Our excellent June Bug Cafe opens at 7am for breakfast, trail lunches and water to go lunch is 11am to 2pm and dinner is open 6pm to 8:30pm! The Yosemite Health Spa is open 10am to 10pm.
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. Try to make the Tunnel View just a bit south on Highway 41. Remember you can avoid the rain or snow, especially with young or elderly companions into the Ahwahnee Hotel for light fare at the Lobby Bar or stop in at Yosemite Village to tour the museums. The Chapel is exception under a blanket of snow.
Columbia Rock and Upper Yosemite Falls: Park at Camp 4, and start up the switchbacks to Columbia Rock for a warmer south facing Valley view half day 1000 ft gain hike. You can go around the next long corner to view Upper Yosemite Falls trail when the rains bring the falls to life or low temperatures create a snow cone at it’s base.
Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls: You will have to catch the Valley shuttle for these places but can easily walk from Half Dome Village Parking Lot or Hiker’s Lot. Take the the John Muir Trail both ways since the Mist Trail may be icy. You can take families just to the bridge on a paved trail for a view of Vernal Falls.
Mirror Lake and Snow Creek Trail: Mirror Lake is full over the winter. Plenty of Half Dome reflection pictures here. Take the Mirror Lake Loop Trail for a couple of hours unless it’s flooded. Consider going up the Snow Creek Falls Trail at the end of the canyon for impressive views of Half Dome and Cloud’s Rest on the way up and at the point near the top of the rim if boots can do it.
Ice Skating at Half Dome Village: Though smaller than it used to be, this rink is still lot’s of fun with it’s Half Dome views, Hot Chocolate and Firepit. It will be open the weekend before Christmas and rent ice skates for generally 10am and 3pm start times.
SECOND DAY: WHOLE DAY SOUTHERN YOSEMITE: Hiking & Overlook Point, Waterfalls, Sequoia Groves 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. Go early using the Highways 140/49/41 through Mariposa and Oakhurst. This big grove got much needed attention to it’s facilities last year, you will be impressed. If the road is closed for snow, consider hiking, cross country skiing or snowshoeing to the Lower Mariposa grove trees 3 to 4 miles round trip.
Wawona Covered Bridge & Pioneer Center: The bridge is 150 years old! The assembly of the historical cabins from the first superintendent’s cabin to the Wells Fargo cabin do excite.
Glacier Point Ski, Ostrander Ski Hut, Dewey Point Snowshoe or Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Center: The road to the Ski Area opens the weekend before Christmas this year. This family or learning friendly resort is inexpensive and lighthearted winter fun. You can also rent cross country skis to follow the Glacier Point groomed road to fantastic views. Dewey Point is a day of snowshoeing (you can rent from us) for an exceptional Yosemite Valley and High Country winter view. For the backcountry adventure of a lifetime bring your backcountry XC Skis and skins to go to the Ostrander Ski Hut for a day or two by booking in advance with Yosemite Association first.
THIRD DAY: Tuolumne and Merced Groves: Snowshoeing Sequoia Groves, use the route of Highway 120 West going to San Francisco:
Tuolumne Grove/Merced Grove: Just a quarter mile behind Crane Flat gas station on the Tioga Road/120 East where the road is then closed, the Tuolumne Grove is a mile hike or snowshoe in and out along an old stagecoach road. Much easier than the Mariposa Grove. The Merced Grove is further down 120 West, it’s great to snowshoe or ski the quieter three miles round trip. Sequoias are stunning in a snowy setting.
FOURTH DAY: Hetch Hetchy: Hiking, Viewpoint and Lake walk for half day or use this route of Highway 120 West going to San Francisco:
Hetch Hetchy: If you are driving from Yosemite Valley to San Francisco or want a day visit, Hetch Hetchy is a warmer and fascinating visit! The waters against the cliffs background are stunning. Walk along the north side of the lake and enjoy it as far as you want to go until returning. The waterfalls flow as the rains come in the winter.
HALF DAY or GOING HOME on HIGHWAY 140: Mariposa and Merced River Wild & Scenic Area
At The Bug: Soak your weary and cold limbs at the spa after a soothing massage! We have specialty baths for soreness, skin health and colds. The Sauna is great to heat you up and clear out the head cold or lungs. Yoga is a excellent way to work out the kinks before or after your winter activities as well!
Maybe 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 trails back to the lodge. The blue marker is a short cut halving the walk. The swimming hole is getting slower but listen for the water falls and trail that zig zags down to see anyway. If you get lost head back down to the Bear Creek and look up the taller slope at the Lodge. Don’t bother going in the rain or if the creek is roaring.
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 or dirt bike up the Burma Grade going up right there or cycle downstream on the dirt road (5 miles each way).
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!