Yosemite Glacier Point Ski Trip


View of Yosemite Valley from Glacier Point

We did the truly wonderful 10.5 mile (one-way, 21 miles round-trip) cross-country ski trip to Yosemite’s Glacier Point. In the winter they convert the gift shop into a ski hut, and you can reserve a bunk bed. There’s a cozy fireplace and lots of warm food (including a freshly-baked cookie out of the oven right when you arrive!). Here is a collection of helpful links, maps, numbers, and other info about our trip.

View of Yosemite Valley from Glacier Point

Trip planning

This Travel Yosemite website is the official information source about the Glacier Point ski trip.

We had reserved our trip a month in advance, and it ended up overlapping with the government shutdown. We got an email a few days prior, assuring us that our reservations would still be honored. Arriving at the park entrance after driving 4 hours there was a sign taped to the entrance with threatening wording along the lines of: “Enter at your own risk! No one will save you if you get injured! The closest emergency services are 3 hours away!” …….ok then! We went ahead anyway. We had ok emergency supplies, and thought it exceedingly unlikely anything bad would happen (plus, I never have cell phone service in a park anyway so have always planned to just hike out if the worst happened).

WHEN TO BOOK: I’m not sure if the hut ever fills up. I book in advance because I like to plan ahead but for this trip it’s probably better to wait until you’re sure about the snow levels. The Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area didn’t open this year until Dec. 20th (typical is mid-November I think). We started skiing on Dec. 24th. On the way out, the road was icy and there were patches where we had to take our skis off and walk.

Bare patch of Glacier Point road on the way to Glacier Point in Yosemite

It snowed that night and the ski out was much nicer through fresh snow. It’s probably nicer to go right after a big snow! But you’d probably have to jump on making the reservation quickly in that case. All-in-all we got really lucky with the weather: enough snow to ski, a bit of fresh snow the night we spent at the hut, and a sunny crisp day to ski out. It took us about 6 hours to get to the hut, and about 4 hours and 45 minutes to ski back out.

Winter sports are dangerous: the weather can be unpredictable and poor planning can result in death. The trip site has what should be a helpful set of waypoints for knowing whether or not you are going too slowly and should turn back, but since none of those are marked on a map, there are no signs when you’re out on the trail, and Google has no idea what most of them are, they are not as useful as they could be. Also everyone calls the ski hut something different (ski hut, gift shop, museum, concession building, etc. making it hard to be certain you’re going to the right spot). I annotated the map below with the GPS coordinates of the suggested turn-around spots, better descriptions of where everything is, and added a rough approximation of where it gets steep.

Itinerary

Here’s our itinerary for the trip, with links, times, tips, and contact info:

We stopped for lunch around the Mono Meadows trailhead because it was sunny and we found a perfect dry spot. This was also the 3-hr cut-off point, so I wanted to make sure we got here before we stopped in case we needed to turn around. We made it in just over 2 hours: Lunch near Mono Meadows

Hut

The hut is glorious but a little hard to find. For one thing, as you’re coming down the switchbacks, you pass an earlier group of huts that is NOT the Glacier Point ski hut. We went past it, then worried that was the hut so trekked back up the switchbacks to knock on the doors and make sure (not super fun in heavy wet snow at the end of a 10-mile trip). Anyway, to get to the hut you go down all of the switchbacks until you see this “one way” sign and a bathroom (the little wooden building behind the sign in the picture). There’s still no view of any hut:

View of the sign when you arrive at the Glacier Point Ski Hut

If you go to the right, you’ll see another sign just past the bathroom, with something labeled “concession building”. We arrived in white-out conditions right as the sun was setting, so we didn’t see Half Dome back there like you do in this picture, it was just a slightly pinkish blizzard:

View of the sign when you get a little closer to the Glacier Point Ski Hut

Hut area map

Anyway, you go past the sign, and the hut is just on the left down the path (it’s labelled “concession building” in the map). It’s easy once you know it’s there……so now you do! Hopefully this helps the next person. We wasted an hour in very cold, wet snow going back up the switchbacks and trying to guess where the hut was. Once we skied around the corner, the hut host came out to greet us and offer a fresh hot cookie. There’s a spot by the fire to hang up wet gear, comfy couches, tons of bunk beds, tables and chairs for eating, and snowshoes to borrow for quick day-hikes.

The inside of the Glacier Point Ski Hut in Yosemite

Sitting by the fire in the Glacier Point Ski Hut

The camp host prepares food (we had a cheesy spaghetti mess, garlic bread, and a hot brownie). The next day, there are hot breakfast sandwiches, oatmeal, and materials for making your own lunch:

Glacier Point Ski Hut food

Glacier Point Ski Hut food

The view from just outside the hut is spectacular:

View from first viewing area outside the ski hut

You can also walk down to the point for an even better panorama: View from Glacier Point

View from Glacier Point

View from Glacier Point

We hiked out the switchbacks the next day: even with the fresh snow, it felt too steep to be fun on skis. Coming back up in the sunlight we discovered another spectacular view we hadn’t seen in the snowy weather the day before!

Another view of half dome heading back up the switchbacks

All in all it was an absolutely glorious trip that I highly recommend. It was actually Matt’s first time on cross-country skis. I’m very experienced (grew up skiing in Colorado and just did a 16-mile round trip cross-country ski to a hut in Sweden) so I felt confident in being safe. Know your limits!

Other random bits of trip info

Pack list:

Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area "Snow Phone" 209.372.1000 The mailbox is always full. Redirects to a guy who can barely hear you and shouts everything into the phone. If you call before they're open, you'll get a recording saying whether the Badger Pass ski area is open or not. If the ski area is open, it's very likely that the route to the hut has enough snow for skiing too.
Yosemite National Park 209.372.0200 ext. 1, 1 Current road conditions throughout the park. We actually used our chains!!
Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area Nordic Center 209.372.8444 In theory this is the direct line to the cross-country rental place. They gave it to me when I asked for a good number to call in the future for questions. No response when I call though!
© 2019 / Molly Jane Nicholas / email