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Updates at Yosemite's Badger Pass feel like fresh powder

The national park in California now has state-of-the-art lifts and a freshened lodge. But the area's uniqueness hasn't changed.

February 21, 2010|By Dan Blackburn

The Glacier Point Road, which takes people to the famed point in summer, becomes a 10 1/2 -mile ski or snowshoe trek -- a 21-mile round trip. And it is awesome. On skis, the trip takes four to five hours one way, with pauses to catch your breath.

Getting to Glacier Point on skis is only part of the story. There also is a place to bunk for a night or two. A fairly new and impressive stone and wood building that serves as a tourist center in the summer becomes an overnight lodge in the winter. It can accommodate up to 20 people in bunk beds, and a roaring stone fireplace keeps everyone cozy. The package prices include a hearty dinner and breakfast. If you are an experienced cross-country skier, you can make the trip on your own. Guided one- and two-night tours also are available.

When you ski around a curve in the road and break out from the trees, Half Dome erupts in all its majesty before you, a genuine "oh, my gosh" moment.

"I think most people are always surprised by what they see," said guide Rick Stockwell. "There is no amount of pictures that can prepare you for actually seeing it yourself. I can go out each time and never get tired of the view."

The evening's setting sun often turns the famed piece of granite a red so intense it stops conversations in mid-sentence. It's more than worth the effort to get here.

Because of the unique nature of the ski area inside Yosemite, some have questioned whether it will remain. Park superintendent David Uberuaga sought to ease those concerns, telling me, "I see this as an integral part of the future of Yosemite. It is part of the fabric of the park -- a special family thing." Works for me. /badgerpass

Let it snow!

Go online to view more pictures of Badger Pass and Yosemite in the wintertime.

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