The Ladies of Yosemite: A National Park Adventure Just for Women

Discover the wonders of Yosemite and the wonders of learning with a troupe of Road Scholar women as you explore Yosemite Valley, Tuolumne Meadows, Half Dome and so much more.
Program No. 23916RJ
6 days
Starts at
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6 days
5 nights
13 meals
5 B 4 L 4 D
Check-in, 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 check in and have your room assignment, join us at the Road Scholar table in the lobby to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing the up-to-date schedule that reflects any changes, other important information, and to confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in. Remember to bring your name-tag (sent previously). 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 hotel meeting room, we’ll have 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: Orientation. The Group Leader will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Unless otherwise specified, transportation will be provided primarily by motorcoach, which will require ascending/descending a few steps. 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 Ahwahnee 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. Please note that our meal at the Wawona Hotel will include fish; if you do not eat fish, please indicate that information under food intolerances when you register so we can prepare an alternative meal for you. 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/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 participants, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead. Prepare for check out and transfer in the morning.

Yosemite National Park Field Trip, The Ahwahnee Hotel
Yosemite, CA
Yosemite Valley Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; traveling about 275 miles, approximately 5.5 hours to Yosemite National Park. Walking less than 1 mile; dirt path, flat meadow; paved trail; approximately 80-foot elevation gain. NOTE: If the water levels are high in the valley, be prepared for a large spray at the base of the fall, which could leave you drenched and walkways slick.

Breakfast: At the hotel, the breakfast buffet 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, water.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we will board our motorcoach and depart for Yosemite National Park. En route, we’ll stop to stretch our legs and take in the scenery. Yosemite is one of America's most beautiful and most visited 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 the Ahwahnee Hotel, we’ll have a 3-course plated meal with salad, entrée, and dessert plus coffee, tea, milk and water; other beverages available for purchase. This hotel opened in 1927 and is a popular stop 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 board a bus and set out with our on-board instructor on a field trip through Yosemite Valley, which is world-famous for its impressive waterfalls, cliffs and unusual rock formations. We will learn about the valley’s glacial past, which carved the grand walls we see today. The first stop is El Capitan Meadow. From the meadow, we’ll use our 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. The first ascent on El Capitan was made by Warren Harding in 1958; records continue to be broken with Alex Honnold free soloing the rock in 2017. Our second stop is Bridalveil Fall 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.” Our last stop takes us to Sentinel Bridge with a classic view of Half Dome framed by pine trees. We will check-in to our hotel after our exploration of the Yosemite Valley floor. NOTE: If the water levels are high in the valley, be prepared for a large spray at the base of the fall, which could leave you drenched and walkways slick.

Dinner: The Group Leader will provide us with vouchers to use at any establishment in Yosemite for dinner. There are various dining options at Yosemite Valley Lodge, The Ahwahnee Hotel, Yosemite Village, or Half Dome Village.

Evening: At Leisure.

Giant Sequoia Grove, Wawona Hotel, Yosemite Valley
Yosemite, CA
Yosemite Valley Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; traveling about 60 miles, approximately 2 hours roundtrip; on a curvy mountain road. Hiking up to 4 miles total; wooden boardwalk; paved path; slight incline; possibly wet conditions. Expect crowds at Sequoia Grove. NOTE: During our afternoon walk, be prepared for the possibility of large spray at the base of the fall, which could leave you drenched and walkways slick.

Breakfast: In the Lodge's dining room, the breakfast buffet includes an assortment of muffins and baked goods, scrambled eggs, breakfast potatoes, fresh fruit salad, breakfast meats, French toast or waffles, hot or cold cereals, plus juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We will ride to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias and board the National Park Service shuttle bus. The shuttle will take us into the grove and to the start of the wooden boardwalk to see the sequoia trees. On arrival, we’ll set out on foot with our naturalist to explore the grove and learn about giant sequoia ecology and our connection to these large trees. This grove contains about 500 mature giant sequoias and was a part of the original Yosemite Grant Act that was signed by President Abraham Lincoln. This was also John Muir’s favorite grove and he spent his life advocating for its protection. Giant sequoias are perhaps the largest living things on Earth and may exceed 3,000 years in age. This grove was closed from 2015-2018 for the Mariposa Grove restoration project, which aimed to restore the grove's dynamic ecology and increase the grove's resilience. Keep an eye out for the sequoia saplings that have taken root with the absence of people. NOTE: Be prepared to share your experience with other arboreal enthusiasts who may be craning their necks to see the sequoias for the first time.

Lunch: We’ll ride to the Wawona Hotel where we’ll have a 3-course plated meal with salad, Trout Almandine, and dessert and a beverage choice of milk, coffee, tea, 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. NOTE: If you do not eat fish, please indicate that information under food intolerances when you register.

