Jan. 31 to Feb. 2, 2020, will be the THIRTIETH ANNUAL Yosemite Valley winter trip.
Almost all what you can read below about the 2019 trip will stay the same for 2020, and it will be updated as needed closer to the 2020 trip.
(This note was from 2019, and we hope it will not be an issue in 2020!)Even if the United States government is still shut down at the time of our trip, we will still have the trip. The overnight accommodations you get reservations for will be available, and the brunch at the fabulous Yosemite Valley Hotel will still be served to us. The free shuttle bus will be running. There will still be 24-hour-a-day ambulance service available. The laundromat and stores will be open. The roads will be snow-plowed.
An official report is at https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/shutdown.htm and please don’t put trash in overflowing trash bins. Pick up any litter you see.
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You r-e-a-l-l-y need to read all this material before you come to sign up.
(First photo below courtesy of the park service.)
Usually one of our biggest trips. Rain? Snow? Sleet? Sunshine? Campfires! Coyotes!
Raccoons (quite possibly IN the tents or tent cabins if people are not careful about snacks in daypacks or their pockets)
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It really is warmer with 15 people in a six person tent, right?
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YOU CHOOSE which activities you want to do:
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 Naturalist snowshoe walks,
photo walk with a professional photographer,
ice skating, rollerblading, biking, climbing,
snow sculpture building,
a Sunday brunch.
And since the faculty advisor can’t do everything listed above see below for what will be an official club activity:
The official club activities will be
– – a 7 a.m. (yup, at sunrise) Saturday morning coffee/tea/hot chocolate, snacks, plans-for-the-day-look-at-trail-maps-meeting, (why 7 a.m.?? . . . because the free bus to the ski resort / ranger snow shoe walk leaves at 8 a.m. from a bus stop at Half Dome Village about two blocks away from the campground, and the longest hike takes all day, so people need to get moving early).
Most people on the 2018 trip stayed overnight at tent cabins, cabins etc. at Half Dome Village or at the Lodge instead of camping in the campground, so the meeting was at the Half Dome Village lounge instead of the campground, in 2019 it was at a different hotel, but we might meet at the campground in the future if most students stay there and the weather makes it okay.
PLEASE NOTE THIS 2019 UPDATE:
They were not getting enough people staying at Half Dome Village, due to the government shutdown, so it (and the canvas tent cabins) will be closed during our stay (except that I am told the shower house will be open, but not used a lot, so do not go for a shower alone). This means your overnight accommodations choices are camping or the Lodge or the Ahwahnee (temporarily named the Majestic) or (not recommended) in Mariposa, at least an hour drive from the valley.
Hotel guests will find okay Wi-Fi / cell phone reception at most locations at their hotels. Campers will find okay cell phone reception in the vicinity of the main Visitor Center at stops 5 and 9 on the free shuttle bus route, and look at that webpage for info about free WiFi.
This means the Saturday morning pre-hike, pre-ski meeting and pastries / trail snacks / trail map pickup will likely be at a campsite in Upper Pines campground. We will probably know which campsite in advance of the trip and we will tell you at the pre-trip meeting as well as tell you where to find nearby parking if you are not camping.
Maybe all of this will change if the government opens up again, maybe not.
And more about hotel reservations (and again, by the time you read this it might no longer be true). If you want to make reservation for a Yosemite valley hotel room for Friday, Feb. 1, (2 nights), depart Feb. 3, I’d like to suggest that you make a longer one.
They were offering a Stay 2 Nights, Get One Night Free for most styles of rooms at the Lodge and Ahwahnee (temporarily named the Majestic) for the weekend.
This means you could have a leisurely morning on Sunday, get a shower, get dressed up for the optional brunch, and not have to pack up yet. You could go the brunch and get seconds, thirds, fourths . . . hang out and take a tour of the hotel with the advisor (who will show you the worst – no view of anything – and best rooms), then go back and pack up without rushing (or even take a nap before the drive home if you found that you stayed up a bit too late Saturday at a campfire).
Or, if it snows and you find yourself wanting to stay another night you are set up.
Or you could offer the free Sunday night to one of the people who camped and is being tempted to stay.
