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Re: Winter Camping in the Valley

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Winter Camping in the Valley
August 31, 2011 02:07PM
Im planning a trip this winter (Dec-Jan) to spend some time in the valley camping. I am aware of Upper Pines, Camp 4, and Wawona campgrounds being open all year round, I plan to reserve Upper Pines. This will be our first time for my friend and I camping in the winter. We're motivated to experience the Yosemite Winter beauty and this post is to gather ideas on what is definitely needed in the winter that you typically would not bring to the valley in the summer. Winter gear: all season tent/bags, winter shoes and clothes, etc. Any suggestions or tips are appreciated.
Re: Winter Camping in the Valley
August 31, 2011 02:22PM
Snow shoes, I got mine on ebay for less than 50 bucks, work great.
avatar Re: Winter Camping in the Valley
August 31, 2011 02:30PM
I wouldn't make a reservation in Jan. Why bother? The campground will be nearly empty then.
I'd plunk down in Camp 4 way before Pines.... mainly b/c Pines is gonna be in the
shade way earlier in the day and also will receive sun much later in the morning.
The benefit of Pines though is that you have Curry Village nearby that you can go to when
you figure out that a) the sun goes down REALLY early and b) it's purty cold in valley once that happens
(when the cold air mass drops into the valley... it can get supa dupa cold)
You may want to also consider one of the unheated tent cabins in Curry as a baby step to starting snow camping.



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Winter Camping in the Valley
August 31, 2011 03:13PM
I like to avoid Curry Village in the winter. There's a reason why it's called Yosemite's Siberia. And often times, midweek during the winter, Curry Village is shutdown except for the stores. But the worse thing about Curry Village in the winter, even when they're open on the weekends, is that they don't often plow their footpaths. So their footpaths are often caked in ice, which means they can be quite slippery unless wearing proper footwear for icy conditions.

If camping solo or with just someone else, then Camp 4 would definitely be a nice choice and quite warmer than Upper Pines. But if camping with a family, I would rather have my own campsite at Upper Pines and deal with the cold conditions.
avatar Re: Winter Camping in the Valley
August 31, 2011 03:15PM
Quote
waterpusher
Im planning a trip this winter (Dec-Jan) to spend some time in the valley camping. I am aware of Upper Pines, Camp 4, and Wawona campgrounds being open all year round, I plan to reserve Upper Pines. This will be our first time for my friend and I camping in the winter. We're motivated to experience the Yosemite Winter beauty and this post is to gather ideas on what is definitely needed in the winter that you typically would not bring to the valley in the summer. Winter gear: all season tent/bags, winter shoes and clothes, etc. Any suggestions or tips are appreciated.

Bring shoes, or ice cleats, that grip well on ice. You'll often have to walk on trails that are icy. Tennis shoes (and even regular hiking boots) won't cut it. Bring along footwear specifically designed for icy conditions.
avatar Re: Winter Camping in the Valley
August 31, 2011 03:45PM
I only go to the Valley in the winter and almost always camp at Upper Pines. Sometime's it's more slushy and icy than snowy. Sometimes it's difficult finding a non-slushy-puddle place to pitch a tent so I just sleep in my truck.

It's cold. Bring a shovel (if there has been a lot of recent snow you may need to dig out parts of the site or firepit). There will be stomped down paths between the campsites and bathrooms and they will ice over. Bring something insulated to sit on (the picnic benches will be buried/icy/wet).
Re: Winter Camping in the Valley
August 31, 2011 04:12PM
You can't make reservations in winter - it's all first come first serve. And you don't need to.

You also probably don't need an all season tent - you're not going alpine into howling blizzards... three season tents work okay most of the time with a little snow loading, just knock the snow off a couple times. But you'll probably want a nice warm sleeping bag and a good sleeping pad - thermarest with a foam pad under it works fine.
Re: Winter Camping in the Valley
August 31, 2011 04:17PM
I would imagine sharing a tent would help keep the temp inside warmer and possibly humid??? Not sure if it is that much of a difference.
avatar Re: Winter Camping in the Valley
August 31, 2011 04:47PM
Quote
waterpusher
Im planning a trip this winter (Dec-Jan) to spend some time in the valley camping. I am aware of Upper Pines, Camp 4, and Wawona campgrounds being open all year round, I plan to reserve Upper Pines. This will be our first time for my friend and I camping in the winter. We're motivated to experience the Yosemite Winter beauty and this post is to gather ideas on what is definitely needed in the winter that you typically would not bring to the valley in the summer. Winter gear: all season tent/bags, winter shoes and clothes, etc. Any suggestions or tips are appreciated.

You can't reserve for that time frame. You should have no problem getting a site though.
avatar Re: Winter Camping in the Valley
August 31, 2011 04:52PM
extra blankets

I put one on the floor of the tent, an thermarest mat on top of that, then my 30deg bag, then another blanket on top of that.
I wake up with the inside of the tent covered in ice, but kept toasty all night.
With this arrangement I've slept on snow at Camp 4 and had the snow not even melt under the tent.

I vote for staying at Camp 4. I have very pleasant winter memories from there.

)Waking up in the morning to fresh snow covering everything.
)Being the only person in the entire campground
)Using the HEATED bathrooms!
)Dinner followed by Ranger programs at the Lodge
)Keeping warm in the Lodge lobby before running to the tent for the night
)Digging 1.5 feet of snow out from in front of a bearbox upon arrival for the weekend ( yes, it was fun! )
Re: Winter Camping in the Valley
September 01, 2011 08:59AM
Sweet! This all sounds like a great time to me. Thanks for the tips people. As the trip details develop, I'm sure I'll have more questions.
avatar Re: Winter Camping in the Valley
September 01, 2011 07:30PM
In the valley my sole winter experience has been two nights at Curry Village in early March this year. I agree with those who mention this as a 'first-winter-trip' option over Upper Pines, and I certainly enjoyed my trip (note: I had, and needed, a shovel to dig out the bear locker for my tent-cabin!). I also agree with those who say that if you plan to be in your tent Camp 4 might be a preferable option because that side of the valley sees a lot more winter sun.

There was quite a bit of bare ground at Camp 4. A picture of my Curry Village tent cabin:





Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/01/2011 07:33PM by ttilley.
Re: Winter Camping in the Valley
September 01, 2011 07:35PM
You can ask at the desk and they have a guy who will dig out your bear locker in curry village, you don't have to do that yourself.

Also, can anyone confirm if this is normal or was done special for someone I saw. I saw a site in upper pines being dug out with a front loader for a camper, removing the snow on the parking pad. Is that typical? Ask and you shall receive?
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