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The Best of Yosemite National Park: An American Icon

Program Number: 19237RJ
Start and End Dates:
6/23/2013 - 6/28/2013; 6/5/2016 - 6/10/2016; 6/12/2016 - 6/17/2016; 6/19/2016 - 6/24/2016; 7/10/2016 - 7/15/2016; 8/7/2016 - 8/12/2016; 9/4/2016 - 9/9/2016; 9/18/2016 - 9/23/2016; 10/9/2016 - 10/14/2016; 10/16/2016 - 10/21/2016;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Burlingame, California
Price starting at: $1,299.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: National Parks
Meals: 15; 5 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 5 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

On an unforgettable adventure in Yosemite National Park, learn on-site about monumental natural wonders like Yosemite Falls, Tuolumne Meadows and Glacier Point. Expert naturalists address the geologic saga of the park as well as its interwoven natural and human histories. As Half Dome and El Capitan loom overhead, explore the Native American history of the Ahwahneechee, and learn the intricacies of rock climbing, a popular park activity. Stay at lodgings inside the park on this fantastic adventure!


• Experience the impressive granite formations of Half Dome and El Capitan, a favorite for rock climbers.
• Discover Yosemite’s high country with a walk in the Tuolumne Meadows area, one of the largest high-elevation meadows in the Sierra Nevada at 8,600 feet.
• Stand at Glacier Point with its bird’s-eye view of the valley, and dine at the renowned Ahwahnee Hotel.

Activity Particulars

Walking up 1.5 miles; some uneven ground. Standing up to 45 minutes. Elevations of 4,000 to over 8,000 feet.

Date Specific Information


Lodging in El Portal, outside the park and 17 miles from Yosemite Valley Visitors Center.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Burlingame, (close to SFO airport), 1 night; coach to Yosemite National Park, 4 nights; coach to Burlingame, departure.

Coordinated by Road Scholar.


A bustling suburb set between San Francisco Bay and the foothills of the Pacific Coast Range, Burlingame affords great views of San Francisco to the north from the walking paths along the bay.


Set in California's Sierra Nevada range, Yosemite is referred to as the crown jewel of the National Park system. The park offers a changing spectacle of unique glacially-carved valleys, granite monoliths, lush meadows, thundering waterfalls, and deep alpine lakes at any time of year.

Burlingame: Full service hotel with free shuttle from SFO; Yosemite: Inside the park accommodations at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Frank Helling

Frank Helling is an active adventurer and naturalist who has spent much of his life “sauntering” in the footsteps of the great mountaineer, philosopher and nature writer John Muir. He has backpacked, hiked and climbed in the Sierras, Rockies, Cascades, Alps, Alaska, Hawaii and the deserts of the American Southwest. A former high school science teacher, Frank has also worked as a ranger and naturalist in Kings Canyon National Park and as a professional wilderness instructor.
Meals and Lodgings
   DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel San Francisco Airport
  Burlingame, California 1 night
   Yosemite View Lodge
  El Portal 4 nights
 DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel San Francisco Airport
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: Enjoy contemporary rooms, waterfront views of the San Francisco Bay, and easy access to downtown San Francisco at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel San Francisco Airport. The hotel is located just two miles south of San Francisco Airport (SFO) and provides a complimentary 24-hour airport shuttle service. Guests can experience scenic bayside views from their room or from the adjacent jogging and walking trails, and enjoy an invigorating work out in the complimentary fitness center. Head into downtown San Francisco and avoid traffic by taking the complimentary shuttle bus to the nearby Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station.
  Contact info: 835 Airport Blvd.
Burlingame, CA 94010-9949 USA
phone: 650-344-5500
  Room amenities: Rooms are equipped with plush top beds and hypoallergenic down pillows; 27-inch TV with cable, premium channels and video games; large desk with high-speed internet access (only $9.95 per day); clock radio with MP3 connectivity; hair dryer; iron/ironing board; and coffee maker.
  Facility amenities: Guest rooms feature contemporary European decor and comfortable bedding. The hotel has an on-site restaurant, which specializes in sustainable fresh local foods, as well as room service. For coffee lovers, there’s a Starbucks® cart in lobby. The hotel offers valet dry cleaning service (but not same-day service). However, there is no on-site guest laundry. For those who arrive early and wish to explore the area, you can catch a complimentary trolley from the hotel to the charming town of Burlingame, or take a shuttle bus to the nearest BART station for a trip north to San Francisco. PARKING: There is no charge for Road Scholar participants who drive to the program and wish to leave their cars in the hotel parking lot (for up to 14 days). WIRELESS INTERNET ACCESS: The hotel provides complimentary Wi-Fi Internet service in the lobby area and the 24-hour business center. If you wish to have high-speed Wi-Fi Internet access in your guest room, there is a daily charge of $9.95/day. This may be arranged at the front desk.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Limited special rate Call the hotel directly at (650) 344-5500 to make a reservation for additional nights prior to the start of the program. The hotel only has 3 rooms available for pre-program stays, so first come first served. Be sure to mention the special ROAD SCHOLAR NATIONAL PARKS #1 GROUP CODE C-NP1 to get a preferred rate. NOTE: After these rooms are taken, any additional reservation requests are based on room availability at the prevailing rate.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM

 Yosemite View Lodge
Type: Lodge
  Description: Yosemite View Lodge is a two-story motor inn that is situated along the Merced River, 2 ½ miles from the west entrance to Yosemite National Park. The Lodge provides guests with a beautiful and tranquil natural setting overlooking the wild Merced River. This location is a great location for touring some of the most popular sites in the park. It is a mile east of El Portal, 12 miles from Bridal Veil Falls and El Capitan; 14 miles from Lower Yosemite Falls and Upper Yosemite Falls, and 15 miles from Glacier Point and Yosemite Village.
  Contact info: 11136 Highway 140
El Portal, CA 95318 USA
phone: 209-379-2681
  Room amenities: All guest rooms include a private bathroom with shower/tub combination, hair dryer, and complimentary toiletries; kitchenette with microwave, refrigerator, coffee maker and dishware; clock radio; and iron/ironing board. Rollaway beds are available. Other amenities include cable/satellite TV with premium channels; direct-dial phone; and climate-control. Wireless Internet access is available for a surcharge.
  Facility amenities: All of the 278 air-conditioned guestrooms are equipped with kitchenettes. The hotel offers a range of amenities including a bar/lounge and the on-site Yosemite View restaurant; 24-hour front desk service; a gift shop and convenience store; coin-op laundry facilities; and a central safe-deposit box at the front desk. Yosemite View Lodge amenities also include an indoor heated pool, two outdoor pools (open seasonally), five spa tubs and a patio area. WIRELESS INTERNET ACCESS: There is a fee of $9.99 per 24-hour period (rates may vary) for high-speed in-room Internet access.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Check out time: 11:00 AM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Hotel check-in time starts at 3:00PM. Program registration is between 3:30-5:00PM in the hotel lobby, followed by a wine reception at 5:30PM, dinner at 6:00PM, and a program orientation at 7:15PM. You will be staying at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel San Francisco Airport that night.
  End of Program:
Program ends after drop off at San Francisco Airport at approximately 3:00PM followed by return to the DoubleTree Hotel in Burlingame. Return time of 3:00PM at SFO is not guaranteed. You will be staying at Yosemite View Lodge the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. On the enclosed Personal Information Form, please indicate to us the name of your roommate/ traveling companion. Also let us know if you are traveling with other individuals and wish to be assigned a room near them. Photo ID
  Parking availability:
If you are driving to the hotel and wish to park your car at the hotel for the duration of the program, the DoubleTree Hotel in Burlingame provides complimentary parking for Road Scholar participants.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Burlingame, California
  Nearest city or town:  San Francisco
  Nearest highway: Hwy 101
  Nearest airport:  San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
  From End of Program
  Location: Burlingame, California
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

Oakland Airport to Burlingame


From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
phone: 800-258-3826
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


Around $43 one-way, but check current rates
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


Approx. 45 minutes 




29 miles from Oakland Airport to hotel


SuperShuttle offers shared van service from Oakland Airport to the hotel. Advance reservations are recommended. Call 800-258-3826 or visit for online reservations and rates.


San Francisco Airport SFO to Burlingame


From Airport




Hotel Shuttle
DoubleTree Hotel Shuttle Van
phone: 650-344-5500


Per Person/One Way:


Complimentary hotel shuttle
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


15 minutes from SFO to the hotel 




3 miles from SFO to the hotel


Call the hotel after your arrival at the airport to arrange for a free shuttle pickup from SFO. Call 650-344-5500. ALTERNATE TRANSPORTATION from SFO: Taxis depart from the designated taxi zones located at the roadway center islands, on the Arrivals/Baggage Claim Level of all terminals. Uniformed taxi coordinators are stationed at the taxi zones from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. to assist passengers with questions or concerns.

