Badger Pass Ski Area
Badger Pass is one of only three ski areas located inside the boundaries of a national park in the United States. As it rests inside Yosemite, everyone typically calls it Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area. Whatever you choose to call it, Badger is a smaller resort, with 88 acres of skiable territory. There are ten named runs and two progression terrain parks. Moving around the mountain is handled by five lifts: one triple, three doubles, and one surface. The vertical at Badger is 600 feet, which may not seem like much, but for a resort this size, it’s plenty.
Badger has one novice run (named Turtle) with a standard learning area serviced by a cable tow lift. This short run is on the left side of the day lodge and provides a fun little hill for kids or people who haven’t ever been on skis before. If you’re used to skis, you’re going to find it a little limiting, however.
The center two lifts are a double and a triple and provide service to the peak. From there, Eagle is an intermediate steep that skirts the steepest terrain, but still provides a little edge. From here, skiers can also choose a more roundabout run to the right (Chipmunk) that features a wide open slope. When the powder is fresh, this romp is almost a bowl and a lot of fun. Farther to the left is Rabbit, a trail that becomes a fun cruiser with a gentle left curve before you reach the base.
The two expert trails in the center are Red Fox and Wildcat. Red Fox takes the lift line down and this steep is wide open. When you’re the first on the slope cutting the lines, it’s amazing. As the day wears on, the snow can get a little cement-like, especially if the day is warm. If this happens, cut to your left as you’re heading down to Wildcat. It’s a narrower run, but the steep is good and there are a few rollers to keep you on your toes. Badger is the last expert run at Badger Pass, and this follows the fall line underneath the Badger Lift. It’s a moderately inclined steep, but it’s just pure speed and bumps. If you like that sort of thing, you can spend hours perfecting your run here.
Badger is in the middle of Yosemite, so there isn’t a lot of après ski of the traditional variety. What there is plenty of, however, is the view and Mother Nature. You can trade in your alpine skis for a set of cross-country boards and ski around the park taking in views that you’ll never see anywhere else. Pack a lunch and make a full day of wandering around cross country and you’ll never regret it.
The Day Lodge at the base of the mountain serves traditional cafeteria fare. Burgers, dogs, soups, and fried bits are hot and filling. You can eat them on one of the best decks of any lodge anywhere, taking in the view of the park. You might not get traditional live music, but there are plenty of birds willing to serenade you during your breaks if you take a listen. As a family friendly ski area in a park where there’s already plenty to do, Badger is the icing on the traditional family vacation cake. While it may not have the vertical or trail variety of the bigger Reno resorts, you likely aren’t here just to ski, skiing is just a bonus; and what a bonus it is.