Yosemite Day Trip

With cabin fever setting in we decided on a day trip to Yosemite

The holidays are over, the weather has been kind of crummy and cabin fever has reared its ugly head, here in the Scribner household. We had been promising the kids a trip to the snow for some time, so this weekend seemed like the perfect opportunity for a daytrip to Yosemite, which would allow the kids to get their snow on, and us parents to take-in the winter spectacle that is Yosemite.

Arch Rock entrance on Highway 140

Arch Rock entrance on Highway 140

Yosemite is not the cheapest destination for a daytrip, at $20 per carload, but your receipt is good for seven days so if you are planning a multi-day drip, you do not have to stay in the park, itself. Chains are required on-and-off, throughout the winter months, but despite a heavy blanket of the white stuff last weekend, the roads were clear all the way into Yosemite Village.

Exploring around the Merced River in Yosemite Village. Can you tell which girl refused snow pants?

Exploring around the Merced River in Yosemite Village. Can you tell which girl refused snow pants?

That does not mean there wasn’t plenty of snow, however. The place was not exactly empty, but were less than a dozen cars in the visitor’s lot. We bundled the kids up in their new snow gear and headed down to the Merced River to blow-off some of the pent-up energy from the 3 ½ hour drive. Yosemite Village is tourist-central, but that’s because there is just a lot of cool stuff to see, from this location. In the winter, it’s also the best place to grab a hot cup of coffee or cocoa.

Upper Yosemite Falls viewed from the visitor’s lot in Yosemite Village

Upper Yosemite Falls viewed from the visitor’s lot in Yosemite Village

We bummed-around the Village for a few hours, taking in Half Dome and Yosemite Falls. One of the coolest parts about hanging around the Village in the winter is that we heard two rockslides while we were there. These happen all the time, but in the winter when the water is freezing and thawing they are particularly frequent and the sound is really spooky – like the long rumble of thunder, but at a higher pitch.

Interesting winter sights are everywhere in Yosemite, including this icy snow that looked like a pile of down feathers

Interesting winter sights are everywhere in Yosemite, including this icy snow that looked like a pile of down feathers

We finished-up our visit to the Village with a trip to the store for really expensive trinkets. Call us old-fashioned, but we try to get a refrigerator magnet ($3) every time we go somewhere, and I had to have a new Yosemite t-shirt ($20). It was getting late in the day, and we still had to find someplace for the kids to get their sled on, so we piled back into the CampingBlogger rig and headed out of the Village in search of a hill which, go figure, is quite hard to come by in a valley.

We parked the rig just west of Ribbon Falls and did some scouting along the Merced River. As luck would have it, we found a huge granite boulder that had a perfect 20-foot face made just for sledding. While we were there, we heard another rock slide up around the Cathedral Spires area across the river. We could not see it through the trees, but it provided a great backdrop to the gnarly sledding.

With the sunlight fading, we packed it in and headed back towards home. Everyone was starving, so we made a stop in Mariposa at the Pizza Factory. I don’t know if it was the cold, the long day, or what – but that was the best pizza I’ve had in a long time. We got a medium, two personals, a pizza bread, a salad and drinks for $26 – not bad.

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20 thoughts on “Yosemite Day Trip

  1. Pingback: Bill Could Expand Yosemite National Park by 1,600 Acres | family camping

  2. I grew up in the Bay Area and went camping in Yosemite every year, either with the family or with the Scouts. I’ve yet to go in the winter though….never knew Yosemite gets so much snow!

  3. I have been wanting to go to Yosemite forever with the kids! We are from NJ and we do alot of outdoor stuff on the East Coast…we are hoping to hit the park late this year or next year, thanks for the info!!

    Tent Reviews

  4. I love the snow, we just got 22″ last week. The park looks stunning this time if year. If I was close enough to something like that I would frequent it often just to forget about everything for awhile. Incredible pic of the feather snow, I have never seen anything like that before! Can you setup camping tents in Yosemite?

    • You bet – Yosemite has 13 (I think) campgrounds or you can apply for a wilderness permit and avoid the crowds. In Yosemite Valley itself, “Camp 4” is tent-only.

    • The waterfalls are definitely stunning this time of year, Sharon. I just had lunch today with a San Jose local who had never been to Yosemite in the winter – it’s a completely different experience.

  5. Introducing your children to the great outdoors is a powerful way to help build independence and resilience! Getting them involved with packing, cooking, plant identification, etc. makes for a great time! enjoyed your pictures!

  6. Holy cow! That’s awesome that you go to Yosemite so quickly. It looks like you had a great time.
    My girlfriend wants to go there this summer and I want to go as well. I’m sure that you’ve been there in the summer as well. I’ll bet it’s great then too. Is there anything that you would recommend that I might not think of?

    • That’s awesome, Scott, you two should have a great time! It just kind of depends on how long you will be there and what you want to do. In general, you probably want to do a couple days around the Valley to see the waterfalls, hike Yosemite Point, etc. Lots of great places to go/see outside the valley (and away from all the people) too.

  7. Cool! I love the snow/ice pic. Wow. Lucky kids. Good parents!
    How do people pop in pics beside their names?

  8. Damn, I thought a trip like this would be tougher to manage in a Day. Now I have no excuse and will have to plan one. My wife really wants to see the Valley in the snow.

    I doubt our will be a day trip and we will add a night to sleep. a 7 and a 5 year old travel well, it will be my wife who will want an extra day on the valley floor.

    Do you want to post the GPS coordinates for the Sledding site? 🙂

    • I think I can find it on the map 🙂 I imagine it’s not too hard to get place at the Lodge, this time of year. There was also a place right outside the gate that looked convenient.

  9. I love that you consider a 3.5 hour a day trip! So jealous that you can head to the Valley on a moment’s notice. It looks like you had a wonderful trip – that fluffy snow looks so cool.

    • It was a lot of fun, Debi – long drive, though! I got a chuckle last year, when I was on the east coast and drove from Pennsylvania to Maryland to Delaware in about 20 minutes 🙂

  10. That’s an amazing day trip! Way to go.

    Refusing snow pants on a trip to the snow… I’m not sure what to call that. My daughter is only three, but she’d do the same, if only to exercise her independence and right to choose. On our last campout, in the snow, she refused gloves and pretended that she didn’t mind. Audacious.