Feb. 2 to 4, 2018, TWENTYEIGHTH ANNUAL Yosemite Valley Winter Camping trip.
You r-e-a-l-l-y need to read all this material before you come to sign up.
For 2018 we are expanding the overnight possibilities. By popular demand, we will encourage people to not only consider camping overnight, but for those without cold weather camping gear (or who just want to be more comfortable) spending a bit more on a wood-floored, canvas roofed/sided (heated!) tent cabin walking distance from the campground. More on this will be here closer to the trip.
2017 photos are at snow camp 2017
This page will be updated closer to the date of the 2018 trip, but lots of it will stay the same.
(First photo below courtesy of the park service.)
Usually one of our biggest trips. Rain? Snow? Sleet? Sunshine? Raccoons (quite possibly IN the tents if people are not careful about snacks in daypacks), Coyotes! Campfires! Night hikes, early morning hikes, long hikes to viewpoints above the valley or to the top of one of the tallest waterfalls in the world, snowboarding/skiing (lessons and/or rentals), Ranger nature walks, Ranger snowshoe walks, photo walk with a professional photographer, ice skating, snow sculpture building.
Because we are in a campground with heated restrooms, showers nearby, restaurants to bail to if cooking out doesn’t work, and 24 hour in-the-park ambulance service, this isn’t a true wilderness adventure.
But we have had someone on almost every trip who has never been in the snow or never been camping before (or even both),
so for them it meets all definitions of an adventure.
(So they’ve never been in a snowball fight, either. Okay, yes, all activities are optional, including snowball fights.)
The new friends in these group photos at the end of previous winter Yosemite trips were mostly strangers when the trip started.
2008 Oops, no group photo: De Anza Outdoor Club Yosemite snow camp 2008
Who’s going? / How Much?
We have had small and large groups (as many as 30 or 40 IF people sign up early and spread the word).
We always have return campers with experience on the trip and often have people who have never been camping and/or have never been in the snow. In 2015 and 2016 there was an EMT going on the trip, and on the 2017 trip we have a student who has passed all his EMT classes and only needs to take the national test.
Every year hordes of people say they are going but do not sign up.
You don’t have to be a club member to go camping with us, just a De Anza student (or most faculty/staff), but members pay less for club events. Membership is $15 or $30 for 365 days. ($15 if you already have all the camping equipment you need, $30 if you want to rent a bunch of gear for club trips from us.) Reasons why you should become a member are at: Membership benefits
2017 Campsite cost for two nights for Outdoor club members ranges from $12 to $26 per person. Non-club members pay $10 extra. The cost depends mostly on parking space needs since the sites hold six people but only two cars (free day-use parking is a short walk or a free daytime bus ride).
Here is the 2017 price breakdown for members, other students add $10.
(Membership is $15 for 365 days, and you get free equipment rental with an additional $15.
The club owns great winter tents and insulating sleeping pads.)
(Take $3 off the price if you sign up early during fall quarter.)
$26 –drive by yourself and want a parking space AT the campsite
(no problem–you just pay more)
$16 per person–for two people, one car in a campsite parking space
$12 per person–for three or more people, one car in a campsite parking space or for any
number of people who will drop off their gear at the site and park at day use.
p.s. We will not make arrangements for motor homes, and no pets are allowed on our trips.
We will try to get all the campsites in a row together. We might be able to email people with their site assignment, but if not, by 2 p.m. Friday we will post a notice with which campsite you should park in, or drop your gear off at, on the bulletin board on the right just past the campground entrance kiosk (see just beyond the stop sign in this photo, in the photo the bulletin board looks much smaller than it is) :
How to do it info:
For a list of required equipment (and another list of the things you might really wish you had) as well as menu advice, and a discussion of what to look for in long-johns, fabrics and rain gear, go to: Snow or rain camp must-haves To go on our trip you must read the must haves list and follow it. On a budget? We do shopping surveys and list the cheapest places to buy the needed gear, often at half the price of higher priced camping gear stores, as well as rentals of snow boots/jackets/pants and tents/really good sleeping bags/insulated sleeping pads.
