Yosemite can seem like an intimidating challenge when snow blankets the park. But never fear – if hiking over icy passes isn’t your style, there’s another way. Whether you have a nasty cold or are just a little out of shape, you can still experience at least some of this famous park’s natural beauty without breaking a sweat.
Here’s our one-day cheat sheet to doing Yosemite the easy way this winter.
Shortly after entering the park via Big Oak Flat Road (Highway 120), follow signs for Bridalveil Fall. Just a half-mile from its parking area, this waterfall is gushing in winter. The way up is mostly flat, and equipped with helpful hand rails.
Next, return to the main drag and enjoy the slow drive before pulling over at Swinging Bridge. The structure is just a few steps from the road, and crosses over the stunning Merced River. The surrounding meadow, known as Sentinel Beach, affords views of Yosemite Falls.
By this point, you might need to warm up. Skip the turn toward Curry Village. Keep left and head up toward the Ahwahnee. It’s worth a stop purely for ogling.
Once you’ve gathered the energy to journey on, take the main road to the Yosemite Falls parking area. From there, take the very brief Lower Yosemite Falls trail to a close-up of what you saw from Swinging Bridge.
Heading out toward the park exit, don’t forget to stop for a picture of El Capitan, which rises more than 3,000 feet above the valley. Everyday folks can still get a taste for its greatness without clipping on a harness.
Finish off your day with a short jaunt north to Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. The scenery is wondrous, and while most of the surrounding trails are strenuous, an easy hike leads to a lookout over the reservoir, O'Shaughnessy Dam and Wapama Falls.