Our trip begins this morning in Oakland, California. We rendezvous with our guides at our host hotel for a brief orientation before setting off for the soaring granite peaks, cascading waterfalls, and giant sequoia groves of Yosemite National Park. Reaching Yosemite in early afternoon, we stop for a picnic lunch before making our way to Tunnel View for our first classic view of Yosemite Valley.
This afternoon we explore Yosemite Valley, ancestral home of the Ahwahneechee. We take time to stroll among historic Yosemite Village where we can pick up souvenirs and go on self-directed tours of The Yosemite Museum or Ansel Adams Galley. Afterward, we make our way to our campground where we set up our home away from home for the next 5 nights. Lunch and dinner included.
Drive time: 4.5 hours
Today's exhilarating hike on the aptly named Mist Trail is a Yosemite classic, offering up-close views of one of the park's star attractions, 317-foot Vernal Falls. Starting from the Happy Isles Trailhead, we begin our climb up the Mist Trail towards Vernal Falls, ultimately ascending 600 stone steps cut directly into the granite alongside the thundering cascade. Reaching the top, we break for lunch; large granite slabs with fantastic views of the falls serve as the perfect dining table. For the hike down, we walk along the gentler John Muir Trail, offering different vistas of the surrounding landscape and a less steep alternative for our descent. Tonight, before settling into our tents for bedtime, we have an opportunity do some additional exploring, this time of a night sky filled with a multitude of stars twinkling into view overhead. All meals included.
Hiking: 5–7 with 1,500' of elevation gain/loss; Terrain: Dirt and stone trails including many stone steps. Drive time: 2.5 hours
After a hearty camp breakfast, we set out on a hike to Sentinel Dome (8,127') for amazing panoramas of Half Dome, Tenaya Canyon and the towering granite peaks of the High Sierra spread out before us. Our vehicle awaits at trail's end to transport us to Glacier Point, where a short walk leads to an overlook with commanding views of the park's iconic granite formations. We return to camp this afternoon with a newfound appreciation for the majestic natural beauty that has drawn explorers, hikers and photographers to this park during the past century. All meals included.
Hiking: 3.5 miles with 600' of elevation gain/loss; Terrain: dirt and stone trails. Drive time: 2.5 hours
Today, we set out to explore Yosemite's magnificent high country. Our guides lead us on a hike through wildflower-dotted meadows to one of the high country's sparkling alpine lakes, tucked in among the surrounding granite peaks. Taking in the quintessential High Sierra scenery, we eat a lakeside lunch and perhaps go for an invigorating swim before starting our walk back to the trailhead. Back at camp, throw a Frisbee, catch up on some vacation reading, or lounge on a sunny slab of rock. Yosemite is the perfect playground for kids of all ages!
Hiking: 4-5 miles with approx. 900' of elevation gain/loss; Terrain: dirt and stone trails. Drive time: 2 hours
The first portion of today's hike leads us to Mirror Lake, a big pool in Tenaya Creek that lies close to the base of Half Dome. As we walk by the lake, we take in the same views of Half Dome and the surrounding landscape that captivated the renowned photographer Ansel Adams during his Yosemite explorations. Continuing on into Tenaya Canyon, we're treated to all of the beauty of Yosemite Valley but with fewer crowds than on the more heavily trodden routes. We pass under the giants of Half Dome, North Dome and Basket Dome and put our feet into the snow melt of Tenaya Creek before following our loop trail back to the start of our hike. All meals included.
Hiking: 4 miles with 100' of elevation gain/loss; Terrain: dirt trail. Drive time: 2 hours
We leave our camp for the final time this morning and, prior to beginning our return trip to the Bay Area, stop to spend time in the Tuolumne Grove of giant sequoia. We hike through the grove as our guides teach us about the lifecycle of these ancient, massive trees that make the park their home. Stopping for lunch en route, we continue our drive to Oakland, arriving by approximately 7pm. Please do not schedule a departing flight from Oakland until after 9pm tonight. Breakfast and lunch included.
Hiking: 4.5 miles with up to 500' of elevation gain/loss. Drive time: 5 hours