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The Beauty of Yosemite and the Joy of Watercolor

Program No. 2317RJ
Find your inspiration in the idyllic setting of Yosemite, where you’ll learn about watercolor techniques, practice plein air painting and enjoy daily lessons from expert instructors.

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We offset a portion of the emissions created by your travel. Learn more

Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
Select your type of room
Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
Apr 28 - May 3, 2024
Starting at
Oct 20 - Oct 25, 2024
Starting at
DATES & starting prices
Apr 28 - May 3, 2024
Starting at
Oct 20 - Oct 25, 2024
Starting at

At a Glance

Join us in exploring new ways to be creative. Our delightful instructor teaches you how to render outdoor elements with ease, sharing secrets of color systems, brush-stroke techniques and water use. View nature from an artist's perspective during field trips to Yosemite National Park. Experience painting "in the wild," learning to paint mountains, tree and waterfalls in the field.
Activity Level
Easy Going
Walking up to one mile over varied terrain on field trips. Distances between lodging, dining hall and classrooms can exceed 1,000 feet to and from. Elevations of 3,100-6,000 feet.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Embark on a bus excursion to some of the Yosemite Valley’s most beautiful sites, including Tunnel View, Bridalveil Fall and Sentinel Bridge.
  • Delight in an opportunity to paint “en plein air” in the heart of Yosemite.
  • Paint daily and improve your watercolor technique with the help of an art instructor who offers tips on composition, color and more.

