Your Yosemite Stories: Winter

Winter Trees by William Neill

Winter Trees by William Neill at

Nothing conveys the secret splendor of a Yosemite winter like firsthand stories.  In our winter newsletter, we asked Yosemite community members to share their favorite Yosemite winter story. So, enjoy four stories as Yosemite residents share some magical winter moments with us:

Michael B Schwartz “I remember walking to work one morning and the river that runs under the bridge from Yosemite Falls was stacked with a huge ice flow. The entire river. It almost touched the bridge. Blocks and blocks of ragged chunks of thick ice, being forced and pushed by the falls. It was amazing. That is just one of many winter memories. At the time, I was probably a busboy at the Ahwahnee, late 1986.”

Casey McClanahan “Me and an Australian couple ice skated under a half moon on a frozen over Merced River by the Pines Campgrounds one night. Water was frozen from bank to bank and for a good 80 yards. Could see all the rocks underneath and feel the ice move. Still have the pictures. I was a mechanic at the garage in 2006 and 2007.”

Colleen Cassidy Murch “In 2005 when the federal government shut down, I was an assistant manager at The Ahwahnee. All reservations were canceled and all the food was bought for Bracebridge – the hotel was decked out in its Christmas glory! I was asked to stay at the hotel during this time to keep an eye on things. It was a little creepy to be the sole human in the hotel at that time. I remember reading my book and sitting in the solarium very late one night with the moonlight highlighting the trees. I sat and ate a bowl of oatmeal in the Dining Room early one morning in compete silence – the only person in the entire building. Later in the week, my best friends joined me to celebrate Christmas. They were let in to share this amazing historical building and you could hear the echoes of years past; the celebrations, the generations, the experiences, the war time memories. So many memories in Yosemite but this one was at the top of my list.”

Alanna Dolen Llama “I worked in the park summers of 2002-2005 and spent only one winter there. I was an Ahwahnee Dining Room Captain from fall 2004 to spring 2005. My favorite memory, by far, was the day that I unexpectedly made it to Dewey Point on cross-country skis. I knew that the trail changed from beginner’s to expert at one point, and planned to turn around there, but I didn’t notice it. Suddenly, I found myself looking down at Yosemite Valley in front of me! I was amazed! It was so silent and breathtaking. I had phone service up there even back then, and I called a bunch of people because I had to tell someone about the amazing view that I saw! I loved seeing the snow fall against the Valley walls.”

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New Year’s Eve at the Wawona Hotel in Yosemite

wawona_exteriorIt may not have occurred to you that a national park may make the list of favorite locations to celebrate New Year’s Eve, but here at the Wawona Hotel in Yosemite National Park, we can give you plenty of reasons to plan next year’s party at your favorite national park on the eve of 2015:

1. The Venue
The historic Victorian-era Wawona Hotel is lovely dressed up for the holidays, particularly in white. Though we didn’t have much snow this holiday season, the hotel lends itself to twinkling lights, crackling fireplaces and evergreen garlands.



2. Dinner
The New Year’s Eve dinner menu included beef tenderloin, lamb shanks, duck, salmon and wild mushroom risotto with a coconut shrimp and cucumber salad starter – enough said.



3. Live Entertainment
From the traditional Wawona tunes sung and played at the piano by local Tom Bopp to the guitar-based rock of local band Bootstrap Circus, we have you covered with music for all ages.

4. Dancing
You can dance in the lobby and parlor of the hotel to your heart’s content from 10:00 pm until past midnight.



5. Champagne Toast at Midnight (With Balloon Drop!)
The hotel staff will make sure you have something to toast the new year, whether you buy cocktails in the Petite Dining Room that serves as the cocktail lounge, or accept a complimentary glass of sparkling wine as the minutes count down to next year. December 31st, 2014 in Yosemite National Park – it’s a date!