Driving Directions
  From Los Angeles to Doubletree SFO Take Hwy. 101 north to Burlingame. Exit at Anza Blvd. Hotel is on the left side.
  From Oakland to Doubletree SFO Take Hwy. 80 West to 101 South. Exit at Broadway/Burlingame and go over the overpass. Turn right at the light (Old Bayshore). Then turn left at the light (Airport Blvd.). The hotel is on the right side.
  From the North to Doubletree SFO Take US 101 south to Broadway/Burlingame exit east. Go east over the overpass and remain in the right lane. Turn right at the first light (Old Bayshore Rd.). Then turn left at the next light onto Airport Blvd. Follow the road around until you see the hotel on your right, approximately a quarter of a mile.
  From the South to Doubletree SFO Take US 101 north to the Broadway/Burlingame exit east. Go east and remain in the right lane. Turn right at the first light and follow Airport Blvd. until you see the hotel on your right.
Elevation Note: Yosemite National Park has elevations ranging from 4,000 to over 8,000 feet.

The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Independent Arrivals/ Registration/ Program Orientation
(Sunday, June 23)
 Afternoon: HOTEL CHECK-IN: Check into DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel San Francisco Airport after 3:00PM.

PROGRAM REGISTRATION: After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar table to register with the program staff and pick up your arrival packet which we'll review during our orientation session.

 Dinner: Dinner at hotel

Menus are contracted for the program and are designed to offer balanced, healthy meals for the participants. In addition to the regular Road Scholar meal plan, this hotel offers a vegetarian meal option. Unfortunately, there are no other special meal options. Participants with special dietary needs should be prepared to avoid certain foods or supplement the regular meal plan as needed.

 Evening: ORIENTATION: We'll have an overview of the program ahead and review the up-to-date schedule, responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, any other administrative issues, and answer your questions. Please be aware that local circumstances may require adjusting program elements. In the event of changes, we will notify you as quickly as possible. We appreciate your understanding.

CROSSING POINTS: Participants introduce themselves to the rest of the group.

Enjoy the remainder of the evening getting to know your fellow participants and discovering what you share beyond a love of lifelong learning.

Accommodations: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel San Francisco Airport
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Field Trip to Yosemite National Park/ Lunch at Wawona Hotel/ Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias
(Monday, June 24)

Note: The 1.5 mile roundtrip walk at the Mariposa Grove is on a dirt trail and has scattered rock steps. Since porterage is not included in the cost of our program, you will be responsible for transferring your luggage to and from the motor coach.

 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel
 Morning: FIELD TRIP: Board the motor coach for our field trip to Yosemite National Park.

For tens of thousands of years, humans have changed, and have been changed by, this place we now call Yosemite. “It is by far the grandest of all the special temples of Nature I was ever permitted to enter,” said famed naturalist John Muir. Designated a World Heritage Site in 1984, Yosemite is known for its granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, giant sequoia groves and biological diversity. Two wild and scenic rivers, the Tuolumne and Merced rivers, begin in the park and flow west to the Central Valley. Yosemite is one of the first wilderness parks in the United States and encompasses nearly 1200 square miles.

 Lunch: Lunch at the historic Wawona Hotel. The Wawona Hotel, a National Historic Landmark, rests upon verdant meadows and beside rushing streams. The tranquility of this Victorian-style lodge in Yosemite makes it a favorite of those who prefer a relaxed environment and the gracious charm of a bygone era.
 Afternoon: After lunch, with a guide, we'll visit the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias which contains about 500 mature giant sequoias. Giant sequoias are perhaps the largest living things on Earth and may exceed 3000 years in age. We board the motor coach and continue to Yosemite Valley with a stop at Tunnel View for a photo op of the world famous view of the Valley.
 Dinner: Dinner at the Yosemite Lodge at the Falls Food Court. Dinner coupon will have $18 value. Purchases over $18 will be an out-of-pocket expense of individual.
 Evening: After dinner, check into Yosemite View Lodge in El Portal.
Accommodations: Yosemite View Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Instructor-led Field Trip to Tenaya Lake, Tuolumne Meadows and Olmstead Point/ Yosemite Valley Visitor's Center/ Yosemite Museum/ Ansel Adams Gallery/Evening with John Muir
(Tuesday, June 25)

Note: At Tenaya Lake, we walk on a flat paved trail for a distance of a tenth of a mile or so. At the lunch stop, we walk up the dirt and rock trail onto the lower slopes of Lembert Dome for a view over the Meadows. The footing is uneven and somewhat steep; the distance is about 100 ft.

