Road Scholar : Home
Four Jewels: Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Yosemite and Death Valley National Parks

Program Number: 4352RJ
Start and End Dates:
9/5/2014 - 9/13/2014; 9/9/2016 - 9/17/2016; 9/23/2016 - 10/1/2016; 9/30/2016 - 10/8/2016;
Duration: 8 nights
Location: Los Angeles, California
Price starting at: $1,999.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: On the Road; National Parks
Meals: 22; 8 Breakfasts, 8 Lunches, 6 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Yosemite, Death Valley: four spectacular American National Parks. Explore them from the mighty Sierra Nevada range to the stark allure of the Mojave Desert as on-site presentations delve into their geologic, human and natural histories.


• Study the magnificent forest ecosystem of Sequoia, named for giant trees that can live for more than 2,000 years.
• Admire granite monuments like El Capitan, Half Dome and Bridal Veil Falls as you learn how Pleistocene glaciers carved the wonders of the Yosemite Valley.
• Visit Yosemite’s high-country areas, cross the Sierra Nevada to Mono Lake and Owens Valley, and explore forbidding, dramatic, beautiful Death Valley.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to two miles on uneven terrain. Elevations of 4,000 to 8,000 feet.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Los Angeles, 1 night; coach to Sequoia National Park, 2 nights; coach to Yosemite National Park, 2 nights; coach to Lone Pine, 1 night; coach to Death Valley, 2 nights; coach to Los Angeles, departure.

Coordinated by Road Scholar.


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.

Lone Pine

This small, mountain community in the Eastern Sierra is the gateway to Mount Whitney — one of the West’s tallest peaks — and a popular trailhead for hikes in the nearby Alabama Hills and Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest.

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley, a place of unexpected contrasts, is also one of subtle beauty. From the blush of dawn's light across its badlands to the awe-inspiring red-gold sunsets and the riot of color from spring wildflowers, this great national park covering over 3.3 million miles offers fascinating history and nature's splendor in large servings.

Los Angeles

The cosmopolitan heart of Southern California, L.A. shimmers with diverse cultures and unparalleled glamour, but the “City of Angels” indulges more than fantasy. Its cultural institutions are world-class, from the Getty Museum to the Philharmonic, and top-ranking schools like UCLA and USC contribute to its renown as a first-rate center of learning.

Sequoia National Park

The second national park designated in this country, Sequoia National Park encompasses vast and magnificent terrain. From mountain peaks, deep canyons and immense Redwood trees, this park is a gem among gems.

Los Angeles: Full-service hotel near LAX airport. Lodging in or near three National Parks. Hotel parking for an additional fee.

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

Jeff Crow is a naturalist in the tradition of John Muir. Like Muir, he has been rambling around the Sierra Nevada for decades, spending much time in its ecosystems to bring a perspective that incorporates a wide range of environments. He is also a naturalist in the old sense of the word prior to Muir – an observer of all disciplines in the natural world. He was trained in English at U.C. Santa Barbara and uses that knowledge to put his students on deep pilgrimages to exotic lands outside their back doors. Jeff has led Road Scholar programs in Sequoia National Park for a number of years, and currently works as a mentor teacher for the Yosemite Institute. He continually works with students ages 8 – 87 in a fervent desire to create connections that, like the fundamental particles, bind the fabric of the forest and the mountains into one complete whole. As Muir wrote, “the clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”
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
   Embassy Suites Los Angeles International Airport/South
  Los Angeles Airport Area 1 night
   Montecito Sequoia Lodge
  Sierra Nevada Mountains - Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park 2 nights
   Yosemite Lodge at the Falls
  Sierra Nevada Mountains - Yosemite National Park 2 nights
   Dow Hotel & Dow Villa Motel
  Sierra Nevada Mountains - Owens Valley 1 night
   Stovepipe Wells Resort
  Owens Valley - Death Valley National Park 2 nights
 Embassy Suites Los Angeles International Airport/South
Type: Hotel
  Description: The beautiful Embassy Suites Hotel is an upscale, full-service hotel conveniently located just one mile south of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and an ideal stopover point for LAX travelers. The hotel offers spacious two-room suites surrounding a lush tropical atrium. Wireless highspeed Internet access is available throughout the hotel. With easy access to all freeways, it's located within an hour's drive to dozens of Los Angeles-area tourist attractions and local beaches. 24-hour complimentary LAX Airport shuttle to/from hotel.
  Contact info: 1440 E. Imperial Ave
El Segundo, CA 90245 USA
phone: 310-640-3600
  Room amenities: All of the 350 spacious two-room suites have a galley kitchen; wet bar; two remote control color TV's with cable and in-suite movies; electronic locks; coffee maker; iron/ironing board; hair dryer; air conditioning; and free daily newspaper.
  Facility amenities: The hotel provides guests with an Indoor pool, whirlpool, sundeck and exercise room; gift shop; room service; laundry/valet service; ATM; baggage storage and luggage hold; and news stand. Each suite has a dining area with refrigerator, microwave, coffee-maker, and wet bar with dishware; air conditioning; and two TV's and pay-per-view movies. WIRELESS INTERNET ACCESS: Wi-Fi Internet service is available throughout the hotel and all guest rooms at a rate of $9.95/day per device. Guests may sign up for service at the hotel's front desk. A password is required.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: $139 plus room tax (for 2014) Reservations may be made directly with the hotel by calling (310) 469-0027 and asking for Stephanie in the Sales Dept. Identify yourself as a member of the Road Scholar group and mention the start date of the Road Scholar program you are attending. The hotel will offer a "pre" rate 3 days prior to the Start Date of the program and a "post" rate 3 days after the last day of the program.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM

 Montecito Sequoia Lodge
Type: Resort
  Description: The Lodge is nestled beside a small private lake in the Sequoia National Forest, surrounded by magnificent Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks and offers spectacular views of the high Sierras and the Great Western Divide. Accommodations include spacious lodge rooms and cozy cabins. Montecito Lake Resort has a heated pool, hot tub, and, of course, Lake Homavalo. In 2006, Montecito Sequoia Lodge was rated one of the best family camp resorts in the country by “Good Morning, America”.
  Contact info: 63410 General's Hwy
Kings Canyon National Park, CA 93633 USA
phone: 559-565-3388
  Room amenities: The Lodge features simple, clean and convenient rooms with private bathrooms. Guest rooms do not have air conditioning, but a standing fan can be requested.
  Facility amenities: Montecito Sequoia Lodge provides a large recreation room, dining room and a no-host bar. Guests may enjoy the heated swimming pool, hot tub, 10 jet spa, a variety of water sports on the lake, hiking trails, fishing, tennis, volleyball, and other outdoor activities. Guest rooms do not have air conditioning, but a standing fan can be requested. WIRELESS INTERNET ACCESS: Free WiFi Internet access is available in the Main Lodge. No password is required. However, access may be slow and spotty depending upon the number of users and the weather.
  Smoking allowed: No

 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: 209-372-1274
  Room amenities: Road Scholar participants will enjoy the comfort of the Lodge rooms which open to a patio or a balcony. All guest rooms have a private bathroom, dressing area, hair dryer, 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. Guest rooms do not have air conditioning. 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. A laundromat is located by the shower house at Housekeeping Camp Services and is open all year from 8AM-10PM. 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

 Dow Hotel & Dow Villa Motel
Type: Hotel
  Description: The Dow Historic Hotel was built in the early 1920's primarily to house movie industry personnel who frequently came to the Owens Valley to film Westerns, including John Wayne, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and Clint Eastwood. Many early Westerns and the epic "Gunga Din" were filmed in the ancient Alabama Hills to the west of town. The hotel faces the beautiful, snow-capped Sierra Nevada Mountain range and magnificent Mt. Whitney, which at 14, 496 ft. is the highest peak in the lower 48 States. Lone Pine is also the gateway to Death Valley National Park, the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere at 282 feet below sea level. The Dow Villa Motel, adjacent to the Dow Historic Hotel, was built in three stages in the late 1950's and early 1960's to meet the growing demand for more rooms. The hotel boasts a refined, graceful air and still attracts many film and TV companies. The Dow property is all non-smoking and has been family-owned and operated since 1957.
  Contact info: 310 S. Main St.
Lone Pine, CA 93545 USA
phone: 800-824-9317
  Room amenities: The Dow Historic Hotel guest room decor is vintage-1930's. The quaint rooms are simple with private bathrooms, remote control TVs and phones. Guest rooms do not have air conditioning, but each are equipped with a swamp cooler.
  Facility amenities: Centrally heated and cooled, the non-smoking Dow Villa Motel and Historic Dow Hotel provide many amenities including a hot, bubbly spa and seasonally-heated pool, beautiful lobby and courtyard areas, 24-hour restaurant next door to the hotel, and a big-screen TV in the lobby. There is a coffee and tea bar for guests in the Hotel lobby. A laundromat is located across Main St. from the hotel. WIRELESS INTERNET ACCESS: Wireless Internet access is available at no charge only in the lobby area, not in the guest rooms. No password is required.
  Smoking allowed: No

 Stovepipe Wells Resort
Type: Motel
  Description: Stovepipe Wells Village Hotel is located approximately 24 miles northwest of Furnace Creek, CA and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountain ranges. Guests may explore five billion-year-old rock formations, swim year round in a sparkling heated swimming pool, watch the sun set behind surrealistic sand dunes and observe such unique animal life as squeaking lizards. The Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, the most photographed sand dunes in the world, are are just a short distance away.
  Contact info: Highway 190
Death Valley, CA 92328 USA
phone: 760-786-2387
  Room amenities: The interior designs of each room echo traditional Native American weavings and customs. Each guest room is provided with a coffeemaker, 2 bottles of complimentary water, an iron/ironing board, digital clock radio with iPod input jack, hairdryer and ample refrigerated air. Most of the spacious bathrooms are outfitted with a tub and shower combination. To enhance the tranquility of the Death Valley natural experience, no telephone service is provided in any of the rooms. All rooms are non-smoking. Smoking is permitted outdoors, at least 50 feet away from public entrances.
  Facility amenities: Stovepipe Wells Village Hotel offers 83 comfortable rooms, some surrounding a tranquil courtyard, as well as a spacious banquet room and presentation lounge. Guests have access to the Toll Road Restaurant & Badwater Saloon, a heated swimming pool, ATM, The Nugget Gift Shop and The General Store which offers food items, limited groceries, beverages and sundry items. All buildings are ground floor and within walking distance of the main facility, which houses the restaurant, saloon, gift shop, general store and swimming pool. There is no laundry facility on site. (The nearest laundromats are located outside the park in Beatty and Pahrump.) INTERNET and CELL PHONE SERVICE: Internet access is currently available at no charge in the reception area, with intermittent WiFi in every room. Their system is satellite-based and slower than other technologies. It generally works well for web browsing and email, but performance time is very slow for uploading and downloading photos and big files. The system is particularly busy and runs slow between 7:00-10:00 p.m. Death Valley offers only limited cell phone service. Several pay phones are available on the property.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Check out time: 11:00 AM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Registration is from 3:30-5:00 PM in hotel lobby. A Manager’s Reception begins at 5:30PM and dinner is served at 6:00PM. Program orientation and participant introductions are scheduled after dinner. You will be staying at Embassy Suites Los Angeles International Airport/South that night.
  End of Program:
Bus returns to Embassy Suites between 4:00-6:00 PM depending upon traffic. Please make your flight departure arrangements after 7:00PM. You will be staying at Stovepipe Wells Resort the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. 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 room near them. Please return your form to the Ventura Office three weeks in advance of the start of your program. When completing the Participant Information Form, please note if you have any difficulty in climbing stairs as there are no elevators at the Montecito Sequoia Lodge, Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, or Dow Historic Hotel in Lone Pine. Adult Group Visitor’s Acknowledgement of Risk Form for Montecito Sequoia Lodge. Please return this signed form to the Road Scholar Ventura office at least three weeks before the start date. Husbands and wives may share one form. 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 Special Park and Fly rate is $10 per car per night.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Los Angeles Airport Area
  Nearest city or town:  El Segundo CA
  Nearest highway: 405 and 105 Freeways
  Nearest airport:  Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  From End of Program
  Location: Los Angeles Airport Area
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

Los Angeles/ LAX


From Airport




Hotel Shuttle
Embassy Suites Hotel Van
phone: 310-640-3600


Per Person/One Way:


Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


5-10 minutes, depending on airport traffic 




About one mile from LAX to hotel


The Embassy Suites Hotel-LAX South provides a 24-hour complimentary Los Angeles Airport (LAX) shuttle. Please call the hotel at (310) 640-3600 AFTER collecting your baggage and advise them of your pick-up location at LAX. BE SURE TO CONFIRM THAT YOU ARE ON THE CORRECT SHUTTLE BUS since there is also an Embassy Suites-LAX NORTH hotel. For more information about LAX transportation services, visit their website at


Los Angeles/ Amtrak


From Train Station




Public Transportation
FlyAway Bus
phone: 866-435-9529


Per Person/One Way:


$8 p/p one-way
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


25-45 minutes to LAX; after drop-off at LAX, call hotel van for pickup. 




