Adventure, Blog

AutoCamp’s Guide to Visiting Yosemite in the Winter

How to experience the magic of the season in this iconic California locale

A winter visit to Yosemite should be on everyone’s bucket list: fewer crowds, gorgeous views, snowy adventures, and the epic natural phenomenon of Firefall. Whatever adventure you’re seeking, there is so much to explore and see in the valley this time of year.

Here’s our roundup of some of our favorite things to do in Yosemite in the winter:

Don’t Miss Firefall

During most of February, the sun’s specific angle of descent causes the seasonally-occurring Horsetail Falls to become side-lit. The result of numerous conditions all aligning at once creates the illusion of the waterfall on fire. The best time to see Firefall is during the latter half of February (10th-28th), and the magical moment itself occurs around 5 to 15 minutes before sunset. However, you should plan to invest several hours to get to the right place in time. Pro tip: To make it even easier, you can book Wildland Trekking’s Firefall Excursion to experience this phenomenon from a local’s perspective. As a part of the tour, you’ll enjoy free park entry – no reservation required!


Cooler temperatures and clear skies make winter an especially magical time to take in the sights of Yosemite National Park. This Best of Yosemite Tour is a half-day excursion that includes iconic park sites like sheer rock faces and waterfalls, along with scenic views of El Capitan and Half Dome. Or, adventure solo on some of our favorite hikes including the one-mile Lower Yosemite Fall path, the two-mile round-trip route to Mirror Lake, or the Yosemite Valley Loop.

Go Ice Skating in Yosemite Valley

There’s no more magical place to ice skate than outdoors in the shadow of Yosemite’s iconic Half Dome. Open since the early 1900s, Curry Village Ice Skating Rink features dramatically picturesque views of the valley and a cozy fire pit for warming up after you hit the ice.

Try Snowshoeing or Cross Country Skiing

Maybe you’ve hiked Yosemite before, but have you ever explored the park by ski or snowshoe? The pristine Valley makes for some ideal conditions for snowshoeing or cross country skiing. Badger Pass Ski Area also offers downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and tubing.