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at The River Restaurant, Yosemite View Lodge in El Portal
 Morning: FIELD TRIP: Our on-board instructor provides the narrative for our field trip to the gateway to Yosemite's back country along Tioga Pass to Tenaya Lake, Tuolumne Meadows and Olmstead Point.

Tioga Pass Road offers a 39-mile scenic drive between Crane Flat and Tuolumne Meadows through forests and past meadows, lakes, and granite domes. Tenaya Lake is a magnificent High Sierra lake surrounded by granite domes, lodgepole forests and Yosemite’s vast wilderness Tuolumne Meadows is a large, open sub-alpine meadow graced by the winding Tuolumne River and surrounded by majestic peaks and domes. Olmsted Point looks down on Yosemite Valley from the east--and from a very different angle.

 Lunch: Picnic lunch at Lembert Dome
 Afternoon: Return to Yosemite Valley and during your free time, visit the Visitor's Center, Yosemite Museum and the Ansel Adams Gallery.
 Dinner: Dinner on your own using a $25 gift certificate which will be accepted at any Delaware North Company (DNC) outlet. DNC is the park concessioner.

After dinner, return to Yosemite View Lodge in El Portal.

 Evening: PERFORMANCE: An Evening with John Muir

A live presentation of John Muir, the Scottish-born American naturalist, author, and early advocate for wilderness preservation in the United States. His letters, essays, and books telling of his adventures in nature, especially in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, have been read by millions. His activism helped to save the Yosemite Valley, Sequoia National Park and other wilderness areas. The Sierra Club, which he founded, is now one of the most important conservation organizations in the United States.

Accommodations: Yosemite View Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Instructor-led Field Trip through Yosemite Valley/ Lunch & Guided Visit at the Ahwahnee Hotel
(Wednesday, June 26)

Note: The walk into the El Capitan Meadow is on a dirt path in a flat meadow and the distance is about 100-150 ft. The walk to the base of Bridalveil Fall is 1 mile roundtrip, but up a steep trail (up to 24% slope). Part of the trail is dirt and somewhat rocky but the rest of the trail is paved. The flat paved loop at Lower Yosemite Falls is about 1 mile roundtrip.

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at The River Restaurant, Yosemite View Lodge in El Portal
 Morning: FIELD TRIP: Our on-board instructor leads us on a field trip through Yosemite Valley which is world-famous for its impressive waterfalls, cliffs and unusual rock formations.

First stop is El Capitan Meadow for a straight up view of El Capitan, a favorite for experienced rock climbers. Rising more than 3,000 feet above the Valley floor, it is the largest monolith of granite in the world.

Second stop is Bridalveil Fall for a walk to the base of the falls.

 Lunch: Enjoy lunch at the Ahwahnee Hotel, a National Historic Landmark. Completed in 1927, it was built in a rustic style with an American Indian motif. Historic paintings of Yosemite, stunning stained-glass windows, and woven tapestries grace the walls of The Great Lounge and Dining Room.
 Afternoon: FIELD TRIP: Guided walk of Ahwahnee Hotel

Known for its magnificent façade, and architecture, the Ahwahnee was specifically designed to highlight its natural surroundings, featuring Yosemite Falls, Half Dome and Glacier Point.

 Dinner: Dinner at Curry Village Pavillion. Camp Curry was founded in 1899 by David and Jenny Curry, two schoolteachers from Indiana. The pair dreamed of visiting Yosemite, but found that they could not afford the coach fare into the park and still pay the going rate for park lodging at $4 per night. This led to the establishment of Camp Curry - offering affordable room and board within Yosemite, a legacy that continues to this day. The camp was originally comprised of a dozen tents with a common dining center. Its popularity allowed it to quickly grow to hundreds of tents within a few short years.

After dinner, return to Yosemite View Lodge in El Portal.

