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Blog Guide to Snowshoeing in and Around Badger Pass Ski Area
Alex Silgalis | 01/12/2020Hiking, Tours, Trails, Winter Fun |   

Winter is here! This can only mean it's time to start exploring Yosemite National Park in a different and more exciting way. While the lower elevations of Yosemite periodically get blanketed with snow, as soon as the sun comes out, it’s gone pretty quickly. For those that want to truly enjoy the white stuff, you need to go higher in elevation. A great basecamp for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing is Badger Pass Ski Area. Here’s a guide to snowshoeing in and around Badger Pass Ski Area.

Why Badger Pass Ski Area Is Perfect For Snowshoeing

Photo by: Local FreshiesWhile the lower elevations might be pretty with a snowy canvas, there’s a good chance you won’t see enough to warrant those snowshoes. The base at Badger Pass Ski Area, on the other hand, is situated at an elevation of 7,200 feet above sea level making it more than 3,000 feet HIGHER than Yosemite Valley. This means the winter precipitation falls mostly as snow. Besides the big snowpack, the region surrounding the ski area (for the most part) offers up rolling hills to climb and explore, making it a perfect place to snowshoe.

Where To Pick Up Gear

Now that we’ve got you excited, where do you rent snowshoes or cross-country skis? The answer is simple – the Nordic Center at Badger Pass Ski Area. As you pull into the ski area, head a bit further through the parking lot. You’ll see the separate building towards the end of the parking lot. The Nordic Center rents everything you could think of from an assortment of cross-country skis, camping equipment, sleds, and of course snowshoes!

Tip: Be sure to keep aware of your time. The Nordic Center closes at 4 pm SHARP.  So, if you need to return your gear, be on time! Otherwise, you’ll be charged for another day's rental.

Guide To Snowshoeing In And Around Badger Pass

Photo by: Local Freshies

You’ve got your gear, so where should you go? Right outside at Badger Pass Ski Area, there’s over 90 miles of marked trails and 25 miles of groomed track that provide beginners and seasoned pros access to Yosemite Landmarks. And, you'll pretty much have all those outstanding views to yourself. Here’s a quick rundown of options depending on your physical fitness level.

Tip: No matter what level you are, be sure to pick up a free map from the Nordic Center. If you have any questions, the staff is SUPER helpful on providing guidance.

Instead of starting on Glacier Point Road, you’ll head the opposite direction. Looping around the edge of the ski area, you’ll summit at the top providing glorious views of Badger Pass Ski Area. From there, you’ll begin the descent through the snow-covered firs and lodge poles, ending on Glacier Point Road. At the junction, make a left and follow the main groomed trail until you’re back at the ski area.

Photo appears courtesy: Yosemite Conservancy

For those looking for jaw-dropping views of Yosemite Valley, it’s a little bit more work but definitely worth it. From Badger Pass Ski Area, follow the old Glacier Point Road for the first 1.2 miles. As the snow blankets the upper elevations, this popular summer road is closed to vehicles. Instead, only human-powered individuals get access. At 1.2 miles, you’ll reach a junction and veer off the main groomed trail (a small sign will be seen). Head into the forest, meandering and enjoying your time through it.

Snowshoeing Tip: Be courteous and do NOT walk in the machine-groomed cross-country ski track. Instead walk alongside.

Just as the sign highlights, the last 1.5 miles are the most difficult but the reward you get in seeing Yosemite Valley from above is priceless. With a leisurely lunch break, the adventure clocks in around four hours, so be sure to give yourself enough time.

Photo by: Local Freshies

This is the jewel of the Badger Pass cross country ski network. An accomplishment that you can boast about to your friends and family. With that being said, this is an adventure not to take lightly. At a whopping 10.5 miles one-way, with most of it NOT having cell service, you will have to rescue yourself if there’s an issue. If you’re a cross-country skiing veteran, this full day round-trip adventure can be done in under 5 hours, but if you’re snowshoeing, this is a multi-day journey. In fact, on a pair of snowshoes, it can take up to 5 hours ONE WAY. The rainbow at the end of all your hard work is the view from Glacier Point. Sure, you can drive it in the summer, but you'll be surrounded by multitudes of other tourists. During this time of year, you’ll pretty much have it all to yourself.

If heading out into the wilderness by yourself seems a bit daunting, check the park newspaper for guided snowshoe options. Rangers lead snowshoe trips up at Badger Pass Ski Area which includes full moon walks throughout the winter and into spring. While seeing Yosemite when the snow is melted is great, in the winter, you have the opportunity to appreciate the views with a fraction of the visitors and you'll get a small taste of what Ansel Adams, John Muir, and Teddy Roosevelt must’ve felt like when they visited.


Like what you see? Save any of these pins (or possibly all of them) to your travel planning board(s) to give you an easy way to find your way back here!  Also check out our other blog posts as well as itineraries for more ideas and pins!

Alex Silgalis

Alex founded localfreshies.com® in 2014 to be the #1 website providing the “local scoop” on where to eat, drink & play in mountain towns throughout North America. When he’s not writing and executing marketing strategies for small businesses & agencies, he’s in search of the deepest snow in the winter and tackiest dirt in the summer.

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