. Winter Yosemite photos Part II: El Capitan, Bridalveil Falls, sunset : Budget Travel Adventures

Winter Yosemite photos Part II: El Capitan, Bridalveil Falls, and sunset

winter Yosemite photos Valley View El Capitan Bridalveil Falls This is part II of my Winter in Yosemite photos series.  Most people don’t see Yosemite this time of year.  Check out my story and photos of Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, and Mirror Lake in Part I.  It only gets better in Part II.

I didn’t come to see what I wanted.  It’s not my fault.  The Yosemite photos you see in all the magazines and travel photographs didn’t happen for me.

You see, I am not an expert travel photographer.  Yet what I didn’t see may turn out to be some of the best photos I’ve ever taken.

Anyone who has been hiking in northern California knows how beautiful this area is.  However, Yosemite is different.  Many people want Yosemite photos of Bridalveil Falls.  Maybe you want that black and white tribute with a few Ansel Adams Yosemite photos .

This isn’t summer.  Yet winter may be the best time to visit Yosemite National Park.  If you enjoyed my winter Yosemite photos in Part I, I’ve got another story to tell you.

More importantly, I’ve got some of the best Yosemite photos you may ever see.

Winter in Yosemite with my friends

The snow crunched under my feet as I left the first footprints in the freshly fallen powder.  The sun was setting as I positioned myself in Cook’s meadow to capture the perfect Yosemite photo.

Clouds caressed the mountains and draped over Yosemite Falls like a soft blanket.  In the distance, the mountains in Cook’s meadow burned with an orange glow.  Blue sky mixed with the gray clouds as they were the only companions of this sunset in Yosemite.

For 45 minutes, I sat by myself in one of the most popular spots in Yosemite National Park.  During the summer, I would be joined by many others as we waited for those perfect Yosemite photos to share.

But this is winter in Yosemite and I was all alone.

During the cold winter months, Yosemite delights in her new identity wrapped in clouds and snow.  Popular Yosemite photos at Tunnel View and Valley View hid El Capitan and Half Dome.  While I was disappointed that I didn’t see the famous views in full glory, I was in awe of Yosemite’s beauty.

While taking photos of these Yosemite landmarks, I was stunned by the effect of the snow and the clouds.  Cathedral Spires were surrounded by puffy clouds and pure snow in an undisturbed meadow of peace and silence.  El Capitan posed gracefully under the blue and white sky as the winter trees paged homage to this Yosemite icon.

After my earlier hike to Yosemite Falls and Mirror Lake for some bonding time with Half Dome, I spent my afternoon on a tour bus visiting all the major sights for those famous Yosemite photos.

As the sun faded, I joined Yosemite Falls all wrapped in her blanket in Cook’s Meadow.  As the winter sky put on fashion show full of colors for sunset, I was once again alone with Yosemite.  The burnt orange mountains and gray skies shared their heavenly space with patches of blue sky.

I sat and waited on that perfect Yosemite sunset photo.  I may have waited too long for it but I didn’t care.  Sitting alone bundled up with my companions Yosemite Falls and the unblemished snow, I watched and wandered in awe at what I was seeing.

Winter Yosemite photos – El Capitan, Bridalveil Falls, Yosemite Falls

Some of the most beautiful views in my life were captured in these photos. I found the beauty of Yosemite in the unseen and silent.

You can have your blue skies, perfect weather, and unobstructed views of El Capitan, Bridalveil Falls, and Half Dome.

This may not be an adventure like a Yosemite zipline tour.  However, these winter Yosemite photos have come to life as I shared the moment with my majestic companions on my birthday.

It was the perfect gift.

What is the best travel photo you’ve ever taken?

