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, Glacier Point and many other iconic treasures.
Rating (5)
Program No. 19237RJ
6 days
Starts at
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6 days
5 nights
14 meals
5 B 5 L 4 D
Getting There
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Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
Brisbane (San Francisco Airport), CA
DoubleTree by Hilton San Francisco Airport North

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

Afternoon: Program Registration: After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar table to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, and other important information. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. Get to know your fellow participants in a session we call Crossing Points and discover what you share beyond a love of lifelong learning.

Dinner: In our private room at the hotel, enjoy a plated meal with salad, entrée, rolls and butter, dessert, and beverage choices including fresh brewed coffee, assorted hot teas, and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: After dinner, the group leader will review the program theme, the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, discuss safety guidelines, emergency procedures, roles and responsibilities, and answer any questions you may have. Dinner on day 3 is on your own in Yosemite National Park. Dining options will be listed in the “Yosemite Guide”, which you can view online at http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/guide.htm. If you are interested in eating dinner at The Majestic Yosemite Hotel Dining Room, please be advised that “Proper attire is kindly requested for dinner.” Gentlemen are asked to wear collared shirts and long pants. Ladies are asked to wear dresses or skirts / slacks and blouses. Make reservations by calling (209) 372-1489. Indicated times are approximate; program activities and schedules may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. We have set aside some free time in the schedule for your personal independent exploration. The Group Leader will often be available during free time to accompany informal excursions, activities, or meals that have been excluded from the program cost. You are welcome to join if you like, with any associated costs on your own. Settle in and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

Yosemite Nat'l Park, Big Trees Lodge, Pioneer History Center
Yosemite, CA
Yosemite Valley Lodge

Activity note: The drive to Yosemite National Park is about 275 miles, approximately 5 1/2 hours. The short walk around the Pioneer Yosemite History Center is on a dirt trail.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in hotel restaurant offers a selection of eggs, bacon, sausage, breakfast potatoes, hot and cold cereals, fruit, yogurts, and fresh baked breakfast breads, plus assorted juices, coffee, tea, and water.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we board our motorcoach for a full day field trip to Yosemite National Park. Without question, Yosemite is one of America's most beautiful and best known of our national parks. Designated as the country’s third national park in October 1890, Yosemite Valley has been preserved since 1864. For the first time in history, Congress set land aside for the preservation and recreation for all people, and the national park concept was born.

Lunch: At Big Trees Lodge (formerly the historic Wawona Hotel), enjoy a 3-course plated meal with salad, entrée, and dessert plus choice of milk, coffee, tea, or water; other beverages available for purchase. Located 4 miles from the park’s southern entrance, Wawona was a popular stagecoach stop for passengers traveling to and from Yosemite Valley in the 1800s.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll walk to Pioneer Yosemite History Center which commemorates Yosemite’s human experience. Each of the historic structures was originally in a different part of Yosemite, and brought to this location in the 1950s-60s as representations of different eras and different chapters in the story of Yosemite. On a self-guided walk, learn individual stories of people who helped establish the park from Galen Clark to the U.S. Cavalry. Please note: The Pioneer Yosemite History Center replaced the previously planned visit to the Mariposa Grove. The Mariposa Grove is scheduled to remain closed until fall 2017 as part of a major restoration project. Aboard the motorcoach, we continue into Yosemite Valley with a stop at Tunnel View. This renowned scenic overlook offers some of the most iconic views of the park including Bridalveil Falls, El Capitan, Half Dome, and the broad expanses of Yosemite Valley — an outstanding photo opportunity. Moving on, we will check in to Yosemite Valley Lodge, the accommodation closest to Yosemite Falls.

Dinner: At the Yosemite Food Court, dinner coupons will be used to purchase hot or cold entrées, pasta dishes, grilled items, pizzas, sandwiches, or salads at different stations. Assorted beverages such as milk, soft drinks, coffee, tea and water are available. Alcohol beverages are available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

Yosemite Valley, The Majestic Yosemite Hotel
Yosemite, CA
Yosemite Valley Lodge

Activity note: The walk into El Capitan Meadow is on a dirt path in a flat meadow and the distance is about 100-150 feet. The paved trail from Bridalveil Falls parking area to base of waterfall is 1/2 mile roundtrip with approximately 80 foot elevation gain. Happy Isles Trail is 1/2 mile round trip on even ground.

Breakfast: A breakfast buffet in the Lodge's dining room will include an assortment of muffins and baked goods, scrambled eggs, breakfast potatoes, fresh fruit salad, bacon, sausage, French toast or waffles, hot or cold cereals, coffee, tea, juice, and water.