How many people can you fit in an eight person tent?
For info on the logistics of where to pitch your tent, dealing with iced car door locks, staying warm and comfy overnight and more, go to: First-timer’s instructions .
This National Park Service photo shows a coyote going after a meal under the snow. There WILL BE coyotes and raccoons, if not bears, in the campground. We’ve seen them every time of the day and night and heard them singing overnight. People on previous trips have made lots of mistakes about food storage and dealing with animals. PLUS When any De Anza club camps as a group we face this problem: Someone in a nearby campsite will expect the worst (noise, etc.) from an obviously college-age group. And they will be quick to complain about any rule infraction (some of which carry heavy fines). To go on our trip you must read A problem and its solution
! ! ! ! Tent walls are thin. You can wake up everybody in the vicinity ! ! ! ! when you want to get into your car and you use the keyless (remote) door opener and the car makes the usual loud beep. People don’t think to just use the key to open the door or don’t know that if you look in the owner’s manual you can find a way to disable the beep. On De Anza Outdoor Club trips you are required to either disable the beep or not use the remote (remove it from your key chain during the trip) or park at day use instead of at the campground.
Some vehicles have a beep activated whenever you open the trunk, that can’t be easily disabled. Every time the trunk is opened it beeps and it will wake up people on our trip and in neighboring campsites. If your vehicle has this function, either look in the owner’s manual for info on how to disable the beep or take it to the dealer and get it done, or do not park it at our campground. This advice and lots more is at: A problem and its solution
We could have 1 1/2 foot deep snow in the campground or very-early-spring type weather with only a little snow on the ground. We could have to deal with the Mono winds. You might encounter hazards on trails. It might snow or rain while we are there, or the sky could be clear of clouds and we can see the Milky Way. To go on this trip you must read: Snow camp weather, hike safety and first aid considerations
What is there to do on this trip?
On Saturday, some people on this trip will take the free bus http://www.travelyosemite.com/media/610220/yssa-shuttle-schedule_2017.pdf
to the ski resort to snowboard, ski or snowshoe. (In 2014 the weather brought the skiers fresh powder that morning.) They offer snowboard or ski (downhill or cross-country) lessons/rentals at the resort and a Ranger guided snowshoe walk. Most years, depending on snow pack on the trails, usually more people will do a major hike, like the one to the top of or the base of upper Yosemite Falls. (There’s a different free bus to the trailhead.) Others will do a few short hikes or a Ranger nature or history walk, photo walk with a professional photographer or go ice skating. (Free bus to those places, too.) Some will try to fit in working on a term paper on a laptop.
Yosemite Falls Hike
Below is a Park Service photo of upper Yosemite Falls with the winter snow cone at its base. The potential Saturday hike, if the trail is clear enough, can get us quite close for photos.
The hike part way, to an overlook at Columbia Rock, is 2 miles round trip with a 1,000 foot elevation gain and is often quite clear of snow. The hike to the top is 7.2 miles round trip with a 2,700 foot elevation gain. You can hike any distance you choose, as long as you stay with a group.
The section of the upper Yosemite Falls trail near the top, as shown below, has a lot of snow some years, which is part of the reason we expect people to hike in groups of four or more if they go above the valley floor. That way if someone gets into trouble, there is someone to stay with them while two others go back for help. The Park Service has reported about people who went off trail on the Yosemite falls hike, went to an unsafe area and died. Did you read Snow camp weather, hike safety and first aid considerations ?
More pictures and a map of this hike are at Upper Yosemite Fall hike .
There are nearly 350 miles of cross-country skiable trails and roads in Yosemite including 25 miles of machine groomed track and 90 miles of marked trails (no fee) that begin at the Yosemite Ski and Snow area (Badger Pass). Very near Badger Pass there are some relatively short trails to scenic points and some nearly level machine groomed track for beginners. The road to Glacier Point is groomed for cross country skiing in the winter. The mileages from Yosemite Ski and Snow area (Badger Pass) are:
Summit Meadow, 1 mi. (There is usually an operational outhouse there.)
