Yosemite National Park
Activities & Programs
There is something happening every day in Yosemite. Whether this is your first visit to Yosemite or your fifth, get the most out of your park experience by attending one of many interpretive programs. Most are free, and all provide interesting insight into this magnificent place. For a complete calendar of park programs and activities, see Yosemite Today. You may also check at visitor centers, the Yosemite Lodge at the Falls Tour and Activity Desk and local bulletin boards. The following is a partial list of the classes, programs and tours offered in Yosemite.
During the summer season, a sign language interpreter may be available for deaf and hard of hearing visitors. Contact the Valley Visitor Center for information.
Ranger Walks: Take a stroll with a National Park Service ranger who will provide knowledgeable insight into what makes Yosemite special. Ask about the history and symbolism behind the ranger's famous hat. See Yosemite Today for schedule, topic and location; for children's programs, look for programs listed in color.
Photography Walks: Free photography walks led by professional photographers are also available through The Ansel Adams Gallery and DNC photographers (year-round).
Free Art Classes: No matter where you look in Yosemite, there's a scene to inspire the artist in you. For a little guidance, the Yosemite Art and Education Center offers free, informal outdoor classes daily. Art supplies, books and original art are available for purchase. Located southwest of the Village Store, it is open spring to fall. Conditions permitting, classes start at 10 a.m. and last until early afternoon.
Indian Cultural Program: Demonstrators interpret the customs of Yosemite American Indians in the Indian Village of Ahwahnee (summer only) and Indian Cultural Exhibit (year-round) located at the Yosemite Museum in the Valley. Julia Parker is the unofficial ambassador for Yosemite and the National Park Service since 1960. Indian Cultural Program staff specialize in educating visitors about Miwok traditions, such as food preparation, obsidian knapping and basket weaving.
Evening Programs: Talks and slideshow programs cover a wide range of topics on the natural and cultural history of Yosemite. Learn about the stories behind Yosemite scenery, hear the story of a Buffalo Soldier in Yosemite during 1904 or see award-winning imagery that documents Yosemite's beauty. These hour-long programs are free and held at the amphitheaters at Curry Village, Yosemite Lodge at the Falls and Lower Pines Amphitheater. During winter months, programs are held indoors at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls and The Ahwahnee. In summer, programs and traditional campfires are also offered at Tuolumne Meadows, Glacier Point, Crane Flat, White Wolf and in Wawona.
Horse-drawn Stage Rides: During summer, discover the stage coach travel tradition. For a nominal fee, join "Buckshot" Burrell and his horse team on a unique tour of historic Wawona.
History Center Programs: Join park staff and volunteers for a tour of the Pioneer Yosemite History Center, a collection of significant and historic Yosemite buildings. See Yosemite Today for program times (summer only).
Yosemite Mountaineering School Outdoor Adventures: Yosemite Mountaineering School offers classes, courses and guided adventures in rock climbing, hiking, backpacking and cross-country skiing. Beginners and experts of all ages can enjoy these programs. Call (209) 372-8344 (winter) or (209) 372-8435 (summer).
Vintage Songs: Musician and entertainer Tom Bopp has been performing at the Wawona Hotel since 1983. Playing the piano while singing along, his music is heard five nights a week in Wawona's guest lounge. Tom also presents slide programs on Yosemite history.
Ahwahnee Historic Tours: Take a step back in time through the magnificent halls, great rooms and grounds of The Ahwahnee. Learn the story behind the architecture, design, and the people who influenced the building. Inquire at the Concierge Desk for more information.
Live Theater in Yosemite: Yosemite Theater offers a variety of live theater programs that bring the park's history to life to both entertain and inspire. Three shows of John Muir's exploration and political pursuits by renowned actor, Lee Stetson; "Sarah Hawkins Contemplates a Fourth Marriage, Stories of a Pioneer Woman," by actress Connie Stetson; and Park Ranger Shelton Johnson portrays Sgt. Elizy Boman in "Yosemite Through the Eyes of a Buffalo Soldier, 1904." See Yosemite Today for program times.