19 miles from Union Station to LAX; 1 mile from LAX to hotel


The least expensive way to get to hotel from Union Station (800 N. Alameda St., in downtown L.A.) is via the FlyAway Bus to LAX. After getting off at any LAX terminal, call hotel van at (310) 640-3600 for pickup. FlyAway Bus has non-stop 24-hour service. Buses depart every 30 minutes between LAX and Union Station. Or take a taxi from Union Station (rates vary from $50-75 o/w). Current Amtrak information and reservations, call (800) USA-RAIL or (800) 872-7245 or visit

Driving Directions
  From EAST of Los Angeles to Embassy Suites-LAX South Take I-10 west to I-405 south. From I-405 south, take I-105 west (by LAX). Take I-105 west until the freeway ends. Take left at California Street (first signal), then turn left onto Imperial Ave. The hotel is on the right.
  From NORTH of Los Angeles to Embassy Suites-LAX South Take I-405 south to I-105 west (by LAX). Take I-105 west until the freeway ends. Take left at California Street (first signal), then turn left onto Imperial Ave. The hotel is on the right.
  From SOUTH of Los Angeles to Embassy Suites-LAX South Take I-710 north to I-405 north. From I-405 north, take I-105 west (by LAX) until it ends. Take left at California Street (first signal), then turn left onto Imperial Ave. The hotel is on the right.
Elevation Note: Group will spend time in Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks at elevations from 4000 to 8000 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
(Friday, September 5)
 Afternoon: HOTEL CHECK-IN: Check into the hotel 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 after dinner.

After registration, there will be a Manager's Reception followed by dinner.

 Dinner: Dinner at hotel

Menus are contracted for the program and are designed to offer balanced, healthy meals for the participants. This program offers two choices for meals: standard and vegetarian. We are unable to customize menus for individuals. However, we have found that by requesting sauces and dressing to be served on the side, we are able to accommodate various food intolerances and allergies. Vegetarian meals must be requested in advance on your Participant Information Form. 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: Begins after dinner. 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 rest of 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: Embassy Suites Los Angeles International Airport/South
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Sequoia National Park/General Sherman Tree
(Saturday, September 6)

Note: Unlike most hotel-based Road Scholar programs, the “Four Jewels” program is a rigorous, moving adventure in which participants will be “on the road” every day with access to your rooms at the beginning and end of each day.

The trail to General Sherman Tree is paved, starts at 7000 ft elevation and drops 210 feet (the exact height of the tree) over a 1/4 mile to the viewing platform. Bus used to transport group back up to the parking area.

No elevator at Montecito Sequoia Lodge

 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel before departure
 Morning: FIELD TRIP: Travel I-405, past the Getty Center to the I-5, a major north-south route which bisects the entire LA metropolitan area. Journey through rugged mountains before reaching the scheduled rest stop at Pyramid Lake. Afterwards travel SR-99 which passes through the farms, orchards and vineyards of the San Joaquin Valley.
 Lunch: Lunch at Hometown Buffet in Visalia
 Afternoon: Upon arrival in Sequoia National Park, visit the Giant Forest Museum featuring exhibits on giant sequoia ecology and the General Sherman Tree, the largest living tree in the world.
 Dinner: Buffet dinner in Montecito Sequoia Lodge dining room
Accommodations: Montecito Sequoia Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Kings Canyon National Park/Roaring Falls and Zumwalt Meadows
(Sunday, September 7)

Note: Trail to General Grant Tree is gently-graded, paved one-third of a mile loop walk through the sequoia grove.

The Zumwalt Meadow Trail is mostly level, about 1 mile long and affords excellent views of the Kings River and surrounding granite cliffs, including Grand Sentinel (8,518 ft.) and North Dome (8,717 ft.). Walk will be led at a leisurely pace with mostly natural history and story telling along the way.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast in Montecito Sequoia Lodge dining room
 Morning: FIELD TRIP: Visit the Kings Canyon Visitor Center in Grant Grove Village before continuing onto General Grant Tree, one of the five largest trees on earth.
 Lunch: Bag lunch provided by Montecito Sequoia Lodge. Enjoy lunch in Kings Canyon.
 Afternoon: After lunch, visit Roaring River Falls and walk 200 yards on a paved trail to the viewpoint.
 Dinner: Buffet dinner in Montecito Sequoia Lodge dining room
 Evening: CLASS: Evening program at Montecito Sequoia Lodge
Accommodations: Montecito Sequoia Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Yosemite National Park/Lunch at 19th century Wawona Hotel/View of Yosemite Valley from Tunnel View
(Monday, September 8)

