Parent Q&A

Yosemite during the pandemic Jun 27, 2020 (9 responses below)
Yosemite - stay in park or outside gate? Jul 6, 2019 (11 responses below)
Yosemite in winter with kids ages 2.5 and 6? Sep 16, 2016 (6 responses below)
  • Yosemite during the pandemic

    (9 replies)

    Has anyone been to Yosemite since it reopened?  We have reservations for late July at Yosemite Valley Lodge and are trying to decide whether to go or cancel.  We have never been to Yosemite so this would be our first time to experience Yosemite Valley.  We have two kids aged 4 and 9.  We are also about to move out of state so this may be our last chance to go when the trip is fairly easy logistics-wise.  However, we're wondering if it's worth it to go now with all of the restrictions in place.  The shuttle around the Valley is closed, it seems that the ranger program and most museum/educational buildings are closed, we would have to wear masks everywhere, etc.  We want to rent bikes, but I'm worried about them being disinfected.  Same with common areas in the hotel and using public restrooms around the park.  Any thoughts/opinions?  For those who have been there, how restrictive and/or safe does everything feel?  Thank you!

    RE: Yosemite during the pandemic ()

    Oh, definitely cancel, and then transfer your reservations to me!

    In all seriousness, I don't think you'll ever have a better opportunity in Yosemite. With the restrictions on travel to the Park it's going to be amazing compared to the usual summer crowds. Disinfecting bikes? What on earth do you intend to do with them? Just keep your 4-yo from licking them too much :) !! It's too bad about the museums and visitor centers but there is still a lot to see just outdoors.

    We just got back from Lassen and it was fabulous - camping and hiking and swimming. We found that people (park staff, fellow campers, folks in the surrounding communities) were kind, open, generous, and friendly, and we all found ways to maintain appropriate distances. When you see someone approaching on the trail, your group or the other one pulls off at the nearest wide spot on the trail (some people pull up their mask - whatever you're comfortable with), and you pass each other - it's just like driving up one of the narrow roads int eh Berkeley Hills. You will be in a place of wonder and beauty and you will be sharing it with other people who are appreciating one of the most spectacular treasures of nature in the US. I envy you guys - definitely do not give up on Yosemite!

    RE: Yosemite during the pandemic ()

    I haven't been there since the pandemic began, so you can take this with a grain of salt, but I want to say that the opportunity to be in Yosemite Valley when it is operating with limits on its normal number of visitors seems like such an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime chance that you would be crazy to pass it up. Bring your own sanitizing wipes or bleach solution and a rag, and disinfect the rented bikes yourself. Wipe down anything you're worried about. Wear a mask and hold your breath while you go pee in a shared restroom. I think you can find ways to manage the risks when you are in an environment that mostly allows you to be outdoors. The ranger programs are nice, but they aren't really why you go to Yosemite. You're there to just take in the beauty of nature, and you can do that without a museum or ranger-guided activities. If you guys are able to ride bikes, you don't need the shuttle. Ride around, take in the gorgeous views of this very, very special place, and glory in all of it. Do I need to send you some photos of how crowded Yosemite Valley typically is in July?? :) You should go!

    RE: Yosemite during the pandemic ()

    We went to Yosemite three days after it opened. I think it’s an amazing time to go to Yosemite because they’re limiting the amount of cars coming into the park to 1000 cars, where in a typical summer day there was a 6000 car limitation. We stayed in cabins at Evergreen Lodge.   The cabin aspect was nice because you weren’t really indoors with other people and you could order your breakfast or dinner to go and eat outdoors at their picnic tables.  We brought a lot of snacks with us so we wouldn’t be reliant upon food at the park. The market was open but I’m not sure what else will be.  

  • Yosemite - stay in park or outside gate?

    (11 replies)

    Our family is planning our first trip to Yosemite for spring break next year.  We have a nine-year old and a four-year old.  I heard that the park lodging books quickly so I recently made a reservation for a room at the Yosemite Valley Lodge.  We thought about staying in the canvas tents, but decided against it after considering having to use common bathrooms at a busy time of year.  Now I've spent some time reading reviews of the Valley Lodge, and it actually sounds fairly unpleasant - dirty rooms, terrible parking situation, mice in rooms, and bedbugs!  I'm not that picky, and we are used to basic lodging, but for $300 a night this sounds pretty unpleasant.  It seems like for a similar price, we could stay just outside the gate of the park, have a nicer and cleaner room with more amenities and even access to a heated pool.  Although I wanted to avoid a long drive into the park each day, I'm reconsidering.  Would love advice and recommendations!

    We've stayed in Yosemite Lodge, last time about 3 years ago.  Bare bones, but you get the national park experience because you can go to ranger shows and walk to the base of Yosemite Falls and eat in the cafeteria there.  You can walk over to the Ahwahnee Hotel (called now the Majestic or some other name) and get ice cream.  There were no mice or bed bugs when we were there.  We've also stayed in Tenaya Lodge, which has an indoor and an outdoor swimming pool.  I think we just went into the park for 1 day that time.  We've also stayed there and gone snow tubing at Badger Pass.  I think both are nice options.  I think Yosemite Lodge is more fun for your age of kids, probably.  

    We stayed at Yosemite Valley Lodge this past spring break and thought it was fine for the price. It is rustic, but that seemed appropriate for the location. It was clean and functional, though. We did not want to camp given the uncertainty of spring weather, and did not want to stay too far outside the valley. Parking was very easy; I think it is far more problematic if you're staying outside the park and have to deal with the day parking areas, which looked like a zoo with long lines in and out. Once you are in the park, you must bike or take the shuttle bus, so you either park in the day use parking lots each morning if you're staying outside the park, or you park where you are staying and are given a pass for the duration of your visit. We didn't touch our car once we arrived. We did bring bikes, and highly recommend that over the shuttle if your nine-year-old is a bike rider. (They also rent both cruisers and trail-a-bikes for younger kids.) We did not experience any mice or bedbug issues, though frankly I did not think to check for the latter (but hopefully we'd know by now if we'd brought any home!) It is worth noting that the management of all lodging and restaurants in the park turned over to a new company in 2016, and most of the bedbug reports seem to predate that transition. The new concessionaire has been slowly upgrading the park lodging and food, and we thought it was all quite decent (if pricey, but then it is a captive market). There is a close-to-full service grocery store inside the park and with a little planning you can get food there as well if you want to avoid the restaurants (although we liked both the casual spot at the lodge and also the casual spot at the Majestic). We might consider staying at Tenaya Lodge outside the park in the future, but only if we planned to visit Mariposa Grove and other areas on that side of the park--not for the central activities in the valley. I thought Yosemite Valley Lodge was actually a pretty perfect spot to stay for a first visit to Yosemite. Have a great visit whatever you decide!

