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19237
California

The Best of Yosemite National Park: An American Icon

Discover the wonders of Yosemite National Park alongside naturalists as you learn about and explore Yosemite Valley, Tuolumne Meadows, Mariposa Grove and many other iconic treasures.
Rating (4.58)
Program No. 19237RJ
Length
6 days
Starts at
2,649
Special Offer
Click on Dates & Prices below to see special offer details.
California

The Best of Yosemite National Park: An American Icon

Discover the wonders of Yosemite National Park alongside naturalists as you learn about and explore Yosemite Valley, Tuolumne Meadows, Mariposa Grove and many other iconic treasures.
Length
6 days
Starts at
2,649
Special Offer
Click on Dates & Prices below to see special offer details.
Length
6 days
Rating (4.58)
Starts at
2,649
Special Offer
Click on Dates & Prices below to see special offer details.
Program No. 19237RJ

Your well-being is our #1 priority

To make your experience as safe as possible, we require all participants to be fully vaccinated. See our Safety Roadmap

Enroll with Confidence

We want your Road Scholar learning adventure to be something to look forward to—not worry about. Learn more

Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
climate
Plan ahead.
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itinerary
Please Note:
The itinerary for this program is different on certain dates.
Select your type of room
Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Jul 17 - Jul 22, 2022
Starting at
2,649
Itinerary Note

The Ahwahnee Dining Hall is unavailable for groups in 2022. An alternate dining venue will be arranged for 2022 programs.

Aug 7 - Aug 12, 2022
Starting at
2,999
Itinerary Note

This date is limited to 24 participants or less. The Ahwahnee Dining Hall is unavailable for groups in 2022. An alternate dining venue will be arranged for 2022 programs.

Sep 18 - Sep 23, 2022
Starting at
2,999
Itinerary Note

This date is limited to 24 participants or less. The Ahwahnee Dining Hall is unavailable for groups in 2022. An alternate dining venue will be arranged for 2022 programs.

Oct 2 - Oct 7, 2022
Starting at
2,649
Itinerary Note

The Ahwahnee Dining Hall is unavailable for groups in 2022. An alternate dining venue will be arranged for 2022 programs.

Oct 16 - Oct 21, 2022
Starting at
2,999
Itinerary Note

This date is limited to 24 participants or less. The Ahwahnee Dining Hall is unavailable for groups in 2022. An alternate dining venue will be arranged for 2022 programs.

May 14 - May 19, 2023
Starting at
3,399
May 21 - May 26, 2023
Starting at
2,999
Special Offer

Enroll by Dec. 31, 2022 to take $200 off the price shown!

Jun 11 - Jun 16, 2023
Starting at
2,999
Special Offer

Enroll by Dec. 31, 2022 to take $200 off the price shown!

Jun 18 - Jun 23, 2023
Starting at
3,399
Jul 9 - Jul 14, 2023
Starting at
2,999
Special Offer

Enroll by Dec. 31, 2022 to take $200 off the price shown!

Jul 23 - Jul 28, 2023
Starting at
2,999
Special Offer

Enroll by Dec. 31, 2022 to take $200 off the price shown!

Aug 6 - Aug 11, 2023
Starting at
3,399
Sep 10 - Sep 15, 2023
Starting at
3,399
Sep 24 - Sep 29, 2023
Starting at
2,999
Special Offer

Enroll by Dec. 31, 2022 to take $200 off the price shown!

Oct 1 - Oct 6, 2023
Starting at
2,999
Special Offer

Enroll by Dec. 31, 2022 to take $200 off the price shown!

Oct 8 - Oct 13, 2023
Starting at
3,399
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Jul 17 - Jul 22, 2022
Starting at
3,449
Itinerary Note

The Ahwahnee Dining Hall is unavailable for groups in 2022. An alternate dining venue will be arranged for 2022 programs.

Aug 7 - Aug 12, 2022
Starting at
3,799
Itinerary Note

This date is limited to 24 participants or less. The Ahwahnee Dining Hall is unavailable for groups in 2022. An alternate dining venue will be arranged for 2022 programs.

Sep 18 - Sep 23, 2022
Starting at
3,799
Itinerary Note

This date is limited to 24 participants or less. The Ahwahnee Dining Hall is unavailable for groups in 2022. An alternate dining venue will be arranged for 2022 programs.

Oct 2 - Oct 7, 2022
Starting at
3,449
Itinerary Note

The Ahwahnee Dining Hall is unavailable for groups in 2022. An alternate dining venue will be arranged for 2022 programs.

