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Hiking John Muir’s Playground: Yosemite National Park

Program Number: 19123RJ
Start and End Dates:
8/19/2013 - 8/23/2013; 9/29/2014 - 10/3/2014;
Duration: 4 nights
Location: Yosemite, California
Price starting at: $1,299.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Walking/Hiking; National Parks Activity Level: n (see description)
Meals: 10; 4 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

A National Parks magazine editor describes John Muir’s first days in Yosemite thusly: “He was overwhelmed by the landscape, scrambling down steep cliff faces to get a closer look at the waterfalls, whooping and howling at the vistas … .” While the whooping and jumping is optional, you will experience the spectacular geologic features that so excited Muir on your choice of one of two expert-led hikes on 3½ days of this exceptional adventure.




Highlights

• See what Ralph Emerson called one of the few places that "live up to the brag" while hiking the rarely traveled West End Trail.
• From awe-inspiring Glacier Point, choose Panoramic Trail, one of the world's most beautiful hikes, or select Taft Point/Sentinel Dome for views of the valley.
• Hike Tuolumne Meadows to Upper Cathedral Lake and revel in the towering beauty of Cathedral Peak, or hike Lembert Dome for a view of the meadow.



Activity Particulars

Hiking 5-8.5 miles daily. Elevations of 4,000-8,000 feet.



Coordinated by Road Scholar.




Yosemite

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.



Accommodations
Standard rooms at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls furnished with private bathroom, telephone and television with select programming.
Meals and Lodgings
   Yosemite Lodge at the Falls
  Sierra Nevada Mountains - Yosemite National Park 4 nights
 Yosemite Lodge at the Falls
Type: Lodge
  Description: As the closest property to Yosemite Falls, Yosemite Lodge at the Falls is an idyllic spot for families, group retreats and visitors seeking the comforts of a hotel after an exciting day exploring the wilderness. In 1998, the main complex was redesigned with an emphasis on glass and wood detailing to blend harmoniously with its surroundings. Landscaping of indigenous trees, shrubs and wildflowers further reflect the natural beauty of Yosemite Valley. An outdoor amphitheater located in the center of Yosemite Lodge at the Falls features nightly ranger/naturalist programs, slide presentations and scenic movies during the summer.
  Contact info: 9006 Yosemite Lodge Drive
Yosemite National Park, CA 95389 USA
phone: 801-559-4884
web: http://www.yosemitepark.com/yosemite-lodge.aspx
  Room amenities: Road Scholar participants will enjoy the comfort of the Lodge rooms, which open to a patio or a balcony and have a private bathroom, dressing area, activity table, telephone and television with select programming. The bedding configuration is two double beds. The lodge offers daily maid service. No cooking is allowed in the rooms. NOTE: Road Scholar participants MUST provide a credit card or cash deposit when checking in to cover any incidental expenses which may be incurred during their stay.
  Facility amenities: Yosemite Lodge at The Falls has a total of 249 rooms. It is composed of 226 "lodge rooms", 19 "standard rooms", and 4 "family rooms." Instead of having every room in a single building, the rooms are spread out over a total of 15 separate buildings, each with anywhere from nine to thirty-six rooms. There are 1 to 2 floors, depending on the building. NOTE: There are no elevators in any of the buildings. Guests must climb stairs to sleeping rooms on the 2nd floor. The Lodge offers an array of amenities and services to meet your needs. Casual dining is available at The Mountain Room Restaurant serving signature California cuisine such as steaks, seafood, chicken and pasta dishes. A full bar is also available. For cocktails and lighter fare, visit the adjacent Mountain Room Lounge. The Food Court offers hot and cold entrees and desserts for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Coffee Corner, located in the Food Court has a variety of hot and cold coffee and tea drinks, bagels and pastries and hand-dipped ice cream. YOSEMITE LODGE WI-FI INTERNET ACCESS: Wireless access is complimentary to all Yosemite Lodge guests upon check-in, including guest rooms and conference spaces. An ATM is located in the lobby near the tour desk. The Yosemite Lodge Gift Shop sells sundries, newspapers, gift items, magazines, books, posters, snacks, jewelry and apparel. The Nature Shop offers unique sculptures, original photographs by Yosemite's leading professionals, one-of-a-kind Native American art, as well as apparel, music and videos. A full-service post office, including parcel post, is available onsite. The Lodge offers a heated outdoor swimming pool that is open daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day, weather permitting. Free shuttle service to various locations in Yosemite Valley is accessible from Yosemite Lodge at the Falls.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Check in time: 5:00 PM
  Check out time: 11:00 AM


