From November to May, snow covers the valleys, cliffs and ridges of Yosemite National Park, but for the first time in 12 years, the snow is finally dense enough across the landscape that the Tuolumne Meadows park rangers could commute to work on skis.
Winter season officially began for Yosemite National Park on December 4 when a snowstorm dumped 42 inches of fresh snow, creating 54 total inches of settled snow depth. With the thick, new blanket of snow, Tuolumne Meadows park rangers Laura and Rob Pilewski traded their snowshoes for cross-country skis and enjoyed a brisk, beautiful ride to work.
“Greetings winter wilderness enthusiasts and fans of Tuolumne Meadows! We have arrived to start another season as the Tuolumne Meadows winter rangers. For the first time in twelve years, we were able to ski from the Lee Vining gate on December 4, 2022 to start our season!” the rangers announced in a park update.
“We have been busy getting dug out and setting up ever since,” they added. “And so far, with temperatures below normal and precipitation above normal, the winter is off to a great start! We will be posting more detailed winter reports starting next week and more regularly after the first of the year.”
Of course, rangers aren’t the only ones able to enjoy the snowy landscape. According to the Pilewskis, the Tuolumne Meadows ski hut is now open for the season, and its eight are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Yosemite National Park Point out Another Telltale Sign of Winter
Skiing to work is just one of the many signs that Yosemite National Park is finally in full winter swing. Earlier this month, staff posted a photo of a large bear paw print, filled in with a fresh layer of snow. The photo not only demonstrated the recent winter storm but also the lumbering mammal’s march towards hibernation.
“An American black bear crossed the Valley Loop Trail sometime this past week, and its passage would likely have gone unnoticed if not for the ground’s frosted shroud. Whether it was headed towards another meal or to its den for a rest, we know not. What we do know, though, is that that bear is here beside us, even if out of sight,” the park shared.
Yosemite staff members pointed out that like all bear species, the national park’s black bears don’t sleep all winter long, contrary to common belief.
“Instead, they slow their metabolisms to enter a state called torpor from which they can awaken at any time to become temporarily active. Therefore, you may find their tracks throughout the season, so please continue to keep food and scented items close at hand at all times and out of your vehicles overnight,” the park added. “Let only the snow and distant photographs, and critically not our incident paperwork, document the wanderings of bears.”