Why visit Yosemite National Park this winter?

The park is open for business – and there are few tourists – who offer skiing, snowboarding, skating and much more.

Yesterday at sunrise, I slipped out of a plane during a tandem jump over the Yosemite Valley. The roar of a loud wind filled my ears as we fell quickly, and as the parachute opened, everything fell silent and we floated through the air. The morning sky was thick with reds and blouses blending with white clouds that reached the foot.

While jumping over the park, we landed – according to the protocol – at Mariposa-Yosemite Airport, home of Skydive Yosemite. Co-owner Paul Wignall is an old friend, and with him I planned a let's do-do-do-all-in-one-day-on-Yosemite-ether outing. From Mariposa, we drove to the park for snowboarding, hiking, mountain climbing and skating. On the way we stopped in Midpines and at the Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort to pick up huge breakfast burritos and our friend Isaiah Foulks. Foulks, whose father is a former member of Yosemite Search and Rescue (YOSAR), grew up in the park. Less than an hour of winding roads later we entered Yosemite, where snow could be seen at the top of the Half Dome, but where most of the valley floor was dry and snow-free. Another half hour drive took us to Badger Pass Ski Resort.

Like many of Yosemite's attractions, Badger is family-friendly. This is where Wignall teaches his children to ski on light, moving slopes. But the resort is steep enough to really speed up, especially when the snow is packed and maintained like yesterday. We drove for hours, never standing on the lift, our tables carved over the slopes and along the sides. The sun was shining, it was warm and we were riding fast.

snowboarding in Badger Pass
Short lift lines and ideal Corduroy slopes make driving a Badger Pass fun and relaxed. Chris Van Leuven

From Badger we went back to the valley floor and went to Curry Village or as some call it Little Siberia because it is always so cold there. Even though there was only an hour of sunshine a day in the winter, the area was still warm enough for rock climbing, so we headed up to Staircase Falls and took in the magnificence of the park while still holding our fingertips. Above the staircase are unobstructed views of the park's most iconic formations: the Half Dome, Washington Column, Watkins Mountain, and Yosemite Falls. Falls fall in winter, but like most things in the park, they have slowed down. The stairs waterfall listening to a light flowing trick is enchanting and it is so gentle a fall that you can immediately walk up and put your hand in it properly.

From the falls we fell back down to Curry Village to skate. Here, in the shadow of the Half Dome, which captured the bright alpenglow radiation, we hid behind a hot fire. The parents helped their children on and off the ice, while the three of us watched each other on the ice rink. As the darkness in the sky and the hallway lights went on, we found our way back to the fire and parted the circle around the s'more.

Stair waterfall, Yosemite
Listening to the soft tip of Staircase Falls is fascinating. Paul Wignall / Skydive Yosemite

Now as I write, with my feet not dropped on the ice and my fingers pinched to pinch them tightly in the cracks, I can't look at anything else if I think back to all the highlights. Every day I take the busy ski resort to a busy place. Same with the granite rocks here, which few climbers see in winter. And finally skating, where this little Curry village skating rink offers everyone joy and challenge. Like many year-round residents, including Isaiah, I like solitude here. In winter it is rare to see another guest on the walls and paths.

Although Yosemite is incredible all year round, the winter season is something special.

skating in Yosemites
Skydive Yosemite owner Paul Wignall skating under the Half Dome. Chris Van Leuven

Overnight accommodations at the park can be booked through Aramark. There are many Airbnb options in the Midpines surrounding Foresta (inside the park), including AutoCamp and Mariposa. Skydive Yosemite & # 39; s available here.

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