(Go to: https://www.travelyosemite.com/lodging/yosemite-valley-lodge/ and in the box on the upper right that probably says Yosemite Lodge, choose All Yosemite Lodging. Scroll through and look for the “third night free” offer, as they also list the regular (Best Available) rates first when you search for a reservation Friday Feb. 1, (3 nights), depart Monday Feb. 4.
I switched our reservation successfully. Their online reservation system froze up when I tried to use it, so I ended up calling 1 (888) 413 8869.
Please do let me know which hotel, what type of room / days you get.
The 7 a.m. meeting may be the time most people finally decide what they are doing on Saturday.
– – A tour of Yosemite Valley on Saturday. People who do not want to try the all-day hike or go skiing can probably join the faculty advisor on a tour of Yosemite Valley. We will use the free shuttle bus and go to all the best places, including a museum tour and some short walks to get a classic Yosemite photo. We will include a walk to the base of Yosemite Falls. If the club advisor has other plans, she will give people who want a tour an itinerary using the free shuttle bus. A short walk with a Ranger naturalist, usually at 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., Ahwahneechee – the tribe that lived in Yosemite Valley- Stories and Games, meets in front of Yosemite Museum, near shuttle stop #5/#9) could be included in these plans.
– – possibly a Saturday evening campfire if people get a campsite or meet at a picnic area that has grills, etc., but often the Yosemite Falls hikers take all day and are tired and want a quick no-cook dinner (or pizza / cafeteria) and sleep instead of a campfire. (Wise people bring enough picnic-type-no-cook food that they can eat even if the restaurants have a power outage or they get back from the all-day hike mega late.)
– – and optional (but usually everybody – or most trip members) brunch Sunday after people pack up, get a shower and put on their Friday casual clothes.
Because people who choose to camp will be 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 has 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
2017 photos, with the hot tub in the snow, are at snow camp 2017
The club requires that we see your waterproof rain gear when you sign up,
because on previous trips the faculty advisor has had to dress people in plastic leaf bags.
“But I haven’t a thing to wear.”
There are ideas for people on a budget at the complete description of what to bring at: Snow or rain camp must-haves You can rent a winter ski parka/pants, winter boots, a great sleeping bag at local ski suppliers.
You must have (and show us when you sign up) a waterproof hooded jacket and pants, either a simple rain jacket/pants set like the construction workers ones they sell at hardware stores, or as fancy as a set of Goretex gear. Your snowboarding gear could be snow-proof, but not actually waterproof out in the rain. We will not accept rain ponchos or thin, easily torn temporary rain gear like they sell at airports for emergencies.
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The club will not make reservations for any overnight accommodations, individual students do that. You have a number of choices of where you stay overnight (campground, tent cabin, cabin or hotel room) and who you share a campsite with / have as a roommate (or you could come up just for the day Saturday – but people rarely do).
Trip members often make reservations for one of the tent cabins, cabins or hotel rooms (see photos below) well in advance, so they have more choices of where they will stay, and make a big note on their calendar of the deadline to cancel without paying a cancellation fee. Then they look for roommates.
(From the park website: “Camping or sleeping in vehicles is permitted only in designated campsites. Sleeping in vehicles is not permitted anywhere else in Yosemite.”)
– – – the lowest cost overnight accommodation is camping overnight in Upper Pines Campground, (the only campground open in the winter with individual campsites with parking spaces). Each campsite ($26 per night) holds six people and two vehicles. But sometimes the campsite parking spaces are not plowed of snow well enough for two vehicles to park, especially two SUVs. This is fine with one SUV with six people in it, but many people will want to drive in two-people-per-vehicle carpools. They could possibly fit more people sleeping overnight (strictly enforced rules of maximum 6 people per campsite) and save money by paying for fewer campsites, by having some of those who want to drive in small carpools drop of their gear at the site and use free day-use parking for the extra vehicles. Maybe the car that gets to park at the site could pay a larger share of the campsite cost. The nearest free parking lot is next to parking for Half Dome Village, a relatively short walk from the campground or a free daytime bus ride.
Each campsite has a metal food storage box you must use for all food/toiletries , a picnic table, fire ring, (yup, you guessed it, no WiFi, sometimes not even on your smart-enough-phone that is not getting reception in much of Yosemite valley). Each campsite loop has nearby restrooms. Showers available for anyone during our winter trip are at Half Dome Village.
