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Yosemite Mariposa County: Above the Fog, Below the Snow

Yosemite Mariposa County’s pivotal role in the Gold Rush helped California earn its moniker as the Golden State. Indeed, a glint of gold in your pan is nice, but locals know that there is another color in the mix when it comes to true Cali vibe: grey.

Most Californians live in fog for part of the year. Whether it’s coastal or valley, fog’s fifty shades of grey can be romantic for a spell but soul sapping after days or weeks of it. There’s an easy way out. Elevate! Above the fog and below the snow, Yosemite Mariposa is your year-round, fog-lifting destination.

Four-Season Sweet Spot

Mariposa County brings that sun-kissed energy in every season. With a temperate climate and easy-drive proximity, Yosemite Mariposa is the ideal fog get-a-way. Let’s take a spin around the seasons to see why.

Winter

Child playing in the snow

Enjoy some sunshine and snow play during the winter months.

Winter in Yosemite can be mystical. The snowline is generally near the national park’s western edge, making it an easy drive in from below-the-snow cities and towns in Mariposa County. Yes, we’re talking day trip distance, for a quick sledding run to Goat Meadow or a ski day to Badger Pass Ski Area (Badger Pass is currently closed for the ’21 season but look for a grand reopening in December 2021).

Another snowy day trip option is the Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias, with many well-maintained trails among the stately behemoths (Yosemite National Park admission required). It’s only a two-mile out and back walk to visit these towering giants, their auburn bark framed by cobalt sky. Snowshoes will always make your approach easier when fresh snow is present.

If a snow day isn’t for you, not to fret because being above the fog and below the snow means that you don’t have to deal with any wet white stuff. Mariposa County’s towns like Coulterville, and of course, Mariposa, usually sit below the snow line. Each town is home to its own great locally-run and supplied shops. Outstanding restaurants a littered about the county offering options ranging from homemade Italian food, to BBQ to traditional American fare.

Stockton Creek

Enjoy beautiful scenery and open skies on hiking trails in Stockton Creek Preserve in Mariposa.

Some sans-snow hikes are available as well like the Stockton Creek Preserve in Mariposa, the Merced River Trail from the Briceburg Recreation Area west towards McCabe Flat and Hite Cove Trail.

Getting away for the day is made so simple in Mariposa County.

Spring

Group of hikers at Hites Cove during spring

Enjoy the flowers and spring scenery at destination hiking locations like Hites Cove.

Spring brings bonus splendor with wildflowers popping and nature surging everywhere. Waterfalls peak in spring as snowmelt thunders down the granite walls of Yosemite Valley. The aquatic roar of Yosemite Falls, ethereal beauty of Bridalveil Fall and epic Mist Trail are top draws, but there are dozens more to enjoy. Flow is full-throttle from April through June (just when summer fog is forming at lower elevations). Sierra sage John Muir described the season as “glorious exuberant extravagance – chances are you will wax poetic as well.

Summer

Boy swimming in the merced river

Clear waters and clear skies make for perfect swimming conditions in the Merced River.

When coastal Californians are enduring consecutive summer days of hazy marine layer, Yosemite Mariposa is basking in summer’s high-def sunlight. Sure, sunshine’s natural Vitamin D infusion can send the mercury soaring at lower elevations, but that’s where water and local libations come in. There’s rafting on the Wild & Scenic Merced River, swimming holes all around, and craft beer tapping in town.

Long summer days turn into starry summer nights, and Yosemite Mariposa hosts celestial shows nightly. The naturally dark local sky and crystal-clear air bring out the best of the cosmos bling! And, stargazers here need not worry about whether low-ceiling fog will obscure the night sky.

Fall

Autumn scenery and Half Dome in Yosemite

Yosemite is at her most beautiful with sunlight coming through rose and golden leaves. Photo: Aaron Sauma

Fall is prime time to visit Yosemite. With the back-to-school drop in national park visitation, milder temperatures, brilliant palette of fall colors and full access to every corner of the park from all gateways, autumn is prime time to make your move. Hiking is in season, from the foothills to the timber line!

The Perfect Fog Getaway

Mariposa County is located approximately 200 miles east of San Francisco and 300 miles northwest of Los Angeles, making it highly accessible for most Californians. Time your drive right, and you might even experience that exhilarating moment when you break through the fog to blue-sky horizon. Hello sunglasses! Clearly, Yosemite Mariposa’s excellent overnight options will make extending your “fogetaway” several days or more an inviting proposition.

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