TRANSPORTATION: YARTS from the Bug into the Valley and Amtrak are up and running. The free Valley Shuttle bus is up and running. Park and use it on busy days.
FOOD: Get trail lunches from the June Bug Cafe to take with you for the adventure days out, there’s always take out for breakfast too at 7AM.
FIRST DAY YOSEMITE VALLEY: Sightseeing, Hiking, Waterfalls, Viewpoints & Overlook Point In Yosemite Valley
Valley Loop Drive for sightseeing: Half day. About 1 hour + bus ride around. Try to make the Tunnel View just a bit south on Highway 41 (or better to avoid the crowds and park along the road on the left hand lot). You will want to walk and see Lower Yosemite Falls if you are traveling with children or elderly or pets. Remember you can also stroll at least part of the stunning Valley Loop Trail instead!
The Firefalls: Horseshoe Falls can be viewed on the east side of Half Dome in Mid February 12th through 24th.
Upper Yosemite Falls Hike: Park at Camp 4 and take the switch backs up to Columbia Rock for a lunch with a view. Go further to see the impressive winter Upper Yosemite Falls close up. The falls make a snow cone at the bottom mid winter, but the hike is south facing and generally warmer.
Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls: You can easily walk from Half Dome Village Parking Lot or Hiker’s Lot beyond it. Take the John Muir Trail up during winter. You can take children and dogs just to the bridge on a paved trail for a view of Vernal Falls.
Mirror Lake and Snow Creek Trail: Mirror Lake appears really to be a lake right now there has been precipitation. Take the Mirror Lake Loop Trail for a couple of hours under the impressive Half Dome reflection. 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 until the snow is too much.
SOUTH OF YOSEMITE VALLEY: Sightseeing, Historical. Use this route going south to LA.
Badger Pass Ski Area: Open until it’s not open, but it has good snow right now. Not much elevation gain or black diamond runs, but it’s a fun traditional resort, especially for families and classes. Rentals for alpine or cross country skiiing.
Backcountry Skiing and Snowshoeing: Rent some cross-country skis at Badger and take the grooved track all the way to Washburn Point for some spectacular Half Dome views, up to 20 mile R/T. Rent snowshoes at the Bug and go to Dewey Point for a beautiful view of Yosemite Valley in winter. You can bring your own backcountry skis as well for Dewey (7 mile R/T); but maybe you should consider booking Ostrander Ski Hut (24 miles R/T)for an overnight instead. Be sure to bring food and skins.
Mariposa Sequoia Grove: This will be closed through the winter while wind damage from 2021 is repaired. Adventurous souls can walk the two mile road each way for some solitude.
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.
THIRD DAY NORTHERN YOSEMITE: Waterfalls, Sequoia Groves and Lake, Hiking. Use this route going out to San Francisco:
Merced Sequoia Grove is further to the right past the Crane Flat gas station and is an easy mile in and out with snowshoes right now. Lesser than the Mariposa Grove it is still stunning winter settings.
Tuolumne Sequoia Grove is a bit more hardpacked, you may not need snowshoes. Two miles R/T it is great winter snow against orange and green trees. Take a Right at Crane Flat gas station and then a quarter mile.
Hetch Hetchy Valley: Hetch Hetchy is a reservoir that serves San Francisco, but the lake and waterfalls against the cliffs are spectacular. Park near and walk across the dam and through the tunnel for the easy trail along the south facing sunny shore to view the three waterfalls!
FOURTH DAY AROUND MARIPOSA: Merced River, Historical Interest, Hiking, Bicycling and Food.
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 directionals on the trees every 30 feet about 7 feet up and at intersections. Red markers are trails back to the lodge. The blue marker is a short cut halving the walk. The colored arrows all start at the Amphitheater.
Merced River Wild and Scenic Area: From Briceburg 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) but go at dawn.
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!