Even when Yosemite National Park is jammed in the warmer months, it's difficult not to be slack-jawed in the face of imposing glacial-cut granite cliffs, towering redwoods and sparkling rivers. But under a blanket of snow, the sense of being in a natural church is inescapable. Kenny Karst DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc.
The face of El Capitan rises over snow-covered Yosemite National Park. In the summer months, the rock formation may be swarming with climbers; in the winter, it's stunning in its solitude. DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc.
Half Dome, the iconic granite monolith, looms over Yosemite Valley. Bethany Gediman
Upper Yosemite Fall, as seen from Cook's Meadow in Yosemite Valley. Bethany Gediman
Few lodges match the mystique of the storied Ahwahnee Hotel, a stone, wood, concrete and glass marvel that opened in 1927. Kristal Leonard Photography, DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc.
Though the hotel is noticeably pricier than the valley's other options — Yosemite Lodge and Curry Village — there are few cozier places to watch snow fall. DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc.
Visitors navigate the snow-covered walkways of Curry Village. A summer month can draw 750,000 people to the park; cold-weather months average 150,000. Elias Funez, Modesto Bee/MCT via Getty Images
The skating rink at Curry Village is prized by visitors and locals alike. Trey Clark DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc.
Yosemite staffer Morgan Weber says the only thing better than skating on the Curry Village rink is skating on Tenaya Lake when it freezes over. Bethany Gediman
Longtime ranger and Yosemite's head of public affairs, Scott Gediman, leads a snowshoe walk at Badger Pass. Kenny Karst, DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc.
Skiers take a lesson at Badger Pass Ski Area. "I think there's a perception that in cold months the park is closed, but nothing could be further from the truth," Gediman says. Ryan Alonzo, DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc.
Yosemite's sesquicentennial will be marked by events ranging from a dignitary-filled party on June 30 to smaller happenings such as poetry readings and film festivals throughout the year in communities abutting the park. Chris Falkenstein, DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc.
Like this topic? You may also like these photo galleries: