Yosemite National Park Adventure

About the Experience

This trip is all about stopping to smell the wildflowers and getting deeply steeped in the American wilderness. It’s a carefully curated balance of rustic cabin life and backcountry camping with a spoiled stay at the end of our expedition at Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite.

We will see all the good stuff in one slow-moving swoop from the marvelous Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias to the granite stunner: El Capitan. Fear not, we won’t be attempting Alex Honnold’s free solo ascent of the wall! However, we’ll enjoy it from several angles–from above even, at Taft Point!

Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, Sentinel Bridge, Tuolomne Meadows and the Sierra Nevada mountain range will fill your memory card as fast as the landscape fills your heart. We’ll hike the valley trails and discover the fissures, monoliths and sprays of wildflowers with quirky names like steer’s head, little elephant’s heads, mousetail and monkeyflower. It’s an American safari, really!

Whether Yosemite conjures up images of Looney Tunes feisty Yosemite Sam barreling through the saloon doors or a triggering John Muir quote, Yosemite was an essential foundation for both of them–and anyone who experiences its deep-rooted magic. 

For a solid dose of Yosemite wilderness, this itinerary delivers! Expect challenging hikes, the recharge found in off-grid camping and a little pampering for good measure. The sugar scrub and hot towel “hiker’s trek” treatment at the spa sounds like a shoo-in. This trip is a brand new addition to our signature trips line-up. Even though you’ll have a backpack on, you’ll feel the weight of the world lifted off your shoulders in Yosemite’s wild embrace.

This is the only Wild Women Expedition trip that includes the rigour and reward of both backpacking and camping! Yes, this is the real deal!

Click here to see the full itinerary!
Yosemite National Park Adventure

About the Experience

This trip is all about stopping to smell the wildflowers and getting deeply steeped in the American wilderness. It’s a carefully curated balance of rustic cabin life and backcountry camping with a spoiled stay at the end of our expedition at Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite.

We will see all the good stuff in one slow-moving swoop from the marvelous Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias to the granite stunner: El Capitan. Fear not, we won’t be attempting Alex Honnold’s free solo ascent of the wall! However, we’ll enjoy it from several angles–from above even, at Taft Point!

Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, Sentinel Bridge, Tuolomne Meadows and the Sierra Nevada mountain range will fill your memory card as fast as the landscape fills your heart. We’ll hike the valley trails and discover the fissures, monoliths and sprays of wildflowers with quirky names like steer’s head, little elephant’s heads, mousetail and monkeyflower. It’s an American safari, really!

Whether Yosemite conjures up images of Looney Tunes feisty Yosemite Sam barreling through the saloon doors or a triggering John Muir quote, Yosemite was an essential foundation for both of them–and anyone who experiences its deep-rooted magic. 

For a solid dose of Yosemite wilderness, this itinerary delivers! Expect challenging hikes, the recharge found in off-grid camping and a little pampering for good measure. The sugar scrub and hot towel “hiker’s trek” treatment at the spa sounds like a shoo-in. This trip is a brand new addition to our signature trips line-up. Even though you’ll have a backpack on, you’ll feel the weight of the world lifted off your shoulders in Yosemite’s wild embrace.

This is the only Wild Women Expedition trip that includes the rigour and reward of both backpacking and camping! Yes, this is the real deal!

DAY 1: MARIPOSA GROVE

Plan to arrive in Fresno, California by the late morning. We’ll meet our guide for a super scenic transfer into the Sierra mountains. En route, we’ll stop at the southern edge of Yosemite for a hike among giants. The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias is the largest stand of sequoias in Yosemite. The Grizzly Giant and California Tunnel Tree are two iconic sights and historically symbolic. 

In 1864, President Lincoln signed legislation protecting the Mariposa Grove and Yosemite Valley for “public use, resort and recreation.” He was probably the founder of forest therapy! It was the first time in America’s history that the federal government designated scenic natural areas for protection for future generations. Mariposa Grove was added to Yosemite Park in 1906.

Tonight, We’ll settle into our cozy cabins and swap stories over an authentic al fresco dinner ‘round the campfire.

DAY 2: YOSEMITE VALLEY

We’ll have an extremely bright and early wake-up call to take advantage of a full day of exploring!

Many of us were introduced to Yosemite courtesy of Looney Tunes and the hot-tempered cowboy Yosemite Sam. We’ll visit his non-fiction landscape, Yosemite Valley. John Muir also had a lot to say about the glacial valley, and his musings tended to be more poetic.