Afternoon: Aboard the motorcoach, we will ride back into Yosemite Valley with our Group Leader via HWY 41 through the old settlement of Chinquapin. En route, we’ll stop at Tunnel View. This renowned scenic overlook offers some of the most iconic views of the park including Bridalveil Fall, El Capitan, Half Dome, and the broad expanses of Yosemite Valley — an outstanding photo opportunity. After we return to Yosemite Valley Lodge, we’ll set out with our naturalist for a walk to the base of Lower Yosemite Fall — the same waterfall that we observed earlier at Tunnel View. We’ll learn about the natural history of the area. We’ll also learn more about how Yosemite’s famous falls influence the surrounding ecosystem. Plunging 620 feet, Bridalveil thunders in the spring but during the rest of the year its light, swaying flow resembles a “bridal veil.” The Ahwahneechee people, the local native community, refer to the fall as Pohono meaning the spirit of the puffing wind. NOTE: If the water levels are high in the valley, be prepared for a large spray at the base of the fall which could leave you drenched and walkways slick.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like in Yosemite National Park. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

Tiagoa Pass Road Field Trip, Tuolumne Meadows
Yosemite, CA
Yosemite Valley Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; driving about 50 miles, approximately 1.5 hours one-way to Tuolumne Meadows with stop at Tenaya Lake. Weather permitting (see Yosemite Road Closures in the "Special Notes" section for details), walking about 1 mile; paved path to beach; dirt trails on uneven terrain, no incline. 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: Lodge buffet.

Morning: We will board the motorcoach for a day in the subalpine environment of the High Sierras. Our on-board instructor 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 due to the rise in popularity of family road trips to the national parks.

Lunch: At Tenaya Lake area, we’ll have a boxed lunch including a sandwich, a piece of fresh fruit, a bag of chips, a bag of trail mix, a cookie, and a bottle of water.

Afternoon: With a local expert, we'll take a short stroll into the Tuolumne Meadows — a lush alpine meadow area surrounded by a lodgepole pine forest at 8,000 feet in elevation. The Tuolumne River flows through the meadow on its way to the Hetch Hetchy Valley and Reservoir. We will walk toward Soda Springs while learning about the alpine environment. We’ll return to the hotel with time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel in a private room, we’ll have a buffet dinner with coffee, assorted teas, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At the hotel, we'll join a local author for an evening discussion about her time hiking the John Muir Trail. Lori Oliver-Tierney was searching for a new direction by her 50s and thought time on the trail would help her in her search. We'll hear about her journey hiking the 211-mile trail through Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks. She compiled her thoughts and adventures in a book titled “Trudge: A Midlife Crisis on the John Muir Trail.” Lori is a local and lives in the gateway community of Mariposa, California.

John Muir Trail, Free Time
Yosemite, CA
Yosemite Valley Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off a park shuttle. Hiking about 2.5 miles roundtrip to Vernal Fall via the Mist Trail; approximately 3 hours; roughly 1,000 foot elevation gain with over 600 granite steps; no handrails; steep inclines; dirt trail. Extent and duration of walking and other activities during free time according to personal choice. NOTE: During our morning hike, be prepared for the possibility of large spray at the base of the fall which could leave you drenched and walkways slick.

Breakfast: Lodge buffet.

Morning: We will complete our Yosemite experience with one last hike in Yosemite Valley with Lori Oliver-Tierney. We will ride the shuttle bus to the Happy Isle area to start a hike toward Vernal Fall. Lori will join us on a hike from the Happy Isles Trailhead to Vernal Fall via the Mist Trail, the first part of the John Muir Trail. As we delight in views of Vernal Fall along this stretch of trail, we may even be able to see a rainbow in the spray of the fall. We will find out why the trail is named the "mist trail" as we watch the water fall over a cliff to be reunited with the stream below. The trail begins with a steep, paved incline to the Vernal Footbridge. Some may choose to stop at the bridge with a great view of the fall. If you are looking for a challenge, continue with Lori up the Mist Trail on the granite staircase toward the top of Vernal Fall. Lori will narrate along the way about her struggles and thoughts she had as she started her journey years ago on the JMT. NOTE: There are no guard rails on the granite staircase and steps may be slippery from the mist of the fall.

Lunch: On your own in Yosemite Valley. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: Free time in Yosemite Valley. 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. There are many opportunities for 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 may decide 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: Lodge buffet; a glass of wine included. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during this farewell dinner.

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

To Brisbane, Program Concludes
Brisbane (San Francisco Airport), CA

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; driving about 275 miles, approximately 5 hours with lunch stop.

Breakfast: Lodge buffet.

Morning: After checking out of the lodge, we’ll board the motorcoach and ride to the hotel in Brisbane.

Lunch: En route to Brisbane, we’ll stop at a popular local restaurant 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. 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!

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