Bridalveil Campground, 2.8 mi.
Bridalveil Creek, 3.3 mi.
Ostrander Trailhead, 4.1-4.5 mi.
Clark Range View, 5.7 mi.
Sentinel Dome, 9.2 mi.
Glacier Point, 10.5 mi.
Only very experienced skiers should attempt the route to Glacier Point.
Signed winter trails (no fee) are also available at Crane Flat, in the backcountry and among the Giant Sequoias of the Mariposa Grove.
Brochures (including maps) of cross country ski and snowshoe winter trails are available as PDF files: (200-500 kb in size).
Badger Pass and along the Glacier Point Road
Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias
Crane Flat area
If snow is late in coming to the park, the Nordic Center sometimes opens for cross-country and snowshoe rentals before the Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area (Badger Pass) for downhill, snowboarding and tubing. Some days there has been too much snow and the resort closes for a few days (mid- January 2017, for example).
The two terrain parks have boxes, rails, rollers and big-air jumps.
Adult (over 17) all day $47, half day $40, lower lifts $30
Senior (65 and older) all day $42, half day $35, lower lifts $27 (free midweek non-holiday)
one ride ticket $5.50/lower $5
Lifts operate from 9am to 4pm (Half-Day is noon to 4pm)
Guaranteed learn to ski/snowboard lessons with rentals, no reservations required $95. (Intro lesson $80.)
Call 1 (209) 372-1000 for ski conditions.
They used to have college student half-off deals on learn to ski and/or lift tickets (MUST bring student ID and proof of FULL-TIME enrollment. Hmmmm, as of Oct. 2016 they don’t define exactly what full time means to them, or what they consider proof. As of Jan. 2017, I can’t find the offer on their website anymore.
If you want to rent downhill or snowboard gear you might want to rent it at the Yosemite resort. If you rent gear at home before the trip it could be a waste of money if a storm closes the road to the resort, shuts down power to the ski lifts, closes the resort completely or you decide that the all day hike that day would be more fun.
Snowshoe walk with a Ranger
Conditions permitting, the rangers offer a free (or cheap, suggested, but not required, $5 donation for snowshoe use) daily snowshoe walk (moderate to strenuous) with a Ranger naturalist which meets at the Yosemite Ski area (Badger Pass) Ranger office A-frame.
2017 it was scheduled from 10:30 to 12:30. (Please don’t confuse this with the snowshoe walks/hikes sometimes offered by the Yosemite concessionaire, at a higher price, with signups in advance required.)
The ranger will describe the subniveal space between the surface of the ground and the snow, and the creatures (mice, voles and shrews) that live and travel there all winter.
(Photos below by Monica Colmenares and Richard Neimrec.)
Sometimes the walk ends with an optional snowshoe run:
Free bus to skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing
Road and weather conditions permitting, the free bus to the ski resort for the snowshoeing, skiing and snowboarding leaves Curry Village (two blocks from the campground) at (2017) 8:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. and makes stops at various hotels: Yosemite Village 8:10 and 10:40, Ahwahnee (Majestic) 8:15 and 10:45, Yosemite Lodge 8:30 and 11) arrives at Badger pass approx. 9:30 and 12:05 and returns from the ski resort at 2 and 4 p.m. arriving at Curry Village (again about two blocks from the campground) approx. at 3 and 5:30 p.m. Confirm the return times when you get there. Allow at least one hour from the last pickup stop to get to Badger Pass; one hour for the return to Curry. http://www.travelyosemite.com/media/610220/yssa-shuttle-schedule_2017.pdf
In Yosemite Valley
A free shuttle bus (a different one than the ski/snowshoe walk bus) goes to 17 stops (to stores, restaurants, visitor center, trailheads) in the valley in the winter (early 2017) from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (but check the timetable at each stop) at 10 to 20 to maybe 30 minute intervals. The route, stops and how to find the stores, restaurants, etc. are at: Yosemite Valley free shuttle bus
Visitor Center and bookstore 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Two films play every half hour play in the theater behind the main building. (early 2017 – Mon.- Sat. 9:30 a.m. to (last film) 4:30 p.m. (Sunday first showing at noon). Yosemite – a Gathering of Spirit by Ken Burns shows on the hour and The Spirit of Yosemite a great visitor orientation film with some swooping aerial views along with history and scenes from all seasons and all parts of the park, shows on the half hour. Free.
