There are many locations throughout the continental U.S. that are perfect for a wintertime visit. Many RVers travel south and spend the months in the warm, dry air of Mesa, Arizona, the gulf-breezes of Corpus Christi, Texas, and of course, in sunny Florida. With several campgrounds available in the park, hardy adventurers who enjoy the cold, journey to Yosemite National Park. Here, in no particular order, are six reasons to put visiting this destination on your bucket-list.
1. The History
Yosemite was heavily promoted by nineteenth century painters Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran, as well as explorer John Muir before it was deemed a national park in 1890. In 1903, Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove were also placed under federal protection, increasing the park’s size and including some of the most memorable landmarks within.
Love Learning the History of areas you travel? Check out the “Roadrunner History Buff” Blogs.
2. The Ever-Changing Scenery
With Glacier Point, El Capitan, and Half Dome; picturesque Bridalveil Falls and the largest waterfall in the U.S. Yosemite Falls, this park offers a lot to look at throughout the year. With snow-capped mountains and ice-covered streams, however, Yosemite becomes a winter wonderland that must be experienced to be appreciated.
Although a few of the roads—including Tioga Road between Crane Flat and Tioga Pass and the road to Glacier Point—are closed part of winter, many popular sites are still accessible. For example, Yosemite Valley and Wawona are always open and the Glacier Point and Badger Pass Road is regularly cleared. After a heavy snow, safety stations are utilized to ensure that travelers have snow chains for their tires. If you plan to visit during winter, it’s a good idea to pack some.
3. It’s Less Crowded
It’s no secret that summer is the time many tourists visit state and national parks. In fact, many of the campgrounds are booked, as soon as they start taking reservations for the season. This is one reason off-season camping is a great idea.
Many of the campgrounds that would require a reservation to get in during the busy summer months are nearly vacant during the winter. This ensures not only a camping space, but also access to the shared grills and picnic tables (if you’re so inclined to use them), and peace and quiet.
4. Campgrounds That Are Open Year Round
Fortunately, Yosemite has several campgrounds open year-round and some of them accept RVs. Hodgdon Meadow on highway 120, Wawona on highway 41, and Upper Pines campground in Yosemite Valley are motorhome accessible with dry-camping sites. Upper Pines even has a freshwater fill and a dump station year-round. As with any rustic destination, verify size restrictions ahead of time.
5. The Wildlife
There are hundreds of species of animals found in Yosemite. Many, such as the amphibians and reptiles, hibernate during the winter. The varieties of rabbits and hares remain rampant, as do badgers, fox, and coyotes. Bighorn sheep and mule deer can often be spied, and although much more elusive, bobcats and mountain lions may be seen. Even though they hibernate, black bears do occasionally venture out during winter.
6. Outdoor Enjoyment
Along with hiking the trails and taking guided tours, Yosemite provides additional activities in the colder months. Go snowshoeing on over 90 miles of marked trails or cross country skiing over 22 miles of groomed back country.
Then head to Badger’s Pass, the official Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area, for downhill skiing, snowboarding, and tubing. There are equipment rentals, lessons, and lifts at the lodge.
State and national parks are among my favorite destinations anytime of the year. The wonderful thing about spending time (and a moderate amount of money) at any naturally beautiful area is that each visit is unique unto itself. Every experience is different. The people present during your previous visit have been replaced with others, the scenery has changed, and you have changed. Stay adventurous.