THIS WINTER’S ITINERARIES
TRANSPORTATION: LEAVE THE BUG BY 9AM OVER THE BUSY HOLIDAYS AND WEEKENDS TO AVOID YOSEMITE VALLEY TRAFFIC. OR TAKE THE YARTS BUS at 6:33AM, 10:23AM or 12:12AM. PARK YOUR CAR AT HALF DOME VILLAGE LOT, HIKER’S LOT AT HAPPY ISLES, YOSEMITE VILLAGE LOT OR YOSEMITE LODGE LOT & TAKE THE VALLEY SHUTTLE ON BUSY DAYS.
If there are snow chain restrictions on Highway 140 (rarely) then take the YARTS in for ease of mind. Rent snowshoes and chains at the Bug, too. Our excellent June Bug Cafe opens at 7am for breakfast, trail lunches and water to go and dinner is open until 8:30 or 9pm! The spa closes at 10pm as well.
FIRST DAY YOSEMITE VALLEY: Standard Sightseeing With Some Hiking, Waterfalls & Overlook Point In Yosemite Valley
Valley Loop Drive for sightseeing: Half day about 1 hour + bus ride around. We recommend finding a place to park and taking a free Valley Shuttle Bus around Yosemite Valley for your camera to explore. It goes around to the El Capitan Meadow on the Loop now. Get out where you want, another bus is 20 minutes behind. Yosemite Village is inadvisable during the holidays, but in winter the photography studio, visitor’s center experience, natural history museum, and the Indian village are worth the down time during weather. The Valley Loop Trail is a nice trail even in winter, we recommend Cathedral Beach to the Chapel on the south side or Lower Yosemite Falls to Valley View on the sunnier north side.
Upper Yosemite Falls Trail and Columbia Point Overlook: Park at Camp 4 and start up the switchbacks to Columbia Point for a warm south facing winter hike. Lunch at the point and continue round to see the upper Yosemite Falls up close! If not snowy go all the way up to the Valley Rim for a full day hike.
Ice Skating Rink (YAY!): Near Half Dome Village, this rink rents ice skates and sells hot chocolate. Spectacular view of Half Dome and sunset. Look at skate times several times a day.
SECOND DAY: WHOLE DAY SOUTHERN YOSEMITE: Hiking, Skiing & Overlook Point, Turtleback Dome or snowshoe Dewey Point for overlook point and Mariposa Grove for snowshoeing, Downhill or Cross Country Skiing at Yosemite Ski Area, or use this route going out to Los Angeles:
Mariposa Sequoia Grove: The access & interpretive renovated Mariposa Grove is open now off of Highway 41 at the South Entrance to Yosemite until November 30th. Go early using the Highways 140/49/41 through Mariposa and Oakhurst. This winter the Lower Grove is accessible only by foot or (when snowy) XC skis in winter up a two mile road at the South Entrance.
Wawona Covered Bridge & Pioneer Center: The bridge is 150 years old! The assemblance of the historical cabins from the first superintendent’s cabin to the Wells Fargo cabin excite.
Turtleback Dome/Old Inspiration Point: Difficult to reach and find at a gate south of the Wawona Tunnel on Hwy 41, but Turtleback is a great quick opportunity for a sunset or sunrise. The Old Inspiration point Trail across from the Tunnel View view point off the same.
THIRD DAY NORTH YOSEMITE OR GOING OUT TO SF FROM THE VALLEY: Hiking, Sequoia Grove and Lake walk for full day or use this route of Highway 120 West going to San Francisco via 120.
Tuolumne Grove/Merced Grove: Just a quarter mile behind Crane Flat gas station the Tuolumne Grove is a mile in and out along an old stagecoach road. Beautiful in winter snows the green foliage of the sequoia against it’s orange bark! Take snowshoes if heavy winter. The Merced Grove is further down 120, it’s great to walk the three miles round trip or XC ski in heavy winter.
Hetch Hetchy: This hike is south facing and warm in winter. The falls are just starting up and the reservoir view in this second Yosemite Valley is stunning. Hike across the dam and up the far side. Great for children.
HALF DAY or GOING HOME on HIGHWAY 140: Mariposa and Merced River Wild & Scenic Area
At The Bug: Take the two hour Bug Loop trail in the daytime. It can be very difficult, slippy, wet, steep and narrow. Look for the green diamond marker on the trees every 50 feet about 12 feet up and at intersections. Red markers are trail back to the lodge. The blue marker is a short cut halving the walk. The swimming hole is cold now but listen for the water falls and trail that zig zags down. If you get lost head back down to the Bear Creek and look up the taller slope. When the creek is roaring don’t bother and watch it from the spa deck instead.
We have music at the June Bug Cafe or other events through winter on many weekends. Look for posters of the next good thing at News at our website. Remember our holiday Christmas Dinner special menu event. Winter is also the best time for a soak and sweat at the spa.
Merced River Wild and Scenic Area: From Briceberg Bridge upstream there is a single track trail for dogs or Mountain Bikes. You can also mountain bike up the Burma Grade going up right there or cycle downstream on the dirt road (5 miles each way). Downstream at the end of the dirt road trek along the river you can walk to a cascade just before the North Fork of the Merced with your dog. Search for mushrooms this year at the Ferguson Burn nearby!
Mariposa Old Gold Town & Museums: Shop along the old 1850’s era block and see the Old Jail and the oldest operating western Courthouse. The Mariposa History Museum takes you back to the Gold Rush, whereas the California State Gem and Mineral Museum at the Mariposa Fairgrounds shows what was dug up here and the rest of California. Goings on around weekends at the bars and saloons in town, too. Do some road bicycling on the Old Toll Road from Bear Valley to Hornitos for some fun!