2811
California
California National Park Medley: From Giant Sequoias to Coast Redwoods
Huge mountains, gorgeous falls, vast caverns and the world's largest trees - this adventure hits them all, plus the best can't-miss places in between.
Rating (4.86)
Program No. 2811RJ
Length
13 days
Starts at
3,499
Special Offer
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13 days
12 nights
33 meals
12 B 10 L 11 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
Check-In, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
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: 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 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. Indicated times are approximate. Program activities, schedules, and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. All transportation will be via private motorcoach unless specified otherwise. 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.

Dinner: In our private room at the hotel, enjoy a plated meal with salad, entrée, rolls and butter, dessert, plus coffee, tea, and water; Other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Get to know your fellow participants in a session we call Crossing Points and discover what you share beyond a love of lifelong learning. Settle in and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
2
To Fresno, San Juan Bautista, San Luis Reservoir, John Muir
Fresno, CA
B,D
Wyndham Garden Fresno Airport

Activity note: Getting on/off the motorcoach.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in hotel dining room 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: We’ll board our private motorcoach for the trip to Fresno, California. Our first stop is a visit to the Mission and State Park at San Juan Bautista led by a senior park aide. The park is part of a nationally recognized historic landmark adjacent to a portion of California's 15th Spanish era mission. This mission was one of four established in the summer of 1797 and the fifteenth of the twenty-one missions in Alta, California.

Lunch: 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.

Afternoon: We continue our trip with a stop at San Luis Reservoir, beginning our exploration of water issues in California. The dam was constructed as a storage reservoir for the federal Central Valley Project and the California State Water Project. It stores runoff water from the Delta that would otherwise flow into the ocean.

Dinner: In the dining room at the hotel, enjoy a buffet dinner including salad, entrée, rolls and butter, with dessert, plus water, coffee, and tea; Other beverages are available for purchase.

Evening: Enjoy a living history presentation with John Muir in the dining room. He was a naturalist and seen as an essential figure in the fight for the preservation of wilderness areas. He led the petition for the National Park bill in 1890, establishing Yosemite and Sequoia National Park.

DAY
3
All Day Field Trip to Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks
Fresno, CA
B,L,D
Wyndham Garden Fresno Airport

Activity note: Walking distance up to 1/2 mile on mostly even terrain with some stairs.

Breakfast: At the Skyline Café in the hotel, enjoy a buffet with eggs, assorted toast, fresh fruit, cereals, yogurt, waffles, and more, plus fruit juice, coffee, tea, milk, and water.

Morning: We begin our field trip to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks with our knowledgeable on-board instructor. We will visit the General Sherman Tree and Grant Grove. Estimated to be between 2,300–2,700 years old, the General Sherman Tree is the largest currently living tree in the world. Sequoia National Park was established in 1890 and encompasses a vertical relief of nearly 13,000 feet with the highest point in the lower 48 states, Mount Whitney. The park is south of and contiguous with Kings Canyon National Park.

Lunch: Picnic style box lunch at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. Lunch items will include sandwich, chips, fruit, cookie, and bottled water.

Afternoon: We continue our field trip in Kings Canyon National Park. Although Congress created these two parks at different times, Sequoia and Kings Canyon share miles of boundary and are managed as one park. Sequoia was the second national park designated in this country after Yellowstone National Park in 1872.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
To Yosemite, Pioneer Village Center, Yosemite Valley
Yosemite, CA
B,L,D
Yosemite Valley Lodge

Activity note: The walk around Pioneer Village is on uneven, dirt terrain. The flat paved loop at Lower Yosemite Falls is about 1 mile roundtrip.

Breakfast: At the Skyline Café.

Morning: We’ll depart Fresno to visit our next national park; Yosemite.

Lunch: At the historic Big Trees Lodge, enjoy a plated lunch with salad, bread and butter, entrée with sides, and dessert. Coffee, tea, milk, and water included; Other beverages are available for purchase. The Big Trees Lodge, a National Historic Landmark, rests upon verdant meadows and beside rushing streams. The tranquility of this Victorian-style lodge in Yosemite makes it a favorite of those who prefer a relaxed environment and the gracious charm of a bygone era.

Afternoon: With our naturalist, we'll visit the Pioneer Village History Center near the Big Trees Lodge. This ‘village’ is assembled from structures that were originally found in different locations throughout the park and moved in the 1950’s and 60’s. Each building represents a different chapter in Yosemite’s story. We board the motorcoach and continue to Yosemite Valley with a stop at Tunnel View for a photo op of the world famous view of the Valley.

