more options for meeting. Many cabins have outdoor decks with picnic tables. Indoor and outdoor dining areas can serve as impromptu meeting tables.

Some rental cabins lay claim to sizeable yards that could easily become an outdoor meeting area shaded with pines and boasting a view of the river.

5. Group Activities

There is no better place for your team to connect and build connections than on an excursion to one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Yosemite bursts with opportunities for exploration and adventure, and that naturally brings people closer together. Activities like hiking, mountain biking, or horseback riding are just minutes from your rental cabins in Wawona. There is even a golf course across the main road.

The Redwoods In Yosemite also provides Group Packages that include activities. Scavenger hunts, photo safaris, and guided tours help your group connect and get the most out of their visit to Yosemite.

6. Friendly and Helpful Events Department Staff

With so many options, getting started can be the hardest part. Fortunately, the dedicated team in the Events Department is here to help. They can help sort through details, and ensure your event goes smoothly. Whether you need assistance with planning or on-the-ground help during the event itself, on-site staff are ready to help you host a memorable event that people will be talking about for years.

For Group Booking Inquiries call 855-420-9234 or refer your Group and Event requests to [email protected]

Yosemite’s scenery is especially stunning during the winter months. You’ll find a halo of snow along the high peaks and clinging to ledges along the famous cliffs. The park is open, and in one of its most-quiet and majestic seasons. Even if you’ve visited before in another season, you’ll find winter in Yosemite to be a unique and magical experience.

On most days, getting around in winter is easy enough with just a little extra preparation. Let’s get into the details so you know exactly what you need to do for a fun and easy Yosemite winter adventure.

When and where are Chains Required?

When the roads start to get snowy, rangers set up chain control areas around the slippery sections to help you make sure you get where you are going safely.

Everyone entering a chain control area must have chains with them in their vehicle. That includes rental and four-wheel drive vehicles.

However, just because you need to have them with you, doesn’t mean you have to install them on your car. There are two factors that play into whether or not you will have to put chains on your vehicle. One is the current road condition, and the second is how much traction your vehicle has.

When to Bring Chains?

The park service strongly recommends having chains if you’re visiting between November and March. You might even need them as early as September or as late as May. The weather can change quickly in the mountains and even the best forecasts can be off. Be sure to check on weather conditions right before your trip.

Where to get Chains that Fit?

Chains are available at most automotive stores as you get close to Yosemite National Park. Look for a places like a NAPA Autoparts store or O’Reillys.

Diamond pattered chains, like the Quick Fit chains available from Les Schwab are more expensive, but provide excellent traction and are easy to put on. As of this writing, Les Schwab also has a policy that allows you to return unused chains for a full refund at any Les Schwab Tire Center with proof of purchase. Please double check this before you buy.

m+s rating on tires

Look for an M+S rating on the side of your tires to see if they are Mud and Snow rated.

In order to get chains that fit your vehicle, you’ll need to know the size of your tires before you go into the store. These will be printed on the side of the tire. While you’re looking, this is a good time to confirm that your tires are Mud and Snow rated. If they are, you’ll see a M+S designation on the tire as well.

Where Can I Go In Yosemite Without Chains?

There aren’t any specific regions of the park that always require or don’t require chains in the winter. If it’s February, but the roads are dry and snow free, you won’t encounter any chain control areas. If it’s May, and a huge cold storm just rolled in, all roads within Yosemite National Park could have chain controls in place.

In general, you’re more likely to have chain controls at higher elevations and less likely to have them on lower elevation roads. For example, as one of the higher winter roads, the Badger Pass Road often has some level of chain control requirement in the winter.

What Are the Current Road Conditions & Chain Requirements?

Chain controls are not unique to Yosemite. You might also encounter chain controls on California Highways outside the park. You can get information about those road conditions outside the park on the Caltrans website, or by calling 1-800-427-7623.

The best way to find out the current road conditions inside Yosemite Park is to call the road conditions hotline. This is absolutely the most up-to-date information.

For current road conditions dial 209-372-0200, and then press 1 and 1 again.

How Will I Know When To Put My Chains On?

Chain control signs, explainedPlan ahead by calling the road conditions hotline, then look for the chain control signs.

You’ll find them located close to a wide pull-out that will allow you to pull safely out of the flow of traffic to put your chains on. Don’t pass this up! Not only can you get a citation for driving past these points, sometimes the conditions will deteriorate before you can get to the next safe place to pull off the road.

These signs will not only tell you where you need to put your chains on, but also whether you need to put chains on your vehicle.

R1, R2 and R3 Exemptions

There are three levels of chain controls. If your vehicle meets certain requirements you can leave your chains in your car without having to put them on.

R1 – Autos & Pickups Snow Tires OK. This the least restrictive level, cars and trucks (less than 6,000 pounds) with mud and snow rated tires don’t need to put chains on as long as the tread of the tires is 6/32 of an inch or deeper. If your tires are mud and snow rated, they will have something similar to M+S written on them.

R2 – 4W Drive with Snow Tires OK. If you satisfy the requirements for R1 and you have four-wheel or all-wheel drive engaged, you don’t need to put chains on. For this reason alone, if you are renting a car for your winter Yosemite trip, it may be worth it to upgrade to an AWD or 4WD vehicle.

R3No Exceptions.  That’s clear, right? At this level everyone needs to put their chains on. Roads are rarely at R3. If the conditions are this slippery, the road is usually closed.

What about Rental Vehicles?

Rental companies often prohibit chains, and installing them on your rental vehicle violates the rental agreement and leaves you responsible for any damage that occurs. This is a tricky situation without a great solution.

Most damage from chains is due to improper installation. Your best protection against this is simply to make sure your chains are put on correctly. Take your time, follow the instructions carefully, drive slowly and you shouldn’t have any trouble.

It’s also yet another reason to upgrade to a 4WD or AWD rental vehicle, since usually you won’t need to put chains on except in the rare event of R3 conditions.

Tips on Snow Chain Installation

Once you know how to do it, it only takes a few minutes to stop and put your chains on when needed. Different cables and chains are installed differently, so it’s best to follow the instructions that come with your chains.

Still, here are a few general tips to make it as quick and easy as possible to get the chains on and get on your way.

General Tips for Driving in the Snow and With Chains

When it comes to winter driving, slow and steady wins the race. If you’ve done any driving in the snow, you’ll know that there are a few simple rules for driving on snowy surfaces.

That’s It! Enjoy your winter Yosemite experience!

The Redwoods in Yosemite cabins are located in the small town of Wawona. Wawona is high enough to receive a healthy helping of snow during the winter months. There is enough snow that you’ll love looking out the windows of your cozy cabin to see snowflakes floating gently through the air, and you’re close to the grand winter beauty in the park. At the same time, Wawona is low enough to remain more manageable than higher elevations in terms of driving and shoveling.

We hope we’ll see you here at The Redwoods In Yosemite for your next winter trip to Yosemite.