Yosemite is known for its countless, dramatic waterfalls (especially Bridalveil Fall), the daunting El Capitan, Cathedral Rocks and Sentinel Bridge (famed for its reflections of Half Dome in the mirror surface of Merced River. 

Fun fact: Horsetail Fall, off the eastern side of El Capitan, is best viewed in mid to late February when the tangerine glow of sunset makes the fall appear as though it’s on fire.

We’ll strike off on a few short hikes to stand in the natural power and awe of Bridalveil and it’s 189m (620ft) cascade, the granite monolith that is El Capitan and the sheer face of Half Dome as it pushes 1,524m (5,000ft) above the valley. We’ll also check out Yosemite Falls, one of the world’s tallest which is actually made up of three separate falls: Upper Yosemite Fall (435m/1,430ft), the middle cascades (206/m675ft) and Lower Yosemite Fall (98m/320ft). 

We’ll spend a full day on the valley trails, in the shadows of the granite monsters and will most likely be in the company of squawky Steller’s jays. Over 262 bird species have been documented in the park–be on the lookout for ruby and golden-crowned kinglets, brown creepers and the awesome acorn woodpecker!

Tonight we’ll have dinner back at the campsite and play a few games. We’re open to new ones too!

DAY 3: YOSEMITE HIGH COUNTRY

Today we’ll have a dry-run with our full packs in anticipation of the backpacking portion of our trip. Our guides will ensure our packs are snug and adjusted properly. We’ll load a little extra weight to our packs to get accustomed to the feel and extra demand and do a “test run” (no running is involved!) in Tuolomne (too-ALL-uh-me) Meadows, one of the largest high-elevation meadows in the Sierra Nevada at 2,621m (8,600ft).

Tuolumne’s sub-alpine meadow extends for 3.2km (2 miles) along the Tuolumne River and is one of the most photographed areas in Yosemite. The granite domes and peaks frame the grassy expanse in the perfect Google screensaver kinda way.

Fun fact: The source of Tuolumne Meadows groundwater includes two forks deep in Yosemite’s wilderness—the Dana and the Lyell—and include three creeks—Budd, Delaney and Unicorn. Unicorn Creek!

We’ll also be on the lookout for playful pikas, marmots and Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep. This species only recently returned to this park after a 100-year absence.

After absorbing a full day of non-stop Sierra Nevada mountain range views, we’ll return to camp to plan and pack for our next three days steeped in the wilderness.

DAY 4: INTO THE WILD

Today will be our first day in the backcountry! After loading our packs and doing a final gear check, we will be officially putting the WILD into Wild Women. We will venture 12km (7.4 miles) into the deep and welcoming wilderness on the south side of the valley’s Pohono Trail from Tunnel View to Bridalveil Creek. Tonight we’ll camp beside the peaceful, burbling creek (that eventually becomes the raging Bridalveil Falls). Be prepared  for some serious elevation change! 

Our journey will be slow and steady because it’s all about stopping to smell the flowers. Yosemite is actually a wildflower lover’s utopia. The elevation range and variety of growing conditions make for a unique species list of around 1,450. Favourites include the monkeyflower, rosy sedum and the Yosemite woolly sunflower. Lupines, buckwheat and fireweed are also prevalent and colour the valley in random swatches. Mid-summer at the top of the park brings ranger’s buttons, swamp onion, wallflowers (yes, there is such a thing) and steer’s head. Early summer in the subalpine meadows sees the sweet influx of mousetail, cinquefoils, little elephant’s heads and pussy toes. 

For wildflower keeners: This National Park Service link is a beautiful bouquet of info. Check out illustrated wildflowers guides, meet the park’s botanist or pour a cup of tea for the Nature Notes video podcast.

After a full day of wilding, we’ll fire up the camp stoves for a classic, hearty backcountry dinner. Sleep will come easily tonight! Snuggle into your sleeping bag and max out on your precious zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz’s. 

 

DAY 5: SIERRA NEVADA

We’ll wake up with the birds today (though they will probably still have a head start). Our expedition will continue with a full day of backpacking to take in some of the most staggering views of the Sierra Nevada mountains. We’ll be able to leave the heavy gear at camp as we will do an out and back to Glacier Point (note: 13-16km or 8-10 miles will be without the extra weight–this is called “slack packing”), stopping at Taft Point and Sentinel Dome along the way. Taft Point is named after US President William Howard Taft who held office from 1909–1913). Fun fact: John Muir guided Prez Taft through Yosemite for three days in 1909.

Here, El Capitan smiles right back (from below!). The lookout point, void of guardrails, is a true test of your nerves (or lack of) and/or vertigo! Elevation at Taft Point is 2,285 meters (7,500 feet). Gulp. We’ll also gulp over the five giant granite gashes known as “The Fissures”–another test on the jelly factor of your legs.

Sentinel Dome, on the south wall of Yosemite Valley is where Ansel Adams’ famous photograph of a lone windswept Jeffry pine tree was taken in 1940. The tree collapsed in 2003 but Adams gelatin silver print is a reminder of the resilience and surprises found in nature. One determined pine seed sprouted in a bed of granite–a true sentinel, keeping watch!

Depending on the group’s pace, photo opps and trail conditions, we should cover 13–19km (8-12 miles) with a noticeable rolling elevation change. There will be some optional side hikes to take advantage of remote vantage points and water features.

Tonight will be our last night on the trail making tonight’s sunset one to be cherished long beyond the afterglow! If conditions are questionable and/or everyone is tuckered out, we can simply collapse into our tents back at camp. Alternatively, we can pick up our gear and head down the trail to Dewey Point to see the sunset from atop the valley’s walls. It’s a stunner. 

 

DAY 6: UNWIND

After a hearty carb and protein load at breakfast, we’ll stretch our hamstrings and return to the trailhead. Our hike will be 5-8km (3-5 miles) long, depending on how ambitious we were the previous day and mostly downhill.

Tonight is all about reward, so keep your eye on the prize! The agenda will include a steamy shower, indulgent dinner and cozy bed at Tenaya Lodge. There’s also a pool (cannonball!), shared firepit and spa to indulge in.

After the hike, book a “Hiker’s Trek” treatment at Ascent Spa. Rejuvenate your backcountry weary feet and lower legs with an exfoliating sugar scrub, massage and hot towels (*not included in the trip price).

Be sure to check out Tenaya’s Jackalope Bar & Grill cocktail list. Cheeky options include a Rattlesnake Rita, Sure-footed Mule, El Capitini or Tioga Sequoia Firefall Red craft beer. Or, celebrate an idle hour or two with your Wild Women pack and try the local Idle Hour Winery offering (made from sustainably-grown grapes in the Sierra Foothills and Yolo County just 15 minutes away).

The hotel’s Parkside Deli is a smart place to stop for a smoothie, kettle corn, local almonds and take-home house-baked dog bones for your pup! If you have a cat, they’re probably going to ignore you when you return anyway!)

We’ll gather for dinner and rehash all the awesome memories of our backcountry experience and celebrate our intimate and incredible time in the Sierras.

 

DAY 7: FAREWELL

After a final breakfast together, we will  transfer back to Fresno for departing flights around noon. Wah! We advise booking flights for departures after 2PM.

After Yosemite, what wilderness will you slip into next?

 

The Skinny on the Hikes

Frontcountry hiking days will include approximately 10-13km (6-8 miles) of hiking in total each day with elevation change of about 305m (1,000 feet).


Elevation

The backcountry element of the trip will cover about 32km (20 miles) over three days with approximately 914m (3,000 feet) of elevation gain in total. Note: Most of the elevation is gained on the first day.

We’ll be hiking between at an elevation of 2,438–2,971m (8,000-9,750 feet) so this change is important to keep in mind for Wild Women coming from lower elevations. Hiking with a full pack also demands more effort than hiking without weight. You should be prepared to carry 9–11 kilos comfortably (20 -25lbs).

Training in advance is very important. Trails are well established with no technical aspects but may require occasional scrambling.Your guides will always show you the safest way to navigate any feature we encounter!

Camping

The first three nights will be spent in simple camp cabins (triple occupancy). Each has a full bed, twin bunks, and a small bathroom with a shower. Meals will be eaten outside at picnic tables as a group.

Nights 4 and 5 will be spent in the backcountry. Everyone will be expected to pitch-in and help carry the gear including backpacking tents, sleeping pads and sleeping bags as well as all group cooking and safety gear. On Day 5, heavier gear can be left at camp so we can “slack pack” and enjoy the weight of the world off our shoulders! The packs will be considerably lighter–4.5 kilos (10lbs).

Our final night will be spent at Tenaya Lodge (double occupancy).

Click here to see upcoming trip dates to book your spot!