There are a number of special guided tours designed to help visitors discover the park's incredible scenery. Learn from an expert about the park's geology, history and wildlife. Tour information and reservations may be placed at any Tour & Activity Desk or by calling (209) 372-1240 or by going online to www.YosemitePark.com.
Big Trees Tour: Learn the secrets of the sequoias and their unique environment in this one-hour interpretive tour of the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. The audio tram tour is available in five languages and audio description. Available spring to fall, conditions permitting.
Glacier Point Tour: From early June through October, take a half-day tour from Yosemite Valley to Glacier Point for breathtaking views of the High Sierra and Yosemite Valley. You have the option to take the round-trip tour or go only one way and hike back into Yosemite Valley from Glacier Point (check trail conditions at Valley Visi-tor Center).
Grand Tour: Enjoy a full-day tour to the south side of Yosemite. Discover the phenomenal Glacier Point and the timeless Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. The tour is available June to early November, conditions permitting.
Moonlight Tour: Marvel at Yosemite Valley in the moonlight on this illuminating two-hour tour through the Valley. The tour is available late-spring to early-fall during full moon nights, conditions permitting.
Tuolumne Meadows Tour and Hikers' Bus: An eight-hour round-trip takes you to the stunning high country of Tuolumne Meadows. Spend a few hours hiking along the Tuolumne River or enjoy a picnic near Lembert Dome. The tour is available June to early September, conditions permitting.
Valley Floor Tour: Enjoy a 26-mile tour of Yosemite Valley in an open-air tram. Take pictures and enjoy the view as a National Park Service ranger (summer only) describes the amazing history, geology and wildlife of the park in an open-air tram. From fall through spring, tours are offered by motorcoach.
People who visit Yosemite in winter don't want the word to get around. Here's why:
• Pleasant Weather: At 4,000 feet, Yosemite Valley's winter temperatures are relatively mild.
• Dramatic Mountain Light: With the sun at a low angle, morning and evening winter light is filled with gold.
• Wildlife in the Open: Coyotes, mule deer, raccoons and even an occasional bear are easier to spot when the leaves are off the trees.
• Yosemite to Yourself: There are far fewer people in Yosemite Valley in the winter. Lodging, including economical canvas cabins, is more readily available.
• Lodging Packages: You can get a room almost any midweek night (except during holiday periods) on short notice and Yosemite's value-filled Midweek Ski Packages and Romance Packages give the winter vacationer a generous savings. Call (559) 252-4848 or visit www.YosemitePark.com for more information.
Yosemite's Badger Pass Ski Area: As California's original ski area, Badger Pass has been a favorite of winter- loving families for generations. Unpretentious, friendly and affordable, Badger Pass offers a uniquely stress-free atmosphere. Featuring one of the best sundecks in the Sierra Nevada, you can watch the children learn to ski or snowboard while enjoying the California sunshine. Badger Pass is a full-service ski resort offering ski and snowboard instruction, rental equipment, ski shop, child care, cafeteria and lounge and free shuttle service from Yosemite Valley. Located on the road to Glacier Point, Badger Pass is about a 40-minute drive from Yosemite Valley. Open mid- December through late March, conditions permitting.
Badger Pass Cross-Country Center & Ski School: There are nearly 350 miles of skiable trails and roads in the park. Beginning at Badger Pass are over 90 miles of marked trails and 25 miles of machine-groomed track. Cross-country track and skating lanes are groomed from Badger Pass to Glacier Point (a 21- mile round-trip). From silent snowy day-trips to overnight adventures, the novice and expert alike can create their perfect trip. The Cross-Country Center and Ski School has everything from equipment rentals and sales to knowledgeable guides and daily lessons, as well as scheduled and custom-designed day and over-night trips. For more information, call (209) 372-8444.
Yosemite Ski & Stay Packages: This special package gets you and your family on the slopes quicker. Visit online at www.YosemitePark.com. For details and reservations, call (559) 252-4848.