Note: Short walks around Pioneer Village and hotel grounds No elevator at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast in Montecito Sequoia Lodge dining room
 Morning: FIELD TRIP: Drive through Fresno and Oakhurst on the way to Yosemite National Park.
 Lunch: Sit down lunch in the historic Wawona Hotel, a National Historic Landmark, in Yosemite National Park
 Afternoon: Stop at Tunnel View for one of the most photographed vistas in the world--a classic view of Yosemite Valley.
 Dinner: You will have two nights on your own while at Yosemite Park to dine where you choose. Dining options will be listed in the “Yosemite Guide”, the park newspaper which is published several times a year. You may view a current copy of the newspaper online at

Ride the free Yosemite Valley Shuttle to the Ahwahnee Lodge, Curry Village Pavilion Buffet, or eat at the Yosemite Lodge Mountain Room or Food Court.

If you are interested in eating dinner at the Ahwahnee Hotel Dining Room, it is best to make reservations for Tuesday.

Accommodations: Yosemite Lodge at the Falls
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5: Yosemite National Park/Valley Visitors Center
(Tuesday, September 9)

Note: All walks optional. Bridalveil Falls - Quarter mile over mostly flat terrain with a steep uphill over the final 100 yards to the viewpoint. Sentinel Bridge - short, flat walk into meadow for impressive views of Yosemite Valley. Lower Yosemite Falls - 1 mile walk over mostly flat terrain with some uphill to the lower falls viewing bridge. If looking for more physical activity, you will have time in Yosemite Valley to do a longer hike during your free time

 Breakfast: Breakfast at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls
 Morning: FIELD TRIP: Start the day at the Visitors Center to view the "Spirit of Yosemite", a 23-minute film about Yosemite National Park, and explore the exhibits.

CLASS: Attend the Ranger program on a Yosemite-related topic.

 Lunch: Bag lunch provided by hotel restaurant
 Afternoon: Free Afternoon: Take the free Yosemite Valley Shuttle to the Ahwahnee Hotel or other points of interest in the park, or take an optional walk.
 Dinner: You will have two nights on your own while at Yosemite Park to dine where you choose. Dining options will be listed in the “Yosemite Guide”, the park newspaper which is published several times a year. You may view a current copy of the newspaper online at

Ride the free Yosemite Valley Shuttle to the Ahwahnee Lodge, Curry Village Pavilion Buffet, or eat at the Yosemite Lodge Mountain Room or Food Court.

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. Make reservations by calling (209) 372-1489.

Accommodations: Yosemite Lodge at the Falls
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 6: Tioga Pass/Tuolumne Meadows/Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area Visitors Center
(Wednesday, September 10)

Note: In Tuolumne Meadows, an optional walk up a steep granite dome called Lembert Dome with opportunity to stop anywhere along the way. No elevator at Dow Hotel & Dow Villa Motel. Easy walk on flat surface to Lone Pine Film History museum for evening program.

 Breakfast: Breakfast at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls
 Morning: FIELD TRIP: Bus departs Yosemite for Lone Pine via scenic Tioga Road, the park’s trans-Sierra Nevada crossing. Stop at Olmstead Point of Tenaya Lake for a scenic overlook and enjoy an easy walk at Tuolumne Meadows (8,575 ft.), located in the heart of Yosemite’s high country.
 Lunch: Bag lunch provided by hotel restaurant. Picnic at the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area Visitors Center.
 Afternoon: After lunch, drive to Lone Pine and check into the Dow Hotel.
 Dinner: Dinner at restaurant in Lone Pine
 Evening: CLASS: Evening Program at the Beverly and Jim Rogers Museum of Lone Pine Film History
Accommodations: Dow Hotel & Dow Villa Motel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Manzanar National Historic Site Interpretive Center/Panamint Mountains and Stovepipe Wells Village
(Thursday, September 11)

Note: Short, easy walks on flat surfaces at Manzanar National Historic Site Interpretive Center and the Alabama Hills movie locations

 Breakfast: Breakfast in Lone Pine restaurant across the street from hotel
 Morning: FIELD TRIP: Visit Manzanar National Historic Site Interpretive Center and view the 22-minute documentary “Remembering Manzanar”. Manzanar preserves the stories of the internment of nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans during WW II. A Park Ranger will narrate our ride through the Historic Site.
 Lunch: Lunch at Lone Pine restaurant
 Afternoon: Guided ride through the Alabama Hills, an area of granite boulders that served as the backdrop for some of Hollywood’s most famous movies.