 Evening: Program on Ansel Adams
Accommodations: Yosemite View Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Field Trip to Glacier Point/ Free Afternoon
(Thursday, June 27)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at The River Restaurant, Yosemite View Lodge in El Portal
 Morning: FIELD TRIP: A final field trip to Glacier Point rounds out the Yosemite experience. Glacier Point, an overlook with a commanding view of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, and the High Sierra, is located 30 miles (one hour) from Yosemite Valley. The road ends at Glacier Point, and it is a short walk to the viewpoint. Glacier Point, some would say, is the most spectacular viewpoint anywhere. Most people agree that its views of the high country and breathtaking views of Yosemite Valley, including Half Dome and three waterfalls, are the most spectacular in the park.
 Lunch: Picnic lunch at Glacier Point
 Afternoon: Free time gives you a chance to explore on your own or to hike some of the many paths and trails the park offers.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls

After dinner, return to Yosemite View Lodge in El Portal.

Accommodations: Yosemite View Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Return to San Francisco Airport and DoubleTree Hotel/ Independent Departures
(Friday, June 28)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at The River Restaurant, Yosemite View Lodge in El Portal
 Morning: Board the motor coach for the return trip to San Francisco.
 Lunch: Lunch en route to SFO
 Afternoon: Program ends after the drop off at San Francisco Airport at approximately 3:00PM, followed by the return to the DoubleTree Hotel in Burlingame. The return time of 3:00PM at SFO is not guaranteed.

This concludes the program. We hope you have enjoyed our 'An American Icon: Majestic Yosemite National Park' program and will join us for other rewarding adventures in the future. Best wishes for all your journeys!

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Free Time Opportunities
  El Portal Yosemite View Lodge
In addition to the wonderful wilderness that is Yosemite National Park, you'll find some other attractions and things to do in the area around Yosemite View Lodge that veer a tiny bit off course from climbing, hiking, camping and the like. Yosemite View Lodge is close to other attractions including the Mariposa History Museum, the Yosemite Zip Line and Sugar Pine Railroad. For additional information, visit
  Yosemite, CA Yosemite/DNC Parks & Resorts
This site is managed by the park's primary concessioner, DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, and provides the most current information on lodging, dining and activities inside the park. For additional information, visit
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

Geology of the Sierra Nevada (California Natural History Guides)

Author: Mary Hill

Description: Geology of the Sierra Nevada (California Natural History Guides) is a comprehensive guide to the geologic history of the Sierra Nevada.

History of the Sierra Nevada

Author: Francis Peloubet Farquhar

Description: The History of the Sierra Nevada covers all aspects of the human history of the area from the prehistoric native Americans, Spanish exploration, mountain men, pioneers, 49'ers, railroad, John Muir and the national parks to recent trends of utilization and recreation.


Author: Ansel Adams (Author), Andrea G. Stillman (Contributor), Michael L. Fischer (Contributor)

Description: This beautifully printed paperback original collects Ansel Adams' finest images of the place closest to his heart, Yosemite National Park. It presents the essence of Adams' long association with Yosemite: sixty-six memorable photographs of glacial lakes and craggy peaks, cascading waterfalls and granite monoliths, lone trees and sylvan streams.

Yosemite: The Complete Guide

Author: James Kaiser

Description: Filled with vivid color photography and informed writing, Yosemite: The Complete Guide puts the best of Yosemite National Park at your fingertips. Fully updated to include current travel info (including the new rules for hiking Half Dome), the second edition offers expanded chapters on geology, ecology, wildlife, and history.

My First Summer in the Sierra

Author: John Muir

Description: The book details Muir's first extended trip to the Sierra Nevada in what is now Yosemite National Park, a landscape that entranced him immediately and had a profound effect on his life. The towering waterfalls, natural rock formations, and abundant plant and animal life helped Muir develop his views of the natural world, views that would eventually lead him to push for the creation of the national parks.

Sierra Nevada Birds

Author: David Lukas

Description: This is the only guidebook that comprehensively describes the life history, status, and distribution of birds found in the Sierra Nevada. It covers all 322 species that occur in the Sierra Nevada, with full-length accounts for 207 definitive species, as well as geographic coverage of areas like Lake Tahoe, Yosemite National Park, and Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks.

Sierra Nevada Natural History

Author: David Lukas, Tracy I. Storer, Robert L. Usinger

Description: First published forty years ago, this handbook has become an enduring natural history classic, used by thousands to learn more about virtually every aspect of this spectacular mountain range--from its superb flora and fauna to its rugged topography. Comprehensive yet concise and portable, the book describes hundreds of species: trees and shrubs, flowering plants and ferns, fungi and lichens, insects and fish, amphibians and reptiles, and birds and mammals.

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