Snow dusted mountain peaks and the crunch of snow below your feet. Snow falling outside the window of your cabin warmed by a crackling fire. Cups of hot cocoa for the kids and maybe a hot toddy for mom and dad. With great lodges, cozy cabins, outdoor adventure and, of course, the beautiful scenery of Yosemite National Park just down the road, a High Sierra adventure is just the escape your family needs this holiday season after a long and hectic year.
With the Bay Area, Los Angeles and California’s Central Valley a few hour’s drive away, the snowy peaks of the Yosemite Mariposa County’s High Sierra are closer than you might think.
The drive through the lower-elevation Gold Country regions of Mariposa County is an easy one, and as you climb the Sierra Nevada, the idyllic snow-topped peaks will come into view and the feeling of winter’s fun will quickly take over the family. Before you know it, you’re arriving at your serene lodging establishment of choice in areas like Fish Camp, Wawona, Yosemite West and Yosemite Valley.
Highway 41 is your final pathway to a family adventure as it climbs through the Southern Sierra. Come prepared because weather conditions can change quickly in the mountains and a set of tire chains won’t just be handy – they can be a necessity.
Choosing where to stay so that you’re near the snow is just as important as getting out in it and playing. Whether its that idyllic cabin in the woods, a spot in the heart of Yosemite Valley or a full-service resort in the mountains, there’s a lodging choice that will fit your needs.
Yosemite Valley’s Ahwahnee hotel
No place is closer to the winter action than The Ahwahnee and Yosemite Valley Lodge in the heart of Yosemite Valley. Yosemite’s iconic granite monoliths like Half Dome and El Capitan will all be insight and decked out in their winter’s best. Yosemite’s meadows are all short walks away begging to be frolicked and the chances of seeing some of Yosemite’s locals – the wildlife – are better than ever.
Great dining options are nearby as well in The Ahwahnee Dining Room. Looking for the big holiday meal option? The Ahwahnee serves up some of the best options in the region and under one of the most beautiful dining rooms around.
For all of the Yosemite Valley lodging options, click here.
If you’re looking for that picturesque rustic cabin or luxury vacation home rental in the woods for the Holidays, look no further than Yosemite’s Scenic Wonders in Yosemite West and The Redwoods in Yosemite in Wawona. Both options sit inside of Yosemite National Park and are just minutes from some of the best winter experiences in all of the Southern Sierra.
With over 100 properties to choose from, Yosemite’s Scenic Wonders Vacation Rentals provides homes, cabins and condominiums. Centrally located, you’re just minutes to all the wonders of Yosemite including Glacier Point Road where some of the best snowy adventures await including the amazing snowshoeing hike to Dewey Point!
Countless options at Redwoods in Yosemite make this an outstanding place for a holiday retreat.
Just to the south in Wawona sits The Redwoods in Yosemite, where you have a choice of 125 fully equipped cozy cabins and spacious luxury homes. Good news for the furry members of the family: there are many pet-friendly options so that everyone can come! Just minutes away from the Redwoods is the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, where Yosemite’s giants are covered in snow and waiting for your exploration with a pair of snowshoes or cross-country skis, which you should rent or buy before your trip.
Hundreds of private vacation rentals can be found in this area as well. Just visit Yosemite.com and search our real-time booking engine to find additional options. Most cabin rentals have full kitchens and everything you’ll need to cook the traditional family dinners, but be sure to ask your knowledgeable hosts what utensils and cooking materials are included.
For all of the Yosemite West and Wawona Lodging options, click here.
Perhaps the most acclaimed winter lodging in the High Sierra and United States actually sits just outside of the park at Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite.
Tenaya Lodge is one of the best winter wonder lodges in all of the United States.
This four-diamond resort goes all-out for the holidays decking out the grand lobby, its multiple restaurants and public spaces with enough decorations to make Santa himself jealous. The centerpiece is a 35-foot naturally sourced Christmas tree which is decorated with so many lights that it rivals the crystal-clear High Sierra star-filled skies. Smore’s kits are complimentary for every guest to be toasted at several outdoor fire pits and there are gingerbread houses on display and waiting to be decorated.
In addition to its fabulous guest suites and rooms, Tenaya Lodge also offers its Explorer Cabins and Cottages for a more private holiday experience.
To view all of the different lodging options in Fish Camp, click here.
Yosemite Mariposa County’s High Sierra Region is packed full of things to do during the Holiday season. Hiking, snowshoeing, snow play and
Just because there is snow on the ground, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a high-country adventure. Photo by: Chris Falkenstein
Mariposa County’s great history and culture are all nearby and ready for you to explore.
Snowshoeing is a great twist on some of the hikes in Yosemite that you know and love in the warmer seasons. Just strap on a set of snowshoes and hit the trail for a new take on hiking. Take the Yosemite Falls Trail up to Columbia Point for some amazing views of Yosemite’s snow-dusted cliffs above and the Valley below. On Glacier Point Road, take the long trail through the woods to Dewey Point for views of the High Sierra covered in snow that few get to see in person.
No snowshoes? No problem. Hikes like the Valley Loop Trail are flat and at lower elevations meaning they’re more likely to stay snow-free and dry.
If you’re in Yosemite Valley and the powder is fresh, Yosemite’s meadows are great playgrounds for snow angels, snowmen and snow forts for an epic snowball fight in an equally epic setting. If you’re staying at Tenaya Lodge or The Redwoods in Yosemite, Fish Camp’s Goat Meadow Snow Play Area is at a mile of elevation making it more likely to have great snow. There you’ll find sledding hills and trails for cross-country skiing.
If you’re looking to escape the snow for a bit, make a trip to lower-elevation Mariposa to sample local cuisine at great restaurants like Charles Street Dinner House, 1850 Restaurant and Brewery and Sugar Pine Café. Stop by local museums like the Mariposa Museum and History Center and the California State Mining and Mineral Museum to learn about the region’s rich Gold Rush history. Also, be sure to explore Old Town Mariposa’s shops and stores where you’re likely to find unique gifts or a treasured keepsake from Made in Mariposa artists.
A visit to the California Mining and Mineral Museum is truly worth its weight in gold for its fascinating insights into the CA geology that has shaped so much of the state’s history. If nothing else, be sure to stop in to view the largest mass of crystalline gold – 13.8 pounds.
Savor the sights, beat the heat, and add a splash of adventure on a rafting trip through Yosemite Mariposa County. Find flow while drifting quietly downriver past famous Yosemite landmarks on a scenic float trip. Or brace yourself for a thrilling ride through Class IV whitewater just outside Yosemite along Highway 140. Yosemite rafting is clearly the coolest game in town for summer fun.
Looking for an extended weekend visit to Yosemite Mariposa County with a four-legged family member in tow? You’re in luck! Perk up your ears for this 4-day itinerary that’s sure to set you up for a tail-wagging good time.