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Walk Yosemite National Park Guided Tour

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  • Yosemite National Park, California, USA

  • 5 nights


Grade 3 - Brisk
Brisk

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Highlights

For those who crave wilderness by day and creature comforts by night, this 6-day walking tour powered by Intrepid shows off the very best of Yosemite National Park. Enjoy a hike through the Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias, soak up the jaw-dropping, high-altitude scenery of Cathedral Lakes, hit up Yosemite’s iconic Half Dome rock formation and hike the signature Mist Trail path. Thanks to transportation to and from the trailheads and accommodation in a cozy mountain lodge, your hiking adventure has never been sweeter.

But this trip is more than just pretty sights and comfy cozy lodging—you’ll also learn about the area’s Native American heritage and pioneer past, and about the important work being done to preserve and protect the region. 

The Basics:

Start and Finish: San Francisco, United States

Ages: Minimum 15

Group size: Min 1, Max 12

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Experience

If you’ve never been to Yosemite National Park, you are in for an awesome trip:

  • Escape the tourist crowds with an itinerary designed to show you the very best that the park has to offer, while still expertly avoiding the busiest areas.
  • Hike at your own comfort level with options for alternate routes and a schedule that eases you in—your first hike is an easy one, allowing you to go slow before tackling more serious trails.
  • Learn about the important work being done by Yosemite Conservancy, with an educational guided walk through the historic Ahwahnee village, where you’ll learn about Native American heritage and the park’s conservation efforts.
  • Forgo the camping sites typical for most visitors and instead rest your feet each evening in a rustic mountain resort that boasts unforgettable views and plenty of charm and character.
  • Step back in time to California’s gold rush era with a visit to the state’s oldest continuously operating saloon, boasting a collection of antique mining tools—as well as a few stray bullet holes.

Itinerary

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Welcome to San Francisco! California’s Golden Gate City is packed with plenty of things to do, from exploring the city’s famous Chinatown to digging into fresh crab at Fisherman’s Wharf to wandering through the oldest Japanese tea garden in the USA. Your day is free until our welcome meeting at 6 pm, so if you arrive in town early, feel free to go out and see the sights. After your group meeting, head out for a welcome dinner together and feast on some local cuisine.

Accommodation

  • Hotel (1 night)

Meals Included

  • Dinner

Special Information

It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance and emergency contact details at this time. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent or hotel reception know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.

After breakfast, head off for the famous Yosemite National Park, with a lunch stop along the way at the historic Iron Door Saloon, the oldest continuously operating saloon in California, dating back to the mid-1800s. Be sure to check out the saloon’s old photos of the Hetch Hetchy valley and collection of antique gold mining tools. Look around closely and you might even spot a few stray bullet holes in the walls. After lunch, enjoy your first walk of the day—an easy, downhill hike— at the Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias. The grove is home to, no surprise, a couple dozen mature giant sequoia trees, including one that’s been carved into a tunnel you can walk right through. Of course, what goes down must come back up, but your return upward climb will be rewarded once you arrive at your accommodation. While many visitors to Yosemite stay in campsites, you’ll get to unwind at Yosemite Bug, a cozy and charming mountain lodge that features a garden deck and views over the gorge. Settle into your home for the next few days and soak up the rustic atmosphere.

Accommodation

  • Lodge (1 night)

Included Activities

  • Iron Door Saloon visit
  • Tuolumne Grove hike

Meals Included

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch

Special Information

Hiking distance today is 2.5 miles (4 km) roundtrip, with 400 feet (120 m) elevation loss to the grove.

It’s an early start today to the trailhead for the famous Cathedral Lakes, approximately 2 hours away by vehicle. It’s all worth it though, as this hike reveals some of the most impressive views in the High Sierra. Soak up the jaw-dropping, high-altitude scenery of the Lower and/or Upper Cathedral lakes that are worth every step of your 3- to 5-hour hike. If you’re concerned about difficulty and altitude levels, don’t worry, you’ll be given a choice of different routes, depending on the group’s comfort and abilities. Back in Yosemite Bug, you may want to enjoy dinner in their fantastic restaurant where the menu changes daily.

Accommodation

  • Lodge (1 night)

Included Activities

  • Cathedral Lakes hike

Meals Included

  • Breakfast

Special Information

Hiking distance today is 7 miles (11 km) roundtrip to Upper or Lower Cathedral Lakes, or 8 miles (12.5 km) roundtrip to see both. Trailhead elevation is 8500 ft (2590 m), heading up to 9290 feet (2830 m) for Lower Cathedral Lake and 9600 feet (2925 m) for Upper Cathedral Lake.

Today’s drive to the start of the trail is shorter (approximately 1 hour), but the hike is no less incredible. The Mist Trail is Yosemite's signature hike, for good reason. While many of the park’s hikes leave the best views for the end, this trail is scattered with fabulous views along the whole route, including a few waterfalls (be sure to pack your rain gear as the falls are close to the trail and you will get sprayed). You’ll also get to see Yosemite’s iconic Half Dome rock formation. It was once believed that the Half Dome was completely inaccessible to climbers until George Anderson reached the summit in 1875. Over a century later, famed climber Alex Honnold, star of the 2017 documentary Free Solo, would hold the record for the fastest ascent of the Half Dome’s Regular Northwest Face route—the first Grade IV climb in the USA. In the evening, rest up back at Yosemite Bug, where, weather permitting, your guide can stoke a roaring campfire.

Accommodation

  • Lodge (1 night)

Included Activities

  • Mist Trail signature hike

Meals Included

  • Breakfast

Special Information

Hiking distance today is 7 miles (11 km) roundtrip to Nevada Fall with an elevation gain of 1900 ft (580 m).

Today is slightly different, with a free morning for you to enjoy your way. You can take a shuttle to Yosemite Valley for more hiking on your own, or perhaps to visit local museums, rent a bike or anything else that interests you. Or, you may want to sign up for white water rafting (additional cost) with a company that’s right next door to your accommodation. Your tour leader will be able to help you with arrangements. In the afternoon, your group will rendezvous for an included walk with an expert guide from Yosemite Conservancy. This is a unique opportunity to learn about the important work the group does for the Native American community and preserving their culture within the park. As you walk from the historic Ahwahnee Hotel through the meadows of Yosemite Valley and past the ruins of an old pioneer village, you’ll hear Native American stories and history, and learn about Yosemite’s role in the country’s conservationist movement. Your guided walk will end at the Yosemite Valley Lodge, where your leader will be waiting to transport you back to Yosemite Bug for your final night.

Accommodation

  • Lodge (1 night)

Included Activities

  • Yosemite Valley Conservancy exclusive walk
  • The Ahwahnee historic lodge visit

Meals Included

  • Breakfast

For your last day, enjoy a short hike on the shores of the beautiful Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. Not only is this area stunning to see, but it’s also an important historic site for conservationists—controversy surrounding the construction of the Hetch Hetchy Dam helped lead to the creation of the US National Park Service in 1916. You’ll then drive back to San Francisco, aiming to arrive around 5 pm to 6 pm, at which point your Yosemite adventure ends and you are free to begin your trip home at your leisure. If you require an additional night’s accommodation in San Francisco, we can arrange that for you.

Included Activities

  • Hetch Hetchy Reservoir walk

Meals Included

  • Breakfast

FAQ

  • Airfare
  • Airport transfers, taxes and excess baggage charges
  • Travel insurance (mandatory and must be taken out at the time of booking)
  • Optional activities and all personal expenses

These are not point-to-point walking trips, therefore one can opt-out from any walk if you wish to. Walks are not technical, anyone with a fair level of fitness is able to complete them.

The walking on this trip is over easy to moderate terrain and distances covered can vary from 5 to 20 km (please check day descriptions for details). Some of the walks are circular but some can be out-and-back walks. Be prepared for daily ascents and descents, sometimes with short, steep sections. Terrain can be rocky with loose gravel, or with roots, which may become slippery when wet. This tour is ideal for nature lovers and the guides set an even pace, providing time to take photos and to appreciate the beautiful surroundings.

All travelers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to manage and enjoy our style of travel. Please note that if in the opinion of our group leader or local guide any traveler is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, we reserve the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.

You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements as they may not easily be obtained while traveling.

Please check entry requirements for the destinations you are travelling to carefully to know whether you require a negative COVID-19 test before travelling. If you are unwell prior to travelling, please stay at home and contact us to make alternative arrangements. At the group meeting, you will be asked to complete a self-screening health form and report any COVID-19 symptoms as well as any close contact with someone who has suspected or confirmed COVID-19. If you are displaying any symptoms or have any health concerns at this time, we will follow the advice of local health authorities to determine whether medical assistance, isolation or further action is required. We ask all travellers to continue to monitor their health throughout their travels and report any relevant symptoms to their Group Leader.

If you're happy with the service you receive, providing a tip—though not compulsory—is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group as our group leaders are prohibited from collecting cash for tips.

The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travelers:

Restaurants: We suggest 18% to 22% of your bill.

Bars: Recommended US$1 for each drink ordered to ensure you are served again.

Local guides: Throughout your trip, you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest US$5-20 per day for local guides. Ask your leader for suggestions as to what is appropriate for a given activity.

Your Group Leader: You should also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. Your leader works long and hard for you. He or she may well become your friend during the trip but they do need to pay their bills. If the leader's performance meets or exceeds your expectation they will gladly accept a tip from you. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however, you should plan to tip your leader US$7-10 per person per day.

While traveling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule, our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company.

Your leader will provide basic information about the sights and cities you'll be visiting but please note that our leaders are not 'tour guides' in the traditional sense. They are adventure travel specialists and are there to organise your trip, arrange activities and help with questions or problems you may have while on your tour. Your leader will provide you with all the important information you need to embark on your own explorations.

They are also responsible for driving the van and navigating across the country. The allowable driving times for drivers is strictly controlled in North America. This ensures our drivers are well-rested and are not over-tired from too many hours on the roads.

While your group will have a minivan for all included activities on the trip, please note that the services of the van and the driver may not be available for your use during free time, or after you have arrived for the day. If you need a special trip into town you may need to arrange transport or a taxi.

We endeavour to provide the services of an experienced leader however, situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.

It's strictly forbidden for non-qualified rangers to present any information about some National Parks in North America, therefore we adopt a system (as requested by the park rangers) where our leader will encourage travellers to visit the information centres in the National Parks for details about the site.

All group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.

Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious, and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.

LUGGAGE RESTRICTIONS

All luggage is carried in trailers or inside the vehicle so please don't bring more than one medium-sized bag, backpack or suitcase (20kg maximum) per person. Your suitcase/rucksack may get some rough handling, so make sure it's a tough one. A small daypack and camera may also be carried inside the vehicle.

MAIN LUGGAGE

You need to bring your main piece of luggage as well as a small to medium backpack for day activities (20-25 liters). One with a waist strap would be most comfortable for all included walks as you’re not expected to carry your luggage during any of the walks. Only a day pack (highly recommending to bring one!) with essentials

ESSENTIALS

  • Day pack: for carrying essentials during activities
  • Trekking clothing: A mixture covering lightweight clothing and some warm layers is recommended. Your activities will take place in the mountains where weather may change quickly. Lightweight, comfortable, and quick-drying clothes for the activities are best. Laundry facilities may not be available on an everyday basis, so make sure you have a few cycles of clothes.
  • Light jacket, fleece and base layers
  • Wind and waterproof jacket
  • Hiking boots with a good grip, ankle support and waterproof membrane that are comfortable to walk for an entire day
  • Water bottle: you will need water during activities and it’s best to avoid buying unnecessary plastic.
  • Sun protection: sunscreen, sunglasses
  • Toiletries

RECOMMENDED

  • Personal medical kit. A larger kit will be on hand with your leader, but we recommend you carry items such as mild pain killers, antihistamine tablets and any personal medication you may need
  • Walking poles for longer walks and uneven terrain
  • Flashlight/headtorch
  • Camera with spare batteries/power bank: You will have access to power to recharge your electrical items daily
  • Travel eco-friendly wipes/hand sanitizer

OPTIONAL

  • Ear plugs and eye mask
  • Swimwear
  • A good book, a journal and music player

VALUABLES

Please try to avoid bringing unnecessary valuables. It’s also recommended to bring a copy of all important documents e.g. air tickets, passport, vaccination certificate, etc. and keep the copies separate from the originals. While not valid, a photocopy makes it very much easier to obtain replacements if necessary.

If you need some further tips for packing, you can always check out our ultimate packing list.

WATER BOTTLE

Please bring your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1-liter plastic bottle takes 2 liters of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments.

Terms

Itinerary Changes

Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you review this information prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays, or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in-country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any such changes once on tour.

Deposit

Lock in your trip with a deposit and then pay the rest in installments whenever you like, with no interest or fees. Just make sure you've paid in full by 21 days before your trip is scheduled to depart. If you cancel your trip up to 21 days before departure, you can transfer your deposit to another available trip or hold your deposit on file indefinitely.

Insurance

Travel insurance is compulsory on all our trips for those travelling internationally. We require that at a minimum you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. If you are travelling within your home country or region please confirm before travel that you are entitled to access the public medical system easily should an accident occur. We strongly recommend all travellers have a policy that also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage or personal effects. For international trips, you will not be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24-hour emergency contact number has been sighted by your leader. If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number, and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and your credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.

Authority on Tour

Trips are run by a group leader. The decision of the group leader is final on all matters likely to affect the safety or well-being of any traveller or staff member participating in the trip. If you fail to comply with a decision made by a group leader or interfere with the well-being or mobility of the group, the group leader may direct you to leave the trip immediately, with no right to refund.  We may also elect not to carry you on any future trips booked. You must at all times comply with the laws, customs, foreign exchange and drug regulations of all countries visited

Health

All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to manage and enjoy our style of travel. Please note that if in the opinion of our group leader or local guide any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, we reserve the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund. You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements as they may not easily be obtained while travelling.

Any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people, will not be tolerated. Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, drink responsibly and abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption. 

Single Supplement

A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement applies to all nights on your trip and is subject to availability.