Oct 16 - Oct 21, 2022
Starting at
3,799
Itinerary Note

This date is limited to 24 participants or less. The Ahwahnee Dining Hall is unavailable for groups in 2022. An alternate dining venue will be arranged for 2022 programs.

May 14 - May 19, 2023
Starting at
4,269
May 21 - May 26, 2023
Starting at
3,859
Special Offer

Enroll by Dec. 31, 2022 to take $200 off the price shown!

Jun 11 - Jun 16, 2023
Starting at
3,859
Special Offer

Enroll by Dec. 31, 2022 to take $200 off the price shown!

Jun 18 - Jun 23, 2023
Starting at
4,269
Jul 9 - Jul 14, 2023
Starting at
3,859
Special Offer

Enroll by Dec. 31, 2022 to take $200 off the price shown!

Jul 23 - Jul 28, 2023
Starting at
3,859
Special Offer

Enroll by Dec. 31, 2022 to take $200 off the price shown!

Aug 6 - Aug 11, 2023
Starting at
4,269
Sep 10 - Sep 15, 2023
Starting at
4,269
Sep 24 - Sep 29, 2023
Starting at
3,859
Special Offer

Enroll by Dec. 31, 2022 to take $200 off the price shown!

Oct 1 - Oct 6, 2023
Starting at
3,859
Special Offer

Enroll by Dec. 31, 2022 to take $200 off the price shown!

Oct 8 - Oct 13, 2023
Starting at
4,269

At a Glance

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!
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking up to 1.5 miles over varied terrain including paved and dirt paths. Standing up to 45 minutes at a time. Elevations range from 4,000-8,000 feet.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • 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.
  • Explore Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias to stand in awe of hundreds of these impressive trees, and dine at The Ahwahnee Hotel.

General Notes

Select dates are designated for small groups and are limited to 24 participants or less.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Mary Jackson
Mary Jackson recently retired from teaching English at a Northern California high school after a teaching career of 34 years. While teaching, Mary began each summer by taking her students on travel programs, initially to domestic locations within the U.S. and eventually to the far reaches of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Upon retirement, becoming a group leader for Road Scholar — for both intergenerational and adult programs — was a natural fit for Mary. Her favorite aspect of Road Scholar programs is meeting the participants.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Mary Jackson
Mary Jackson View biography
Mary Jackson recently retired from teaching English at a Northern California high school after a teaching career of 34 years. While teaching, Mary began each summer by taking her students on travel programs, initially to domestic locations within the U.S. and eventually to the far reaches of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Upon retirement, becoming a group leader for Road Scholar — for both intergenerational and adult programs — was a natural fit for Mary. Her favorite aspect of Road Scholar programs is meeting the participants.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Yosemite: The Complete Guide
by James Kaiser
Filled with vivid color photography and informed writing, Yosemite: The Complete Guide puts the best of Yosemite National Park at your fingertips. Fully updated to include current travel info (including the new rules for hiking Half Dome), the second edition offers expanded chapters on geology, ecology, wildlife, and history. James Kaiser takes readers on a joyous romp through Yosemite, revealing the fascinating story behind the scenery. From the thundering waterfalls of Yosemite Valley to the sparkling granite of the High Sierra, Yosemite: The Complete Guide equips travelers with everything they need to know. Lodging, camping, and dining are covered in-depth, as well as outdoor adventures (hiking, biking, rock climbing, rafting, skiing), transportation issues, and seasonal weather patterns. Over 20 hikes are listed, with trail descriptions, topographical maps, and photos.
Yosemite
by Ansel Adams (Author), Andrea G. Stillman (Contributor), Michael L. Fischer (Contributor)
This beautifully printed paperback original collects Ansel Adams' finest images of the place closest to his heart, Yosemite National Park. It presents the essence of Adams' long association with Yosemite: sixty-six memorable photographs of glacial lakes and craggy peaks, cascading waterfalls and granite monoliths, lone trees and sylvan streams. Moon and Half Dome, Clearing Winter Storm, and El Capitan, Winter, Sunrise - images that have become veritable icons of the American wilderness. Selections from Adams' writings about the park and its environment, and an introductory essay that reveals the prescience of Adams' views on park management issues, enhance this majestic photographic portrait of Yosemite National Park by America's foremost landscape photographer.
My First Summer in the Sierra
by John Muir
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.
Geology of the Sierra Nevada (California Natural History Guides)
by Mary Hill
Geology of the Sierra Nevada (California Natural History Guides) is a comprehensive guide to the geologic history of the Sierra Nevada.
History of the Sierra Nevada
by Francis Peloubet Farquhar
The History of the Sierra Nevada covers all aspects of the human history of the area from the prehistoric native Americans, Spanish exploration, mountain men, pioneers, 49'ers, railroad, John Muir and the national parks to recent trends of utilization and recreation.
Sierra Nevada Natural History
by David Lukas, Tracy I. Storer, Robert L. Usinger
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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6 days
5 nights
13 meals
5 B 4 L 4 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
Brisbane (San Francisco Airport), CA
D
DoubleTree by Hilton San Francisco Airport North