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Program registration takes place at 5:00PM at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls. Afterwards, there is a brief orientation and introductions before dinner. You will be staying at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls that night.
  End of Program:
Please arrange your transportation so you can join us on the final 3 mile Valley hike (concludes by 11:30AM). You will be staying at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. Please complete the THREE enclosed forms and return ALL forms to our office by Monday July 30, 2012. Each individual is to complete all 3 forms. On the enclosed Participant Information Form (PIF), 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 cabin near them. NatureBridge Participant Registration Form: All adults must complete and sign this form to participate in the program. Please sign your name in the "Adult Participant Signature" area. NatureBridge Volunteer Services Agreement: This is a National Park Service form that allows groups to work on stewardship projects in the park. Please complete the first section "Volunteer Services Agreement for Natural Resources Agencies for Individuals or Groups", enetr your "Emergency Contact", and sign at "Signature of Volunteer". Photo ID NOTE: The NatureBridge forms were originally designed for young adult (minor) participants. Please disregard the terminology that refers to “Parent or Guardian". Regardless of the language of the forms, Road Scholar adult participants are required to complete them. We apologize for any confusion this may cause you.
  Parking availability:
Complimentary parking is provided on the premises for guests only. Day use parking is provided in the Yosemite Village area with easy access to the free Valley Shuttle.
Transportation
To Start of Program
  Location:  Sierra Nevada Mountains - Yosemite National Park
  Nearest city or town:  Fresno
  Nearest highway: Highway 41
  Nearest airport:  Fresno
  From End of Program
  Location: Sierra Nevada Mountains - Yosemite National Park
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details
 

Merced / AMTRAK to Yosemite

 

From Train Station

 
 

Service:

 

Public Transportation
YARTS
phone: 209-388-9589
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

$25 one-way per person. Call for current rates.
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

2 hours 

 

Distance:

 

About 80 miles from downtown Merced to Yosemite

   

The closest Amtrak station to Yosemite NP is at Merced, CA. This is a stop along the San Joaquin route through the Central Valley which runs multiple times daily between the San Francisco Bay Area (or Sacramento) and Bakersfield. The station is located at 324 West 24th St., Merced, CA 95340. Amtrak offers Thruway bus service to Yosemite. For more information and reservations, call Amtrak at 1-800-872-7245 or visit www.amtak.com. OR take the YARTS bus which stops at Amtrak station to Yosemite.

 

Fresno Airport to Yosemite

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Commercial Van/Shuttle
Yosemite and Beyond
phone: 559-641-6789
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

Please contact the service directly for fares.
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

2 hours 

 

Distance:

 

100 miles

   

Advanced Reservations are Required for "Yosemite and Beyond" shuttle service from Fresno Airport to Yosemite Village. Please call for more information. Mention that you are attending a Road Scholar program as there may be other participants who could share the cost of the trip.

 

Merced by YARTS Bus to Yosemite

 

From Bus Terminal

 
 

Service:

 

Public Transportation
YARTS
phone: 209-388-9589

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

$25 one-way p/p from Merced to Yosemite
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

About 2 hours. Time varies depending on pickup and drop-off locations. 

