Opening: Yosemite's Badger Pass

The national park ski area has readied the runs for winter fun.

HAPPY 80TH, BADGER PASS: The granite behemoths of Yosemite Valley are more than a few years old (put them in the age category where the first number is followed by a whole bunch of zeroes). So when you hear of something associated with the national park that is marking an anniversary of eight decades, well, that can seem very young, almost infant-like, compared to its ancient surroundings. But for a recreational area to mark eighty years is note-worthy, applause-worthy, and should inspire the heartfelt clacking of ski poles among fans. (Wait, that's what skiers do to applaud, right? Gently clack their poles together?) Badger Pass, Yosemite National Park's ski destination, is marking its 80th season over the 2014-2015 run, which is nothing to blow snow at. It's an area that's known for a few things, including the fact that it opens a bit later than most of California's ski-happy play places and it is within a national park, a fairly rare asterisk in the world of ski resorts. It's also important to know that it is not located in the valley, the park's busy heart, but free shuttles will deliver skiers from the Yosemite Valley hotels to the pass. As for the big opening day? That happened on...

SUNDAY, DEC. 14: And, my, was that timely, as the mondo storm that passed through the Golden State earlier in the week delivered some 20 inches of fresh snow. Skiers are out, though snowtubers are not, it should be mentioned; the tubing section "will open at a later date."

AS FOR THE DETAILS? There are ten runs and five lifts and, you betcha, a package that puts you in a Yosemite stay-over and gives you gratis skiing. There's also a season pass benefit program, which offers unlimited skiing and discounts on lodging and other extras. If you need your national park time, plus your snow, plus your exercise, few Golden State spots deliver on all counts in the way the Badger does. But the 80th birthday should speak volumes; in a world brimming with recreational choices, weathering eight decades is something worth clacking the ski poles together over.

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