    That is a tough decision. If it weren't for the mice and bedbugs I would say for your first visit staying in the park is important. There are a lot of great hikes, bike trails, waterfalls etc. and it is nice to be right there with views of El Capitan and Half Dome. It is a 45 minute drive into the Valley from either side. That said, we go every MLK weekend with a big group and stay at Tenaya Lodge. It is a big hotel/resort with indoor heated pool, outdoor pool, restaurant, trails to hike close by and a nice little steam/sauna. If you are going for 3-4 nights you could go into Valley for 1 full day, then do some stuff around the lodge another day, hike to Dewey Point another day (7 miles round trip) with an awesome view of the Valley and not too far of a drive from Tenaya. Another great spot to hit is Glacier Point. You could then hit the Valley again on your drive home by going through the park. Evergreen Lodge on the other side is a fantastic place to stay but more expensive, as is Rush Creek. Both have great amenities and you would not regret staying there and going into Valley 1-2x.Enjoy!

  • We haven't been to Yosemite since the kids were born, and I'm thinking about planning a winter mini-vacation. The recommendations on BPN are from 2010 and before. Does anyone have advice on where to stay and what activities might work well for these ages? We'd prefer rustic over fancy. Thanks!

    We love going to Yosemite in the winter with small kids.  Stay in Yosemite Lodge or the Curry Village cabins: it's not cheap but it's worth it.  We stayed once in the heated tent cabins and we were miserable.  Very difficult to stay warm and to cook, manage food locker and bears, etc.  It's a fantastic experience being in Yosemite when it's full of snow. The kids love looking at it, playing with the snow outside their room, sledding in the Valley, and intertubing or taking beginner ski lessons in Badger Pass (free shuttle from Yosemite Lodge and Curry Village).  At nights, we would go to the Ahwahnee with games and hang out in the Great Hall by the large fireplaces.  You can order a drink and/or burgers from the bar and hang out all evening.  If you want to splurge, the Sunday brunch is fantastic (about $50/person, I think, but kids below 5 used to be free).

    We've been going in winter exclusively, to avoid the crowds! We stay in the town of Ahwahnee @ Homestead Cottages (www.homesteadcottages.com). Nearby Oakhurst has Von's + Raley's, a little movie house w/family fare, and small restaurants (N.B. - mostly fast food joints) if you don't want to cook (we always cook). This is all near the southern entrance to the Park; we often drive in with sandwiches,  (or p/up at Fish Camp Gen'l. Store/Deli) and then "picnic" in the car @ the "Tunnel View" overlook (photo op!); then continue into the valley for hiking to winter water falls, etc. The historic Ahwahnee Hotel (now known as "The Majestic Yosemite Hotel" after a trademark dispute) always has a Santa Claus on a throne before Dec. 25th (check their website). We find buying a little potted or root-ball tree to decorate in the cottage to be charming fun, and make origami decorations (...and we spring for a string of mini-lights, if we forget to bring one from home - these little "pet" trees come home w/us, and get planted in our yard, BTW! :-)  Really fun, low-key, family focused time, w/loads of cards, board games, reading aloud in front of the (gas) fireplace at the cottage, family-made breakfasts, very cozy - and we avoid the insanity of a large, contentious, competitive family back here in the SFBA, trying to out-do one another w/the holiday celebration invites! (Lol)  Enjoy!  :-)

    Book online.  Google yosemite Lodge reservations and I think booking is done thru DNC.  The Lodge has a deal with Badger Pass that if you stay there you can sign up for their "stay and play" pkg where you stay at Yosemite Lodge (rustic) and innertubing, skiing with equip, lift tix and lessons  (at Badger Pass) , ice skating (valley floor) and  valley bus tour all included.  If you go Sun-Thurs, you get the best deal and no one is on the slopes.  Your kids are young, but this is an ideal place to try skiing.  If only a couple of you end up skiing then you can get the daily pass for 2, but then would have to pay for the other two for the bus tour or any other items mentioned above at the retail rate.  The stay and play pkg is very cheap --- $30 for kids and $50 for adults for the daily pass and rooms are around $125 or $150 maybe less. There are a few "family rooms" you can book but indicate party of 5 so they show up as an option. They are bigger rooms with twin beds and a queen.  They book up fast so may not be available.  We used to go in March as it wasnt as cold and Badger Pass still had snow.  Valley floor sometimes did and sometimes did not have snow in March. Badger pass is a 20 min car ride and probably a bit longer bus ride.  We always took our car.  The skiing at Badger Pass does not have a lot of challenging runs so is great for young families.  They have a bunny hill for beginners and if you go during the week it is very likely the group lesson will be just your family.  You can also just stay at the lodge without the daily passes if skiing is not your thing.  Resonable rates in the winter and you wake up to granite walls every morning.  Re the pass, we never used it for the bus  tour or ice skating because we would get to the slopes when they opened and left when they closed.  Regardless of what you do, the kids will have fun just walking around and discovering all the things nature provides (snow, bugs, animals, etc).  Have a great time!

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Visiting Yosemite in Winter Visiting Yosemite in Spring Visiting Yosemite in Summer More Advice about Yosemite

Visiting Yosemite in Winter

Yosemite for Christmas?

