We have modified, postponed or canceled many Conservancy programs, events and operations. For details, see our COVID-19 response and our new Outdoor Adventure safety procedures. Yosemite is open. Park entry requires reservations. See the Yosemite National Park site for details and reservations.

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A monthly recap of what we saw, heard and did in the park. Here’s what happened in November…

Not a bad way to spend a Friday! Photo: Courtesy of Jon-Paul SalonenThanks given

In honor of Thanksgiving and Giving Tuesday (celebrated the following week), we reflected on why we’re thankful for Yosemite and all the many people who play a role in preserving the park, especially our community of supporters — if you’ve made a donation, created a Facebook Fundraiser, volunteered, participated in one of our arts or adventure programs, or purchased something from our stores, that’s you!

A Friday outside

In between those two “giving” days, one of our naturalist guides, Jon-Paul Salonen, spent his Black Friday leading free nature walks in Yosemite Valley as part of REI’s third annual #OptOutside initiative. Thanks to everyone who joined in! For more opportunities to learn and explore with Jon-Paul and other knowledgeable guides, check out our Outdoor Adventures calendar or contact our team to create a customized trip.

Parks in Focus students showed off their work at the Palo Alto Art Center. Photo: Courtesy of Udall FoundationFrom the park to the peninsula

Over the summer, three groups of middle school students from the San Francisco Bay Area got to explore Yosemite through the lens of digital photography during camping trips with Parks in Focus, a Udall Foundation youth program supported by our donors. In November, we got to see the huge grins of students whose photos were featured at a special Palo Alto Art Center exhibit. The young artists beamed when they saw their work on the walls, and we can’t help but smile at the pictures from the opening reception.

The Palo Alto show closed on November 28, but if you’re on the peninsula this winter, you can see Parks in Focus photos at the San Francisco International Airport through January 23.

Sheeny sections of Glacial goo

Research published in the November issue of Geology shed new light on the polished appearance of some rock surfaces in glacier-shaped landscapes, a common feature in Yosemite (picture the glossy patches at places like Olmsted Point and Pothole Dome). A team of scientists, including Yosemite geologist Greg Stock and researchers from University of New Brunswick and University of California, Santa Cruz, found that glacial polish is in fact a thin coating left behind as the massive ice bodies move across the terrain.

Keep an eye out for shiny surfaces the next time you’re in the park, and check out our summer expeditions to Mount Lyell and Mount Maclure to learn more about the past, present and future of Yosemite’s glaciers.

Publishing props

Movies and TV shows might get most of the attention during “award season,” but for us, November was a month to celebrate the achievements of talented authors and illustrators. Two of our publishing team’s 2017 books received notable honors: Big Walls, Swift Waters, Charles R. “Butch” Farabee’s behind-the-scenes look at Yosemite Search and Rescue, won a National Outdoor Book Award, and Where’s Rodney?, an inspiring tale from Carmen Bogan and Floyd Cooper, was named a Best Picture Book by Kirkus Reviews.

Do you have bookworms on your holiday shopping list? Check out our online store to find a variety of Yosemite titles for any reading list — proceeds support the park!

Winter is coming… oh wait, it’s here

The winter solstice might still be a few weeks away, but key signs of the colder, quieter months have already arrived: (1) snow in the high country (and even a short-lived dusting on the Valley floor), and (2) the seasonal closure of Glacier Point Road and Tioga Road, on November 29. Both roads are closed to vehicle traffic until the spring. You can still access the high country on foot (by skiing or snowshoeing), but if you’re planning a winter wilderness trip, be sure you’re prepared with navigation skills and proper gear. Head to the Yosemite National Park website ( to brush up seasonal safety tips, and read our staff picks for winter trips to get inspired!

Snow blanketed the high country after a late November storm, creating a dazzling morning display for our High Sierra webcam.

One of our staff members spotted this American dipper in the chilly Merced River in November. Photo: Carolyn Botell

If you do head to the park this winter, you’ll find a landscape transformed by snow and ice, but still very much alive. While some animals hibernate or migrate for the season, others stay active all year. Look for coyotes hunting for subnivean prey, and listen for woodpeckers and brown creepers as they search trees for winter sustenance.

And if you’re near flowing water, keep an eye out for American dippers. These hardy birds rely on their thick feathers, slow metabolism and oxygen-rich blood to survive in cold water year-round.

Coming up on our calendars: Winter snowshoeing trips to Dewey Point and through sequoia groves; a new year of grants to Yosemite to fund research, restoration, youth programs and more (stay tuned); and a special shopping day at Sports Basement to benefit the park. Yosemite Conservancy “Basementeers” get 20% off in-store and online purchases on Sunday, December 10 (and 10% off the rest of the year), with a portion of proceeds going to support Yosemite. We’ll be at the Presidio Sports Basement store in San Francsico on Sunday morning — stop by and say hi if you’re in the area.

See you in the park, and thanks for reading!

Main image: Autumn colors along the Merced River in Yosemite Valley. Photo by Carolyn Botell.