Travel through Panamint Mountains on the way to Death Valley National Park.

Check into Stovepipe Wells, Death Valley National Park.

 Dinner: Dinner at Stovepipe Wells
Accommodations: Stovepipe Wells Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Zabriskie Point, Badwater and Death Valley National Park Visitors Center
(Friday, September 12)

Note: Zabriskie Point: Viewpoint is a short walk uphill from the parking area. Badwater Salt Flat: Level walk across lowest place in North America. Crust of salt crystals may be covered with temporary lake after rain storms. No trail. Golden Canyon Interpretive Trail: Easy 1 mi, one way trail through colorful canyon.

 Breakfast: Breakfast at Stovepipe Wells
 Morning: FIELD TRIP: Day long guided trip to points of interest in Death Valley National Park.

First we'll visit Zabriskie Point, a site that offers an excellent view of the Furnace Creek Badlands and Badwater Basin which, at 279.8 ft below sea level, is the lowest place in North America. Our next stop will be the Death Valley National Park Visitors Center followed by other points of interest.

 Lunch: Lunch at the Wrangler Buffet at Furnace Creek Ranch
 Dinner: Dinner at Stovepipe Wells
Accommodations: Stovepipe Wells Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes/Independent Departures
(Saturday, September 13)

Note: Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes: Graceful desert dunes, numerous animal tracks. Easy to moderate walk on dunes. Best in morning or afternoon for dramatic light. No trail.

 Breakfast: Breakfast at Stovepipe Wells
 Morning: FIELD TRIP: Group will visit Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

Return trip to Los Angeles travels via Trona, Ridgecrest and Mojave.

 Lunch: Lunch at restaurant in Ridgecrest
 Afternoon: Return drive to airport hotel in Los Angeles. The approximate return time is 4:00 to 6:00PM depending on traffic. Please make your flight departure arrangements after 7:00PM.

This concludes the program. We hope you have enjoyed our exploration of the Four Jewels of our National Parks system and will join us for other rewarding adventures in the future. Best wishes for all your journeys!

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Free Time Opportunities
  Los Angeles Airport Area LA Overview
On-site car rental desk. Local tours, taxis, and directions available at the Embassy Suite's front desk. Public transportation is available. The Los Angeles area has Museums, Theaters, Musicals, Symphony, Opera, Ballet, Sports Arenas, inviting beach towns, ethnic centers, and many well-known attractions. For additional information, visit
  Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau
Because Los Angeles offers visitors a wide range of activities, we suggest you contact the LACVB and request tourism information. Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau 685 S. Figueroa St. Los Angeles CA 90017 (213) 689-8822 For additional information, visit
  National Parks
Information about the various national parks, including the Three Jewels, may be obtained from the National Park Service through their website Your local library may have excellent natural history books and travel guide books. 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

Basin and Range

Author: John McPhee

Description: This is a complex but fascinating explanation of basin-range geology.

Farewell to Manzanar

Author: Jeanne Wakatsuki

Description: This is a moving account of a family interned in Manzanar during WW II.

John Muir, Son of the Wilderness

Author: Linnie Marsh Wolfe

Description: Pulitizer Prize-winning biography of the great naturalist, John Muir

Land of Little Rain

Author: Mary Austin

Description: This is a 1904 classic about the Eastern Sierra.

Men to Match My Mountains

Author: Irving Stone

Description: An engaging history of the West

Mountains of California

Author: John Muir

Description: Enjoy these lyrical 1894 vignettes by John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club.

Cadillac Desert

Author: Marc Reisner

Description: In this stunning work of history and investigative journalism, Reisner tells the story of conflicts over water policy in the West and the resulting damage to the land, wildlife and Indians.

Geology Underfoot in Death Valley and Owens Valley

Author: Robert P. Sharp

Description: This volume provides an on-the-ground look at the processes sculpting the terrain of this region of extremes. Illustrated with photographs, maps, and diagrams, each geological vignette weaves the tale of a particular scene, feature, or relationship in the landscape.

Water and Power

Author: William L. Kahrl

Description: The author covers the politics, personalities, construction, opposition, and events leading up to the present situation in the Owens Valley.

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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