The Yosemite Museum, next to the main valley visitor center is usually open (early 2017) 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., may close for lunch.
Ice skating info is at:
(1(209)372-8341) Usually more sessions on Saturday, Sunday and holidays than on weekdays. (Free helmet upon request.) Could close during and after rain.
photo below by who?
The Ansel Adams gallery has free photo walks with a professional photographer, weather permitting, at 9 a.m. for 1 1/2 hours Saturdays (early 2017). Both digital and traditional formats welcome. Usually limited to 12 or 15 people. Sign up in advance at the gallery, or sometimes they accept phone reservations, but often they do not take reservations until three or four days in advance. Check with them for the current details. 209 372-4411.
see also: Yosemite winter photos
There are more than 12 miles of surfaced bike paths on the valley floor and the weather is sometimes good enough to ride or rollerblade. (2016 had most of the bike trails safe to ride on, some icy.) A map of bike paths is at: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/biking.htm
When we get early spring weather instead of snowy winter, the bike rental stands are sometimes open.
Listen to the snow fall, listen to coyotes sing, make snow angels…
Yosemite Today / Yosemite Guide newspaper has lots of safety info, a calendar of park activities including Ranger walks, and hours of operation for visitor centers and museums.
Early 2017 these ranger walks met at 2 p.m. for 1 1/2 hours:
Friday: Wildlife, meet in front of the main visitor center, near shuttle stops 5/9
Saturday: Ahwahneechee games and stories, meet in front of the Yosemite Museum, near the main visitor center
Sunday: Wild About Bears (bear sightings are highly unlikely) meet at shuttle stop 5
Evening programs 7 to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (check local postings and/or the Yosemite Guide for topic and location), evening films likely at the Yosemite Valley Lodge hotel Cliff Room
The Yosemite Guide newspaper has hours of operation for tours, stores (early 2017 from 8 a.m. to 7 or 8 p.m.), food service (early 2017 from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 or 8:30 or at one place even 10 p.m.) (Curry Village, a moderate walk from our campsite, very near the shower house, Coffee Corner 7 – 11 a.m. Fri. & Saturdays in February, Pizza deck Sun-Thurs. 5-9 p.m., Saturday noon – 10 in Feb.), laundromat (early 2017, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. at Housekeeping Camp), showers (early 2017, 24 hours at Curry Village), post office, auto service, gas stations (no gas stations in Yosemite valley, fill up before you come into the park, or drive 30 minutes to Crane Flat and hope the self-service pumps are in order) and more.
What if it storms so much they close the road to the ski resort? We won’t be able to ski, go on the ranger snowshoe walk or take one of the long hikes.
Will there be anything to do except hide in the car, play cards at the laundromat or go online at Degnan’s Deli (for a fee)?
The answers are at: Things to do during a Yosemite snow storm besides hiding in your tent
Evenings are spent playing guitar and gossiping around the campfire, playing charades and board games, working on a term paper, skating at the ice rink, if there is enough snow finishing an igloo and sometimes taking night hikes. If it’s slippery footing on a night hike to stargaze, and it probably will be, people often night hike arm-in-arm in groups of four or five.
If it is not cloudy we can see a lot more stars than at home. For the 2017 trip there will be a first quarter moon Friday,
Friday moon set is late, almost 1 a.m., so people who find themselves up in the middle of the night could find great star gazing if it is not cloudy. (sunset 5:29 and end of civil twilight 5:56 p.m.)