Snowtubing: Relive the childhood joy of sledding with a new twist. Badger Pass has created specially groomed slopes exclusively for sliding on custom-designed innertubes made for the snow. Located right next to the ski slopes at Badger Pass, snowtubing offers a convenient and affordable alternative way to play in the snow. Note: Sledding is not allowed in the Badger Pass area.
Snowshoe Walks: Enjoy a two-hour ranger-led snowshoe walk from Badger Pass. Look for signs of wildlife, learn about winter ecology and get some great exercise! Don't miss special snowshoe walks during nights of the full moon. Check Yosemite Today for schedule. No experience necessary and snowshoe rentals are available for a small fee.
Glacier Point Overnight Tours: Led by an experienced guide, you'll enjoy miles of scenic cross-country skiing on intermediate groomed tracks to scenic Glacier Point. Dormitory-style overnight accommodations are provided in the Glacier Point Ski Hut, a contemporary stone and log lodge 3,200 feet above Yosemite Valley. Lunch and dinner on the first day and breakfast and lunch the following day are provided. For more information, call (209) 372-8444 or visit online at www.YosemitePark.com.
Ice Skating: Imagine the pleasure of ice skating under the shadow of two of Yosemite Valley's most dramatic sights—Half Dome and Glacier Point. The Ice Skating Rink located at Curry Village (shuttle stop #21) has delighted generations of visitors. The rink is open from mid-November through mid-March (conditions permitting), with daytime and evening ice sessions. The rink offers a rental and retail shop, warming hut with snack and beverage vending machines and a toasty fire pit.
Winter Tours: Take a two-hour winter sightseeing tour of Yosemite Valley in a comfortable, enclosed motorcoach with large windows. Tours depart twice daily from Yosemite Lodge at the Falls. Call (209) 372-1240 or sign up at any Tour & Activity Desk.
Yosemite Association Winter Adventures: Want to enjoy the park while taking an informative and educational class? The Yosemite Association offers classes on photography, winter ecology, snowshoeing, cross-country adventures and American Indian lifeways. Call (209) 379-2321 to request a catalog or visit the Yosemite Associationhttp://www.yosemite.org/seminars.
Yosemite hosts special events from November to March. Reservations are accepted for up to a year in advance. For the most up-to-date information, please visit www.YosemitePark.com.
The Bracebridge Dinner: Since the first production in 1927, this spectacular three hour Christmas pageant has become a hallmark of the holidays at the luxurious Ahwahnee.
For eight magical nights in December, including Christmas Eve, The Ahwahnee's magnificent dining room is transformed into the old English hall of Squire Bracebridge from author Washington Irving's Sketchbook. Music, song and dance accompany the elegant seven-course dinner.
Vintners' Holidays: Each November and December the wine industry's finest come to The Ahwahnee. Twenty-four of California's most prestigious wineries are represented during eight sessions. Each session includes four informative seminars, a welcome reception and a magnificent Gala Dinner created specifically to highlight the featured wines. Two- and three-night packages are available. These events sell out, so book early!
Chefs' Holidays: Renowned chefs from around the world are featured at this event. Each of the eight sessions include a "Meet the Chefs" reception, three culinary demonstrations, a tour of The Ahwahnee's 6,500 square foot kitchen and a five-course Gala Dinner with wines to compliment. Packages including lodging are available.
Yosemite Nordic Holidays: This 10-mile event is California's citizens' oldest cross-country ski race. It is held at Badger Pass in February. For information, call (209) 372-8444.
Yosemite Springfest: A traditional winter carnival takes place at Yosemite's Badger Pass Ski Area on the last Sunday of every ski season (usually in late March). Dual slalom racing, costume contests, cross-country ski races, obstacle course races and other exciting events take place. For more information, call (209) 372-8430.
Ahwahnee Heritage Holidays: Step back in time as performers guide you through unique periods in Yosemite's history. Taking place every March, The Ahwahnee celebrates the Roaring '20s, '30s and '40s with music, history and cultural performances.