Please note that no pets are allowed on our trips. There are no hook-up campsites for motor homes.
(Photo taken at 4:30 a.m. when it had been raining, but then it got colder and rain turned to snowflakes the size of fifty cent pieces, captured by the camera flash. One woman sleeping in the tent above on the 2011 trip had never been camping before. Another on the trip had never seen snow fall.)
At the end of the 2019 trip it started snowing heavily “SNOWZILLA“. . . and for 2 1/2 days all roads out of Yosemite Valley were closed and all campgrounds were closed due to risk from falling trees, but the students got out just in time.
Here, an NPS photo of the result when a large tree fell on a campground restroom:
Occasionally we have had snow followed by rain and parts of the campground flood:
and you will want to have taken a look in advance at other accommodations to retreat to, as in below.
– – – 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 tent cabin, (optionally heated, but bring a sleeping bag) with various double bed and single bed combinations, electric lighting, but no phones/TV/fridge, restroom/showers nearby, lounge with free guest WiFi, walking distance (or a free daytime shuttle bus ride) from the campground. (Renting a tent cabin could be less expensive than renting proper winter camping gear / tent. AND it will not matter how late you leave town, as you will not need to pitch a tent out in the potential weather, you just move right into your tent cabin.) The website does not mention that the heated tent cabins have electric outlets. I was told that yes, they do, but you have to unplug the heater fan to use the electric plug to, for example, charge your cell phone.
Lots of details to make your stay in a Half Dome (Curry) Village tent cabin more fun and comfortable are at: Yosemite valley tent cabins tips and tricks
Below (photo courtesy of the NPS) are some of the canvas tent cabins and a bear that broke into one people left food in. Always use the bearboxes provided at each tent cabin and campsite. (First-timers info.)
There is no cooking allowed at any tent cabins, cabins or hotel rooms, but cabin/hotel dwellers can join people at the campground or go to various picnic areas, some with grills as well as picnic tables.
Some of the Half Dome Village canvas tent cabins and a few of the wood walled cabins without their own bathroom are a relatively short walk to the campground.
(At Half Dome Village go to the campground either on foot, or from shuttle stops 13(B) or 14, (do not get on at 20 to go to the campground).
Lots more pictures of and links to COST and AVAILABILITY of all potential overnight accommodations are at the Yosemite valley overnight accommodations webpage Look for pictures and hints for which tent cabin to choose, some of the same models are much preferable to others. Yes, once you have signed up for the trip, I have a better map for people to look at than the one at the Half Dome Village webpage.
WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE availability of cabins/hotel rooms/tent cabins, go to the CHECK RATES box at https://www.travelyosemite.com/lodging/half-dome-village/, (usually dark blue in the corner of the page), find and click on the choice “All Yosemite Lodging” instead of “Half Dome Village” and compare various possibilities. Often you will find canvas tent cabins with one double bed are the same price as canvas tent cabins with one double bed and two twins beds. Likewise, cabins with a bath are often the same price for one double bed or more beds. This means you can stuff more people in and save money, or just have more space off the floor for your piles of luggage. Rarely, a hotel type room with a bath at the Lodge (with TV, mini-fridge, coffee maker, even a couch, balcony or private patio, etc.) has been a lower price than Stoneman Cottage at Half Dome Village (hotel type room but without all the amenities), closer to the start of the trip if they have not been selling out as much as Half Dome Village.
Quadruple check and mark your calendar with your last date to get a refund, especially if you decide to get more than one type of overnight accommodation and then look for roommates.
And again, lots of details to make your stay in a Half Dome (Curry) Village tent cabin more fun are at: Yosemite valley tent cabins tips and tricks
People who want to camp often get a tent cabin reservation, try to get roommates set up, keep track of the weather and then if it looks like it will be more fun camping, get a campsite and cancel the tent cabin at the last moment they can before they would lose their deposit.
If people in the club get last minute campsites the assignments might be 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 dark brown bulletin board looks much smaller than it is) :
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. Occasionally (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018) we have had a student who was an EMT on the trip.