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

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
All Day Field Trip in Yosemite National Park
Yosemite, CA
B,D
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 ft. The walk to the base of Bridalveil Fall is 1 mile roundtrip, but up a steep trail with some uneven terrain. Happy Isles Trail is 1/2 mile round trip on even ground.

Breakfast: A 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 leads us on a field trip through Yosemite Valley which is world-famous for its impressive waterfalls, cliffs and unusual rock formations. Our first stop is El Capitan Meadow for a straight up view of El Capitan, a favorite for experienced rock climbers. Rising more than 3,000 feet above the Valley floor, it is the largest monolith of granite in the world. Our next stop is Bridalveil Fall. At more than 600 feet tall, it is one of the most prominent falls in Yosemite. Some Native American tribes believe it to be the home to a vengeful spirit and that those who look directly into the waterfall will be cursed. Afterwards, in the central valley, we'll visit the Sentinel Bridge and Cook’s Meadow area. Sentinel Bridge is famous for its upstream view of the Half Dome. As you walk through Cook’s Meadow, enjoy views of Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, and Sentinel Rock. The meadow is named after John J. Cook, who owned a hotel in Yosemite Valley in the 1880’s and often grazed cattle there.

Lunch: 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. Dining options 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/.

Afternoon: We’ll ride the free Yosemite Valley Shuttle from Yosemite Valley Lodge 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 a naturalist.

Dinner: In the Garden Terrace Room at Yosemite Valley Lodge, a buffet will include various items such as salads, fish, chicken, rice, potatoes, and a selection of desserts and beverages.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Tioga Pass, Transfer to Lake Tahoe, Mono Lake
Tahoe, California
B,L,D
Beach Retreat & Lodge at Tahoe

Activity note: Walking distances up to 1/2 mile on even terrain. Tioga Pass elevation is 9,943 feet.

Breakfast: At Yosemite Valley Lodge.

Morning: We’ll begin our trip across Yosemite's high country over Tioga Pass which serves as the eastern entry point for Yosemite National Park. It is the highest highway pass in California and in the Sierra Nevada. The view from Olmsted Point looks southwest into Yosemite. Tenaya Lake offers an opportunity to stretch our legs and take in the gorgeous views from its shore. We continue through Tuolumne Meadows, a gentle, dome-studded section along the Tuolumne River.

Lunch: Picnic style box lunch at Mono Lake County Park including a sandwich, chips, fruit, trail mix, and bottled water.

Afternoon: After lunch, visit Mono Lake Visitors Center, an oasis in the dry Great Basin and a vital habitat for millions of migratory and nesting birds. Mono Lake is unique. For starters, it's old--at least 700,000 years old and one of the oldest continuously existing lakes on the continent. Fed by huge glaciers during the last Ice Age, Mono Lake was 60 times larger than the 66 square miles it covers today. Mono Lake is naturally salty and alkaline because it has no outlet. The only way water leaves is via evaporation. We’ll continue to Lake Tahoe, the largest alpine lake in North America and check into our hotel.

Dinner: At Beach Retreat & Lodge.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Taylor Creek, Lake Tahoe Lunch, Free Time
Tahoe, California
B,L,D
Beach Retreat & Lodge at Tahoe

Activity note: Walking distances up to 1/2 mile on even terrain.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Hop on the motorcoach for the Lake Tahoe Basin where we will meet our instructor at Taylor Creek. We’ll visit the Taylor Creek Stream Chamber. Taylor Creek serves as a hub on the south shore of Lake Tahoe for many hiking trails around the area. The Stream Chamber, located just down the trail, features a 180 degree diorama depicting life above and below the water.

Lunch: Enjoy a plated lunch on the Dixie Queen boat offering an entrée size salad and dinner roll with coffee, tea, or soft drink as included beverages while cruising across Lake Tahoe.

Afternoon: Enjoy an afternoon cruise on the Dixie Queen across the lake to the famous Emerald Bay. See Tahoe's classic blue skies, deeper blue lake, snow-capped mountains, alpine forests and the area's wide array of cultural and historical riches that are among the great sightseeing pleasures of the world. With the rest of the afternoon, take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Feel free to write postcards or do laundry either at the hotel or at a local laundromat with transportation provided by the bus.

Dinner: Enjoy a buffet dinner at a South Lake Tahoe hotel offering soups and salads, several entrée choices and a dessert, plus water, coffee, and tea; Other beverages will be available for purchase.

