Winter in Yosemite with kids

Yosemite National Park is one of California’s most iconic attractions, and arguably the most popular of its national parks.
A real must when building an itinerary in the Golden State, Yosemite is famous for its waterfalls, giant sequoias forests, and impressive granite peaks.

Yosemite attracts more than four million visitors and outdoor enthusiasts every year. Of these, only 25% visit the park during winter, between November and April.

Yosemite is wonderful in every season of the year, but in summer it can be very crowded. To find some solitude and tranquility you might have to get far from its most popular and accessible area, the Yosemite Valley.

Yosemite in the winter is a dream. Walking through its trails and admiring its majestic snow-white landscapes is an unforgettable experience, made even more special by the absence of tourists.


In this post:

Tips for visiting Yosemite in Winter
Driving in Yosemite in winter
What to bring
Top attractions at Yosemite in winter with kids
Tunnel View
Bridailveil Falls
El Capitan Meadows
Yosemite Falls
Mirror Lake
Ski in Yosemite

Tips for visiting Yosemite in Winter

The winter season in Yosemite officially begins in December and lasts until March. Starting from October, however, the first snowfalls, may cause road closures inside the park.

Driving in Yosemite in winter

In winter it is mandatory to carry snow chains in your car . Before setting off, it is also advisable to inquire here about the condition of the roads.
Tioga Road (the continuation of Hwy 120 which crosses the park), is usually closed to traffic between the end of October and the beginning of November, and is reopened between May and June.
The same goes for Glacier Point Road , the scenic route that leads to the observation point of the same name.
Mariposa Grove Road , in the area of ​​the homonymous giant redwood forest, is closed from the end of November to March 15th. When the road is closed to traffic, the Mariposa Grove remains open and can be reached for hiking and cross-country skiing.

What to bring

A snow vacation with kids can be a wonderful experience, but if you don’t bring the right gear it can become a pain for everyone.
My advice is to dress the children in layers , possibly with waterproof pants and jackets , and snow shoes, and have several changes on hand, for when they are done building their snowman and they start feeling wet and cold.
Don’t forget a warm hatsnow gloves and extra socks

Yosemite Valley has several walking paths suitable for strollers. In case of heavy snow, however, a child carrier backpack is the safest choice.

Top things to do in Yosemite in winter with kids

Tunnel View

Every visit to Yosemite National Park should begin with a stop at Tunnel View .
Located on Hwy 41, this viewpoint gets its name from the Wavona Tunnel, at the end of which you can find a panoramic terrace with a breathtaking view of the Yosemite Valley .
Take a few minutes to admire the Yosemite Valley with its famous Bridalveil Falls and the granite peaks of El Capitan and Half Dome. This is one of California’s most popular postcard images.

Bridalveil Falls

Once you have seen the view from the top of the Tunnel View, it is time to descend into the Yosemite Valley, which is considered the real gem of the park.
Start your exploration from Bridalveil Falls, one of the most suitable attractions for children.
A short 600 meters paved walk, leads to an observation point on the beautiful waterfalls.
While in the summer months the path is usually stormed by hundreds of visitors, during a winter week day you may find yourself enjoying the walk in perfect solitude.

El Capitan Meadows

After the Bridailveil Falls, it’s time to indulge in a good dose of fun on the snow.
The snow-covered El Capitan Meadows are the ideal place for some play on the snow. 
Kids will enjoy leaving their footprints in the fresh snow, building their own version of Olaf, and improvising a snowball fight. 
Adults will marvel at the sight of El Capitan on the background, one of the largest monoliths in the world, as well as icon of the Yosemite National Park.

Yosemite Falls

Yosemite Falls are considered the highest waterfalls in North America, with a jump of 740 meters in three different levels.
The lower level, Lower Yosemite Falls, can be reached through a pleasant walk along a flat path, suitable for strollers .
After passing the waterfalls, continue on a wooden bridge and cross the woods, until you return to the starting point.

Mirror Lake

Mirro Lake is one the most popular attractions among families with children, both in summer and winter. For this reason, the lake is not accessible by car, but with the excellent and efficient free shuttle service provided by the park.
Mirror Lake takes its name from the fact that in its water you can see the reflection of the Half Dome .
The lake can be reached through a pleasant walk along a 1.5-kilometer paved path, which is suitable for strollers.

Ski in Yosemite

If you love winter sports and you don’t want to miss the opportunity for a little skiing, leave the Yosemite Valley behind and continue for about 35 kilometers along the Glacier Point Road to Badger Pass .
This small resort has five different ski lifts, and perfect slopes for families and for beginners. Here you will also find a ski school, and a shop for equipment rental.

Here you can find information on winter sports and activities in Yosemite.

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