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Winter Merriment in the 209
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The short days and chilly temperatures may prompt an inclination to hibernate away for the winter. But here in the 209 there are plenty of fun activities that will have you inspired to bundle up and get out there and banish away the winter blahs. 

Snowshoeing at Calaveras Big Trees State Park

Once the snow starts falling and the ground is covered, the state park offers free guided snowshoe hikes every Saturday. The snowshoe hikes offer visitors the opportunity to explore the Big Trees sequoia grove and surrounding forest in winter and to learn how plants and animals adapt to the cold season. It’s also a great opportunity for photography in a beautiful place.

Calaveras Big Trees Association provides about 30 pairs of snowshoes for guests to use, including children’s sizes.

The Saturday tours are led by experienced volunteers and usually take about one and one-half hours, depending on the weather. Experience with snowshoeing is not necessary. Visitors are given basic instructions and the group stays together, hiking at an easy pace.

Tours start at 1 p.m. at the Warming Hut at the east end of the Visitor Center parking lot. Guests are advised to arrive 30 minutes prior to start time.

For more information and any current advisories, visit

Take in a showing of “The Nutcracker”

Delight in the sites and sounds of this ballet that has become a holiday tradition for many.

The two-act ballet scored by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky finds Clara and her Nutcracker, who has been transformed into a prince and fights the Rat King, visit an enchanted land of sweet treats brought to life. 

The holiday season offers several opportunities to see this show in the 209. One option is the Central West Ballet production at Gallo Center for the Arts in Modesto.

The production features more than 150 children and hosts Sugar Plum Fairy parties.

Shows are scheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 10 and Dec. 17; and 2 p.m. Dec. 11, 12, 18 and 19.

Tickets range from $23 to $65. For tickets visit

Ice skating at Yosemite

Guests can enjoy the outdoor skating rink at Curry Village while taking in the splendid views of Half Dome. In addition to the ice skating, guests can cozy up around outdoor fire pits.

Skating is available from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, as of Nov. 12. It’s open 12 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends. 

The Curry Village Ice Rink is located near the Huff Housing area. Purchase ice skating tickets at the Curry Village Tour and Activity Desk adjacent to the registration office. Each ticket is good for two hours of skating.

Ticket sales open 15 minutes prior to each session. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Advance purchases are not available.

For more information visit

Take a cooking class

Wake up your taste buds and learn how to create a dish that will wow when it comes to the table.

Winter is a great time to try out some recipes that inspire comfort and learn some new techniques.

One option in the 209 is Yankee Hill Winery and Cooking School in Columbia. Chef Ron Erickson teaches guests how to prepare delicious cuisines from around the globe. Once class is done, it’s time to dig into the culinary creations and sip on some wine.

For a list of classes and to make reservations, visit

Hockey in Stockton

The Stockton Heat is back on the ice in the 209 and will be looking to make a run at the American Hockey League championship and claim the Calder Cup. 

Spend a few hours watching the action-packed game and get swept up in the frenzy of rooting for the local team. 

Games are scheduled for December and January.

For a complete schedule and tickets visit