Visiting Yosemite in February: Best Activities for a Winter Visit
Yosemite’s Winter Season comprises the months of December through March. Through these five months, Yosemite is snowy, quiet, and still. With peak tourist season falling in the summer and fall, February is the ultimate time to visit Yosemite for a quiet and cozy getaway.
Is Yosemite Open in February?
Yes; Yosemite National Park is open in February. February is a relatively quiet month in the park, and a wonderful time to visit without experiencing large crowds.
Visitors can access Yosemite Valley and Wawona by personal vehicle year-round, but there are some internal road closures to note. Tioga Road is seasonally closed mid-November until the spring. This closure includes access to the Tuolumne Meadows area. The road to Glacier Point is closed from November until spring, with the exception of the snowplowed path to the Badger Pass Ski Area. Tire chains are often required on park roads during winter months. Regardless of vehicle type or size, visitors must both carry tire chains and know how to use them. Mariposa Grove Road is also seasonally closed and traditionally reopens for travel by April. When Mariposa Grove Road is closed, travelers can access the Mariposa Grove by foot via the two-mile Washburn Trail. This trail is icy and snowy during winter months. Travelers are advised to bring proper attire and shoes.
If driving to Yosemite in February, it is recommended that visitors take Highway 140 (All Weather Road). The is the safest route into the park during the winter, but still may require visitors to put on tire chains to travel in.
What is the Weather in Yosemite Like During February?
Yosemite temperatures range from the low 20’s to the mid-50’s during the month of February. Snowfall is frequent, and is typically gathers over a foot tall. The depth of snow increases with altitude.
The sun shines on and off for about six hours a day, and icy rainfall is also common. Hazy conditions may occur throughout February, as the National Park Service prescribes routine fires to mimic natural fires for forest health. For updated air quality conditions and haze information, visitors should visit nps.gov.
Can I Hike in Yosemite in February?
Yes; you can hike in Yosemite in February.
Some of the park’s major trails are covered in snow, but are still accessible. Backpacking options in the winter are limited, and trail markers may be covered by snowfall. Trickier trails are only recommended for seasoned winter hikers.
The following hiking trails are typically open during the winter months: Bridalveil Fall, Mirror Lake, Lower Yosemite Falls, and the Vernal Falls footbridge on Mist Trail
Activities in Yosemite During the February Month
Winter Sightseeing in Yosemite
Yosemite National Park does offer sightseeing experiences that are unique to the winter months. If visiting in February, guests should absolutely visit Horsetail Fall to see the famous “firefall” effect. This natural phenomenon occurs in mid to late February as the sun sets on Horsetail Fall waterfall. During this time, the waterfall is illuminated and gives the illusion of hot lava flowing down the granite face of El Capitan.
Journeying out to see Yosemite Creek’s Frazil Ice is one of the most visitor-loved winter experiences in the park. Frazil Ice is a phenomenon that occurs when the streamflow of Yosemite Valley is high, but temperatures are sub-freezing. As a result, creeks appear slushy instead of frozen over or full of flowing water. This is most commonly seen at just below Lower Yosemite Fall, at Yosemite Creek.
During February, Yosemite’s visitors are encouraged to catch a sunrise or sunset at Tunnel View, just outside the valley. The low light but brilliant colors make for awe-inspiring photographs.
Celebrate a Romantic Valentine’s Day
Yosemite Is the perfect destination for a romantic Valentine’s Day celebration. There are many dining options in Mariposa County perfect for an idyllic candlelit dinner. Savoury’s Restaurant is a local favorite, and offers an upscale dining atmosphere with a magnificent limestone fireplace. The Ahwahnee Dining Room in Yosemite Valley is another local treasure, featuring sparkling chandeliers, vaulted ceilings over 30 feet tall, and truly wonderful views. For wine connoisseurs, the Ahwahnee is known for its extensive list of red, white, rose, and sparkling wines.
No Valentine’s Day getaway is complete without luxurious and charming lodging! Yosemite National Park has a variety of cabins, lodges, and homes available for rental that offer private and intimate accommodations for couples. With a Yosemite cabin rental, couples will be able to enjoy all the comforts of home without the hassle of noisy hotel guests in the next room or the chill of a drafty tent. Many rental cabins feature romantic fireplaces, fully equipped kitchens, and some even have private hot tubs! To book the ultimate romantic Valentine’s Day lodging, click here (link).