Yosemite photos El Capitan winter blue sky trees white clouds

El Capitan under blue skies and white clouds

Cathderal Spires winter Yosemite photos snow

Cathedral Spires covered surrounded by snow and clouds

Yosemite photos Bridalveil Falls winter snow clouds trees Valley View

Gray clouds hover over Bridalveil Falls

winter Yosemite photos Valley View El Capitan Bridalveil Falls snow clouds

Valley View of El Capitan enveloped by clouds as Bridalveil Falls enjoys the view

Yosemite photos Tunnel View winter snow El Capitan Bridalveil Falls Half Dome

Tunnel View of El Capitan, Bridalveil Falls, and Half Dome covered by clouds in winter

 winter Yosemite photos Upper Yosemite Falls up close ice cone Cook's Meadow

A view of Upper Yosemite Falls from Cook’s Meadow

winter Yosemite photos Upper Yosemite Falls up close ice cone Cook's Meadow

A close up of Upper Yosemite Falls

Yosemite Falls panoramic black and white photo winter B&W Yosemite photos

Yosemite Falls panoramic in black and white

Yosemite sunset photo winter Cook's Meadow snow blue orange sky

A Yosemite sunset

Enjoy more Yosemite photos or purchase one of these in my Yosemite winter gallery.  Stay tuned for an upcoming Winter in Yosemite photos ebook with even more photos!

Special thanks to Yosemite and Mariposa Tourism for inviting me to spend my birthday in Yosemite.  If you enjoyed these Winter in Yosemite photos, plan your own Yosemite experience.

Did you enjoy this post as part of the Nature Travel Roundup?

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Filed Under: CaliforniaDestinationsFeaturedHikingnorthern California


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  1. Wow, Jeremy. Gorgeous photos! I have only been to Yosemite twice – once in the spring and once in the fall. It looks like winter is equally beautiful. (p.s. my grandma gave me a signed Ansel Adams book that I treasure.)

    • Thanks Michael. This was my first visit after living here for 12 years. I admitted that in my birthday dream trip post and a little embarrassed to share that. However, I was quite surprised by the scenery in winter. Normally, I would be disappointed about not getting the perfect views but the clouds gave me some amazing shots.

      After visiting in winter, not sure I want to go in the summer. Very crowded and not many waterfalls. I was spoiled by this trip. Would love to go in the Fall or Spring though.

  2. So glad Yosemite charmed you in her winter wardrobe! If you ask me, ALL of the US National Parks should be visited in every season…

    • I completely agree. I am not one for traveling much in the summer as I love the offseason and fewer crowds. So I am a big fan of the national parks in other parts of the year. I visited the Grand Canyon in April and Muir Woods on the last day of August.

      I don’t travel much in the winter because I am not a big snow person. However, I am so glad I got to see Yosemite in winter. A few inches of snow had fallen the night before so it made for some amazing scenery.

  3. For someone who isn’t an expert, you’ve turned out some fabulous photos, Jeremy!
    I love going traveling in the off season — there’s so much more to see when you don’t have to fight the crowds.

    And to answer your question, the best photo I’ve taken is one of the Avon River near Bath.

    • Thanks so much Marcia. I did spend a lot of time editing these (that’s something that is very new for me so hope to get better at the photography and editing). However, the scenery was amazing. I was disappointed at first but not after looking at these photos and how they turned out.

      Like you, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the offseason. As I’ve mentioned to others, I haven’t done a big trip or vacation in the summer for years. I prefer the offseason. So Yosemite in winter was pretty special.

      I bet I would love your photo. I love those areas of England and long to visit.

  4. Some amazing shots here. I pinned a few of them and placed them on my natural wonders board. Great stuff.

    • Thanks Ted. I worked really hard on these photos. I want to become a better photographer and this may be an area I may focus on a little more in the future. Thanks so much for sharing the photos. I am glad you liked them.

  5. I haven’t been to many of the national parks in the US, but I think I would prefer to travel to them in the low season to avoid crowds and enjoy the beauty and big open spaces.

    • Stephanie, I am just like you. I don’t want to visit with all the crowds. Honestly, I haven’t planned a big trip during summer in years. I’ll do some traveling in California during the summer and save my big trips for Spring and Fall. Yosemite was a great time to visit during winter. I would definitely go back in Spring or Fall but probably not summer. Like you, I don’t want to deal with the crowds.

      Visiting in the winter but can be bit iffy with the snow but it’s very beautiful.

  6. Devin says:

    Hi Jeremy,
    It has been about twenty years since my last visit to Yosemite. I think it is time to return. Beautiful shots.

    • Thanks Devin. I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t get the blue sky clear views of Yosemite. However, I like these even better. Yes, definitely need to visit Yosemite again. It’s a great destination all year round.

  7. Christy says:

    Yep! The cloud ones are definitely my fave. :) Great job!

    • Yes, the cloud ones are awesome. I didn’t realize how beautiful these were until I looked at them later. At the time, I was actually disappointed in the weather and photos. I was mistaken. :)

  8. Laurence says:

    Gorgeous photos! Must get myself to Yosemite some day :)

    • Yosemite is definitely a beautiful place. Of course, I can’t criticize anyone for not seeing it considering how long I’ve lived in California and I just made it here myself. Ha!

      It’s one of those old sayings that applies to me (taken from baseball great Yogi Berra) – “No one goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.” :)

  9. Beautiful photos Jeremy. I think the close up of Yosemite Falls is my favourite. :)

    • Thanks Michael. I like that one as well. I also like the one from Valley View (with the water, Bridalveil Falls, and El Capitan in clouds) and Bridalveil Falls (the one I posted for mountain monday).

      Now I need to go back in the Spring and Fall. I think I will skip summer though. It’s too crowded for photographers :)

  10. Nat says:

    Wow – they are really good. Can see a big change from when I first started reading your site. Think that was about 2 years ago. Time flies!

    • Thanks Natalie. When I first started the blog, all I had was a point and shoot. I didn’t even think about photos that much. They were just something to supplement the content. Now, I want to focus a little more on travel photography. I still have a lot to learn but this was my first real attempt at it. I wish I had focused on this earlier.

      Yosemite is absolutely beautiful though. I had a lot of help with the scenery. Not hard to screw it up when it looks like that. I hope people see how much this place can be a year round destination. While the weather may not always be perfect like it is in summer, Yosemite is beautiful any time of year. I am so glad I got to experience it.

  11. Great photos, Jeremy. Yosemite is awesome any time of year. I’ve been there in spring, summer and fall. Would love to see it in person in the winter.

    • Thanks Cathy. I was pleasantly surprised by the scenery. I was excited about the snow but initially disappointed by the clouds. However, the clouds made for better photos than blue skies. I would love to go in the Spring and Fall but not sure about summer.

      How did you like Yosemite in the summer? Seems like it would be really crowded and not as fun to explore.

  12. Heart says:

    wow, photos look great! thanks for sharing!
    pls visit our blog as well at thenomadcouple.com

    thank you and happy travels!

    • Thanks Heart. Yosemite in winter is beautiful. Hope those photos show it’s not just a summer destination. Can’t beat the views no matter what time of year.

      • Heart says:

        i’ve never been to yosemite and it’s been over a year since i last visited the US. i’m currently in Europe so until my next US trip, i’m just gonna have to keep following your guides and tips.

        I just read your Paris blog and i love it. I’ll be there in a weeks time so your tips are just timely. keep blogging Jeremy! It’s great!


        • Thanks Heart. Glad you appreciate the guides and tips. Hope the one for Paris is helpful. Paris is a great city. I’ve been there twice and it’s a unique place. The tourist sites are great but it’s a city you need to explore in order to really appreciate it.

          As for Yosemite, I loved it. I am not one for big crowds or tourists so seeing Yosemite in winter was great. The scenery isn’t bad either. I may go back in the Spring and Fall – but will probably skip the summer.

  13. Barbara says:

    These shots are excellent. You are right, Yosemite is not just a summer destination! I’m so glad you enjoyed your time in Yosemite and were able to get such wonderful shots, very nice work, thank you for sharing!

    • Thanks Barbara. These were some of my favorite photos that I’ve ever taken. I loved visiting Yosemite in the winter. However, I can’t take credit for the photos – Yosemite put on a pretty spectacular display!