Saturday: with 58% of the moon’s visible disk illuminated, setting Saturday, again at almost 1 a.m. (sunset 5:30 and end of civil twilight 5:57 p.m.)
(first four photos below by Colin Underwood.)
This girl was caught studying in the restroom at 5 a.m. on one of our Yosemite winter trips. Why in the restroom? Because it’s heated in the winter and you can save on flashlight batteries. At 5 a.m. it’s quiet except for the coyotes she heard howling in the distance. Lots of people study on our trips, bringing homework, projects and even laptops. Some study in cars on the way to and from the trip. This might not be as effective as studying at home, but you’ve got to get away and have fun sometime!
Sunday after we pack up many people get cleaned up and go to the Sunday brunch at the Ahwahnee (temporarily named Majestic Yosemite) hotel: Outdoor Club winter campers at brunch Some years everyone has gone to brunch. You will need nice clothes for this. At least pack some Friday casual, but some ladies in our group get quite dressed up. Puuuleeeeease, no dirty camping/ski clothes, they might not even let you into the dining room in those.
There is a shower house a short walk (or one bus stop away on the free bus system) from the campground. And in the winter they usually don’t have anyone at the door asking for money. Pictures of it and how to find it are at the YOU WILL WISH YOU HAD section of snow or rain camp must haves
Getting to Yosemite:
The club can’t arrange rides, but people going on our Yosemite road trip have various options of how to get there. For ideas, driving directions and a few pictures of what you will see along the way go to: Snow camp carpools and driving directions
Prepare for winter driving has a link to bad weather driving tips, tips for using tire chains, tricks for dealing with frozen car locks, how to prepare your vehicle for winter driving, how to de-fog the windows, a winter survival kit for your car and what to do if you get stranded. Don’t have chains? Try: Snow chain rentals
Road trip advice and etiquette could make the drive more fun.
How can I sign up for this trip?
The Outdoor Club has a good reputation with Risk Management and they let us do adventurous trips like this one as a result. The club wants to keep that reputation and wants the trip to be safe and fun. You will need to read most of the links from this page about safety and take a written test before you can sign up for the trip. Sample test questions and a few of the answers are at: Snow camp pre-test sample questions
We got tired of people who brought useless rain gear on previous trips. We had to dress them in plastic leaf bags:
So you will need to show us your rain gear when you sign up for this trip. We will not accept a rain poncho. We will not accept thin, easily torn temporary rain gear like they sell at airports for emergencies.
Go to: Snow or rain camp must-haves for details and ideas for people on a budget.
You’ll need to fill out and sign a release for each Outdoor Club off campus event you sign up for; you can print one in advance at release form.
Club members can rent club-owned equipment for trips Membership is $15 for 365 days, or if you want cheap rentals, $30. Reasons why you should become a member are at: Membership benefits
Equipment rentals will go much more smoothly if you have read the Outdoor Club Sample Rental Agreement
How/when/where to find us to sign up is at: Outdoor Club Coming Attractions
LAST CHANCES to sign up
IF THERE IS SPACE LEFT ON THE TRIP: (2018 date to be announced) at the tent pitching lesson at our storage at the east end of the Stelling parking structure. If you want to rent gear from us for the Yosemite trip and pick it up at the pre-trip meeting, please plan ahead and come to this tent pitching lesson.
You must pay the full deposit at Student Accounts before picking up the equipment.
The club can’t accept your deposit money from you. This means you have to make plans for what you want and figure out the deposit before the (date to be announced) pre-trip meeting since that is when we give out rental equipment.
The Yosemite trip pre-trip meeting, (2018 date to be announced), 5 p.m. to (possibly as late as 8 p.m.) will be at our storage at the east end of the Stelling parking structure. LAST chance to sign up for the Yosemite trip. IF THERE IS SPACE LEFT ON THE TRIP
For the answer to the question:
How do I convince my parent(s)/guardian that I can go on this trip? or How do I convince them to pay for some gear for the trip?
