Published on August 16, 2023

The holidays in Yosemite Mariposa County are a joyful affair. Turkey just tastes better with the majestic mountains as your maître d’.  Kinaras and menorahs flicker as brightly as the Sierra night sky. Sugar plums dance, Christmas decorations sparkle and fireplaces warm the great rooms greatly. Come New Year’s Eve, visitors are well-grounded and refreshed heading into whatever adventures lay ahead.

For a couple’s escape or a large family gathering, the welcoming spirit of Yosemite Mariposa awaits with arms opened wide. Here are 10 reasons that will make your holiday celebration an unforgettable time of love, laughter and inspiration.

1. Nature’s Snow Globe

Winter at Yosemite
Perhaps the most beautiful time to see Yosemite Valley is after a recent snowfall.

When Mother Nature cooperates, the freshly-powdered Sierra peaks become beacons of inspiration during the holidays.  And if your dream of a white Christmas comes true, we recommend strolling through a serene Yosemite Valley. Surrounded by steep walls of granite, it’s like being inside a glorious snow globe.

2. Lodge A Compliment

Snowy cabin managed by the Redwoods In Yosemite
Snuggle up and find a cozy cabin to keep you warm during your winter visit to Yosemite! You’ll find great options like this cabin managed by the Redwoods In Yosemite in Wawona as well as many others located both inside and outside the park.

We only have good things to say about Yosemite Mariposa County lodging during the holidays. The summer rush is a distant memory, there’s more room to roam and the values abound from clean & affordable lodges to world-class resorts.

3. The Gift of Mariposa

Infused with festive flair, holiday shopping in Yosemite Mariposa County is as warm & fuzzy as your favorite cozy blanket. Drape a garland, don a Santa hat and channel your inner-Fezziwig. It’s a good look.

4. Special Meals With Special People

Holidays in Yosemite Mariposa County are all about gathering in a natural setting unlike any other. With vacation rentals ranging from cabins-for-two deep in the woods to luxury homes with a view, there’s no limit to plating tasty meals and making merry. The guest list is limited only by the size of the hot tub!

5. Parade Softly and Carry a Big Lightstick

The charming Gold Rush town of Mariposa glows bright every December with its Merry Mountain Parade and Christmas Tree Lighting. Follow the holiday magic down main street to Mariposa’s historic courthouse for the tree lighting.  Free hot dogs, popcorn and hot cocoa?  Season of giving, indeed.

6. Decisions, Decisions

Couple enjoys meal at Embers Restaurant at Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite

If a dish-free sink and no hosting stress are more your lean, then dining out in Yosemite Mariposa County provides a no-fuss way to keep your holiday spirits high. The only decision you’ll have to make is red or white, and if dessert tonight is more of a tiramisu or a chocolate thing.

7.  Burn Off Those Holiday Carbs

Relaxing at Dewey Point after a snowshoe trip
Snowshoe or cross-country ski to Dewey Point for amazing views of Yosemite Valley and El Capitan. Photo: YMCTB/Kim Lawson

Yosemite Mariposa County outdoor activities are its life blood, and during the holidays there are undoubtedly extra calories to burn. From skiing to hiking and ice skating to snowshoeing, the range of elevations and terrain means there’s a perfect venue for your favorite workout.

8. Crackling Good

There’s something about a fireplace in the mountains, and those in Yosemite Mariposa County possess a certain hypnotic crackle.  Enjoy a hot-buttered rum in front of the stone fireplace at the Ahwahnee Hotel, or gather around an outdoor fire pit at Tenaya at Yosemite. If you prefer fire time to be private time, find a cabin rental with a fireplace and warm your cockles your own way.

9. Beauty Next Door

From moody skies as winter storms move in, to sun-sparkled snow after they pass, the peaks and valleys of the high Sierra are a sight to behold.  And yet, at lower elevations the days can be surprisingly warm as horses gallop through the oak-studded foothills of Yosemite Mariposa County. The best part?  It’s all just a short distance from the coastal cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles. Sierra beauty, indeed.

10. Ends & Beginnings

New Year’s Eve in Yosemite Mariposa County is a time to reflect on the past year and prepare for a healthy & happy start to the new one. Whether that’s a lively celebration at a local bar, hot tubbing with homies at your rental, or spending it quietly with loved ones while winter stargazing, the glasses clink just the same. Here’s to gratitude.

Categories: Family and Kid Friendly, General Travel Tips, When To Visit, Winter