Evening: At the hotel, we’ll be joined for a lecture by a local expert on a Lake Tahoe related topic.

DAY
8
Lassen National Park, Loomis Museum, Sun Dial Bridge
Redding, California
B,L,D
Red Lion Hotel Redding

Activity note: Walking distances up to 1 mile on flat, even terrain; Hike to Lily Pond Trail is 1 mile, hilly, dirt terrain.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll take a field trip to Lassen Volcanic National Park to witness a brief moment in the ancient battle between the earth shaping forces of creation and destruction in Northern California. Although Lassen is primarily known for its volcanic geology, the park boasts a rich diversity of plant and animal life. Originally two separate national monuments, designated by President Theodore Roosevelt; Lassen is dominated by Lassen Peak, the world’s largest plug dome volcano.

Lunch: At Lassen National Park Visitors Center Café with a choice of sandwich, fruit, chips, cookie, and bottled water.

Afternoon: We continue our drive through the park, stopping at the Loomis Museum for a ranger lecture and to view exhibits featuring photos by B.F. Loomis, who documented Lassen Peak's most recent eruption cycle and promoted the park's establishment. The visit will be followed by a walk on the nearby Lily Pond Nature Trail.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: We’ll visit Turtle Bay Park and Sundial Bridge. The Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay crosses the Sacramento River in the heart of Redding. Having opened on July 4, 2004, the bridge links the north and south campuses of Turtle Bay Exploration Park. In addition to being a functional work of art, the Sundial Bridge is a technical marvel as well. Renowned Spanish architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava conceived the Sundial Bridge’s unusual design, his first free-standing bridge in the United States.

DAY
9
Shasta Dam, Weaverville, J.J. Jackson Memorial Museum
Eureka, California
B,L
Red Lion Hotel Eureka

Activity note: Walking distances up to 1 mile on even terrain with a slight incline.

Breakfast: At the hotel, enjoy a buffet offering assorted breads and bagels, scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage, potatoes, hot and cold cereals, fresh fruit, plus coffee, tea, juice, and milk.

Morning: Departing from the hotel, we’ll explore Shasta Dam, a curved gravity concrete dam on the Sacramento River above Redding built between 1938 and 1945, with our Reclamation Guide. Like Hoover Dam, it was a continuous pour concrete project, and in its day, ranked as one of the great civil engineering feats of the world. We depart and continue west to Weaverville, a historic Gold Rush town, nestled at the base of the magnificent Trinity Alps Wilderness area. The Old West did live large in Weaverville with gunfights, saloons and even bank robberies by notorious figures like Black Bart.

Lunch: Enjoy a plated lunch featuring your choice of entrée at a local restaurant with dessert and a beverage.

Afternoon: Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions. Admission to the J.J. Jackson Museum is prepaid by the group leader.

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.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
10
Redwood National Park, Prairie Creek & Patrick's Point Parks
Eureka, California
B,L,D
Red Lion Hotel Eureka

Activity note: Walking distances up to 1 1/2 miles on dirt terrain with slight inclines.

Breakfast: In the breakfast room at the hotel, enjoy a buffet offering assorted breads and bagels, scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage, potatoes, hot and cold cereals, fresh fruit, plus water, coffee, tea, juice, and milk.

Morning: Board the motorcoach for the field trip to Redwood National Park and Prairie Creek State Park with our knowledgeable local historian and author. Our first stop is the Visitor's Center at Redwood National Park to view a film and exhibits. The ancient coast redwood ecosystem preserved in the parks contains some of the planet's most majestic forests. Prairie Creek State Park was set aside in the early 1920’s and is a sanctuary of old growth coast redwood. We'll hope to spot some of the Roosevelt elk who call the park and this northern California area their home.

Lunch: Picnic style box lunch in Patrick's Point State Park at Visitor Center picnic tables . Lunch will include an entrée size salad, cookie, and bottled water.

Afternoon: Our field trip continues at Patrick's Point State Park, with dense forests of spruce, hemlock, pine, fir, and red alder stretching over an ocean headland. We’ll visit the recreated Yurok seasonal village - "Sumêg" - consisting of traditional style family houses, a sweat house, changing houses, a redwood canoe, and a dance house. On the return to Eureka, we'll visit picturesque Trinidad Harbor. Trinidad is California's smallest incorporated city, with a population of 360 in 2013. It is noted for its spectacular coastline and remarkable offshore rocks. Back in Eureka, drive through the Victorian Historic District and view the Carson Mansion. Built for lumber baron William Carson in the 1880’s, it is perhaps the most famous example of Victorian Architecture in the United States. This famous house has been the inspiration for haunted houses around the country and the clock tower on the Disneyland train station.

Dinner: At Samoa Cookhouse, the last surviving cookhouse in the West, serving food - lumber camp style. Meal will include soup, salad, bread, entrée, vegetables, and dessert, plus water, coffee, and tea.

Evening: Visit the Historic Lodging Museum, which is full of relics and photographs from the old logging and Cookhouse days before returning to the hotel.

DAY
11
To Mendocino, Ferndale, Humboldt Redwood State Park
Mendocino, California
B,L,D
Mendocino Hotel & Garden Suites

Activity note: Walking distances up to 1/2 mile on both even and uneven terrain.

Breakfast: In the hotel breakfast room.

Morning: Travel to Ferndale and step back in time as we view the magnificently preserved Victorian architecture. On the National Register of Historic Places, Ferndale's Main Street is a photographer's paradise. This small city, with its exquisite storefronts and homes, is considered the gateway to California’s Lost Coast. We continue to Humboldt Redwoods State Park where we’ll meet our park ranger for a short walk in the redwoods. Located along the Eel River, Humboldt Redwoods State Park contains some of the world's most majestic ancient redwood groves.

Lunch: At the Visitor Center picnic tables, enjoy a box lunch including a sandwich, chips, fruit, cookie, and bottled water, while surrounded by the beautiful redwoods.

Afternoon: Heading to Mendocino, we journey west to the California coast and travel south on the breath-taking Hwy 1. Despite its small size, the town's scenic location on a headland surrounded by the Pacific Ocean has made it extremely popular as an artist colony and vacationers. Many of its early settlers were New Englanders, as was true with many older Northern California towns. Its economy declined after 1940, and it became a somewhat isolated village until discovered by the region's art community. It has been the setting for numerous films including "Same Time Next Year" and "The Russians Are Coming" as well as the popular TV series "Murder She Wrote."

Dinner: In Garden Room at the Mendocino Hotel, enjoy a plated meal with salad, entrée, dessert plus, coffee, tea, and water; Other beverages are available for purchase.

Evening: In our lecture this evening, learn about Mendocino’s earliest residents, the Pomo Indians, with a local expert who will share examples of their crafts and customs. Scholars believe the name Pomo means “the people” — modified by where a particular group was located, e.g., Kashaya (Southwestern) Pomo. They lived in generally unrelated groups for thousands of years and relied on fishing, hunting and gathering for their food. Few in number, the height of their population was about 8,000 in the late 18th Century.

DAY
12
Point Cabrillo Lighthouse, Botanical Gardens
Mendocino, California
B,L,D
Mendocino Hotel & Garden Suites

Activity note: Walking distances up to 1/4 mile.

Breakfast: In the Garden Room at the Mendocino Hotel, enjoy a plated meal offering fruit, entrée, plus juice, milk, coffee, tea, and water.

Morning: We'll board the motorcoach for our day’s field trips. Our first stop is the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse. Because of the increased demand to ship lumber to San Francisco after the destruction in 1906, Congress appropriated $50,000 for a lighthouse on Point Cabrillo. Added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1991, the lighthouse remains as one of the most complete lighthouses in the country. We’ll return to Mendocino and visit the Botanical Gardens, which are the only public gardens in the continental U.S. that sits directly on the Pacific Ocean. The mild maritime climate makes it a garden for all seasons, attracting gardeners and nature lovers alike. Considered one of the top gardens in the country, it includes more than 30 acres of flowers and trees and over 150 species of birds.

Lunch: Our picnic lunch allows you to explore the gardens at your leisure. Provided by the onsite café, lunch will include sandwich, side salad, cookie and bottled water.

Afternoon: We’ll return to the hotel where you can take the rest of the afternoon for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.

Dinner: In the Garden Room at the Mendocino Hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
13
Transfer to San Francisco, Program Concludes
Brisbane (San Francisco Airport), CA
B,L

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 12:00 Noon.

Breakfast: In the Garden Room at the Mendocino Hotel.

Morning: Depart Mendocino for the return trip to San Francisco.

Lunch: En route to Brisbane, enjoy a plated lunch offering salad, bread sticks, choice of entrée, dessert, plus water, coffee, and tea; Other beverages will be available for purchase.

Afternoon: We expect to arrive at the hotel in Brisbane by approximately 3:00 p.m. (depending on traffic). Flights should be scheduled after 6:00 p.m. in case of delays and security. 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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