 

Distance:

 

About 80 miles

   

YARTS (Yosemite Area Regional Transport System) operates a bus line along Highway 140 between several points in the city of Merced to many points in Yosemite Valley including the Visitors Center. Call for current bus schedule (summer & winter) and fares. Toll-free: (1-877-989-2787) or (209) 388-9589 if outside toll-free area.YARTS runs are subject to space-available and board on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations not required. Visit YARTS online at: www.yarts.com

 
Driving Directions
  From Fresno to Yosemite Take Highway 41 north (Portions toll) for about 61 miles. Turn left onto CA-41/Wawona Rd. and proceed for about 26 miles to Highway 140 east towards Yosemite. Turn left onto Wawona Rd. Continue onto Southside Dr. and follow the signs to Yosemite Lodge at the Falls. Distance from Fresno to Yosemite: 93 mi.
  From Los Angeles to Yosemite Take I-5 north (or I-405 north to I-5) to Highway 99 north (Bakersfield/Fresno). Take exit 131 to merge onto CA-41 N toward Yosemite. Turn left onto Wawona Rd. Continue onto Southside Dr. and follow the signs to Yosemite Lodge at the Falls. Distance from LA to Yosemite: 313 mi
  From Reno/Lake Tahoe to Yosemite All year long, the following route is open: Take I-80 or I-50 west to Sacramento. Take Highway 99 south to Highway 120 east (Manteca) or Highway 140 east (Merced) to Yosemite. From Hwy 120 east, turn left onto El Portal Rd (signs for Yosemite Valley/CA-41/Fresno). Continue onto Southside Dr. and follow the signs to Yosemite Lodge at the Falls. Distance from Reno, NV to Yosemite: 315 mi From around June through October, conditions permitting, the following route is open: Take US 395 south to Lee Vining. Take Highway 120 west into Yosemite National Park. Distance via this route: 218 mi
  From Sacramento to Yosemite Take Highway 99 south to Highway 120 east (Manteca) or Highway 140 east (Merced) to Yosemite. From Hwy 120 east, turn left onto El Portal Rd (signs for Yosemite Valley/CA-41/Fresno). Continue onto Southside Dr. and follow the signs to Yosemite Lodge at the Falls. Distance from Sacramento to Yosemite: 176 mi
  From San Francisco to Yosemite Take I-580 east to I-205 east to Highway 120 east (Manteca) OR Highway 140 east (Merced) into Yosemite National Park. Follow the signs to Yosemite Valley/CA-41. Continue onto Southside Dr. and follow the signs to Yosemite Lodge at the Falls. Distance from San Francisco/Bay area to Yosemite: 195 mi
Elevation Note: Yosemite Valley at 4,000 foot elevation Hikes range from 4000 to 8000 feet in elevation.

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 / Program Registration / Orientation
(Monday, August 19)
   
 Afternoon: HOTEL CHECK-IN: Check-in time at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls is 5:00 PM. Guests may try to check in earlier, but rooms aren't guaranteed to be ready until 5PM.

PROGRAM REGISTRATION/ ORIENTATION/ INTRODUCTIONS: Program registration, a brief orientation and introductions will be held at 5:00PM at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls.

During the brief 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.

After orientation, you may check into your cabin at the front desk (if you were unable to do so earlier). Please be aware that Yosemite Lodge at the Falls is open to the public which makes reserving space for group meeting(s) and/or meals a challenge. We appreciate your understanding of the local circumstances.

While in Yosemite Valley, you are encouraged to park your car and ride the free Yosemite Valley shuttle which provides service around eastern Yosemite Valley, including stops at or near all overnight accommodations, stores, and major vistas. The shuttle operates all year from 7AM to 10PM.

 Dinner: Dinner is provided.
 Evening: Enjoy the remainder of the evening getting to know your fellow participants and discovering what you share beyond a love of lifelong learning.
   
Accommodations: Yosemite Lodge at the Falls
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Yosemite Valley Hike
(Tuesday, August 20)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast is provided.
 Morning: FIELD TRIP: NatureBridge guides will lead the group on a day hike.

Current weather and trail conditions will determine the hike destination, but tentative Valley hikes include the following:

Easy Option: Cooks Meadow Loop and Indian Museum ~ 4 miles

This easy walk offers stunning views of Half Dome, Glacier Point, and Royal Arches. We will also include a stop at the Native American Museum and historic village. This loop will also include the short, easy walk towards spectacular views of Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls from near the base of the falls. This waterfall is often dry from late July or August through October. Roundtrip hike is nine miles from Curry Village to El Capitan Meadow.

Hard Option: Valley Floor Loop moderate ~ Half loop: 8 miles

This trail follows many of the Valley's first east-west trails and wagon roads. The Valley Floor Loop provides solitude with occasional route-finding difficulty. Hike through meadows, forests, and along the Merced River. Along the way, enjoy views of Sentinel Rock, Cathedral Rocks, El Capitan, Three Brothers, Bridalveil Fall, and Yosemite Falls.

Both options are on varied terrain, but without too much elevation gain or loss to get everyone used to the 4,000 foot elevation of Yosemite Valley.

We will see many of the spectacular geologic features that make this one of the few places that, "live up to the brag," as Ralph Waldo Emerson put it.

Everyday along the trail, educators will discuss geology, cultural history, the National Parks and humans’ stewardship of the environment.

 Lunch: Picnic lunch on the trail
 Afternoon: Yosemite Valley hikes continue
 Dinner: Dinner is provided.
 Evening: CLASS: Attend an evening program presented by the Yosemite Institute staff.
   
Accommodations: Yosemite Lodge at the Falls
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Glacier Point Hike
(Wednesday, August 21)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast is provided.
 Morning: FIELD TRIP: Chartered bus departs Orchard parking lot for Glacier Point.

Current weather and trail conditions will determine hike destination, but tentative hikes include the following:

Easy Option: Taft Point to Sentinel Dome to Glacier Point ~ 5 miles

Begin at Sentinel Dome/Taft Point trailhead. At the trailhead, turn left to head toward Taft Point and The Fissures. Your walk is easy at first, through forest and wildflower-filled meadows (in July). Watch your step around The Fissures and at Taft Point, where you'll enjoy a breathtaking 360-degree panorama view of Yosemite Valley.

Hard Option: Panorama Trail, Glacier Pt to Curry Village ~ 8.5 miles one-way

The Panorama Trail, starting at 7,274 ft and ending at 4,000 ft, provides a close-up view of Illilouette Fall and panoramic views of eastern Yosemite Valley before joining the John Muir Trail down to Yosemite Valley. This trail is uneven and rocky in many places. The descent is steep for most of the trail and can be hard on the knees. Mostly downhill, the trail has a 1 mile section that gains approximately 800 feet. Hikers can expect unsurpassed views of the park from this strenuous hike. Return to Yosemite Lodge via Yosemite Valley Shuttle or hike back. The hike is mostly downhill with a 1 mile section that gains approximately 800 feet.

 Lunch: Picnic lunch on trail
 Afternoon: Glacier Point hikes continue
 Dinner: Dinner on your own to explore other dining options in Yosemite Valley

Dining options will be listed in the “Yosemite Guide”, the park newspaper which is published several times year. You can view a current copy online at http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/guide.htm

If you are interested in eating dinner at the Ahwahnee Hotel Dining Room, please be advised that “Proper attire is kindly requested for dinner.” The dinner dress code in The Ahwahnee Dining Room is 'Resort Casual'. Gentlemen are asked to wear collared shirts and long pants. Ladies are asked to wear dresses or skirts or slacks and blouses. Reservations are recommended by calling (209) 372-1489.

 Evening: CLASS: Attend one of the public interpretive programs offered by Yosemite National Park Rangers at a variety of locations in Yosemite Valley. Gain insight into different topics and learn more about Yosemite and what makes it a special place.
   
Accommodations: Yosemite Lodge at the Falls
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4: Tuolumne Meadows Hike
(Thursday, August 22)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast is provided.
 Morning: FIELD TRIP: Chartered bus departs Orchard parking lot for Tuolumne Meadows at 9,000 ft with its breath-taking vistas and granite domes and peaks. This is a chance to explore a different part of Yosemite National Park starting with the largest meadow in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The ride is approximately 90 minutes one-way to Tuolumne Meadows.

Current weather and trail conditions will determine the hike destination, but tentative hikes include the following:

Easy Group: Lembert Dome/Dog Lake ~ 4 miles, 850 foot elevation gain

The trail rises steeply for 0.75 mile to a signed junction. Turn left to reach the top of Lembert Dome for a spectacular view of Tuolumne Meadows and surrounding peaks. To reach Dog Lake, continue straight at the junction. The scramble to the top of Lembert Dome includes walking on granite near exposed edges.

Hard Group: Cathedral Lakes Trail ~ 7 miles, 1,000-foot elevation gain

The trail climbs steadily to Upper Cathedral Lake. Near the top of the climb, it passes a spur trail to Lower Cathedral Lake (0.5 mile to lake). The return hike follows the same route. This trail is well maintained but very rocky in some areas. When we arrive you will understand why the lake has such a spiritual connection including to the aptly named Cathedral Peak which dominates the heavens above it.

 Lunch: Picnic lunch on trail
 Afternoon: Tuolumne Meadows hikes continue
 Dinner: Dinner is provided.
 Evening: CLASS: Attend one of the public interpretive programs offered by Yosemite National Park Rangers at a variety of locations in Yosemite Valley. Gain insight into different topics and learn more about Yosemite and what makes it a special place
   
Accommodations: Yosemite Lodge at the Falls
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Yosemite Valley Hike
(Friday, August 23)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast is provided.
 Morning: CABIN CHECK OUT: Since checkout time is 11:00 AM, you will have to check out of your cabins before the start of the Friday hike and store your luggage in the group leader’s cabin or in your vehicle.

FIELD TRIP: The final day includes a short hike option before departure.

Current trail and weather conditions will determine hike destinations each day.

This concludes the program. We hope you have enjoyed our Yosemite Hiking program and will join us for other rewarding adventures in the future. Best wishes for all your journeys!

   
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
 
  Sierra Nevada Mountains - Yosemite National Park Yosemite National Park
Information about Yosemite National Park may be obtained from the National Park Service through their website www.nps.gov Check out your local library which may have excellent natural history books and travel guide books. For additional information, visit www.nps.gov
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


Sierra Nevada Natural History (California Natural History Guides)


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


Description: Comprehensive yet concise and portable, this handbook describes hundreds of species. Now completely updated and revised, it will continue to be the essential guide to the Sierra Nevada for a new generation of hikers, campers, tourists, naturalists, students, and teachers. It includes introductory sections on Sierra Nevada topography, climate, geological history, and human history.



Geologic Story of Yosemite National Park


Author: N.King Huber


A Sierra Club Naturalist's Guide


Author: Stephen Whitney


Description: This is an excellent and comprehensive book about Yosemite for the generalist.



The Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada


Author: John Muir Laws


Description: This is the most comprehensive field guide to the natural wonders of the Range of Light. In this groundbreaking and meticulously field-tested guide, the rich variety of Sierra life—trees, wildflowers, ferns, fungi, lichens, fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds, mammals, and insects—comes alive.



My First Summer in the Sierra


Author: John Muir


Description: In the summer of 1869, John Muir made his first long trip to Yosemite. When a friend offered him the chance to accompany his flock of sheep and a shepherd to the high pastures of the Sierra, it was an opportunity Muir could not resist. This book reprints the journal he kept of those summer days, of the wildlife and plant life, and of his explorations into the magical places of the mountains.





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