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Yosemite Valley for a 3-day December weekend

Santa Clarita...
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116 posts
11 reviews
10 helpful votes
Yosemite Valley for a 3-day December weekend

We’re headed to Yosemite for the first weekend in December. I’ve been reading the Top Questions here on TripAdvisor, as well as the NPS’ own websites. The latter shows zero tours/activities on the calendar, but I’m guessing that’s just a lag in when they update the website. I’ve read elsewhere that Glacier Point road may be open, and the valley shuttles may be operating. Hard to know for sure.

We’re staying Friday & Saturday nights at the Yosemite Valley Lodge, and also plan a morning arrival on Friday. (We’re driving up from SoCal on Thursday after work, staying overnight at the new Oakhurst Fairfield Inn.)

We aren’t big hikers—the point of our trip is to relax and enjoy the natural beauty. My wife has never been to Yosemite except during dry seasons with almost no waterfalls. Neither of us have been there for 20 years despite being Californians. As a kid I remember going on ranger-led nature walks in the valley that were wonderful. I’m not sure if covid or the season will permit that during our trip.

What food & services can we expect while we’re there?


4 replies to this topic
Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
Level Contributor
92,625 posts
197 reviews
169 helpful votes
1. Re: Yosemite Valley for a 3-day December weekend


After the new Yosemite Guide newspaper is published. that will have more up to date information.


Right now, I don't really know what the NPS and TravelYosemite really plan to do in December. If you want a private tour of something like that, Yosemite Conservancy is the fund-raising arm and has an excellent reputation.

I do know that tiny Merced Grove is closed, and of course Bridalveil Fall is still closed.

The TravelYosemite website for dining 'usually' has the most up to date meal info, but even that can be wrong. For example, staff issues may mean that an option suddenly closes.

Hopefully Glacier Point Road will still be open. Keep an eye on the current weather forecast (NPS page) and consider calling the recorded info 209 372 0200

Mariposa, California
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
Level Contributor
3,227 posts
39 reviews
68 helpful votes
2. Re: Yosemite Valley for a 3-day December weekend

The Yosemite hospitality covid update page has been fairlyyyy decent about service updates but it's separate from the individual service pages.


Typically NPS ranger walks are significantly limited in the winter anywau because staffing is so reduced. With covid last winter nothing ran bit as pacifcnw said we'll have a better idea when the new Yosemite guide comes out. The fact that there weren't any this fall though might indicate none for the next time period as well.

I know that rangers are available to help people and trip plan behind the Yosemite valley visitor center (ten or fifteen minute walk from the main parking area). The times I've popped back there on Fridays it's not too busy and I'd guess they'd answer other park questions for you too.

They're still renting bikes on weekends with the good weather and the long range forecast seems to indicate that will hold. No ice rink yet though because it has been so warm.

Yosemite falls and mirror lake are still lovely though the water levels are running low again.

I wouldn't count on the shuttles for your visit though I could be wrong. Bring good walking shoes.

Also if you download the NPS app before arrival you can go in and download Yosemite for use offline. There are a few self guided walks in there and also some decent maps.

Penn Valley...
Level Contributor
148 posts
12 reviews
6 helpful votes
3. Re: Yosemite Valley for a 3-day December weekend

Check out my Trip Report post from yesterday discussing our 2 day stay at the Lodge on Nov. 17-18. Based on the Weather.com forecast it looks like you should have pretty similar conditions that we had.

Edited: 29 November 2021, 04:34
Los Angeles...
Destination Expert
for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
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18,033 posts
124 reviews
127 helpful votes
4. Re: Yosemite Valley for a 3-day December weekend

Well, you'll be staying right across the road from Yosemite Falls, so do see that (it's flowing low). Here's the webcam:


Take a leisurely walk along the Valley Loop Trail. You can cross over in front of El Capitan (the meadow is roped off, but you can walk next to it) and get great views of El Cap and also see Bridalveil in the distance. You can find a quiet place to rest and enjoy (we take a small blanket, small sit-upons everywhere we walk in the Valley). You see more wildlife that way. Also, you see the rock walls differently when you quietly contemplate them.

You're also right across the road from Camp Four, with the trailhead to upper Yosemite Falls - you can go up it a short distance for some excellent views. Also check out whether anyone is climbing on Midnight Lightening/Columbia Boulder in Camp Four - it's amazing to watch.

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