Editor's Note: This is the second in a series of posts from our Yosemite insider, YOMom, with tips for Winter fun in Yosemite National Park:
A Winter Playland
With inclimate weather, a free shuttle ride around the valley might be a nice (dry & warm) start. Get off at Happy Isles for an easy little hike along the river. Bathrooms are open but no food stand or Nature Center until Spring, so take snacks! Look for signs to The Fen…a good picnic spot off the beaten path. Another nice trek is up to Mirror Lake. Kids like to romp on the fallen logs and play on the sandy (or snowy) beaches, so a small bucket & shovel come in handy. There is a steep path just as you arrive so little ones may need a piggy-back ride.
After some outdoor fun, warm up at The Ahwahnee with its enormous fireplaces. A hot cocoa ordered at The Ahwahnee Bar can be enjoyed in the Great Lounge with ample seating and lovely views. The mezzanine floor has a family bathroom (ADA accessible) complete with changing table.
Try a short hike just starting at the “Church Bowl” (not to be confused with the Chapel) picnic area at the north end of the Ahwahnee meadow. Called the Valley Loop trail, it is newly rehabilitated with a smooth hardened surface and is accessible to a tough jog-stroller. Propane grills are allowed at this picnic area.
Curry Village and the Yosemite Lodge front desks have a list of daily guest activities, some especially for children referred to as “Wee Wild Ones.” Occasionally, local talent Steve Riley (author of: Little Ty Cooney and the Big Yosemite Race) will mesmerize adults and kids alike with a performance of his artistic and storytelling gifts. Don't miss it!
The Lodge bar and Curry Village Lounge as well as the Pavillion have roaring fireplaces and are family friendly. Be sure to catch the free Spirit of Yosemite movie shown on the hour and half-hour in the West Auditorium behind the fun and educational Visitor Center. Just next to it is the Indian Village…a good field trip for all ages.
Of course, ice-skating, skiing, and exploring the various falls will prove to be great experiences. Watch for ice and use ice-traction cletes on footwear when it gets slick. On your way in or out of the park, check out the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees (off the 41 entrance) or Tuolumne Grove (off the 120) good hikes to see the giant sequoias. Once the snow comes, bring snowshoes and sleds!
Stay tuned for Part 3 in this series coming soon! Read Part 1 Tips for Dressing Kids for Winter in Yosemite.
YOmom is a resident of Yosemite National Park. Her husband and two homeschooling children have helped her to fully appreciate mountain living. She has added putting chains on car tires & using a wood splitter to her skill set, but prefers enjoying the outdoors during the daytime and NOT camping at night. She holds a B.A. in English and an MDiv from Fuller Theological Seminary. She loves cross-cultural experiences and trying new things. YOmom hopes her tips will help make your visit to Yosemite a happy experience.