9. Yosemite Valley 3-Day Camping Adventure
Spend 2 nights camping in the world famous Yosemite Valley outside of San Francisco. You will travel in an eco-friendly biofueled vehicle, and all camping gear is provided to lighten your load. All you need to bring is a sleeping bag and enthusiasm for the Californian wilderness.
Don't worry if you've never camped before. The camping and cooking equipment is provided, using quality tents. Everybody is expected to participate in the set-up and break-down of camp, and a professional guide will be there to ensure a positive camping experience. You will camp at comfortable campsites that have hot showers and modern facilities. Swimming is available nearby.
Food is also provided, but there will be no chefs! You will get the chance to cook over campfires, and you will also be the waiters, dishwashers, and of course the guests! The fare is all-you-can-eat and very tasty, and is a mixture of chicken, beef, and vegetarian.
On the morning of your first day camping, your guide will meet you downtown at the corner of Mason and O'Farrell Streets in front of the Hilton Hotel at 08:15. Once out of San Francisco, cross the Central Valley and head through gold country on your way to the mountains. Before reaching Yosemite Valley, hike down for a picnic among the giant sequoia trees, the largest living things on Earth.
Meals on the first day are not included in the tour price, but you will have an opportunity to get food en route to the park. Depending upon group interest and logistics, you may visit any of the 3 sequoia groves.
The hike through the giant sequoias is pleasantly shaded and brings you right up close to these massive wooden monuments, some of which are more than 1,000 years old and measure up to 30-feet wide and 300-feet tall.
Continue into the park on a 90-minute guided tour, and descend into Yosemite Valley, the most famous and photographed part of Yosemite, thanks to the work of photographer Ansel Adams.
While in the Yosemite Valley, your guide will give you an orientation to the park, as well as an explanation of the itinerary and options for the next 2 days. After some free time in Yosemite Valley, head for the campsite to set up camp, ending the day with drinks around the campfire as you decide what to do with your next 2 days in the park.
Rise early and prepare breakfast and lunch, clean up camp, and head off in the van for a fun day full of hiking, sightseeing, and exploring. Usually the second day is reserved for exploring Yosemite's High Country. A group hike to May Lake and Mount Hoffman is generally the highlight of the day, depending upon snowpack.
May Lake is a picturesque example of a High Sierra lake. If you want more of a challenge, you can continue past May Lake to Mount Hoffman. Located at the geographic center of the park, Mount Hoffman is a non-technical hike that rewards you with a 360-degree view of the surrounding mountain landscape. At the end of the day, head back to camp for dinner and time to unwind by the campfire.
Day 3 is a free day, where the itinerary is based on the interests of the group. Normally the tour heads back into Yosemite Valley, where you can choose one of a number of great hikes, rent a bike, or relax in the shade by the emerald green Merced River. After a full day in the park, head back to San Francisco, arriving around 21:00.
In May, June, and early July, you have the option of joining a whitewater rafting trip on the Merced River, depending on snowpack. This Class III-IV adventure can be added to your Yosemite Escape adventure for only $140-$160.