Monday, January 05, 2009

Yosemite Winter Travel Tips

Winter is one of the best seasons in Yosemite. The crowds are gone, the light and weather are more dramatic, and you may be blessed with snow! If you are out to make that perfect winter Yosemite picture, you can increase your odds by planning ahead with these tips:

Plan your travel for the best snow months
If you are planning your trip in advance, January, February, and early March offer the best chance for snow storms. Even if you don’t get snow, you'll have a slew of photographic opportunities. With ice on the Merced River; snow on the granite walls; and winter sunlight that lends a 3-dimensional glow, Yosemite is always magical in winter.

Act fast - the snow melts quickly
if you want the magical look of snow hanging from the trees, you’ll have to be in Yosemite before the storm hits. The typical winter storm drops snow during the night, leaving a morning with fresh snow and clear skies. As soon as the sun hits the trees, the snow starts melting, so plan on getting up before sunrise and photographing as quickly as you can to catch the classic winter look.

Don't put pressure on yourself to capture the perfect storm or the perfect winter picture
Yosemite has a rich tapestry to enjoy and photograph, and the best photographs often come when (and where) you least expect them. Show up with your camera, have fun, and the photographs will find you!

Broaden your horizons
Yosemite Valley is incredible in snow, but consider visiting Wawona to explore the South Fork of the Merced River; Hike (or snowshoe) to see the Sequoias in snow; Check out the sweeping vistas on the road to Badger Pass ski area (great for sunset!); and if daytime temperatures are below freezing, look for incredible ice formations on the Merced River in Wawona.

Bring the equipment you need
The Ansel Adams Gallery may have the filters, batteries, and flash cards...but if they don’t, you’ll be stuck driving two hours to Fresno...and two hours back. That's a serious dent in your Yosemite vacation.

Stay in the park
Save transportation time by staying in Yosemite Valley. It will make it easier to be where you want to be for sunrise and sunset. If the valley is booked up, El Portal is the closest lodging, and HWY 140 is easier to drive in snowy conditions.

Carry tire chains
Always carry tire chains in winter, because conditions change quickly, and you may be required to use them at any time. Do a fit check, and learn how to put them on BEFORE you visit to ensure your chains really fit. When conditions require 4WD or chains, always drive slowly! 4WD Doesn’t help you stop faster, so don’t tail gate!

Call for road conditions
Find current road conditions by calling the National Park Service at 209-372-0200. Press 1, and then press 1 again to shortcut to the road conditions. The message is updated as conditions change.

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