Published on December 31, 2020

Seeking a fresh start is in our DNA. The ancient Babylonians started the time-honored tradition of New Year’s resolutions nearly 4,000 years ago to ensure successful crops and good fortune. Today, self-improvement themes are the most popular resolutions, often with a health kick.  Lose weight, exercise more, eat better.  The goals may have changed, but the focus on personal resolve remains the same.

Take a win-win approach to making your resolutions come true. Breakaway from that musty gym for the natural splendor of  a unique mountain paradise. Take your best self higher to resolution-ready Yosemite Mariposa County, where outdoor-active health and wellness come with the territory.

Nature’s Gym

Hiking Yosemite in the snow is fun and relaxing.
Relaxing after hiking to Dewey Point in the snow

Ever wonder why there’s suddenly a line for your favorite cardio machine in January?  New Year’s resolutions fuel a surge in gym memberships! Here’s a healthy alternative: consider Yosemite Mariposa County as your new 1,463 square-mile gym (no monthly dues required). Who needs a treadmill when you can snowshoe, cross country ski, hike, and bike the recreational grandeur of Yosemite Mariposa?

Getting a head start on New Year’s resolutions comes naturally with High Sierra winter recreation. The all-season trails that spur off Yosemite’s Glacier Point Road to the valley rim offer views of vistas to earn with a hike that will burn off some calories.  A local’s fave is Dewey Point, where the end of the trail puts you face to face with El Capitan, Half Dome, and Yosemite Valley’s majestic sweep.

Skate skier on the Glacier Point Road at Badger Pass Ski Area
Cross Country skiing is a fantastic way to get in shape and check off a New Year Resolution. Photo: Theresa Ho

Cross-country skiing is the most efficient way of all to rack up some mileage underfoot.  Badger Pass Ski Area is a High Sierra hub for cross-country instruction and trails.  The trails are still out there, so if you have the equipment and skillset, resolve to get out there and glide through the woods.

New Year’s resolutions going strong as you head into the spring solstice? Build on your new foundation with Yosemite’s awe-inspiring hikes.  With waterfalls in full torrent, spring is prime time for Yosemite’s big guns:  the Yosemite Falls Trail and Mist Trail.  The magical granite steps of the Mist Trail (bring a waterproof shell) and extra caloric burn courtesy of the switchbacks of the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail will get you there! The production values and epic visuals will make you forget that an incredible cardio payoff is underway as you ascend these trails.

It’s wildflower fields forever in Sierra National Forest along the Hite Cove Trail. A popular destination in spring, this trail follows the steep Merced River canyon while passing by nearly 50 varieties of wildflowers.

Warmer weather opens up the Yosemite high country to hiking, usually around May or June, and there may be no more dramatic trek than the trail to Clouds Rest.  It’s 14.5 miles round trip, so be prepared for a strenuous but highly rewarding full-day (or overnight) hike from Sunrise Trailhead off Tioga Road. The payoff: Yosemite Valley from way above and massive Sierra vistas in every direction.

Mountain biking at Exchequer Mountain Bike Park
Hit the trails at Exchequer Mountain Bike Park in the lower elevations of Mariposa County.

With dedicated mountain bike parks and challenging national forest fire roads, Mariposa County is a hub for two-wheeled adventures. Whether you bring your own mountain bike or rent from places like the Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite, there is no shortage of tracks to explore. Watch another Dr. Phil rerun on the exercise bike screen, or pedal through the pines with blue sky above and forest oxygen to burn ““ it’s not even a fair race!

Swimming in a gym pool may get the job done from a calorie/cardio perspective, but really, how much fun is staying in your chlorinated lane for 30 minutes? Opportunities for open water swimming naturally flow in Yosemite Mariposa County.  Whether it’s a high-country lake within Yosemite National Park or the lower reaches of the Wild & Scenic Merced River as it winds through historic goldfields, a smooth granite chute sliding into a deep swimming hole or even a four-star hotel pool, visitors can find a plunge that’s perfectly suited.

For the Ommm of It

 Staying true to New Year’s resolutions engages your heart as well as your head.  Mind-body power is omnipresent here.  Local practitioners of the healing arts lean in with a mother lode of wellness options. Yoga, spas, and natural destination splendor intertwine for a holistic holiday to help keep New Year’s resolutions on track.

Yosemite Health Spa
The Yosemite Health Spa is a great place to unwind after a long day on the trails with it’s sauna, hot tub and massage packages targeted at hikers and Mountain Climbers.

The Yosemite Health Spa at the fabulous Yosemite Rustic Bug Resort offers full-body serenity, from massage and yoga retreats to locally-sourced herbal-steeped baths, hot rocks sauna and jumbo stainless steel hot tub.

The Balanced Rock Foundation is a local non-profit offering year-round yoga classes and backpacking retreats geared to all ability levels.  The naturally transformational power of Yosemite will keep those resolutions flowing.

The Ascent Spa at Tenaya Lodge is one of the Sierra’s top spas, offering a rejuvenating range of treatments including massage, body wraps, facials, sauna and steam rooms, and a well-stocked boutique.

Whitefawn Wellness takes a holistic approach that is bound to fuel flagging New Year’s resolutions.  Check out the comprehensive menu of products and services designed to improve mental health, physical fitness and spiritual well-being.

In downtown Mariposa, The Wellness Nook has what heals you. Therapeutic massage with organic essential oils, tailored to individual preferences, is on offer via modalities including Swedish, Deep Tissue, Prenatal, aromatherapy and Lomi Lomi.

Take it Deeper for Enduring Change

Honor the tortoise! By going after your New Year’s resolutions with a slow and steady approach rather than crash diets and gym flings, you’ll turn your personal vows into enduring goals that stand the test of time.  The epic power of resolved reinvention is everywhere in Yosemite Mariposa County.

Categories: Holiday, Outdoor Activities, Winter