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: 3:30 p.m. After you check in at the hotel front desk and have your room assignment and key, join us at the Road Scholar table in the lobby to register with the program staff, get any updated information, and confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please locate your Group Leader and let them know you have arrived. Introductions: 5:30 p.m. We’ll gather for a session we call Crossing Points to begin getting to know our fellow Road Scholars and discover what we share beyond a love of lifelong learning.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: Orientation: 7:00 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. We will review COVID-19 protocols and will adhere to applicable requirements and guidelines throughout the program. A naturalist will provide educational content throughout the program. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/current conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
2
Yosemite National Park, Ahwahnee Hotel
Yosemite, CA
B,L,D
Yosemite Valley Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 275 miles, approximately 5.5 hours riding time; one rest stop en route. Walking about 1/2 mile throughout the day; dirt paths, flat meadow, paved trail from Bridalveil Fall parking area to base of waterfall. Elevation gain approximately 80 feet. Bring binoculars if you have them.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will check out of the hotel, board a motorcoach, and ride to Yosemite National Park in central California. The “gold rush” of 1849 wreaked havoc on the environment, followed by extensive commercial exploitation. In response, President Lincoln designated Yosemite Valley a public trust in 1864, the first time the U.S. government protected land from private development and for public enjoyment. Yellowstone became America’s first national park in 1872. Today, it is one of America’s most beautiful and most visited national parks.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: We will ride to the historic Ahwahnee Hotel where our naturalist will tell us about the classic architecture and the various historic characters that stayed at the elegant hotel. Next, our naturalist will lead a field trip through Yosemite Valley, world-famous for its impressive waterfalls, cliffs, and unusual rock formations. We will learn about the valley’s glacial past that carved the grand walls we see today. Our first stop will be El Capitan Meadow. From the meadow, use binoculars to scan for climbers on El Capitan, one of the world’s most popular climbs. Rising more than 3,000 feet above the Valley floor, it is the largest granite monolith in the world. The first ascent on El Capitan was made by Warren Harding in 1958 and records continue to be broken. We will ride on to Tunnel View that gives us a bird’s eye view of the Valley with El Capitan, Bridalveil Fall, and Half Dome. It is one of the more iconic scenes of Yosemite. Riding by Bridalveil Fall, we’ll see it plunge 620 feet. Bridalveil thunders in the spring but during the rest of the year its light, swaying flow resembles a “bridal veil.” It is one of the many waterfalls that can appear in Yosemite Valley. We’ll then ride on to our hotel and check in.

Dinner: We will have vouchers provided to use at Base Camp Eatery in Yosemite Valley Lodge.

Evening: At leisure. There are many opportunities to enjoy the park independently after dark. Use the “Yosemite Guide” to find out what programs are being offered. Programs offered by the National Park are free of charge. https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/guide.htm Programs at the Yosemite Theater require a ticket that can be purchased the day of at the visitor center bookstore or on-line at https://yosemite.org/experience/theater/.

DAY
3
Mariposa Grove, Wawona Hotel
Yosemite, CA
B,L
Yosemite Valley Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 30 miles, approximately 1 hour riding time; curvy mountain road. Hiking up to 4 miles, approximately 3 hours; wooden boardwalk, paved path. Potential crowded conditions at Mariposa Grove, potential for getting wet at Lower Yosemite Falls, slippery walkways.

Breakfast: At the Lodge.

Morning: We will board a motorcoach and ride to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias that contains some 500 mature giant sequoias. We will park near the shuttle stop at the Mariposa Grove Welcome Center where restrooms are located. We’ll then board a National Park Service bus that will take us into the grove and to the start of the wooden boardwalk to see the sequoias. Our naturalist will lead us through the grove and explain giant sequoia ecology and our connections with these large trees. Giant sequoias are perhaps the largest living things on Earth and may exceed 3,000 years in age. Reopened on June 15, 2018, the Mariposa Grove restoration project aimed to restore the grove’s dynamic ecology and increase the grove’s resilience. Many visitors from around the world are eager to visit the beloved grove of trees that was closed for three years. Keep an eye out for the sequoia saplings that have taken root with the absence of people. Note: The park is likely to be crowded with others who also want to see these wonders of nature. Please exercise patience.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Returning to Yosemite Valley Lodge, we’ll set out on a leisurely walk to the base of Lower Yosemite Falls along a paved path with a slight incline. The path is one mile round trip. If the water levels are high in the valley, be prepared for a large spray at the base of the falls that could leave us drenched amid slick walkways.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Dining choices will be listed in the “Yosemite Guide” park newspaper published several times a year and available on line at http://www.travelyosemite.com/lodging/dining/.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Olmstead Point, Tenaya Lake, Tuolumne Meadows
Yosemite, CA
B,L,D
Yosemite Valley Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 100 round trip, approximately 5 hours riding time. Walking about 1/2 mile total (weather permitting), paved path to beach. Elevation 8,000 feet. Note: Tioga Pass is closed from approximately November to early June.