  14. Michael says:

    Fantastic photos, very moody with the overcast skies. Excellent captures. I love national parks in the winter. Its about the only time of year one can actually experience the solitude expressed by the pioneers of the system like Edward Abbey.

    • Thanks Michael. I was a bit disappointed with the gray skies later in the day. In the morning, I had blue skies (which you could see on part I) but I wanted beautiful weather for the popular photo opportunities. However, I think these photos turned out better than ones with sunny skies. I love the clouds in these photos.

      I’ve never been a big fan of winter travel because of the weather but national parks and landscapes are very beautiful this time of year. I love the solitude experiences I had in Yosemite. You could never experience that in the summer.

  15. Freya says:

    WoW absolutely fabulous photos ! I love Yosemite National Park it’s so beautiful although usually a bit to crowed for my liking but if you can look behind that it’s a wonderful place.

    • Hi Freya! That’s EXACTLY why I wanted to go in winter – it’s not as crowded! :)

      Yosemite in the winter is beautiful. I want to go back. However, like you, I am not as interested in going during the summer. You are a bit limited in the winter not being able to see some of the stuff at higher elevations or the trails.

      When did you last go to Yosemite? What was your experience like? Was it crowded?

  16. Gorgeous, gorgeous photos! I’m a California girl, and sadly, I’ve never been to Yosemite. Your pictures have encouraged me to move Yosemite up higher on my travel priority list!

    • Thanks Dana. I’ve lived in California for 12 years and this was my first visit. It’s never too late to go. I am glad I went in winter. I enjoyed it so much more in the snow with fewer people around. Very peaceful.

      Definitely move it up on your list and go! :)

      I will have a book on Yosemite later this month with more photos from my trip. So if you need any more motivation to go, stay tuned! :)

  17. Janine says:

    Yosemite is a jewel. A book with hikes in the upper meadows of the park and on the other side of the Sierra is called Alpine Sierra Trailblazer. For hikers, mountain bikers, fishermen, etc. Activities range all the way to Tahoe.

    • Thanks for letting me know about the book. I do LOTS of hiking in Tahoe (I even wrote a post about a hiking guide in northern California) so the more trails I can find and explore the better. I may have to check that out!

  18. These photos are gorgeous. I may get to go back there this summer – such an amazing place!

    • Thanks Annie. I read that you are from California right? What part?

      After seeing Yosemite in the winter with so many colors without a lot of people, I am not sure I want to go in the summer. I think I enjoy the colors a little more so maybe a trip in Spring or Fall for me.

  19. Beautiful photos! I love that you were able to experience such a popular place as Yosemite without the crowds. I’m a big fan of nature in winter. Everything seems more pure. Keep up the great photography.

  20. Donna Hull says:

    Great photos, Jeremy! I’m a big fan of visiting national parks in the off season. I’m adding a winter visit to Yosemite to my travel list.

    • Thanks Donna! I am a big fan of visiting EVERY place in the offseason. :) Honestly, I haven’t done a summer trip in years. I prefer to go in the Spring or Fall. I use the summer for hiking or day trips in California. Seeing Yosemite in winter was beautiful. I don’t even want to go in the summer because it’s hot, crowded, and not as pretty. I would love to see Yosemite again in the Spring or Fall. Not sure if I will make it this year but I was told by many people that Yosemite always looks different every time/season you visit.

      I will have more photos to share from Yosemite in an upcoming ebook I am doing so stay tuned for that. I will be giving it away to subscribers of the newsletter but will let people know when it’s available.

  21. Wow–those are some gorgeous shots! I visited Yosemite for the first time last May–early May–and I was pretty darn alone, too. But it is so different–and so beautiful–in the winter.

    Thank you for sharing these.

    I will stop blog-stalking you now. 😉

    • Glad you enjoyed the photos. I actually have an ebook coming out on Yosemite in May. So if you want to see more photos, you can sign up for the newsletter to get a free copy. Yosemite in winter is really special. I want to visit in Spring and Fall too (however, I am going to skip summer – too crowded).

      And please keep blog stalking me – I don’t mind at all :)

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