Yosemite National Park
Travelers can fly into either San Francisco or Fresno airports and rent a car. Drive times are 4 hours from San Francisco and 2 hours from Fresno.
Yosemite National Park is open 365 days a year. All hotel guests must pay the $20-per-car park entrance fee. You'll find much of the lodging, the visitor center, Ansel Adams Gallery, Indian Cultural Center, recreational activities and restaurants in Yosemite Village.
Check the Yosemite website (www.yosemitepark.com) for weather conditions and roads that are closed because of ice or snow. Make sure your rental car is equipped with chains; under federal law they are required in the park during certain weather conditions even if you are driving a four-wheel-drive vehicle. During our short time in the park, the roads were well maintained. When we left The Ahwahnee at 5:30 a.m. to drive to San Francisco International Airport, park salt trucks already were on the roads.
2013 Chefs' Holiday
There are Chefs' Holiday two- and three-night lodging packages available at The Ahwahnee and Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, both in the Yosemite Valley. Packages include overnight accommodations for two, admission to culinary presentations and tastings and private "meet the chefs" reception with wine and hors d'oeuvres, two tickets to the Gala Chefs' Holiday Dinner in The Ahwahnee dining room and behind-the scenes kitchen tour.
The Ahwahnee (9001 Village Drive, Yosemite National Park, CA 95389; 1-209-372-1407).Three-night package starts at $574 per person. Two nights start at $449 per person.
Yosemite Lodge at the Falls (9006 Yosemite Lodge Drive, Yosemite National Park, CA 95389; 1-209-372-1407). Three-night package starts at $399 per person. Two nights start at $332. Free shuttle service is provided between the lodge and The Ahwahnee for the events.
Chefs' Holiday reservations: 1-801-559-4884.
The Ahwahnee hosts two other off-season events: Vintner's Holidays in November and December, when the hotel celebrates winemakers' fall harvest with tastings, seminars and a five-course gala dinner; and Bracebridge, 17th-century England manor feasts with music and entertainment, held on select nights in December.
All info available at www.yosemitepark.com.
Other winter activities
• Hiking and snowshoeing: There are several short and flat hiking trails beginning in Yosemite Village that will take you to some picturesque sights: Bridalveil Falls (half-mile round-trip); Mirror Lake meadow (2 miles round-trip); Lower Yosemite Falls (1.1-mile loop); or if you want a longer flat route, Valley Floor Loop (13 miles) or half loop (6.5 miles). More ambitious hikers can arrange for longer guided hikes.
• Skiing at Badger Pass -- Lifts open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; all-day lift tickets, $47. Shuttles provided from Yosemite Valley.
• Ice skating, Curry Village -- Available at various times every day; admission $9.50 adults/seniors, $8.50 children. Skate rentals: $4.