Breakfast: At the Lodge.

Morning: We will board a motorcoach for a full day in the subalpine environment of the High Sierras. Our naturalist will provide a narrative that touches on many aspects of the natural and human history along Tioga Pass Road to Olmstead Point, Tenaya Lake, and Tuolumne Meadows. Tioga Pass Road offers a 39-mile scenic drive between Crane Flat and Tuolumne Meadows through forests, meadows, lakes, and granite domes. The road is one of the few roads that pass over the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the eastern side into Owens Valley. It started as a dirt road in 1915 and was slowly paved and widened over the years. It was fully completed by the 1960s with the rise in car sales and families taking road trips to the national parks. Olmsted Point looks down on Yosemite Valley from the east and from a very different angle. Tenaya Lake is a magnificent High Sierra lake surrounded by granite domes, lodgepole forests, and Yosemite’s vast wilderness. Tuolumne Meadows is a large, open subalpine meadow graced by the winding Tuolumne River and surrounded by majestic peaks and domes. At Tenaya Lake (weather permitting), we will walk approximately 175 yards on a paved path to the beach. Additional opportunities may be available depending on local conditions at the time of the program; the Group Leader will discuss prior to the field trip.

Lunch: At Tenaya Lake, we will have box lunches.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll set out on a stroll into lush, alpine Tuolumne Meadows. Surrounded by lodgepole forest, it is at an elevation of 8,000 feet. The Tuolumne River flows through the meadow on its way to the Hetch Hetchy Valley and Reservoir. We’ll walk about 1/2 mile walk towards Soda Springs while learning about the alpine environment.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure. There are many opportunities to enjoy the park independently after dark. Use the “Yosemite Guide” to find out what programs are being offered. Programs offered by the National Park are free of charge. https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/guide.htm Programs at the Yosemite Theater require a ticket that you can purchase the day of at the visitor center bookstore or on-line at https://yosemite.org/experience/theater/.

DAY
5
Rock Climbing, Free Time
Yosemite, CA
B,D
Yosemite Valley Lodge

Activity note: Standing in exposed areas. Bring hat and sunscreen.

Breakfast: At the Lodge.

Morning: We will be joined by a local climber and climbing expert who will give us an outdoor presentation on rock climbing in Yosemite. Climbers took mountaineering to another level in the 1950s and started to ascend the vertical walls of Yosemite Valley. Rock climbers were looking for a different way of life by the 1960s and were influenced by the counter-culture movement that was occurring in the United States. Many people would camp in the valley for several months to climb the granite walls in Yosemite. The gear has changed from homemade gear and welded together to the thriving industry providing climbers with a range of gear for different types of climbs. Many people climbers come from all over the world and train for years to attempt the granite walls in Yosemite Valley.

Lunch: On your own to have what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: Free time. This period of time has been set aside for your personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Please note that the period scheduled for free time is subject to change depending on local circumstances and opportunities for independent exploration. Visit https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/guide.htm to find ranger-led programs and other events happening in the park. There are many hikes in the Valley including Mirror Lake, Vernal Fall Footbridge, Lower Yosemite Fall and Cook’s Meadow. You might also like to visit the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center or the Ansel Adams Gallery. Yosemite Valley Lodge also offers bicycle rentals for the paved, flat bike path that loops through the valley. You can find out more about bike rentals at https://www.travelyosemite.com/things-to-do/biking/.

Dinner: At a local restaurant. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
6
Transfer to Brisbane, Program Concludes
Brisbane (San Francisco Airport), CA
B,L

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 200 miles, approximately 5 hours riding time with a stop depending on traffic.

Breakfast: At the Lodge.

Morning: We will check out of the hotel, board a motorcoach, and begin our return trip to the hotel in Brisbane.

Lunch: En route to Brisbane.

Afternoon: We expect to arrive at the hotel in Brisbane by approximately 3:00 p.m. (depending on traffic). This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.