You don’t have to be a club member to go on trips with us, just a De Anza student (or most faculty/staff), but members pay less for club events. Membership is $15 for 365 days. Reasons why you should become a member are at: Membership benefits
Rarely people decide to come up for just one day. If you decide to stay overnight, where you stay overnight will be up to you, but people usually decide to share campsites and/or tent cabins to save money.
2019 WINTER YOSEMITE TRIP COST paid to the Outdoor Club will be the same as 2018,
$10 Outdoor Club members, $20 other students.
Trip participants are responsible for trip arrangements and costs, including, but not limited to: food you bring and potential meals eaten at restaurants, campsite, cabin or hotel cost, gas and other transportation costs, a little change for the laundromat to dry some damp clothes, ski/snowboard costs (there are rentals and lessons at the Yosemite ski resort), skate rentals and/or ice rink fee, postcards, t-shirts and other souvenirs, sleeping and eating gear and other personal gear. You can rent winter boots, jacket/pants at home before the trip.
You will need to pay the park vehicle entrance fee. Effective June 2018 the Yosemite park entrance fee will be $35 per vehicle or $20 per motorcycle. An annual park pass will cost $70.
OR better yet, find someone to carpool with who already has a (National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands) Interagency annual pass. (If you also go on the club late summer Grand Teton National Park trip it could be wise to get a year long pass, $80 as of early 2019.)
OR find someone who is a U.S. military dependent and has their Dependent ID Card (form 1173) and can get a free national parks pass http://store.usgs.gov/pass/military.html
(The passes can’t be transferred/shared, the pass holder needs to be in your vehicle and show a photo ID.)
If you are riding in a carpool bring your share of gas, park entrance fee, etc. money.
– – – – If you are fairly sure (or completely sure) you are going on the 2019 Yosemite February trip, please email the club advisor at email@example.com to get on the trip email list.
Include how sure you are that you are going, how you will get to Yosemite National park, and where you will stay overnight.
The club advisor does not have the time to answer questions about the trip that you could have found the answers to by reading ALL the Yosemite winter trip webpages linked to from this page thoroughly and carefully.
(And you will have an adventure that is much more fun if you really understand everything before you sign up.) Please also read details about what you must agree to in the trip agreement before you come to sign up: Yosemite winter trip 2019 trip agreement
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 in the campsite to pitch your tent, dealing with iced car door locks, staying warm and comfy overnight, how bears reeeeeaaaally do break into cars and much 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, possibly bears, in the campground and cabin/hotel areas. We’ve seen coyotes 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
What will the weather be like? We could have 1 1/2 foot deep snow in Yosemite Valley 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 at night we can see the stars of 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
to the ski resort to snowboard, ski or snowshoe. (In 2014 the weather brought the skiers fresh powder that morning.) They offer (fee) snowboard or ski (downhill or cross-country) lessons/rentals at the resort and a (free) Ranger-Naturalist 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, one of the tallest waterfalls in the world. (There’s a free bus to the trailhead, but at our Saturday morning meeting, before the hike, we can discuss why people might want to carpool and plan to park at the free Lodge day use parking lot.)
Others will do a few short hikes / walks 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, but most of that homework is usually done in the evening.
Again, the 7 a.m. Saturday meeting may be the time most people finally decide what they are doing on Saturday.
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, maps and photo maps 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.
Lift tickets quoted at the website Nov. 2018 :
Adult (over 17) all day $59, half day $52, lower lifts $30
Senior (65 and older) not quoted in Nov. 2018
one ride ticket $5.50/lower $5
Lifts operate from 9am to 4pm (Half-Day is noon to 4pm)
Prices quoted at the website November 2018 Guaranteed learn to ski/snowboard lessons with rentals, no reservations required $95. (Intro lesson $80.)
Free lift tickets for U.S. military and first responders (EMS, fire, police) , (must show I.D.) most non-holiday dates of the winter 2018-2019 season:
https://www.travelyosemite.com/winter/yosemite-ski-snowboard-area/season-passes-discounts/ and click on Military and First Responders
prices quoted at the website November 2018 for Private Lessons:
1 Person $89.50 per Hour
2 Persons $124.00 per Hour
3 Persons $158.00 per Hour
4 Persons $192.00 per Hour
Call 1 (209) 372-1000 for ski conditions.
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.
