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The Best of Yosemite National Park: An American Icon

Program Number: 19237RJ
Start and End Dates:
9/8/2013 - 9/13/2013; 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 for this date at Yosemite View Lodge, located 13 miles outside the park in El Portal.

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 Hotel - San Francisco Airport
  Burlingame, CA 1 night
   Yosemite View Lodge
  El Portal, CA 4 nights
 Doubletree Hotel - San Francisco Airport
Type: Hotel
  Contact info: 835 Airport Blvd.
Burlingame, CA 94010 USA
phone: 650-344-5500
  Room amenities: Hairdryers, irons, ironing boards, coffee makers and two-line speaker phones with ISDN modem lines atop work desks.
  Facility amenities: Library, fitness room and bayside jogging path. Restaurant and 24-hour food service. Full-service business center.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Please check with the hotel Please contact DoubleTree Hotel Reservations directly at 650-344-5500 for additional reservations.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM

 Yosemite View Lodge
Type: Hotel
  Description: Located on the wild and scenic Merced River
  Contact info: 11136 Hwy. 140
El Portal, CA 95318 USA
phone: 209-379-2612
  Room amenities: irons, hair dryers,
  Facility amenities: 2 heated outdoor pools, 1 indoor pool, spa, visitor's center, gift shop, coin laundry
  Smoking allowed: No
  Additional nights after:  N/A as this is an itinerary program
  Check out time: 11:00 AM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
3:00 p.m. hotel check in time. 4:00-5:00 p.m. meet in hotel lobby for Road Scholar registration. You will be staying at Doubletree Hotel - San Francisco Airport that night.
  End of Program:
Program ends after drop off at San Francisco airport approximately 3:00 p.m. followed by return to Doubletree Burlingame You will be staying at Yosemite View Lodge the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Program travels by motor coach from Burlingame to Yosemite. Doubletree Hotel in Burlingame has ample free parking.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Burlingame, CA
  Nearest city or town:  San Francisco, California
  Nearest highway: US Hwy 101
  Nearest airport:  San Francisco International
  From End of Program
  Location:  El Portal, CA
  Nearest city or town:  Fresno, CA
  Nearest highway: I-5
  Nearest airport:  Fresno or SFO
Travel Details



From Airport




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


Per Person/One Way:


Please call for rates
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


Approx. 45 minutees 




29 miles


Suggest calling ahead for Super Shuttle schedule and rates.


San Francisco


From Airport




Hotel Shuttle
DoubleTree Hotel
phone: 650-344-5500


Per Person/One Way:


Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


15 mins. 




3 miles


Please call the hotel after your arrival at the airport.

