We love visiting the National Parks, and this program exceeded our expectations!
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Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.
Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.
Afternoon: Program Registration: After you have checked-in with the hotel front desk, make your way 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. 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. Thank you for your understanding. All transportation will be via private motorcoach unless specified otherwise. 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, and beverage choices including fresh brewed coffee, assorted hot teas, 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.
Activity note: The ride is approximately 200 miles or 6 hours with stops for lunch and to stretch our legs. 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: 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. 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: Enjoy a plated 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.
Activity note: The ride from Fresno to Sequoia National Park is about 60 miles or 1.5 hour drive. Walking distance up to 1/2 mile on mostly even terrain with some stairs.
Breakfast: Enjoy a breakfast buffet in the hotel lobby 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.
Activity note: Ride is approximately 100 miles or 3 hours. We’ll stop along the way for lunch and to stretch. The walk around Pioneer Village is on uneven, dirt terrain.
Breakfast: In the hotel lobby.
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, and dessert. Coffee, tea, milk, and water included. The Big Trees Lodge, a National Historic Landmark, is surrounded by meadows and 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 Yosemite 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. The motorcoach will continue to Yosemite Valley with a stop at Tunnel View for a photo opportunity 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.
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. The flat paved loop at Lower Yosemite Falls is about 1 mile roundtrip.
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 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. Further in the valley, we will visit 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 in the meadow.
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: Starting from the Lower Yosemite Fall trailhead, we’ll walk the path with our naturalist.
Dinner: In a private dining 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.
Activity note: Ride is no more than 6 hours and 210 miles. Walking distances up to 1/2 mile on even terrain. Tioga Pass elevation is 9,943 feet.
Breakfast: At Yosemite Valley Lodge.
Morning: Our trip begins crossing 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 Valley. Tenaya Lake offers an opportunity to stretch our legs and take in the gorgeous views from its shore. We continue through Tuolumne Meadows, a subalpine meadow surrounded by Lodgepole pines and the Tuolomne River passing through the open space.
Lunch: Picnic style box lunch at Mono Lake County Park including a sandwich, side, 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 the hotel, learn more about the Lake Tahoe area from a local expert.
Activity note: Walking distances up to 1/2 mile on even terrain.
Breakfast: At the hotel.
Morning: Board 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 soup and salad bar lunch on the Dixie Queen boat with coffee, tea, or soft drink as included beverages while cruising across Lake Tahoe.
Afternoon: Cruise on Lake Tahoe aboard the Dixie Queen to the famous Emerald Bay. See Tahoe's classic blue skies, deeper blue lake, snow-capped mountains, lush forests and learn about the rich cultural history. Take the afternoon for independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Take the time to write postcards or do laundry either at the hotel or at a local laundromat with transportation provided by the motorcoach.
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 leisure.
Activity note: Ride is approximately 6 hours and 250 miles. 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 will continue our journey to Lassen Volcanic National Park to witness California's eruptive past and see how the forces beneath our feet are shaping the landscape today. Although Lassen is primarily known for its volcanic geology, the park boasts a rich diversity of plant and animal life. Originally the park was split into two separate national monuments by President Theodore Roosevelt but now is one park with Lassen Peak, the world’s largest plug dome volcano, dominating the landscape.
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 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.
Activity note: Ride is approximately 3 hours and 150 miles. Walking distances up to 1 mile on even terrain with a slight incline.
Breakfast: At the hotel, enjoy a buffet offering assorted breads, butter, cheese, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage and meats, cereals, jams, yogurt and fresh cut seasonal fruits plus coffee, tea, juice, and milk.
Morning: Departing from the hotel, we will explore Shasta Dam, a curved gravity concrete dam on the Sacramento River above Redding built between 1938 and 1945, with our Bureau of Reclamation Guide. Shasta Dam is similar to Hoover Dam because both were continuous pour concrete projects, and in their 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 an 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.
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.
Activity note: Ride is approximately 5 hours covering about 150 miles with stops to stretch our legs. 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 a great destination for 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.
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 will board the motorcoach for our day’s field trips. Our first stop is the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse. Congress appropriated $50,000 for a lighthouse on Point Cabrillo in response to the increased demand to ship lumber to San Francisco after the destruction in 1906. 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. Lunch will include sandwich, side, and bottled water.
Afternoon: Upon return to the hotel, 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.
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!
We love visiting the National Parks, and this program exceeded our expectations!
Wonderful opportunity to see the major part areas in California with redwood and giant sequoias plus other areas famous for their scenery and natural attractions.
I completed a lifelong dream. This was on my bucket list.
If seeing sequoia and redwoods on the same trip is your goal, this is the one for you! And there is so much more. Each day was a delightful learning experience. Mary Jackson was our exceptional leader on this adventure.
I thought your website was hard to navigate and to enroll. I had to put in my password for every step. The enrolling process could be streamlined and organized better.
Just a wonderful and beautiful to see Northern California and all the amazing national and state parks.
The California National Park Medley was an outstanding program & adventure. I worried that the fires & consequent air quality might impact our enjoyment, but fortunately the only encounter we had was with smoke at the Shasta Dam. We were not able to go outside & tour this spot, but the film inside, as well as the employee at the Visitor Center who spoke & answered questions compensated for the change in plans. It goes without saying that the National Parks are a treasure to behold. But we also had unexpected delights in State Parks, the San Juan Bautista Mission, San Luis Reservoir, seeing many wildlife in their natural setting, a boat lunch cruise on Lake Tahoe, the Sun Dial Bridge in Redding, the free time in quaint towns viewing the lovely Victorian architecture, Cabrillo Lighthouse, & the beautiful Mendocino Botanical Gardens. Our leader Anne & bus driver John were both wonderful, knowledgeable, & engaging! I loved this Road Scholar adventure!
From the Redwood forests, the wonders of Yosemite, a boat ride on lake Tahoe, exploring Shasta Dam, learning about the volcanoes of Lassen NP, wandering through beautiful gardens, a walk on the ocean cliffs at the Pacific, we had a marvelous and enjoyable trip every day.
A fantastic trip. Best of 12 I have had with Road Scholar or Elderhostel, although all have been good.
If you want to see God's work this is the trip to take. You are on the go so be prepared but for anyone in average shape you will do fine. There is not really that much walking
It's very good. As an aside, I wish there were more trips that were longer (10+ days). For me there are too many short trips (3-5 days) which I find are not long enough to justify the hassle of packing and flying.
This was a wonderful trip! We saw so much of California and some of the national parks that we've been wanting to see for a long time. This trip combined everything that makes a trip special, i.e., a group that is congenial, perfect weather, the national parks were beautiful, the wildlife was visible and the food was awesome! You can't ask for much more when traveling!
A well-organized tour that utilizes engaging, talented presenters! A well-paced trip with something for everybody--waterfalls to Victorian homes, dams to volcanoes! A must-do for your bucketlist.
California National Park Medley is a great trip that gave us a fine experience. Our pleasure with the trip lived up to our highest expectations. I strongly recommend this trip
We got back from this trip less than a week ago. It was a great way to see all 5 of the National Parks in northern California in one trip. Our leaders and bus driver were very good. Over 1800 miles were traveled during the course of the trip. Our group consisted of 35 travelers. The weather for this time of year was warmer than usual and we had no rain! The trip is rated as Active and that is very true, but one thing that makes it seem more active was the number of early morning take offs. On most days we left our hotel at 8:00 or 8:30 AM, and on 2 of the days we left at 6:45 and 7:30 AM. Of course, this means our luggage has to be out earlier. Overall, I felt I needed more sleep. Sleeping on the bus was a common occurrence. Because of the heavy snow last winter and spring, the Tioga Road in Yosemite and the main road through Lassen Volcanic were still closed at the time of our tour and we missed seeing parts of those parks as well as Mono Lake. I was disappointed about that. The instructors who were with us in the Parks were all excellent and the listening devices were of very good quality and helpful.