Go to: Snow camp FAQs
When camping with a large group of people some complain there is not enough room in their shared bear box for all their food.
More things could fit in the campsite bear-proof storage lockers if everyone brought smaller containers of food, etc.
NO!→ ← Yes!!
and if everyone brought their gear in small, deep plastic trash cans or other plastic boxes close to, but no more than, 17 inches tall. A typical bedroom waste receptacle could be 9″ by 12″ by 17″ deep and hold quite a few cans of food, cooking items and toiletry bags. If you’ve never shared bear boxes with a big group, read
Yikes! Does this trip info have too many webpages? Can’t remember where the info you need is? Go to: Yosemite trips index
Below, a NPS photo of Half Dome cloaked in snow on Jan. 5, 2005, and a picture taken near our campground at sunset by Mike Rivers and another with alpenglow January 2011:
Summer of 2012 some visitors to Curry Village in Yosemite contracted hantavirus pulmonary syndrome and some of them died. According to the park service, “Since HPS was first identified in 1993, there have been approximately 60 cases in California residents and 602 cases nationally. Nationwide, approximately 12 percent of deer mice carry hantavirus.” And deer mice live in every state.
Plague was detected in fleas in some campgrounds in 2015.
Plague frequently asked questions are at: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/plaguefaq.htm
Advice has included not sleeping on the bare ground, but instead in a tent, and keeping all food, even items in the bear boxes, in tightly sealed containers. Do not feed wildlife.
In the NPS photo of flooded Sentinel Meadow taken May 16, 2005, you can just make out the sunken edge of the boardwalk across the meadow between the two posts on the fence and can just see Yosemite Falls thru the low clouds in the background. Next to it is the same place in June, 2005 and again in February 2008
Yosemite webcams brought to you by the Yosemite Conservancy, a non-profit park support group:
For a laugh, and to help insure you won’t become an entry on the page, read Camping Blunders
There’s easy camping info at: Have more fun camping
The entire text of The Yosemite by John Muir is at:
Favorite chapters for winter trip reading include:
Winter Storms and Spring Floods
Yosemite Valley is an attempt to show the dramatic scale of the depth and width of the valley through pictures of Yosemite Falls.
Yosemite nature podcasts: http://www.nps.gov/yose/photosmultimedia/ynn.htm
episode #5 is snow, #2 is Yosemite Falls
see also Winter Moments
photos below by Quang-Tuan Luong/terragalleria.com, all rights reserved.
from the Yosemite Daily Report:
“Safe Bat Encounters
Yosemite has an ecologically rich population of bats. The park’s bat species are active mainly at night, but occasionally you may see a bat out in daylight. However, if you see unusual behavior in a bat such as being unafraid of humans or lying on the ground, it may be sick. Do not approach the bat! Humans can get some diseases that make bats sick, including rabies. If you see a bat on the ground or acting sick, do not approach it and contact the wildlife management office (209-372-0476). If you accidentally have contact with a bat, report this immediately to your supervisor, the wildlife management office, the park public health officer, Matthew Weinburke (209-379-1209), and consult with your physician to determine whether any post-exposure treatment is necessary. Although less than 1% of bats are infected with rabies, you cannot tell if a bat is infected without laboratory testing. It is important that you are aware of who to contact if a human-bat encounter takes place. Rabies is 100% preventable if appropriate medical attention is given, but is 100% fatal if an exposure is not treated. The California Department of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites have important information about rabies.”
Yosemite nature and photography links has links to photo tips, geology, birding and wildflowers (well, okay, no wildflowers in the winter, but…) info.
Answers to most questions about how the De Anza Outdoor club works are at: Outdoor Club Basic Info
The main rules common to most of our trips, including who is eligible to go, are at: Outdoor Club trip rules.
two photos below by Quang-Tuan Luong/terragalleria.com, all rights reserved.
Valley View (seen on the way out of Yosemite Valley) panorama spring and winter: