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Outdoor Photography At Its Best

Program Number: 2479RJ
Start and End Dates:
4/13/2014 - 4/18/2014; 10/18/2015 - 10/23/2015; 10/25/2015 - 10/30/2015; 4/10/2016 - 4/15/2016; 10/16/2016 - 10/21/2016; 11/6/2016 - 11/11/2016;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Pickens, South Carolina
Price starting at: $659.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Photography; Walking/Hiking
Meals: 15; 5 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 5 Dinners    
Meal Options: Low Fat; Low Salt; Vegetarian    

Elevate your photography skills to a new level on the historic sites, nature trails and wildlife areas of Pickens County. Refine existing techniques and learn new ones with photography experts and put your knowledge to work in a variety of settings. At each site, learn about the history and ecology of the area and share what you capture with other photography buffs.


Shoot pictures of the unfinished Stumphouse Tunnel and hear tales of those who toiled on the project until a lack of funds and the outbreak of the Civil War postponed it indefinitely.
From a boat on Lake Jocasee, photograph one of the most scenic lakes in the country, the mountains that frame it and the waterfalls that pour into it.
Photograph Table Rock State Park from Caesars Head State Natural Area, where a 3,266-foot elevation also provides views of other distant peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Activity Particulars

Hiking up to two miles on uneven surfaces.

Program skill level varies by date. Please see date specific information for details. Participants on advanced date(s) must bring a DSLR camera.

Date Specific Information


Enjoy the latest in hearing technology listening devices on this date.

10-18-2015, 4-10-2016, 11-6-2016

This date is intended for beginner and intermediate photographers.

10-25-2015, 10-16-2016

Participants on this date must have a DSLR camera. This date is for experienced photographers and expects familiarity with photography and your equipment. Includes classes on HDR, panoramic shots and photo stitching as well as MACRO/Close focus photography.

Coordinated by Clemson University.


Founded in 1868 by Scottish-Irish settlers and traders who lived among the native Cherokee, Pickens today is a friendly, small town at the foothills of the Appalachians where residents and visitors enjoy abundant hiking trails, gorgeous vistas and mountain lakes.

Beautiful learning institute overlooking Table Rock Mountain. Each room has two single beds and private bath. No television sets or phones in rooms.
Meals and Lodgings
   Youth Learning Institute Education Center, Pickens, SC
  Youth Learning Institute Education Center, Pickens,SC 5 nights
 Youth Learning Institute Education Center, Pickens, SC
Type: Conference Center
  Description: Top-notch facilities combined with a knowledgeable, friendly staff make the Youth Learning Institute Education Center the perfect place for a Road Scholar program. The Center is situated on 33 acres with a view of Table Rock Mountain, this multi-use facility offers much more than meets the eye. Site features classrooms, meeting spaces, technology lab, pottery center and music studio.
  Contact info: 698 Concord Church Rd
Pickens, SC 29671 USA
phone: 864-878-1103
  Room amenities: No televisions or telephones in the sleeping rooms. You are free to enjoy television in the common area of the lodging or in the "the den" of the main building. The den features a flat screen television and leather couches and chairs.
  Facility amenities: exercise room and technology lab
  Smoking allowed: No
  Check in time: 3:30 PM
  Check out time: 1:00 PM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
3:30 p.m. You will be staying at Youth Learning Institute Education Center, Pickens, SC that night.
  End of Program:
1:00 p.m. You will be staying at Youth Learning Institute Education Center, Pickens, SC the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Parking is free
To Start of Program
  Location:  Youth Learning Institute Education Center, Pickens,SC
  Nearest city or town:  Pickens, SC
  Nearest highway: I-85
  Nearest airport:  Greenville, SC
  From End of Program
  Location: Youth Learning Institute Education Center, Pickens,SC
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

Greenville/Spartanburg airport


From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
Youth Learning Institute
phone: 803-491-4869
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


one hour 


The Youth Learning Institute provides an airport shuttle on Sunday from 1:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. and on Friday from 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. ONLY. One of our staff members will meet you in baggage claim with a sign that bears your name. Please contact coordinator 2 weeks in advance of your arrival. We need to know your arrival time and airlines. Payment is made on Monday morning. Checks and credit cards accepted. NO Cash. We do not provide a shuttle to the train stations.

Driving Directions
  Greenville, SC Take Highway 123 towards Clemson University; take the 178 exit (Highway 178) and proceed until the Pickens County Courthouse; At the traffic light, turn left onto Highway 183. The road will reduce to 2 lanes near the Mobil Gas station. Turn right at the traffic light immediately after the Mobil Gas Station onto Shady Grove Road. Turn left onto Concord Church Road. The Youth Learning Institute will be on your left.
Elevation Note: One photographic location is 3,266 above sea level

Equipment Requirements: Digital Camera, tripod and lenses if you have them; laptop computer and software if you have them
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: Youth Learning Institute Education Center, Pickens, SC/Welcome/Tour of Education Center/ Presentation
(Sunday, April 13)

Note: Lecture

 Arrive To: Arrive at the Education Center that overlooks Table Rock State Park
 Afternoon: Become familiar with your surroundings and meet each other during this welcoming ceremony.
 Dinner: Dinner will be served at the Youth Learning Institute Headquarters.
 Evening: Lecture: How to be a better Photograph: Camera Controls & Photography Basics
Accommodations: Youth Learning Institute Education Center, Pickens, SC
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Photographing at Stumphouse Tunnel, Issaquenna Falls and Chu Ram Park; Sunset Shoot on site
(Monday, April 14)

Note: Walking and carrying camera equipment

 Breakfast: A hot breakfast will be served prior to departure.
 Morning: Travel to Stumphouse Tunnel, Issaquena Falls and Chu Ram Park for the perfect photographic experience. The history of Stumphouse Tunnel is as rich as the surrounding land and carries with it stories of dreams, failure, hardship and opportunities. The dream was to develop a railroad line from Charleston, SC to Cincinnati, Ohio. The Blue Rail Line was completed from Charleston to Pendleton by the 1850's but the granite Stumphouse Mountain presented a major challenge. Fifteen hundred tunnel workers and their families made their home on Stumphouse Mountain in a town called Tunnel Hill. Most of the workers were Irish immigrants who were following their dreams to America. They worked 12 hour days, six days a week using only sledge hammers, hand drills and black powder. Tunnel Hill was a rough town with more saloons than churches. In 1854 Father Jeremiah Joseph O'Connell came to Tunnel Hill. He worked with the railway company to agree to fire anyone that did not remain sober. In 1850, the German Colonization Society of Charleston organized the town of Walhalla, which is about 6 miles to the southeast. Work continued in spite of the numerous problems including an unscrupulous construction company, high operating costs and the inability to secure consistent funding. State funds ran out in 1859. Before more money could be acquired, the War Between the States began. The town of Tunnel Hill faded into history. After the war, SC was in no position to continue with construction thus the tunnel remains unfinished today. It is one of the most visited historical sites in SC.
 Lunch: Lunch will be served during the trip.
 Afternoon: After your initial photography experience, come inside and learn more about digital photography. The focus will be on flowers, sunsets and waterfalls.
 Dinner: Dinner will be served in the dinning room.
 Evening: After dinner, we will step outdoors for a sunset shoot. Find your best spot and "shoot"!
Accommodations: Youth Learning Institute Education Center, Pickens, SC
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Photographing on Boat at Lake Jocasee and then at White Water Falls/Review and instruction
(Tuesday, April 15)

Note: Riding on boat and walking approximately 1/2 mile to waterfalls on a paved path. Option to go down approximately 128 steps to another platform to obtain an even better view of the waterfall

 Breakfast: A hot breakfast will be featured in the morning.
 Morning: Enjoy taking pictures aboard our boat on Lake Jocasee. Lake Jocassee is tucked into the shadows of the blue ridge mountains. It is one of the most scenic lakes in the country with a back drop of mountains and several waterfalls that pour into the lake. The valley where the lake is located was once home to four mighty rivers. The Thompson, Whitewater, Horsepature and Toxaway rivers now all feed Lake Jacassee producing a cool and clear reservoir. The lake is surrounded by over 50,000 acres of protected state land. Lake Jocassee has 7,500 acres of water and 75 miles of shoreline. The recorded history of the Jocassee Gorges area dates back to 1539 when Hernando deSoto explored the area. South of what is now Lake Jocassee Dam was once Keowee Village or Keowee Town, the capital of Lower Cherokee Indians. In 1690, James Moore led a British expedition through the area in search of gold. In the late 1700's European settlers began moving to the region. Land grants in the Jocassee area were recorded as far back as 1791. During this era, professional market hunters used the area. Over time, more people moved into the mountains and valleys. Early settlers traveled along the well established network of Cherokee trails and trade routes. In 1916 the Toxawy Dam in NC failed. The flooding down the river removed much of the fertile topsoil and deposited rocks and boulders on family farms. After this, it was difficult to make a living off the land.
 Lunch: At breakfast, you will make your own bag lunch. That way, you'll get just what you want. We'll enjoy that lunch lakeside at Devil Fork State Park. The park provides outdoor recreation in the Blue Ridge Mountains along the shores of Lake Jocassee.
 Afternoon: Enjoy taking pictures at Upper White Water Falls. This is the highest waterfall east of the Rockies. The falls plunge an amazing 411 feet! South Carolina's Lower Whitewater Falls drops another 400 feet. In the cool, moist shade of steep slopes and rock cliffs, wildflowers and salamanders abound. This wild land is also a perfect haven for a rich array of ferns, mosses and fungi. Enjoy the beauty of berries and blooms throughout the seasons
 Dinner: Enjoy a great meal and dinner conversation.
 Evening: Sit back and enjoy learning about Macro Photography. Then, put your skills to work with guidance from the instructor.
Accommodations: Youth Learning Institute Education Center, Pickens, SC
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Photographing at South Carolina Botanical Gardens on the Clemson University Campus. and Hagood Mill Historic Site and Folklife Center
(Wednesday, April 16)

Note: Walking and carrying camera equipment

 Breakfast: Enjoy a hot breakfast before heading out for the day.
 Morning: Enjoy taking pictures at the South Carolina Botanical Gardens located at Clemson University.
 Lunch: At breakfast you will prepare your "custom made" bag lunch. Enjoy your lunch in the beautiful gardens at your leisure.
 Afternoon: We'll travel to Hagood Mill Historic Site and Folklife Center for photographing and a picnic dinner. During most of its life, Hagood Mill was a busy center of commerce. The gristmill operated commercially until 1966. In 1973, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places as one of the oldest known surviving gristmills still producing grain products in South Carolina. Today visitors enjoy the 20 foot overshot water wheel, a 3/4 mile nature trail, two relocated cabins, a cotton gin, a moonshine display and the county's last WPA ear steel bridge. One exciting project includes the recent discovery of the pre-historic rock carvings. These petroglyphs will be protected, preserved and presented in what will soon be the South Carolina Rock Art Interpretive Center.
 Dinner: Enjoy and evening meal and discuss your accomplishments with your fellow participants
 Evening: Enjoy viewing everyone's photographs. These photographs will comprise the CD the instructor will develop after the program. The CD will be mailed to participants.
Accommodations: Youth Learning Institute Education Center, Pickens, SC
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Sunrise shoot; Photographying at Caesar's Head State Park and Table Rock State Park
(Thursday, April 17)

Note: Walking and carrying camera equipment

 Breakfast: Enjoy a continential breakfast before we depart for the sunrise shoot.
 Morning: Your photographic experience will include a sunrise shoot, a visit to Caesar's Head State Park and Table Rock State Park. Table Rock State Park provides a towering backdrop for an Upcountry retreat at the edge of the Blue Ridge Escarpment. The 3,083 acre park includes trails where photographers can wonder.
 Lunch: During our visit to Table Rock State Park, we'll enjoy the bag lunches we made at breakfast.
 Afternoon: Continue to enjoy photographing the beautiful Upstate Mountains.
 Dinner: Dinner will be served at YLI Headquarters.
 Evening: Photographs will be collected from each participant. The instructor will put together a show featuring those photographs. Each participant will receive a CD of those pictures.
Accommodations: Youth Learning Institute Education Center, Pickens, SC
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Lecture and Picassa Demonstration
(Friday, April 18)
 Breakfast: A hot breakfast will be featured.
 Morning: Lecture and Picassa Demonstration
 Lunch: Our closing ceremony will feature lunch in our dining room
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch
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.

You can't find a better value than Road Scholar.

As a not-for-profit organization, we are dedicated to providing all-inclusive educational programs at great value. From lectures to gratuities to field trips to accommodations - the tuition you pay up front is all that you pay.

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