Morning: Our on-board instructor will lead us on a field trip through Yosemite Valley which is world-famous for its impressive waterfalls, cliffs and unusual rock formations. The first stop is El Capitan Meadow. From the meadow, use your binoculars and scan for climbers on El Cap, 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. Our second stop is Bridalveil Falls for a walk to the base of the falls. Plunging 620 feet, Bridalveil thunders in the spring but during the rest of the year its light, swaying flow resembles a “bridal veil.”

Lunch: At The Majestic Yosemite Hotel, we’ll have a plated 3-course lunch with salad, entrée, and dessert. This hotel opened in 1927 as The Ahwanee and is a major attraction for Yosemite visitors. Its dining room has a 34-foot-high beamed ceiling, large sugar pine trestles, granite pillars, and floor-to-ceiling windows.

Afternoon: We’ll walk outside for a talk about The Majestic Yosemite Hotel. Known for its magnificent façade and architecture, the hotel was designed to complement its natural surroundings: Yosemite Falls, Half Dome and Glacier Point. Ride the free Yosemite Valley Shuttle bus to Happy Isles, a pair of islands in the Merced River at the east end of Yosemite Valley. Starting from the Happy Isles trailhead, we’ll walk the trail with our naturalist.

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 and give directions. You have a variety of dining options at Yosemite Valley Lodge, The Majestic Yosemite Hotel, Yosemite Village, or Half Dome Village.

Evening: At leisure.

Olmstead Point, Tenaya Lake, Tuolumne Meadows, John Muir
Yosemite, CA
Yosemite Valley Lodge

Activity note: At Tenaya Lake, walk approximately 1/10th mile on paved path to 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.

Breakfast: At the Lodge.

Morning: En route to our field trip through Yosemite high country, our on-board instructor provides 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 and past meadows, lakes, and granite domes. 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 sub-alpine meadow graced by the winding Tuolumne River and surrounded by majestic peaks and domes.

Lunch: Picnic lunch in Tuolumne Meadows area will include sandwich, fresh fruit, chips, trail mix, cookie and bottled water.

Afternoon: We’ll return to Yosemite Valley where you’ll have the remainder of the afternoon free for relaxation or personal independent exploration. Refer to the “Yosemite Guide” paper for ideas of where to go and what to do. The Group Leader will also be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.

Dinner: A dinner buffet at the Lodge will include various items such as salads, fish, chicken, rice, potatoes, vegetable medley and a selection of desserts and beverages.

Evening: Enjoy a living history program, An Evening with John Muir. Born in Scotland in 1838, Muir emigrated to the U.S. with his family in 1849. During his lifetime, he was a farmer, inventor, sheepherder, explorer, botanist, and writer but he is best known as America's most famous and influential naturalist, conservationist, and founder of the Sierra Club. Often called the “Father of our National Park System,” Muir’s writings and efforts resulted in Congress creating Yosemite National Park.

Glacier Point, Free Afternoon
Yosemite, CA
Yosemite Valley Lodge

Activity note: From the Glacier Point parking lot, a paved trail, approximately 500 yards, leads uphill to restrooms, then flattens as it leads to the overlook. To reach the second overlook (optional), continue on the paved walkway to a series of terraced viewpoints reached via granite steps overlooking Valley. The loop is approximately a 1/2 mile.

Breakfast: At the Lodge.

Morning: Rounding out our Yosemite experience, we take a final field trip to Glacier Point, an overlook with a commanding view of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, and the High Sierra. From the end of the road, we walk to the viewpoint. Many say this is the most spectacular viewpoint in the park.

Lunch: We’ll have a picnic lunch at Glacier Point or back in the Valley depending on local conditions at the time of the program, then return to the Lodge. Lunch will include sandwich, fresh fruit, chips, and bottled water.

Afternoon: Free Afternoon. Take this opportunity for 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 and give directions.

Dinner: Farewell dinner at the Lodge. Enjoy an Italian Food themed buffet with items such as salad, pasta, meatballs with sauce, chicken, vegetables, assorted breads, desserts, and coffee, iced tea, and lemonade. A glass of wine is included with this dinner.

Evening: At leisure. Say farewell to new Road Scholar friends and prepare for departure in the morning.

Return to Brisbane, Program Concludes
Brisbane (San Francisco Airport), CA

Activity note: The return trip is approximately 5 hours depending on traffic, and includes a stop for lunch.

Breakfast: At the Lodge.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we’ll board the motorcoach for the return trip to the hotel in Brisbane.

Lunch: En route to Brisbane, stop to have a sit-down plated lunch with entrée, dessert, coffee, hot and iced tea, and water.

Afternoon: We expect to arrive at the hotel in Brisbane by approximately 3:00 p.m. (depending on traffic). This concludes our program. We hope you enjoy all your Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. We encourage you to join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!

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