Published on November 26, 2023

Yosemite is a destination of many moods, where each season strikes its own pose: kinetic waterfalls in spring; vista-rich trails in summer; deep, harlequin hues as the shadows grow longer in autumn. But winter holds a different sort of majesty, a tranquil grace as snowflakes flutter and fireplaces crackle. For visitors in need of such a romantic mountain retreat, there’s no better choice than a winter hideaway in Yosemite Mariposa County.

Why Visit Yosemite in the Winter?

Riding the chair lift at Badger Pass Ski and Snowboard Area
The heart of winter fun in Yosemite is located at Badger Pass Ski and Snowboard Area, along the Glacier Point Road.

In addition to a restful mood and cozy hearths, winter cabin stays in Yosemite provide several season-specific advantages. First, there are fewer visitors in the Park which creates a more up-close-and-personal experience when visiting Yosemite’s iconic attractions. The roads (All-Season Highway 140 and Highway 49) are regularly cleared of snow, making for easy access whether you’re coming from the Bay Area, the Central Valley, or Los Angeles.

Of course, nothing beats cuddling by the fire while snowflakes dance outside your cabin window, but you’ll also be tempted by Yosemite’s multitude of winter activities. From skiing and snowshoeing to sledding and ice skating, there’s a cool-weather pursuit that’s warmed up by your puffy jacket and playful banter.

And last but definitely not least, love is forged even stronger with a winter wedding in Yosemite. From a surprise engagement in the woods to a come-one-come-all reception, booking a group of cabins makes perfect sense as your guests gather in one, memorable place and the wedding gowns are as pristine as the fresh Sierra snow.

Fish Camp

Couple cuddling on the sofa at Tenaya Explorer Cabins
Enjoy a cozy getaway at the Tenaya Cabins in Fish Camp.

For romantic mountain vibes just two miles from Yosemite’s south gate, Tenaya at Yosemite offers two distinct options for a unique winter cabin experience. Located at an elevation of 5,288 ft in Fish Camp, a luxurious palette of amenities awaits at this award-winning mountain resort.

The Tenaya at Yosemite Explorer Cabins are the perfect retreat for two to six guests in search of a woodsy “cabineering” experience expertly paired with good cheer. Set on a loop with creek, alpine and meadow views, each 500 square-foot cabin has two bedrooms, living room with gas fireplace and wet bar (mini-fridge, microwave, Keurig coffee maker). The communal fire pits set the winter night aglow as guests sip their Half Dome Hot Chocolate and roast s’mores with the Sierra constellations twinkling overhead.

The Tenaya at Yosemite Cottages offer gas fireplaces in every room to keep you warm on a cold winter’s night. Cottage Rooms are spacious duplex or triplex bungalows nestled amid the sugar pines and incense cedar. Each room features a patio or balcony for counting snowflakes. At 490 square feet the Cottage Suites are located on the second floor and provide even more room for winter relaxation, including a private balcony where you can gaze through the forest from your elevated lookout.

Both Cabins and Cottages are located a short walk (or even shorter drive) away from the main Lodge with its tasty Jackalopes Bar & Grill (open daily in winter) plus Embers fine dining (open Friday and Saturday), not to mention Ascent Spa and the Tenaya’s heated indoor swimming pool. For active types, the surrounding Sierra National Forest can be explored directly from the property with complementary snowshoes available outside the main entrance, or choose a more romantic respite with a few laps hand-in-hand around the covered Tenaya ice skating rink.

Though its year-round residents number only 50, historic Fish Camp also offers a handful of private cabin rentals nestled in this forested community where Big Creek meanders through on it way to the South Fork of the Merced River in Wawona.


Winter cabin rental from The Redwoods In Yosemite
Enjoy a beautiful winter cabin rental in Wawona – a quiet community inside Yosemite National Park close to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias

There’s something wild yet peaceful about Wawona in the winter. With the South Fork of the Merced River wandering through, this hub of the Southern Yosemite region is set at 4,000 feet in a gentle bowl of pine-forest goodness. What makes it truly unique is the lofty number of private cabins where visitors can’t help but let frosty winter days come into clear focus.

Offering 125 fully-appointed cabins in Wawona, The Redwoods in Yosemite makes the search for private cabins as easy as hot-buttered rum by the fire. From a cute cabin for two to a luxury Yosemite estate that sleeps 22, the ample amenities make a winter stay comfortable and affordable. Book early and check out their Winter Deals for a serene getaway during Yosemite’s quietest season.

Want to explore Wawona outdoors? Walk (or snowshoe, depending on conditions) around the historic buildings of the Yosemite History Center and check out their outdoor interpretive signs, or take a short 10-minute drive to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias  where it’s so quiet in winter you can almost hear these ancient trees speaking. Note: visitors in winter must walk/snowshoe from the Welcome Center to the Grove (4 miles round-trip).

Yosemite West

Vacation rental cabin in Yosemite West
Stone Creek Cabin is one of many vacation rental cabins available in Yosemite West

For a winter cabin in Yosemite that’s close to the action, it’s hard to beat the enclave of Yosemite West. Situated at 6,000 feet, Yosemite West is the hub of the Glacier Point Road region and offers private cabins, condos, and homes with a range of amenities from wood-burning fireplaces to private decks and EV charging.

Yosemite’s Scenic Wonders offers over 100 properties to choose from, all inside Yosemite National Park. While the vista lookout of Glacier Point closes in winter, the road remains open to one of Yosemite’s top winter destinations: Badger Pass Ski Area.

One of only three ski resorts located inside a national park, Badger Pass Ski Area was the first when it opened in 1935 as it continues to offer a unique winter sports experience. Whether you’re showing off at the terrain park or sipping a steaming beverage on the sun deck at the lodge, Badger Pass is only seven miles from Yosemite West making for easy access. Visitors can also park at the resort and embark upon a cross-country skiing or snowshoe adventure, including the amazing trek out to Dewey Point where 3,000 ft views down into Yosemite Valley are simply stunning.


large living room with loft and fireplace
Picture yourself settling into this comfortable living room in the Alpenglow Chalet in Foresta – located inside the boundary of Yosemite National Park

Just seven miles from Yosemite Valley, the small community of Foresta qualifies as a hidden gem. Most visitors drive past the turnoff unaware, yet Foresta has a fascinating history and surprising views of Yosemite’s biggest rock star: Half Dome.

A winter cabin stay in Foresta can feel like you have Yosemite to yourself as the clouds billow up the Merced River Canyon from the west. The mood is on-point, and what’s even better is that Yosemite Valley is just 15 minutes away for the careful winter traveler. While in the Valley, consider ice skating at Curry Village for some romantic turns with Half Dome as your chaperone. Note: cabins in Foresta are popular so book early!

Just Add Snow

Child sledding
Find all kinds of great winter fun in Yosemite Mariposa County.

The close distance, clear roads, and cozy vibe make a winter cabin stay in Yosemite a romantic retreat unlike any other. While other mountain destinations in California see big crowds in winter, the mood here is chill in the best sense of the word. So come on up and prepare to become — as John Muir so beautifully noted — bewitched and enchanted by the winter allure of Yosemite Mariposa County.