There’s always a lot going on in Yosemite. It’s not like San Francisco “going on” but it keeps us locals and the bears hopping in our own way. We had some snow over the weekend and it’s really changed the park to finally feel like winter.
For skiers: Badger Pass Ski Area opened today for the season. Lifts will serve all the slopes, lessons will be in session, snowshoes will be rented out to hikers, ranger snowshoe walks go out every day and the XC trails will all be open (free, as always!) Badger Pass is one of the smaller ski areas in California, but it is the first in the West and it’s a great place to learn. A big plus for many skiers is getting to stay in Yosemite Valley.
For travelers from the Bay Area: Heavy rain loosened some boulders on the slopes of our canyon which fell down on the road between Yosemite Valley and Crane Flat over the weekend. If you’re coming to the park from the Bay Area or Sacramento, you probably want to detour a bit further south to come in on Highway 140 via Mariposa. If you enter the park on Highway 120, you cannot get to Yosemite Valley, but you can still get to two giant sequoia groves, and the endless view from the Crane Flat Fire Lookout. This road closure is expected to be in effect for at least 3-4 weeks. Call the NPS road conditions recording at 209/272-0200 for updates.
UPDATE: NPS road crews have done an amazing job to rebuild this road and the road opens Saturday 28 January!
For Half Dome hikers: This summer’s Wilderness permits for overnight backpackers are the same as they’ve always been. The summertime day hiker permits are a little different this year: you need to apply in March at recreation.gov to a lottery that happens in April. Those 300 day hiker permits per day will be issued for the whole season, which generally runs from late May to mid-October. Separate from this summer’s permit system, the park is seeking public comments on the future management of the cable route to the summit of Half Dome at nps.gov/yose. If you have an idea about protecting Half Dome and providing for people’s enjoyment of it, now’s a good time to weigh in.
For ice skaters: Alas, the remarkable experience of ice skating on Tenaya Lake has ended with the closure of Tioga Road. You can still have a great Yosemite ice skating experience at the outdoor rink at Curry Village. From here you can look up at snowy Half Dome – something you can’t do at Tenaya Lake (where there’s also no Zamboni).