Aug 2010

We are thinking about a trip to the snow for Christmas with my extended family (eight adults and four kids) and would like any advice about Yosemite during the holiday season. Is there any type of cabin/house to stay in within a decent drive to the park that has a kitchen? We don't need to all stay in one house but we do need at least one or two kitchens between all of us and a decent place we can gather. Also, what are the crowds like during the holiday season? I'm worried Tahoe may be too crowded and over-priced but would like a beautiful, snowy setting with skiing and other activities for the kids (ages 2-10). I'd love suggestions on specific places to stay, in Yosemite or elsewhere in the mountains. Thanks. dreaming of a white christmas

Let me recommend Long Barn Lodge near Dodge Ridge (the ski area). It is out in the Yosemite direction but both lodging and skiing are very family oriented and much less expensive. Long Barn is the town. The little resort area has cabins and hotel rooms. The largest condo/cabin is very nice -- 2 bedrooms, two baths (the upstairs one with a jacuzzi), and a fold out sofa in the living room. They also have a skating rink there. There are also sledding areas on the way to Dodge Ridge. Call 209-586-3533 or see www.longbarn.com coco

I'm from NY/CT, and my DH took me to Yosemite for my b'day last Dec, (for the snow! ;-) at the charming Homestead Cottages / see: http://www.homesteadcottages.com/ Cindy & Larry were great hosts, and it was a quick drive over to the park each day, and in winter it's comparatively empty, according to those that brave the crowds in summer. We cooked dinner each night, then enjoyed the cozy fireplace. Have fun! --Now hankering for a good Nor'East-er!

We recently stayed at Cedar Lodge. It's 15 miles from the park. We arrived late and our room had plumbing problems, so they put the five of us in this awesome condo-like space that sleeps 12. Upstairs there is a master bedroom with a fireplace, sitting area, and a huge bathroom with a jaccuzi tub. There's also a bedroom with two double beds, a bedroom with a queen bed, and a bathroom. All the rooms have TVs. Downstairs is a living room with a fireplace and a TV, a dining room, kitchen, bathroom, and laundry. The outside has a pool and a hot tub. It's landscaped beautifully, but you won't see that in the winter. It's only about $400 a night, off-season. You better try to book it now, though. Good Luck! Sabina

There are some great cabins for rent in Wawona, just inside the south entrance to the park. All sizes and types. You can check them out on this site: http://www.redwoodsinyosemite.com/book/query.html maia

Lodging Near Badger Pass

Sept 2008

According to tripadvisor, Badger Pass is a great place for novice skiers/snowboarders. I'd like to take my two teenaged sons there this winter but would like to avoid hotels. Usually we rent a house or condo but the choices are few...mostly lodges, etc within Yosemite. Curry village looked okay but they don't have weekday rooms. Any recomendations? Where else is good for beginners? susan

Try googling Yosemite West. This is a development of privately-owned homes very near to Badger Pass - maybe 30 minutes? Many are available for rent. Badger Pass is a great place to learn to ski or board - have fun! Anon

Tahoe/Yosemite rental with 3-4 bedrooms

Jan 2008

We plan to rent a house in North Shore Tahoe or outside of Yosemite with friends within the next two months. We need three to four bedrooms. We'd like a house in clean, good condition, but not ''luxury.'' We'd rather pay a reasonable cleaning fee than spend the last morning vacuuming and washing sinks. We've rented houses on the North Shore before, but none we've especially liked and not for years. We've never rented outside Yosemite, the key would be finding a place fairly close to the entrance. Any tips on specific houses/property management companies would be appreciated. amg

You can rent homes WITHIN Yosemite. There are a couple of private areas where people own houses and rent them out. I have stayed in Yosemite West several times (it is within the park and about a 30 min drive from the Valley; very close to the road up to Badger Pass/Glacier Point). My favorite place we have rented so far is ''Pine Arbor'' though I am not sure if it is big enough for your needs. There is a yosemitewest.com website that lists all the available options. Once when I was looking through vrbo.com, I noticed many other options listed there for rental houses within the park. You might search around on there too. Loves Yosemite so much I got married there

We stayed at a wonderful, reasonably priced vacation rental in Wawona-- it is inside the park (South entrance), walking distance to the Wawona Hotel & small store, near the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees, & about 40min from the Valley (there is a shuttle from the hotel)

It slept 4 adults & 2 kids VERY comfortably-- you could easily get in a few more kids... perhaps more adults who don't need a lot of space...


We have had LOTS of luck with VRBO listings over the years! Virginia, a VRBO lover!!!

Driving to Yosemite in winter

December 2006

We are planning a trip to Badger Ski area in Yosemite in February. We have a minivan which we could buy chains for. Will we be okay with that or should we rent an SUV. We are from the east coast so we know how to drive in snow, I was just not sure how the roads are or how well and quickly they are plowed when it snows. Thanks
New to Yosemite

You'll be fine as long as you have chains and know how to put them on yourself. We've been going skiing in Yosemite for years in our Volvo wagon. Most years we haven't needed to use the chains, but a few times we have, so it pays to be prepared. They'll post signs if you need to be using your chains

You'll be fine. If you're used to driving in snow (I'm a native midwesterner), you will likely be stunned at how bad some Californians are at it. In fairness, they don't have many chances to practice it. But then many seem to think that AWD makes up for that lack of experience, which . . . no. (especially without snow tread tires)

The big advantage of AWD is that in most snow/road conditions, CalTrans permits AWD cars to forego chaining up (in other conditions all cars must chain, so even if you rent an AWD, you'll need to carry chains; check with the rental company). So if you have AWD, you usually get to skip that lovely slog in the slush on the roadside. Practice putting your chains on at home, and see how you find it. If you get cable chains, installation is pretty easy. Personally, in difficult conditions, I'd rather drive a car I'm familiar with, even if it means chain installation.

Check your route and road conditions carefully. Hwy 140 will probably be your best bet in bad weather, because it stays at the lowest altitudes into the park, but it may be slower because of the one-way section (there was a big slide earlier this year that closed the road for a while, and the current bypass around it is only one lane, so it has signal-controlled one-way driving). If the weather is clear and has been for a while, 120 can definitely be faster into the park.

Before you leave, check the CalTrans road condition website at: http://www.caltrans.ca.gov/hq/roadinfo/. It's constantly updated with closures and chain requirements. Once you're on the road, call 1-800-GAS-ROAD, which is the CalTrans info line, same info as the website. Have fun! Loves Yosemite

Anytime during potential snow season (At least September through April) you are required by federal law to carry chains in Yosemit National Park. They will ask you if you have them at the entrance station, and they may ask to see them. We were up there one April in a 4 wd little wagon and really neaeded the chains. But that was on Hwy 120 that goes through Groveland. What I would say is that your van will probably be fine. If it is snowing don't take hwy 120 as it is higher elevation and probably far more exposed to weather from the north. Instead take the road that goes through Mariposa (140). It was closed by a rock slide earlier this year, but is now open. Make sure you check the Caltrans and yosemite national park web pages before you go for info on roads. Once you are in the valley if you are staying there, you can take the shuttle up to Badger Pass. Have a wonderful time. Yosemite is amazing in the winter

We go to Badger Pass several times a year with our children in our Honda Odyssey using chains (actually cables) and it is fine. Always of course call the CalTrans number for road conditions and there is also a number to call for Yosemite road conditions. (check the website which I think is www.nps.gov/yose. Normally the roads into the park from the south and the west (120) are plowed and so is the road to Badger Pass (Glacier Point road). Have fun! Let it snow

We go for a winter trip to Yosemite almost every year. Yosemite generally does not receive heavy snow in the winter. Unless is has snowed in the last 1-2 days before your trip to the park, chances are that the roads in the valley will not have any snow on it. Badger Pass is higher up (7000 ft+), and the road will likely have snow on it, but the Park Service and/or CalTrans does a good job of keeping it groomed - if you have chains on your minivan, you should be fine.

A minivan with chains should be sufficient for Yosemite snow and ice. Much of the road down to the valley is shaded, so it can get icy. This past spring, I drove my minivan with spidertrax (special chains for minivan that are really easy to put on)in Yosemite valley. At the time, chain controls were for the first 13 miles from the gate (Big Oak Flat entrance)- for all cars, trucks, vehicles regardless of 4wd or AWD. Since it is a national park, you need chains for SUVs and other 4WD or AWD! You are required to carry them with you into the park. Have fun! Jennifer

Snowy vacation that is NOT TAHOE

Re: Snowy vacation that is NOT TAHOE (Nov 2005)
GREAT place for small family for snow is Yosemite! Winter is EMPTY and they have fantastic and CHEAP cabins (heated with bathrooms & showers) at Curry Village. The Curry Village restaurant is open and there is plenty of snow for playing. If you'd like, there is even a little downhill ski area, perfect for little ones. Enjoy!

Re: Snowy vacation that is NOT TAHOE (Nov 2005)
I heartily recommend Badger Ski Park at Yosemite. It is within the five-hour limit you have specified, they have a great kids' snow play area, excellent cross-country trails that one can use with either skis or snow shoes, and downhill ski areas as well. You can rent skis or snow shoes and do as much or as little of the trail as you want. But book lodging early (now) because it's pretty popular. Here's a good web site about Badger: http://www.yosemitepark.com/content3col.cfm?SectionID=118=483

Re: Snowy vacation that is NOT TAHOE (Nov 2005)
Check out Badger Pass in Yosemite. We love it. Burr

Tenaya Lodge - Yosemite

Feb 2003

My kids want to go play in the snow and I don't want to deal with the Tahoe traffic. I'm curious if anyone has stayed at the Tenaya Lodge near Yosemite and has any feedback. Is it a long drive? Is Lodge nice? Thanks, Jennifer

If you can afford the lodge (they sometimes have discounts for $99/night, but generally it's double that) then Yes, it's really nice - indoor pool, excellent restaurant, just a couple miles from Yosemite's south entrance (though about 45 minutes from the Valley). It's about a 4 hour drive from the Bay Area, not counting stops. - Vern

I stayed there about 6 years ago -- in the summer. I didn't like it very much. It is south of Yosemite and so it is a longer drive than if you stay at one of the facilities in the valley. I believe it was also very expensive. My mom and I felt like it wasn't the best choice out there. I'd try to stay in the Valley and take the half hourish drive to Badger Pass -- which is a beautiful place to enjoy the snow in Yosemite. Have fun. anon

We visited Tenaya Lodge about 18 months ago. I think the drive was ok, but don't think we'd go back -- it was a little too Holiday Inn-ish for our taste. There are video games in the room which our children were badgering us to play (vs. playing in the snow). There is a nice indoor pool. They also send you a LOT of mail (electronic and postal) soliciting a return visit. -- a mom

Tenaya Lodge is a very nice facility. The only drawback to staying there is that it is about an hour drive to get to the valley floor. So if your plan is to go to the activites down in that region Tenaya Lodge is not the place to stay. Better to rent a place nearer to the valley if that's where you plan to spend your time. If not then go for it, I am sure you'll enjoy it. Juliette

Snow play and skiing in Yosemite

Feb 2003

We would like info and recommendations about snow play in Yosemite. Recommendations already posted are mainly for Lake Tahoe. Specifically info about snowboarding, sledding, skiing and snow shoeing. Where, costs, equipment, tips, etc? All for beginners. We will be there for 3 weeknights in February. Thanks

There is only one ski/snowboard place in Yosemite and that is the Badger Pass Resort up near Wawona and Glacier Point (off of Highway 41 about a 45 minute drive from the valley in the winter). It's quite lovely there and if you like cross country skiing or snow shoeing they also groom the Glacier Point road which is closed to cars in the winter. I'm not sure about sledding spots, but I'm sure you'll find some once you get there.

If you're staying in Yosemite Valley, you can take a free shuttle bus from the valley to Glacier Point. I think it leaves hourly. It's nice to relax and look at the scenery and it definitely cuts down on traffic on the narrow, sometimes icy road.

In the valley, definitely check out the ice skating rink in Curry Village. It's open in the day time and evening. A great place to enjoy the views of the valley rim. There is a nice bonfire area at the ice rink and they sell hot cocoa. Enjoy! candace

Badger Pass has everything you're looking for. Joan

Our family of five just got back from skiing at Yosemite last weekend. Badger Pass is great for beginners, with no lift lines and few ''hot shots'' terrorizing the newbies. There's a tubing hill that's new this year and also cross-country skiing and snowshoe walks which are fun and easy to do. Everything is located at the Badger Pass site. You have to rent the Badger Pass tubes to use the hill, which has a little tow rope that pulls you back to the top. I did see people walking by with plastic sleds and disks but don't know where they were using them.

We came up Hwy 140 into the valley, and there was no snow along the way. It was a great drive, actually. Once we hit the valley there was patchy snow on the valley floor, but it hadn't snowed since December and although beautiful, the snow wasn't more than a foot or two deep at the very most. Up at Badger Pass skiing was ''spring conditions''--again, no snow since December, icy in the morning and slushy in the afternoon. Still, there was enough to keep us amused, and my kids, who are proficient skiers, enjoyed themselves even though the resort is so small. I felt totally safe letting them ski the hill, as you can see pretty much the whole mountain from the day lodge. My husband skiied with my youngest, who's 8 and the most proficient of the bunch; he ran his first NASTAR race course. As I said, it's a great learning hill, whatever your level.

If you're staying in the valley, the shuttle bus to Badger Pass is free and takes about half an hour in good weather with clear road conditions. It was great not having to worry about the drive to and from the ski area. Also, a ski desk located just inside the Yosemite Lodge lets you get your rentals and buy lift tickets the night before--they fit your boots and then transmit all the info to Badger Pass, so when you get to the ski area in the morning, you just walk in the exit of the rental area and your skis, snowboards, boots and poles are all set out and waiting for you. This was an awesome service, but they may only have it on weekends, so check. In the valley itself the snow is scant but there's enough to tramp around in and make (icy) snowballs. Plus, you get world-class scenery.

One caveat about Yosemite in winter--we discovered that all the food services tended to close a good deal before their stated hours. And the cheaper the food, the earlier the place closed. At 7:35 on a Friday night after driving up all afternoon, our options were the Mountain Room and the Ahwahnee. We chose the Mountain Room as it was cheaper but dinner was still 100.00 for a family of five, and that was with kids' menus. You can eat in the bar of the Ahwahnee but there are no kids menus there and a turkey sandwich is 15.00. I kid you not. Bring your own food if you can. There's a reasonably well stocked grocery store in the valley, too.

Enjoy your trip. Hope it snows some this week for you. Beth

Yosemite is great in the winter. We were there last weekend with kids each age from 2-9. Badger Pass is the ski area. There is a free shuttle from the valley. At the pass there are rentals of snow shoes, cross country skiis and downhill skiis and snowboards. Lift tickets are reasonably priced (I forget how much because I didn't ski). Cross country ski trails are free and very nice, some groomed some not. There is also an inner tubing hill for $9 a tube which was great fun with our 2 and 3 year olds. In the valley there is a beuatiful ice scating rink and enough snow(or there was a week ago) to play with a saucer and make a snow fort and snow people. And of course-it's so beautiful there. Have a great time. Rebekah

Badger Pass is set up to be your winter play center from the valley floor. Check out their web site: http://www.yosemitepark.com/html/badgerpass.html You didn't mention crosscountry but it is some of the most beautiful in the world. Robert

Yosemite Valley is at ~4000 feet so snow doesn't usually stay - you have to climb out of the Valley in order to get to snow. But nothing is easier than skiing in Yosemite in the winter -you can just stay in Yosemite valley and can take (free?) shuttles back & forth to the Badger Pass Resort(~45 minutes away). Badger Pass has downhill of all varieties, cross-country track skiing and rentals for everything. Badger is generally thought to be a beginning/intermediate resort and it caters to families. Look at the Yosemite National Parks Concessionaire's website for details on pricing.

You can rent equipment either in the valley or up at Badger Pass. I don't know about snowshoes but I would guess you can rent them too. If you were driving, you could cross-country or snowshoe out of Crane Flat.

It is extremely beautiful and peaceful in Yosemite in the winter. I recommend it highly.

The Yosemite Park website has information on snow activities. There is skiing,snowboarding, and snowtubing (their tubes, for a price) at Badger Pass. No charge for cross country if you have your own equipment, but other activities cost. There is no where to sled near Badger Pass, but there is a snow play area along the road between Crane Flats (near the entrance from Highway 120) and Yosemite Valley. One year when we were staying near the Highway 41 entrance we walked a short way along the (snow covered) road to the Mariposa grove and found a place to sled. Signed: Cynthia

Heated cabins at Curry Village

July 2002

Has anyone stayed in the heated cabins in Yosemite's Curry Village during the winter? Can you recommend them or no? Also, we are thinking of renting a camper this summer for a long trip out to the Midwest. Does anyone out there know of a company that rents campers (preferably camper vans) for longer trips? We saw one company that rents VW Westphalia vans, but they were expensive in our opinion (a little more than $700/week). Maybe someone out there on the list has a camper they'd like to rent? Thanks! Linda

We stayed in the heated cabins at Curry Village in Yosemite with our 4 yr old daughter last February for the tail end of winter. It was great to not be in a hotel and have to be concerned about noise. The cabin was comfortable, if basic, and a big plus for her was the ice rink nearby. The only drawback we found was getting decent food - the food served nearby is pretty dreary fare thats been sitting under heat lamps for hours, or hot dogs fresh out of the microwave. Because of the bears you cannot leave any food at all in your car if it is unattended - they will smash the windows to get to an empty bag of goldfish crackers. So, your best bet is stocking up on snacks and keeping them in your cabin, in a cooler, even though you are not officially supposed to keep food there either. They need Alice Waters to do something about their food offerings. Also, keep in mind that it can be a long slippery hike between cabin and car. Our daughter loved taking the shuttle bus all around the valley - we got off at every stop! kristin

We spend 4 wonderful days in Yosemite during the Christmas vacation. We rented a cabin without bath at Curry Village for the first night and moved to a cabin with bath for the remaining two nights. I made reservations in October for the Christmas vacation and there wasn't much to choose from. I had to be very flexible for the dates...

If you have children, I recommend the cabins with bath. Very convenient when the kids play in the snow all day and need a warm bath to calm down. Also, you don't have to go out to the public bathrooms in the middle of the night. Those cabins are well heated. We had to turn the heat down and open the windows! Curry Village has a cafeteria open during major holidays. The food is good, but it can be a little bit expensive. For 2 adults and 2 children (our son didn't have to pay because he was under 4 years old) expect to pay around $25 for breakfast and $32 for dinner. Bring a cooler and plan your breakfast and lunch if possible. Saves you money. The store has some sandwiches and other goodies, but here again, nothing is cheap.

As for activities, depending if you have children or not and depending their age, you can have fun what ever you do. Of course, you have to go and see the falls. You can rent skates at the Curry Village rink ($3.50) and the admission is $6.50 for adults and $5 for kids. If you want to slide, bring a toboggan or a sled. There is a great spot at the exit of the park on road 120. You can go and ski at Badger pass. But the winning activity for us was...making a snowman! Free and fun!

Check the park's web site at www.yosemitepark.com. You can make on-line reservations and check what is available. As for us, we're already planning for next year... Isabelle

We stayed in the heated cabins in Curry Village in Yosemite this past December. The cabins are small and spartan, but they are warm. The heater in the cabin was blasting when we first arrived, it was great to walk in to a nice, warm cabin. We had a great time. Don't know if there's still snow there, but there was lots of it while we were there, and it snowed twice during our 4-day stay. It was beautiful. We brought our saucers and plastic sleds, and found a sled run within a 5-minute walk from our cabin (saw some other people using it). We went ice skating at the outdoor rink, built snowmen, tromped through snow-covered meadows, hiked to some of the falls, and took the shuttle-bus to the Awahnee for hot chocolate. It was great. The only downside in the winter are the limited food options. Not all of the restaurants are open in the winter. The dining hall at Curry Village itself only offers an all-you-can-eat buffet during the evening dining hours, which we found to be over-priced and not very good food. We preferred going over to the Food Court at Yosemite Lodge, where there was also a ranger program offered in the evenings (history of Yosemite, etc.) colleen

Where to Stay between Christmas and New Years?

Oct 1999

Any recommendations for a reasonable place near enough to visit Yosemite for a few nights between Christmas and New Years? We have an 8 year old and 11 year old. Yosemite accommodations are sold out, though the lodge where the women were murdered is still available, I couldn't bear it. Thanks,

We stayed at the Apple Tree Inn, just a few minutes south of the south gate of Yosemite last November and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was family friendly with family suites, swimming pool and complimentary buffet breakfast. There are two or three units per building, so you feel like you're in a cottage in the woods. It's newly and tastefully constructed and decorated and the price was reasonable, although we were there off-season. There is a fireplace in each room, which was quaint and pleasant, even though they were gas-burning instead of wood-burning. They are in Fish Camp on Highway 41 and the phone number is 1-888-683-5111.

We got reservations at The Redwoods: My husband stayed there on a ski trip this past year and apparently they are beautiful ski-type cottages. We plan to eat thanksgiving dinner at the tenaya lodge, which also has some lodging. You can look at the Redwoods web page at: http://www.yosemite.com/http/business/yos0005.htm and Tenaya Lodge at: http://www.tenayalodge.com

I don't know about Christmas, but we were able to get Thanksgiving reservations as recently as two weeks ago. Myriam

I've been to Yosemite off and on the last 25 years and have never had to get reservations outside the park. The trick I've learned over the years is not to write it off even around the businest times. I've learned that many people tend to cancel reservations the closer it gets to the time they have to be there. I like the Lodge and the Curry Camp ground cabins, they're very nice. Try calling them about 2 1/2 weeks before the time you want and ask for any cancellations. And then keep calling everyday after that. Margo

We've stayed several times at The Redwoods, a group of rental cottages in Wawona at the Southern end of the park (near the Wawona Hotel). It has always worked out very well for us. The prices seem reasonable (many between $120-$150 per night) considering that you get a fully furnished cottage with a bedroom or two, fireplace with firewood, fully equipped kitchen and at least one bathroom. While you might get a motel room cheaper, you save on food, so we figure it works out close to even. It's great for us with the kids (2 and 4) since we can take nice nature walks right the front door! The Chilnualna Falls trail starts there, and climbs up along a lovely waterfall and creek valley. There's also a small store there in case you forget anything, and while it's a bit pricey, they cater to the whims and palates of Bay Area tourists.

Wawona is about a half-hour drive from the Valley, but frankly, every time we try driving there, the kids aremore interested in the sticks and bugs at their feet than the stunning views of Half Dome. Oh well, maybe in a few more years... ; )

You can The Redwoods on the web at http://www.redwoodsguestcottages.com Debbie

Visiting Yosemite in Spring

Yosemite during Spring Break?

Feb 2008

I am feeling really derelict about living in California for so long and never taking my kids to Yosemite. Is it crazy to go there during Spring Break? Is it too late to get decent lodging? Will it be cold? Can you hike Vernal Falls without freezing or slipping? How do you deal with food? What is a must-see and what do you avoid? BTW, my kids are 13, 11 and 9, and pretty intrepid hikers. Any advice is much appreciated since the archives mostly had info about winter. Thanks BPN community! --Derelict Mama

Definitely go! There are lots of places to stay within Yosemite that are not necessarily official park lodging. Google ''Foresta'' and ''Yosemite West'' to find listing for cabins that are within the park boundary but privately owned. Try also www.vrbo.com for Yosemite.

We have three children, 9,12, and 15 and we go to Yosemite often. Spring will be beautiful. Falls will be roaring with all this rain/snow. You can do Vernal Falls but will get wet. Take cheapo packable ponchos and wear them on the steps next to the falls. We did it for the first time when our youngest was 5 and he did fine. Only caution, at the top it is very easy for a curious kid to easily get too close to the edge - get ahead of them!

Other great hikes/partial hikes - go to Glacier Point and hike part way down the 4 1/2 mile all downhil trail - fabulous views. You can also take the bus to Glacier Point (about $20 each?) and then hike the whole way down - leaving your car near the trail head. But it is ALL downhill - takes half a day. Mirror Lake is great; renting bikes in the valley is very fun. Weather should be good but of course, very changeable - take layers. To avoid crowds, take day trips up the higher country, around Lake Tenaya (assuming 395 is open that far.)

If you rent a house, you can do some cooking there - try to bring groceries. Store in Yosemite Village isn't too bad. Breakfast and lunch at the Ahwahnee are great fun and not as big a splurge as dinner there. Camp Curry has several eating options as does Yosemite Village area. Yosemite lover

Go on the web site and see if anything is available for your dates, and keep checking every day (or more) for cancellations. OR get a room or two at a place outside of the park, and any of the roads that lead into the park. You may good advice on places outside the park if you go to the US talk page for Fodors.com, or if you go to tripAdvisor.

If you go into the Park in April or earlier, you will need to have chains with you. It is a federal law so don't try to buck it. Also, it does sometimes snow in April and sometimes very heavily (I was there for one, I know), and the Forest Service does not always plow their share of Hwy 120 well. It may be cold. It may be warm. It will always be amazing no matter what!. For food, we take some up but put it in the Bear proof lockers. We also buy some at the cafeteria at Curry or at Yosemite lodge. It isn't cheap, but, oh well. If you are in teh Valley, get out for walks when it is less crowded, before breakfast. Whether or not you stay in the Valley, it is best to park in a lot and take the free shuttle buses around. If you have time to hike up to the Mariposa Grove of sequoias, do so. In the Spring before the tram runs, it is much quieter. A great time to be there. Also, staying at the Wawona lodge in the park is a nice alternative to staying in the valley. it is about a 45 minute or 1 hour drive to the Valley from there. Not bad at all. If you plan to be there on a Sunday, call ahead to make reservations (as soon as you know you are going) for the pricey but unforgettable brunch at the Awahnee. Wow. It's like the dining hall at Hogwarts mixed with Great Lodge decor, and the food IS good. Anon Wanna Be Valley Rat

Yosemite in April

March 2003

My family is considering a trip to Yosemite the first weekend in April. It turns out that all winter-related activities will be over by then--no skiing, tubing, ice skating etc. Are there activities that time of year that a 6 year-old would enjoy? The reservations clerk I spoke to suggested the 2 hour valley bus tour (not so sure how much my daughter would enjoy that), hikes and bike riding. Other ideas? Thanks. Debbie

Yosemite is April is a great idea!! Consider a ranger-lead walk/hike. Definately bring bikes - there are bike trails throughout the valley. Waterfalls should be beautiful and most are easy to get to - walking or biking. Enjoy!

My favorite memories of Yosemite when I was little was of horseback riding with my family. You can go through streams and meadows and take in all the lovely sites. You can sign up for guided horseback rides of 2 hours, 1/2 day and full day. Here is a link with more information: http://www.yosemiteparktours.com/summer/activities_horseback_rid ing.htm Really wonderful if your daughter is ready for horses!

Visiting Yosemite in Summer

Cabins in Tuolumne Meadows with a toddler

Dec 2008

I love the tent cabins at Tuolumne Meadows and for many years went every summer. Now I have a little boy I want to introduce to the wonders of Yosemite. Those of you who have tried this with a toddler, what would you say is the minimum age? This would be in June, when it is still pretty cold. How old is old enough to not have to be constantly stressed out he is going to hurt himself? I also don't want to impinge on anyone else's enjoyment if he wakes up during the night. I don't anticipate we would do too much hiking. Is two old enough or should I wait? Any suggestions from those of you who have done this would be seriously welcome. love Tuolumne Meadows

We camped at Whitewolf in Yosemite with our two-year-old twins (it was the first time we went camping with them). We were not prepared for the cold at all (we've since become better prepared) so they were pretty cranky wandering around the campsite in the a.m. They slept fine at night even with the cold, unlike my husband and myself! Other than that it was great and was the first of many many camping adventures we've taken with our kids.

You didn't say how old your toddler is, but I would think a 2 year old would be fine -- I don't know about younger just because I never did it.

One tip: keep a training potty in the tent cabin with you so you don't have to get up and troop off to the bathroom all the time. Well, you still do, to dump it, but at least you don't have to worry about 'making' it in time. Erin

Where to camp in Yosemite

March 2008

I would like to know where the best place to camp in Yosemite Valley is. We have 3 children, 6, 4 and 1. We are thinking Tuolumne, but is the Upper or Lower Pines better? Or is there a better campsite in Yosemite. We are looking for somewhere close to the water, close to the bathroom and has running water. Thanks in advance for your help. Wannabe Yosemite Campers

Hi campers We went in May just before Memorial day and it was great with very full water falls. We were unable to get camping in the regular campgrounds through the reservation system on line--all the spots are grabbed up very fast, I think they are released 5 months prior. We ended up at Housekeeping Camp and enjoyed the place, and there were many families with kids. It's a notch up from regular camping--they furnish an enclosure and matresses and electric plugs and a light, and there is a laundry and showers on the site. You can also get a cancelled regular camp spot at the campground reservation office near Camp Curry. Have fun! Yosemite fan

Camping in Yosemite in August

June 2007

The time i can take off for vacation has changed so I have to find new vacation plans for the 3rd week of august. I was hoping to find camping at Sugarpine State park or one of the campsites (not curry village) in Yosemite Valley during this week. of course these are all booked up. Does anyone have any experience getting last minute reservations at these places. Any other recommendations for places to go camping that would be fun for a 4 and 6 year old (long hikes are out of the question and I need to be able to cook food). Looking for suggestions, ideas and inspiration.
desperate camper

Try Fallen Leaf Campground which is right near Camp Richardson. It's a National Forest campground with all teh same stuff and they even have good ranger programs at night at a beautiful new ampitheater on the Lake Tahoe side of the street. A short path takes you right to Fallen Leaf Lake which is big and beautiful and a bit quieter than at the state park.

