Yosemite Natl. Park: Off-Season Beauty Worth Discovering

  • View on Yosemite Valley, with El Capitan and Half Dome

    Yosemite Valley, Awe-Inspiring Any Time of the Year

    If you are a first-time visitor to Yosemite National Park, there is probably no greater "wow" moment than popping out of the mile-long tunnel on Route 41 and coming face-to-face with the Yosemite Valley in all its glory. The vista at Tunnel View turnout is magical any time of the year, but in late fall and winter, clear blue skies and snow-capped peaks make this iconic scene a true sight to behold. 

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • The Ahwahnee, a National Historic Landmark and AAA Four-Diamond Hotel

    The Ahwahnee Hotel Shimmers in Winter Splendor

    With its rustic architecture featuring Native American and Arts & Crafts design elements, The Ahwahnee has been welcoming guests since its opening in 1927. Each winter the hotel hosts Chefs' Holidays culinary events where the nation's best chefs convene to feature their cuisine. The Bracebridge Dinner, a dining and theatrical extravaganza now in its 87th year, transforms the dining hall into a 17th-Century English manor on select dates in December.

    Photo courtesy of Kristal Leonard, DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite

  • Reflection in pool at Swinging Bridge, Yosemite Valley

    A Time for Reflection

    When the atmosphere and sun angle are just right, which happens often in fall and winter, Yosemite's massive cliffs create reflections in the valley lakes that seem almost surreal when you are standing at the water's edge.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • View on Half Dome from Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park

    Yosemite's Half Dome, A Sheer Cliff of Granite

    An excellent view of one of the park's most famous landmarks, Half Dome, is from Glacier Point. The 17-mile road to this lookout can be closed because of snow, but if you are lucky, you will gain entry and have a bird's eye view of this natural wonder. At 8,842 feet above sea level, Half Dome's western face is a sheer cliff of granite. Visitors from around the world convene here year-round to marvel at Half Dome's distinctive form.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • The Grizzly Giant, Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias

    Mariposa Grove, A Cathedral of Giant Sequoias

    A visit to the Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias at the south entrance of the park is a humbling experience. You'll stand among these towering giants, some with trunks 40 feet in diameter and limbs the size of mature pine trees. The Mariposa Grove, largest of the three sequoia groves in Yosemite, is home to the Grizzly Giant, estimated to be 1,800 years old. The cathedral-like stillness that surrounds the grove inspires reverence any time of the year.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • Roadside view of a mule deer buck

    View Wildlife in a Natural Habitat

    Yosemite is home to many species of wildlife, and it is quite common to see herds of mule deer grazing along the road. A healthy population of black bear is present in the park, as are coyote, fox, and even the elusive mountain lion. The park's craggy cliffs and vast canyons provide an ideal habitat for the once-endangered peregrine falcon, the world's fastest bird when in its hunting dive at 200+ mph.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • Explore Yosemite's Nearby Communities

    Sunsets come early to Yosemite and its surrounding communities in winter, but the play of the setting sun's rays on the landscape and clouds create magical photo opportunities. The community of Bass Lake, located just outside Yosemite National Park, beckons with its scenic hiking trails and hundreds of miles of winter cross-country skiing opportunities. For some day trip options outside the park, explore historic gold-rush towns such as Mariposa, Coulterville, and Hornitos.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • Biking is a fun way to explore Yosemite Valley.

    Hop on a Bike for the Ride of Your Life

    Biking takes on a whole new perspective in Yosemite National Park, with jaw-dropping vistas at every bend. Twelve miles of paved bike trails allow traffic-free travel to most places within the eastern end of Yosemite Valley. Bike rentals are available at several locations in Yosemite Village.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • Ansel Adams Gallery, Yosemite Village

    Discover Unique Gifts in Yosemite's Specialty Shops

    You might not think of Yosemite National Park as a shopping mecca, but the park is laced with visitor centers offering tasteful mementos of your visit. High-end gifts can be found at The Ahwahnee hotel's gift store, as well as at the Ansel Adams Gallery. Open year-round, the gallery offers the most complete selection of Ansel Adams original photographs and reproductions in the world. 

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • View of Yosemite Falls from the valley floor

    Yosemite Falls, A Breathtaking View in Any Season

    Although spring is the season to admire Yosemite Falls when water flow is at its peak, the winter view on the falls is still awe-inspiring. The tallest of the Park's waterfalls, Yosemite plunges some 2,425 feet at various levels, giving it the distinction of being the largest series of falls in North America.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona