It should come as no surprise that the Sierra Nevada is perfection when it comes to winter weather. At the higher elevations, we get copious amounts of snow, but it statistically falls on only 50 days per year. That means you can have a snow-cation AND enjoy the sun. Talk about a win-win! For those still struggling with the idea of visiting the High Sierra in the snowy months, here’s 7 High Sierra bucket list items to do this winter.

Try Skiing/Snowboarding At June Mountain

June mountain snowboarding views of California Alps on a winter day
Photo by: Local Freshies®

Maybe you’ve watched the Olympics or seen a GoPro commercial where skiing & snowboarding look amazing. Like any outdoor sport, taking the 1st step can be intimidating. Instead of aiming for star-studded mega-resorts, head to one of the lesser known ski areas like June Mountain. Mammoth’s sister resort is the perfect place to try skiing/snowboarding. With less crowded slopes and a more laid back vibe alongside its views, you’ll fall in love with the sport AND the town of June Lake.

Act Out A Sci-Fi or Western Scene In The Alabama Hills

Alabama Hills Lookout Bishop Visitor
Image appears courtesy: Bishop Visitor Center

If Hollywood is the center of the movie industry then Alabama Hills is the natural backlot for it. Near the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada, this unique formation of rocks & hills has been in hundreds of films. From Marvel’s Iron Man to the western classic How the West was Won, as soon as you see it, you’ll understand why it has become such a prime filming location. Since it’s in the desert, the best time to visit is in the winter or spring when it’s cooler. For more about the Alabama Hills and what to see & do, check out the Visit Bishop Quick Guide to the Alabama Hills.

Catch A Glimpse Of The Yosemite Falls

Lower Yosemite Fall in Yosemite National Park during Spring snowmelt
Image appears courtesy: Yosemite Mariposa County Tourism Bureau – Photo by: Kristal Leonard

Yosemite isn’t just a hotbed to see countless waterfalls. It also has the “King Kong” of falls – Yosemite Falls. This monster is the tallest in North America with a whopping 2,425 vertical feet of water splendor. Made up of three separate falls, Upper Yosemite Fall (1,430 feet), the middle cascades (675 feet), and Lower Yosemite Fall (320 feet), the roar from the volume of water can be heard throughout the park. Since it’s fed by snowmelt, the best time to see it is during winter or early spring.

A New Perspective On Yosemite – Take In Hetch Hetchy

Hetch Hetchy in early spring
Image appears courtesy: Visit Tuolumne

Explore the often-overlooked part of the park and the beauty of Hetch Hetchy. While it can get warm in the summer due to its low elevation, the winter and early spring transform into a hiker’s paradise. Embrace the unhurried pace of winter and allow yourself to fully immerse in the natural surroundings during your hike. Unlike its more popular counterpart Yosemite Valley, Hetch Hetchy offers perfect temperatures and similar scenic qualities without the bustling gift shops, snack stands, and crowds of visitors. After your nature retreat, treat yourself to the charming historic town of Groveland. Indulge in a warming latte or cocoa at Mountain Sage Café and Nursery or savor a unique seasonal brew at Around the Horn Brewing Company. For more winter adventures, check out Tuolumne County’s website.

Go Spelunking In The Mercer Caverns

mercer caverns high sierra attractions
Image appears courtesy: Mercer Caverns

Discovered in 1885, the Mercer Caverns are one of the crown jewels of the Gold Country. They’re even named after the gold prospector that found them originally thinking it was a gold mine. While he didn’t find gold, he saw the opportunity as an attraction and thus started charging .50 cents for tours. It is world renowned for a rare rock formation known as aragonite flos ferri. This beautiful and delicate array of aragonite crystals are so beautiful that they won a Grand Prize at the 1900 Paris World Exposition. For more bucket list ideas to try this winter in Calaveras County, check out their family friendly ways to experience winter in Calaveras County.

Snowmobile To Views Of Tahoe

snowmobile tours north Lake Tahoe snowing
Image appears courtesy: North Lake Tahoe Tourism Bureau

For those that enjoy motorized fun, snowmobiling is a MUST try. And what better place to do it than the North Lake Tahoe wilderness. If it’s your 1st time, we HIGHLY recommend mounting up with a snowmobile tour like Lake Tahoe Snowmobile Tours. In business since 1985, they provide exciting tours designed for all ages and ability levels. From snow play to some of the best views of Tahoe in the winter at the 8,200′ summit of Mt. Watson, you’ll come home with stories to tell.

If your kiddos or you have a bit of energy left in the tank on a Saturday night head over to Palisades Tahoe for disco tubing under the lights! A unique twist to snow tubing on select nights the tubing is done under a dark sky with flashing lights, lasers and even a live DJ. Not enough? Check out North Lake Tahoe’s wintry bucket list for more ideas on how to embrace winter this year.

Glide Your Way Along The Shore Of Lake Tahoe

Couple snowshoeing and cross country skiing with Mt Tallac in the distance on a sunny winter day
Image appears courtesy: Rachid Dahnoun / Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority

Experience the extraordinary by venturing into winter with a pair of snowshoes or cross country skis along the ice-free waters of Lake Tahoe. The Mountain Sports Center at Camp Richardson offers the perfect setting for these activities and more. If the snowpack hasn’t reached two feet, elevate your winter adventure by heading up to Kirkwood Resort. Situated at a lofty elevation of 7,800 feet above sea level, you’re ensured a reliable blanket of snow. For more winter fun ideas on the south shore of Lake Tahoe, visit their winter activities page.

It is our hope that you use this bucket list of High Sierra winter fun not as the be all or end all for fun and adventure, but rather a diving board into the possibilities to be found in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Author: Alex Silgalis

Alex founded Local Freshies® in 2014 to be the #1 website providing the “local scoop” on where to eat, drink & play in mountain towns throughout North America. When he’s not writing and executing marketing strategies for small businesses & agencies, he’s in search of the deepest snow in the winter and tackiest dirt in the summer.

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