Yosemite at Night
Yosemite National Park does not roll up its meadows and trails at sunset. In fact, parts of the park come alive at nightfall, showing off another side of Yosemite’s natural wonders. Check your Yosemite Today guide for more information about these and other activity programs.
If you fancy a nighttime stroll, you can take one regardless of season or weather. In summer, Night Prowl (90 minutes, $5) takes you along easy trails near Yosemite Lodge at Yosemite Falls, explaining the nightlife of the inhabitants of the valley floor. This fun guided tour welcomes children and adults. It takes place once or twice a week, starting at different times and places.
In winter, take a Full Moon Snowshoe Walk ($14.75 rental, $5 without, children over 8). This two-hour trek from the Badger Pass ski lodge takes you out into the sparkling white wonderland that is Yosemite in winter. These walks are offered five days per month — the four days leading up to the full moon, and the day of the full moon itself. Also be aware that the Badger Pass shuttle does not run in the evenings, so you must drive yourself to and from the lodge.
If astronomy is your favorite nighttime interest, join experienced guides out in the valley meadows for the Starry Skies ($5, summer and fall) program. Well suited for individuals and families, this one-hour program takes groups out to look at the unpolluted lights of stars and moon over the park. You’ll learn about constellations, comets, and meteors, and enjoy the myths and legends surrounding the mysteries of the night sky. Starry Skies happens several times each week in Yosemite Valley, and once a week in Wawona.
For families who find themselves tired after a long day running around the park, plenty of non-hiking evening fun can be had at various semi-sedentary evening programs. The Campfire Program ($5) does it old-school — groups gather around a nice big campfire (bring blankets and bug repellant!) for stories, singing, and marshmallow toasting. You might need to take a short walk to get to the fire near Camp Curry.
If you’re out at one of the more primitive lodges or campsites, check with your local rangers or office for campfire programs at your site, since many spring up in the summer and early fall months. Fireside Storytelling (fall, winter, and spring, free) focuses on, well, telling stories around the big fire inside the Ahwahnee Great Lounge. Take refuge from the bugs and the cold and listen to great tales in a comfortable indoor environment during the off-season.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition