Badger Pass Ski Area (also known as Badger Pass) is a resort in Yosemite National Park. It is situated five miles (8 km) south-southeast of the Chinquapin intersection of Wawona Road (HWY 41 continuation) with Glacier Point Road in the southern area of Yosemite National Park. Glacier Point Road provides the access to this ski area.
The nearest community to Badger Pass is Yosemite West.
Badger Pass is at about 7200 feet in elevation at the restaurant and services buildings. At the summit of the downhill ski lifts, elevations rise to 8000 feet. This 90 acres skiing area provides 10 runs and 5 lifts with downhill, snow tubing and snow boarding facilities.
In addition to the downhill facilities, there are extensive cross-country skiing and snowshoe trails. In fact this is one of the highlights of the Badger Pass/Yosemite National Park winter activities. There are over 84 miles (135 km) of trails encompassing many of the tourist sites in Yosemite . In addition, two overnight huts are available for extended winter trips into the wilderness .
The History of Skiing in Yosemite
The history of winter sports in Yosemite National Park is vivid and unique. Following the building of the Ahwahnee Hotel in 1925-1927, came Yosemite’s first ski school in 1928 with Jules Fritsch as instructor.
Fritsch, a Swiss ski expert was part of a trained staff of winter sports experts available in Yosemite. Fritsch and the staff led six day snow excursions in Yosemite from the Ahwahnee to Tenaya Lake to bolster the ski school. Many believe this ski school was the first in California. In conjunction with the Curry Company, one of the first projects was the 1927 construction of a four-track toboggan slide near Camp Curry. Dr. Donald Tresidder, the first president the Yosemite Park & Curry Company and its guiding force, saw the visitor interest in winter sports and immediately formed the Yosemite Winter Club.
With the club’s enthusiast support, a small ski hill and ski jump near Tenaya Creek Bridge was built in 1928.
With the interest building in Yosemite for winter sports, and the Olympics selecting Los Angeles as the site for the summer games for 1932, Tresidder teamed up with William Garland, president of the Steering Committee of the Plays of Los Angeles to promote Yosemite for winter sports for the Olympics of 1932.
Unfortunately, Lake Placid was selected instead. This did not diminish the interest in winter sports in Yosemite, but rather intensified it. Tresidder could see the need for real facilities in Yosemite for winter sports.
A lift was built in 1933 but it was not at the Ahwahnee but at Badger Pass some miles away. The first slalom in California was held in 1933 at Badger Pass. With the lingering effects of The Great Depression and the difficult road access to Badger Pass, the need for an easier route to the high country slowed further development.
The History of the Yosemite area depicts the building of the tunnel as follows:
"The completion of the 0.8 mile (1.3 km) long Wawona Tunnel in 1933 was both an engineering marvel and significantly reduced the amount of travel time to the Valley from Wawona without scarring the landscape with a long road cut (the famous 'Tunnel View' is on the Valley side of the tunnel and Inspiration Point is above it)."
After the Wawona Road and Tunnel opened in late 1933 and Glacier Point Road to Badger Pass opened in 1935, Yosemite's first ski lodge was built in Monroe Meadow, and by the end of the season Badger Pass had welcomed more than 25,000 skiers. The West's first ski lift, called the Upski, was installed in 1936. Nicknamed the “Queen Mary,” it was a large sled that moved up and down the hill on a cable, carrying six skiers at a time up to the summit.
Also with completion of the new Wawona Road and tunnel, visitors began to use the Chinquapin area for skiing as well as the Badger Pass slope. Because of the poor condition of the Glacier Point road, the Yosemite Park and Curry Company became interested in installing the cable tramway mentioned earlier as a means of getting skiers to the south rim. Gradually valley floor winter activities faded and skiers concentrated on Badger Pass and the high country, especially after improvement of the Glacier Point road afforded greater accessibility to that area.
With this, the oldest ski resort west of the Mississippi, was born.
Current day Badger Pass
Today, the Badger Pass ski area is the center for both downhill and snowboarding activities. With a restful chair at the Snowflake Room, the pub atop Badger's big-beamed lodge, you can see 10 runs and 5 lifts in operation. Excellent for the beginner and skilled alike, this family-oriented ski area allows all to enjoy the day. Numerous ski schools are located here to teach the fun of skiing to all ages.
In addition, cross-country skiing is available for those adventurous souls that want to see Yosemite wilderness up-close. With instructors and guides available, Yosemite provided an astounding 22 miles (35 km) of groomed cross-country track and 90 miles (145 km) of marked trails. For the veteran cross-country skater there are more than miles of skating lanes.
If you don’t have equipment for cross-country skiing, you can rent them by the day from the ski rental department at the lodge.
One of the most interesting trips is a 21-mi (34 km) loop from Badger Pass to Glacier Point. The views of Half Dome in winter are spectacular. In fact, the National Park Service in conjunction with The Yosemite Association provide webcams of the vistas you can see along this journey.http://www.yosemite.org/vryos/sentinelcam.htm
A guided ski trip on intermediate groomed terrain through magnificent Yosemite backcountry takes you to the rustic accommodations of the beautiful stone and log building, known as the Glacier Point Ski Hut. http://www.yosemitepark.com/BadgerPass_CrossCountrySkiing.aspx
This overnight trip allows you to experience snow covered vistas of Half Dome and Vernal Falls from Glacier Point.
Photos of the Slopes and Trails