Driving Directions
  From San Franciso International Airport Start out going southeast on T-1 turnaround. Merge onto US-101 S. via the ramp on the left toward San Jose. Take the Broadway exit toward Burlingame. Take the ramp toward Overpass. Turn right onto Rollins Rd. Turn slight right onto Broadway. Turn right onto Bayshore Hwy. Turn left onto airport Blvd. End at 835 Airport Blvd. Burlingame, CA 94010
  From the north Take US 101 south to Broadway/Burlingame exit east. Go east over the overpass, remain in the right lane. Turn right at the first light (Old Bayshore Rd.) and 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 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.
  Los Angeles Take Hwy. 101 north to Burlingame. Exit Anza Blvd. Hotel is on the left side.
  Oakland International Airport Take Hwy. 80 West to 101 South. Exit Broadway/Burlingame and go over the overpass. Right at the light (Old Bayshore). Left at the light (Airport Blvd.) and the DoubleTree Hotel is on the right side.
Elevation Note: Yosemite National Park has elevations ranging from 4000 to 7000 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: Arrive at hotel, register for program, wine social, dinner, orientation, get-acquainted, introduction to Yosemite National Park
(Sunday, September 8)
 Arrive To: Check into the hotel after 4 p.m.
 Dinner: Gather in the meeting room for a wine social before being served a plated dinner.
 Evening: Our evening meeting gives us a chance to meet one another and go over the program schedule. We have an introduction to Yosemite in preparation for our stay in the park.
Accommodations: Doubletree Hotel - San Francisco Airport
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Field trip in Yosemite National Park, lunch at Wawona Hotel, visit Pioneer History Center, visit the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, photo stop at Tunnel View
(Monday, September 9)
 Breakfast: A full breakfast buffet is served in the hotel dining room.
 Morning: We board the motor coach for our field trip in 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 & 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 comprised of nearly 1200 square miles. The park is a shrine to human foresight, strength of granite, power of glaciers, the persistence of life, and the tranquility of the High Sierra.
 Lunch: We are served a delicious 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 we'll visit the Pioneer Yosemite History Center to see horse-drawn wagons, walk across a covered bridge, and visit historic buildings out of Yosemite's past. The history center explains how Yosemite was the inspiration for national parks across America and throughout the world. Next stop is the Marisposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. The Mariposa Grove, near Yosemite's South Entrance, 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 at one of the world famous views of the Valley. We travel into the Valley and check in to the Yosemite Lodge where we'll stay for four nights.
 Dinner: We have an extensive buffet dinner at the Yosemite Lodge Food Court.
 Evening: Free evening to relax after a busy day.
Accommodations: Yosemite View Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Instructor-led field trip to Tuolomne Meadows, Olmstead Point and Tenaya Lake, Yosemite Valley Visitor's Center, Indian Village, Ansel Adams Gallery
(Tuesday, September 10)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the Yosemite View Lodge restaurant.
 Morning: Our on-board instructor provides the narrative for our field trip to the gateway to Yosemite's back country along Tioga Pass to Tuolomne Meadows, Olmstead Point and Tenaya Lake. Tioga Pass Road offers a 39-mile scenic drive between Crane Flat and Tuolumne Meadows through forests and past meadows, lakes, and granite domes. Many turnouts offer broad and beautiful vistas. Tuolumne Meadows is a large, open sub-alpine meadow graced by the winding Tuolumne River and surrounded by majestic peaks and domes. From sometime in November through late May or early June, this area is only accessible by cross-country skis or snowshoes. Olmsted Point looks down on Yosemite Valley from the east--and from a very different angle. Though you might not immediately recognize Half Dome, it is one of the most prominent peaks you can see from Olmsted Point. Tenaya Lake is a magnificent High Sierra lake surrounded by granite domes, lodgepole forests, and Yosemite’s vast wilderness
 Lunch: We have a picnic lunch at Tenaya Lake.
 Afternoon: .We return to Yosemite Valley for a stop at the Visitor's Center, the Ahwahneechee Village.and the Ansel Adams Gallery.
 Dinner: Dinner on your own with money provided.
 Evening: We learn more about Ansel Adams and his work.
Accommodations: Yosemite View Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Instructor-led field trip through Yosmite Valley, lunch and guided visit at the Ahwahnee Hotel, dinner at Curry Village, evening with John Muir
(Wednesday, September 11)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at Yosemite View Lodge restaurant.
 Morning: Our instructor leads us on a field trip through Yosemite Valley. We'll view the Valley's impressive granite formations including Half Dome, El Capitan, Sentinel Rock and more. First stop is Bridal Veil Falls and the Chapel. The Yosemite Chapel became listed on the prestigious National Register of Historic Places in 1973 based on its “simple architecture” that was representative of “a particularly fine example of the early chapels constructed in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.” Half Dome is perhaps the most iconic symbol of Yosemite, rising nearly 5,000 feet above the Valley floor, it is one of the most recognisable landmarks in Yosemite. El Capitan is 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. Cathedral Rocks and Spires form the eastern side of the canyon through which Bridalveil Creek flows. Some people think these rocks are even more impressive than El Capitan! We finish just to the east with the Three Brothers: Eagle Peak (the uppermost "brother"), and Middle and Lower Brothers.
 Lunch: Enjoy lunch at the Ahwahnee Hotel, a National Historic Landmark. Completed in 1927, It was built in a rustic style with 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: We'll have a guided visit around the hotel.
 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.
 Evening: John Muir pays us a visit for an evening presentation.
Accommodations: Yosemite View Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Field trip to Glacier Point, free afternoon for optional hiking, biking, exploration on your own, farewell dinner, evening program
(Thursday, September 12)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the Yosemite View Lodge restaurant.
 Morning: 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: Lunch on your own with money provided.
 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.
 Evening: We enjoy an evening program.
Accommodations: Yosemite View Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Return to San Francisco, estimated arrival time at San Francisco Airport Terminal approximately 3:00 p.m., program ends, independent departures
(Friday, September 13)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at Yosemite Lodge.
 Morning: Board the motor coach for the return trip to San Francisco. May choose to be dropped at SFO or return to the Doubletree in Burlingame.
 Lunch: Lunch en route to SFO.
 Afternoon: Drop-off at SFO approximately 3:00 p.m. followed by return to Doubletree Burlingame. Program ends.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Free Time Opportunities
  Burlingame, CA General Overview
In San Francisco there are limitless opportunities for sight-seeing. Our program will keep participants busy, but there will be a few hours of free time for personal exploration.
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) Comprehensive guide to geologic history of the Sierra Nevada

History of the Sierra Nevada

Author: Francis Peloubet Farquhar

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

What’s included in this Road Scholar program?

Except for the occasional meal on some programs, Road Scholar programs are all-inclusive. That means there are no extra “options,” no passing the hat for tips and no surprises. From lectures and field trips to gratuities and accommodations – the price you pay up front is the price you pay.

Specifically, this program includes:

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