General Notes

The Retreat Difference: This unique, often basic and no-frills experience at a Road Scholar Retreat includes opportunities for early morning exercise, interaction with the local community for insight into local life, an authentic farm-to-table or locally sourced meal, a live performance or event, and a value-priced single room. Basic art supplies are furnished. Participants may bring their own supplies to supplement if they wish.
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.
Garden of the Sun: A History of the San Joaquin Valley: 1772-1939.
by Wallace Smith
High Odyssey: The First Solo Winter Assault of Mt. Whitney and the Muir Trail Area.
by Rose, Gene.
Anyone who loves mountains, and especially the Sierra Nevada, will find this a great addition to the library. It documents the little known winter solo ski trip over the entire John Muir trail, from Mt. Whitney to Yosemite, by Orland Bartholemew in 1928-29. The author expertly crafts the story from old notes and a diary.
Secrets of the Oak Woodlands; Plants and Animals Among California's Oaks
by Kate Marianchild
Living on the Wind: Across the Hemisphere with Migratory Birds.
by Scott Weidensaul
Gloryland: A Novel
by Shelton Johnson
Salt: A World History
by Mark Kurlansky
High Odyssey: The First Solo Winter Assault of Mt. Whitney and the Muir Trail Area
by Gene Rose
The Land of Little Rain
by Mary Austin
Conifers of California
by Ronald M Lanner
Up and Down California in 1860-1864: The Journal of William H Brewer
by William Brewer
Touch the Earth: A Self-Portrait of the Indian Existence
by McLuhan, T. C.
The Photographer's Guide to Yosemite
by Michael Frye
Shattered Air: A True Account of Catastrophe and Courage on Yosemite’s Half Dome
by Bob Madgic
The Geologic Story of Yosemite National Park.
by Huber, N. King.
Geologic History of Yosemite
A Sierra Club Naturalist’s Guide to the Sierra Nevada.
by Whitney, Stephen
. Stephen Whitney has taken most of the University of California Press guides and books and done an excellent job of condensing a wide range of biotic and abiotic topics. I highly recommend this guide to anyone interested in the Sierra Nevada, whether a teacher, backpacker, student, or amateur naturalist.
Wildflowers of the Sierra Nevada and the Central Valley
by Laird R Blackwell
Winter WorldL The Ingenuity of Animal Survival
by Bernd Heinrich
Jedediah Smith and the Opening of the West
by Dale L Morgan
History of the Sierra Nevada
by Francis Farqhar
Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World
by Michael Pollan
Flowering Shrubs of Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada.
by Spencer, Shirley.
While the trees of Yosemite thrill visitors and the wildflowers often steal the show, every year the blue elderberry, the snowberry, the American dogwood, and dozens of other shrubs bloom in a glory all their own. This lovely volume, with inspired watercolors showing the fruit, flowers, and foliage of the plants, pays these shrubs full homage. Complete with useful information for plant identification, this book serves as a welcome and needed introduction to some of Yosemite's wildflowers.
The Education of Little Tree
by Forrest Carter
Assembling California
by John McPhee
A Field Guide to Mammals
by William H Burt
Uncertain Path; A Search for the Future of National Parks
by William C Tweed
"Ansel Adams and the American Landscape"
by Jonathan Spaulding
Flowering Shrubs of Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada
by Shirley Spencer
The King of California: J.G. Boswell and the Making of a Secret American
by Mark Arax
The San Joaquin – A River Betrayed
by Gene Rose
Cadillac Desert: The American West and its Disappearing Water
by Marc Reisner
Mountain Sage
by Elizabeth Stone O'Neill
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
by jared Diamond
The Hour of Land; A Personal Topography of America's National Parks.
by Terry Tempest Williams
Black Elk Speaks
by John Neihardt
An Illustrated Flora of Yosemite National Park
by Botti, Stephen J
An Illustrated Flora of Yosemite National Park. El Portal, California:
On the Loose
by Jerry & Renny Russell
Shaping the Sierra: Nature, Culture, and Conflict in the Changing West
by Timothy Duane
They Saw the Elephant: Women in the California Gold Rush
by Jo Ann Levy
A Sierra Club Naturalist's Guide to the Sierra Nevada
by Stephen Whitney
The Incomparable Valley: a Geologic Interpretation of the Yosemite.
by Francois E Matthes
Sierra Nevada Wildflowers
by Karen Wiese
A Sand County Almanac
by Aldo Leopold
Sisters of the Earth
by Lorraine Anderson
My First Summer in the Sierra
by Muir, John.
The first of John Muir's books. This inspirational book allows the reader to understand John Muir's desire to protect and preserve Yosemite.
A Journal of Ramblings Through the High Sierra of California by the University Excursion Party
by Joseph Le Conte
The Earth Speaks: An Acclimatization Journal
by Steve Van Matre
The Wild Muir: Twenty-two of John Muir’s Greatest Adventures.
by Muir, John.
Short stories from John Muir that creates an understanding of John Muir.
Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada
by Clarence King
William Neill Blog
by http://www.williamneill.com/blog/
The Wild Muir: Twenty-two of John Muir's Greatest Adventures
by John Muir
The Journey Home
by Edward Abbey
Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
by Jared Diamond
Yosemite: Volume One
by William Neill
Our expert instructor highly recommends William Neill's blog and ebook. Find the blog at www.williamneill.com/blog/ and Find his ebook at www.williamneill.com/store/ebooks/yosemite-volume1/index.html
Mountains Without Handrails: Reflections on the National Parks
by Joseph L Sax
Nature’s Army: When Soldiers Fought for Yosemite
by Harvey Meyerson
Field Guide to Birds of North America
by John W Fitzpatrick
Desert Solitaire
by Edward Abbey
Westering ManL The Life of Joseph Walker
by Bil Gilbert
Sierra Nevada Natural History: An Illustrated Handbook.
by Tracy I Storer
The Secret Knowledge of Water
by Craig Childs
Challenge of the Big Trees
by William C Tweed
My First Summer in the Sierra
by John Muir
FLO: A Biography of Frederick Law Olmsted
by Laura Wood Roper
. Gloryland: A Novel.
by Johnson, Shelton
This books is roughly based on the life of his great-grandfather who was a buffalo soldier and one of those who patrolled Yosemite NP around the turn of the century to protect it from poachers, loggers, miners, etc. Born on Emancipation Day, 1863, to a sharecropping family of African and Indian blood, Elijah Yancy never lived as a slave, but his self-image as a free person is at war with his surroundings: Spartanburg, South Carolina, in the Reconstructed South. Shelton Johnson is an interpretive ranger for Yosemite National Park. His area of expertise is the Buffalo Soldiers and their influence on the early history of Yosemite and the west.
Oaks of California
by Bruce M Pavlik
The Star Thrower
by Loren Eiseley
The Geologic Story of Yosemite National Park
by King N Huber
Galen Clark: Yosemite Guardian
by Shirley Sargent
The Invention of Nature; Alexander Von Humboldt's New World.
by Andrea Wulf

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.