A Guide To Skiing At Badger Pass In Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park, located in Northern California, might be best known for its warm-weather wilderness hikes, complete with sunny mountain views. But the park shines in the winter, too, when its peaks become blanketed in snow. That's when skiers and snowboarders flock to Yosemite for a chance to carve the well-groomed terrain.

Badger Pass is Yosemite's largest network of winter trails, as well as being the oldest downhill skiing spot in the state. For decades, Badger Pass has been welcoming families with its easy-going slopes, one of the first ski lifts in the area, a cozy lodge, and other amenities. Today, it continues to run year after year, welcoming snow bunnies from the middle of December until the end of March (as long as conditions are favorable).

The ski resort is the perfect winter getaway for those in nearby cities, such as Fresno (a two-hour drive away) and San Francisco (a four-hour drive away). It's also an easy stop tacked onto a Yosemite vacation — simply hop on one of the park's free shuttle buses heading to the ski area, departing in the morning and returning in the afternoon.

The Badger Pass ski area offers more than just ski runs

Badger Pass is spread out over 88 groomed acres with 10 ski runs. The ski area certainly isn't one of the largest in the country, but the good news is that it never gets too crowded, making it an ideal choice for a relaxed day of skiing. At the resort, expect an elevation difference of between 7,200 feet and 8,000 feet with a vertical drop of 800 feet. Visitors can also look forward to relatively mild winter temperatures ranging between 30 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Yosemite National Park's ski area isn't only fit for downhill skiers and snowboarders. Cross-country skiers and snowshoers will find 100 miles of trails starting at Badger Pass. Those willing to commit to a 10.5-mile trek can be rewarded with a stunning view at Glacier Point. When your legs get tired, the property also offers snow tubing, a thrilling alternative to sledding where you soar down a hill while lounging in an inflatable tube.

Beginners are welcome at the ski resort

Badger Pass is known as a beginner-friendly ski resort with tame terrain. Of its ski runs, 35% are classified as beginner level, half are geared toward intermediate skiers, and the remaining 15% are advanced. With this in mind, new skiers and those who haven't hit the slopes in a while will find the area perfect and not overly difficult, while black diamond skiers looking for a challenge might be disappointed.

Still, those who aren't familiar with the basics of skiing and snowboarding — including children and first-timers — may not want to carve the slopes of Badger Pass without a primer from an expert. Thankfully, the resort boasts a generous ski school that promises to equip newbies, aged seven and up, with enough skill to be able to independently ski or snowboard within just one day of lessons. If one day isn't enough, a subsequent day of lessons is offered completely free.

Small children can also partake in ski and snowboarding lessons in the school's Badger Pups program. The classes are designed for those between the ages of four and six and come in a single-lesson or double-lesson package.

Planning your trip to Badger Pass

Badger Pass is open throughout the winter, but you'll want to plan your day around the ski lift hours. The lifts — five in total — operate between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., so it's best to arrive early if you plan to spend hours venturing down the slopes. Full-day lift tickets can be purchased online before your trip and are priced at $64 for adults and $38 for children aged seven to 12 (younger children are free to enter with a paying adult). Half-day tickets, for use between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m., must be purchased at the resort.

If you come empty-handed to Yosemite, Badger Pass has you covered. Any equipment you might need is available to rent, including skis, snowboards, boots, poles, and helmets, and sizes are available for both children and adults. However, be sure to bring your own winter apparel, such as hats, a warm waterproof jacket, and gloves. For visitors lugging their own gear, note that locker rentals are available to store skis and boards.

Badger Pass lacks some of the swanky amenities you might find at higher-end ski resorts, but it offers enough to cover the basics. Guests can browse the items at the ski shop, grab a meal at the cafeteria, and take a break at the lounge.