Published on October 11, 2019

Whether it’s your first time on ice skates or you’re working on perfecting that triple axel, Yosemite offers some unique opportunities for outdoor ice skating. Savor the feeling of gliding smoothly across the ice while enjoying the fresh mountain air and incredible natural scenery of the Sierra.

Couple roasting marshmallows by the fire at Curry Village Ice Rink
Warm up and roast marshmallows in between ice skating sessions at the Curry Village Ice Rink.

Yosemite Ice Skating at Curry Village Ice Rink

The area’s most iconic outdoor ice rink is located in Curry Village at the eastern end of Yosemite Valley. Here skaters enjoy a magical view of Half Dome and other iconic Yosemite cliffs like Glacier Point while gliding around on the ice.

Yosemite ice skating has a remarkable history. The first ice rink was built in 1929 as part of a bid to bring the 1932 Winter Olympics to Yosemite. The original 60,000 foot ice rink was located in what is now the Curry Village parking lot. Before that, an informal rink was created each year simply by flooding the parking lot with water each night so that it would be ready for outdoor ice skating the following morning. In the early 1930’s, the Curry Village rink hosted figure skating exhibitions, ice hockey games, curling matches and tug of war competitions.

Today’s Curry Village ice skating rink has been relocated from its initial location, but continues to carry on that fine tradition. The Yosemite Winter Club organizes hockey games and figure skating lessons for members. In addition, there is a cozy fire pit, perfect for gathering for relaxed conversation and making s’mores while warming toes and fingers after enjoying outdoor ice skating. Ice skates and helmets are available through the rental shop, and you can purchase either a single skating session or a season pass.

Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite Outdoor Ice Skating Rink

Yosemite ice skating at Tenaya Lodge is less well known but equally fun. The Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite ice rink measures 80 feet by 40 feet and has both day and evening Yosemite ice skating sessions. Because the ice rink at Tenaya Lodge is covered under its own pavilion, it remains open in a wider variety of conditions than the Curry Village ice rink. It is easy to add into the day of Yosemite exploration for those staying at Tenaya Lodge, Cottages or Explorer Cabins. You can rent all the needed equipment, as well as order creative food & beverage offerings right on site.

Enjoy a romantic turn around the rink or get the family together for a playful romp. And be sure to cozy up with your loved ones around the outdoor firepit. Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite also offers a children’s sledding hill for kids to disc slide down while parents watch and enjoy the fun!

Young hockey player circles the ice skating rink at Tenaya Lodge.
Enjoy the covered outdoor ice skating rink at Tenaya Lodge.

When Can I Go Ice Skating in Yosemite?

Because these are outdoor rinks, the exact seasonal opening dates are dependent on the conditions being cold enough to build up enough ice for outdoor ice skating. However, both rinks make every effort to be open for the holiday season. Both also offer both daytime and evening Yosemite ice skating sessions so that you can fit this activity around all the other things there are to do in Yosemite in winter. Due to its location and the shade provided by the pavilion, Tenaya Lodge’s ice rink tends to open somewhat earlier and stay open longer.

How About Ice Skating on the Merced River or Other Natural Features?

Once in a blue moon, Yosemite’s natural waterways freeze solid enough for long enough to enjoy outdoor ice skating. However, in general, Yosemite’s relatively mild winter temperatures mean this happens rarely. More often, the Merced River is only partially frozen and the ice is too thin to reliably support the weight of an ice skater. Meanwhile, the consequences of misjudging the thickness of the ice and falling through into the icy water on a cold winter’s day are serious. We definitely recommend enjoying Yosemite ice skating rinks instead.

For more information and all of the updates regarding Yosemite/Mariposa County, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @YosemiteNation.

Categories: Family and Kid Friendly, Outdoor Activities, Winter