There are great campsites in Yosemite that don't take reservations and since you're staying for a week, as long as you don't arrive on friday or saturday (rather sunday or monday) just hang out in the campground until someone clears out and it's yours for the week. We love these because they are SO much quieter than the big ones. Downside (to some) is they don't have all the ammenities. frequent camper

Camping in Yosemite

June 2004

I'd like to take my children (ages 8 and 10) camping this summer in Yosemite and Tahoe. Can you recommend the best places to camp? We're not ready for backpacking yet, so I would need the kind of campground where you drive in. In Tahoe, my goal is to be near a sandy beach (are there any camp grounds within walking distance of Lake Tahoe??). In Yosemite, my main goal is to see Half Dome with as little driving in the park as possible. Thanks for any recommendations. - eager camper

In Yosemite, the most obvious place for you to camp is right in the valley. Just call the park and tell them what you're looking for, but do it soon, the valley campsites fill up VERY quickly for summer. Have fun

June 2003

Hi, we are going camping for the first time with our 4 year old. Do you know any campgrounds near Yosemite with running water toilets and possibly showers? It seems that finding space inside Yosemite this time of the year is next to impossible. Thank you! Laura

Take a look at ''California Camping'' by Tom Stienstra. It lists and describes many campgrounds in the general area where you want to go. Katy

My experience is that if you are tenacious, you can get lodging in Yosemite Valley. Their cancellation policy is: if you cancel up to three days before your arrival, you get a full refund--so people do cancel three days before their scheduled trip.

If you keep calling (559) 252-4848 or go online (google search: Yosemite Reservations), you will most likely be able to secure some lodging in the valley. My family got two beautiful rooms (overlooking blooming dogwood) at the Lodge over Memorial Day weekend by calling every day for the week before. The Lodge or Curry Cabins (with bath)are both nice options. Good luck! Linda Williams

In order to get more info. aboaut camping outside Yosemite go to Yosemite.com or NPS.gov (national park service). Click around on that website for camping outside Yosemite Valley. If you can camp during the week your chances for a reservation increase and if you can wait until early September, you can probably get into Yosemite itself. This will be our third year going to Yosemite's Tuolomne Meadows and I literally call the first day that is designated to make a reservation for the dates I want (5 months in advance). It is part of my routine now as I have learned the system. Do you have to go to Yosemite? There are some nice camp grounds in Lake Tahoe. There are some California campground books that can be helpful too. Good Luck. Remember, generally Yosemite camping reservations for the summer require a 5 month advance camp reservation call. Good Luck! Happy Camper

Summer trip to Tahoe or Yosemite

June 2004

RE: Summer trip to Tahoe or Yosemite
We are doing the same thing next week (6 adults, 1 kid) and were able to find what looks like really nice lodging for a very reasonable price.

http://www.idiom.com/~slbrown/cabin/ Where we're staying while in Yosemite: it's at 5500' so should be cool, 3BR 2BA can sleep up to 10, has a full all-electric kitchen, linen service if desired. It's not luxury living but fits our needs well.

http://www.evergreenlodge.com/cabins.html (another option)

Not sure of your Yosemite options if you need lodging where you can cook meals as well. But for both Tahoe and Yosemite lodging, you might try Vacation Rentals by Owner -- a website by which private owners list and rent their vacation properties, sometimes for a great price because they cut out the middleman/property management company. Check out www.vrbo.com and select geographically.

Bass Lake

Re: Kid-friendly cabin near a lake May 2003
Bass Lake is about a 3-1/2 hour drive from the Bay Area; 15 miles south of the southern entrance to Yosemite. It is a beautiful lake, great for swimming. It is popular with waterskiiers. You could look at basslakerealty.com for rentals. We rent our cabin through them. It is kid friendly for older kids who can be on their own - i.e. it's not fenced, and near a hill. ellen

More Advice about Yosemite

Yosemite Lodging, Dog Friendly

May 2003

We are seeking dog friendly lodgings for a trip to Yosemite. The website doesn't have info on this. Please let me know if you have a cabin or know of a cabin where dogs are allowed. Our dog is well-behaved, female, 30 pounds, 3 years old, has her vaccinations, is on Frontline to prevent fleas and ticks, clean, does not have doggie odor, is an inside dog, and is potty trained to go outside. We always pick up after her. She is crate-trained, however we don't keep her in the crate for more than 2 hours, so basically she is with us all the time. hana

You might try the Redwoods in Wawona a few miles inside the South Gate. Rustic but serviceable. You have to schlep down into the valley each day, but we didn't find it that much of a hassle. Website indicates that some of their cabin owners allow pets. Check them out at http://www.redwoodsinyosemite.com/ norm

I don't have a recommendation but I would like to remind you that in Yosemite dogs are not allowed on hiking trails (not even on a leash). Are you really sure you want to take your dog to Yosemite? You would either have to leave him in your room/cabin or stay on the road and the parking lots if you take him with you. Ina

Take the train to Yosemite!

From: Holliday

A few years back my daughter and I took a weekend trip to Yosemite in winter. We boarded Amtrak in Emeryville and rode the train to Merced. From Merced a cushy tour bus takes you up to Yosemite. We had great fun playing in the snow, visiting various parts of the park, and ice skating outdoors was really fun, too. Call the park for info.