Go Ice Skating
Winter season visitors adore ice skating at the Curry Village Ice Rink. This rink is undoubtedly one of the most scenic ice-skating opportunities in the United States, offering jaw-dropping views of Half Dome while gliding along. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Visitors can purchase tickets fifteen minutes prior to each skate time. For large group or family skating, the Curry Village Ice Rink is available for private rental.
Go Skiing, Snowboarding, or Snow Tubing Badger Pass
Badger Pass Ski Area offers winter sport activities for skiers both beginner and advanced. For those uninterested in skiing, snow tubing is a wonderful option. Tubing is much like sledding; tubers slide down the slopes on large inflatable discs. Badger Pass is most well-known for its downhill and cross-country skiing. Beginner and intermediate skiers are welcome, and ski lessons are available as well. Badger Pass is widely regarded as a family-friendly area to learn how to ski.
Badger Pass Ski Area is located off Glacier Point Road, only a short 15-minute drive from the Yosemite West area! To view rental properties available in Yosemite West, click here (link).
Snowshoeing is a local favorite, as it requires less dedicated balancing than skiing or snowboarding, but still offers great exercise and views of Yosemite after snowfall! Snowshoeing is essentially winter hiking. It is a highly social activity, shoe rentals are generally inexpensive, and only requires a few basic techniques that a snowshoe rental facility will teach you. Beginners classes and guided snowshoeing tours are offered at multiple locations within Yosemite National Park.
Enjoy Hot Chocolate by the Fire
Sipping on a cup of hot chocolate, relaxing by the bonfire with loved ones, and enjoying the incredible views of Yosemite National Park in the snow is an unparalleled winter experience! Many rental cabins, lodges, and homes feature outdoor fire pits perfect for gathering around the fire with friends or family.
Explore available properties here. (link to SW)
Warm Up in the Jacuzzi
A well-loved post-ski tradition, many winter Yosemite visitors enjoy relaxing in a soothing jacuzzi hot tub and watching the snow fall. Many rental cabins, homes, and lodges in Yosemite National Park offer outdoor decks with private hot tubs. To view private rental homes, cabins, and lodges in Yosemite, click here (link).
Stargaze into the Winter Sky
Bass Lake is widely considered one of the best stargazing spots in Yosemite National Park during the winter months. Bring warm winter attire, hot chocolate, snacks, something to sit on, and set up a spot along the shoreline of Bass Lake. Visitors will surely enjoy the natural light show across the night sky! Temperatures can drop in the twenties or below, so be sure to arrive with appropriate gear to avoid frostbite. The stars in this area are truly magnificent!
Visit Historic Museums & Visitor Centers
There are numerous museums and visitor centers within the bounds of Yosemite National Park, perfect for a trip on a chilly February day.
The Yosemite Valley Visitor Center is open year-round and is considered the home for all things Yosemite. The Visitor Center offers a wealth of free resources for travelers looking to learn more about the national park. Visitors are encouraged to stop in the center to chat with a park ranger and learn about all that Yosemite has to offer. Additionally, the Visitor Center features a bookstore that sells maps, guidebooks, souvenirs, and more.
The Yosemite Museum has been welcoming visitors since 1925. It is open year-round and is located next to the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center. The museum features displays that share the cultural history of Yosemite’s native peoples, as well as an impressive art gallery.
The Ansel Adams Gallery is open year-round, with the exception of Christmas Day. The gallery features the work of contemporary photographers, in addition to offering photography classes and workshops. In-gallery tours are also available year-round. The Ansel Adams Gallery is located in Yosemite Valley, between the visitor center and the Post Office. It offers breathtaking views of Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, and Glacier Point.
Take a Guided Bus Tour
Guided Bus Tours are offered in Yosemite National Park year-round. During the winter months, the Valley Floor Tour may be the only tour available. This tour is two-hours long, and takes place in a heated motor coach with panoramic windows. The tour is led by Park Rangers that expertly highlight the natural wonders and history of Yosemite National Park.
H2: [Top Lodging Options for February
Renting a private cabin, condo, or home in Yosemite National Park during the winter season is the best way to guarantee respite from chilly winter conditions. Rental cabins offer cozy indoor fireplaces, traditional outdoor fire pits, and central heating during the colder months.
If you’re looking for Yosemite National Park lodging, call Yosemite’s Scenic Wonders at 1-888-YOSEMITE (1-888-967-3648) to begin planning your memorable vacation. Scenic Wonders offers quality home, condo, and cabin rentals inside of Yosemite National Park at reasonable prices.