During our 2018 trip it was scheduled from 10:30 to 12:30, snow conditions permitting. (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 Half Dome Village (two blocks from the campground) at (most years) 8:05 a.m. and 10:35 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 4:30 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 to the ski resort. Allow at least one hour from the last pickup stop to get to Badger Pass; one hour for the return to Half Dome Village. https://www.travelyosemite.com/media/610220/yssa-shuttle-schedule.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 2019) from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (but check the timetable at each stop) at 20 to maybe 30 minute intervals. The route, stops and how to find the stores, restaurants, etc. are at: Yosemite Valley free shuttle bus
Read more about this walk, and find a map at:
At stops 5 and 9, the Visitor Center and bookstore are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Two films play every half hour in the theater behind the main building. (early 2019 – 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 2019) 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., may close for lunch.
Ice skating info is at:
Pay to ice skate at stop 13B.
(1 (209) 372-8341 ) Usually more (and earlier) sessions on Saturday, Sunday and holidays than on weekdays. Some winters only open on Friday/ Saturday. Look for the schedule in the Yosemite newspaper. (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 Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (early 2019). 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 days in advance. Check with them for the current details. 1 209 372-4413.
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. Look for the rental info (and a map) at Yosemite Lodge at free shuttle bus stop number 8.
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 2019 these ranger walks meet at 2 p.m. for 1 1/2 hours:
Friday: Discover Yosemite, meet in front of the main visitor center, near shuttle stops 5/9
Saturday: Ahwahneechee games and stories, learn about the culture of Yosemite’s first people. Meet in front of the Yosemite Museum, near the main visitor center, near shuttle stops 5/9
Sunday: Merced Meanders, meet in front of the main visitor center, near shuttle stops 5/9
Evening programs 7 to 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday (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 2019 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.), food service (early 2019 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., 6 p.m. 7:30 p.m. or 8 or at one place even 10 p.m.) (Curry Village, a moderate walk from Upper Pines Campground, very near the shower house, Coffee Corner and Pizza deck closed for renovations during our February 2019 trip, laundromat (early 2019, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. at Housekeeping Camp), showers (early 2019, 24 hours at Curry Village, closed for cleaning sometimes), 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 wherever they have it (usually for a fee and not always operable)?
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, especially since we will only have a sliver of moon. For the 2019 trip there will be a waning Crescent moon with 8% of the Moon’s visible disk illuminated on Friday and 4% on Saturday. Sunset Friday 5:26 ish, end of civil twilight 5:54 ish, moonrise 5:42 overnight. Sunset Saturday 5:27 ish, end of civil twilight 5:55 ish, moonrise 6:43 the next morning ish.
(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 (electric torch) 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 a shower 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. (This will be an official club activity, but the cost of it is not included in the trip fee, just as the cost of lift tickets, ski lessons, ice skating, etc. are not included.)
You will need nice clothes for this. At least pack some Friday casual, but some ladies in our group get quite dressed up and men frequently wear a suit, yes with a tie. 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, or anyone to pay at the Half Dome Village front desk. Pictures of the shower house, and directions for finding 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, (students arrange carpools among themselves), 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, please take look at (and we advise you print a copy of) snow camp carpools and driving directions, so you can find the campground and hotels and miss out on the $280 fine you might not be aware of.
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 tire chains? Yosemite requires them in the winter. Try: Snow chain rentals
Road trip advice and etiquette from club road trip experts, 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 waterproof rain gear (rain pants and hooded rain jacket) 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.
You must sign up in person. How/when/where to find us to sign up is at: Outdoor Club Coming Attractions
LAST CHANCES to sign up
(But we suggest you don’t wait this long.)
On Club Day, Thursday, Jan. 24 from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the main quad. If it looks like rain the official Club Day gets cancelled, but we will have a table somewhere near the big fountain in the main quad, out of the rain, so more people can find us to sign up.
(If club day is cancelled due to rain, it is automatically rescheduled for a week later, Jan. 31, and we might staff a table, but it will be too late to sign up for the Yosemite trip.)
At classroom S56 Friday, Jan. 25 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. A first aid class will be in session but you can sit in the back and get questions answered or sign up.
At the Yosemite trip pre-trip meeting, Saturday, Jan. 26 at the pool at noon. Last minute signups starting at 11 a.m.
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 or sharing tent cabins 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 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: