Winter just may be my fave season at Yosemite National Park. If you're into lots of action, there's plenty of variety in winter sports (click here for current conditions). I've written about skating at the Curry Village ice rink (one of California's most dramatic outdoor ice skating venues). Take a spin on the ice, or sit by the fire pit and wolf down toasty s'mores. Head up to Badger Pass for downhill skiing, siding down a tubing hill, or joining guided snowshoe hikes into the forest. There are easy valley hikes to take (watch for the tracks of last night's animal visitors in the snow).
And if you're into less action, then there is the Ahwahnee Hotel. In the famously formal dining room, plunk yourself down at a window looking up at Half Dome dusted in snow and partake of a grand meal. Or just lounge by the most massive fireplace this side of a European castle. Time your visit right and you can hone your food-and-wine knowledge at the outstanding Chefs Holidays and Vintners Holidays (see my earlier story on those dinners), shown at left; the best parts: meeting the chefs and then enjoying a 5-course wine-paired dinner. Or if you're really into the holidays, enjoy the festive pageant of music and food that marks the Bracebridge Dinner (easier to get tickets to, now that they've expanded the schedule).
Details: For ice rink conditions, 209/372-8319. For road and weather conditions, call the automated National Park Service info line at 209/372-0200. Chefs Holidays and Vintners Holidays start in January; for schedule, click here. The Bracebridge runs Dec. 13-25 on vario;us days; for details, click here. For lodging options, click here.
PHOTO CREDIT: Ahwahnee Hotel, courtesy Kenny Karst, DNC