How do I register for Outdoor Adventures?
Register online. Select the program you’d like to attend and click the yellow “Register” button to provide participant and payment information. Give us a call if you run into any registration issues at 209-379-2647.
What do I receive after I register?
- An automatic email with the Subject: Confirmation of Your Booking with Yosemite Conservancy
- From: [email protected]
- The Confirmation email contains a link to your registration portal to fill out your online liability forms. We need a form from each participant.
- Along with the lodging details to book using our Group Code.
- Roughly a month prior to your program you will receive your “Information Packet”. This is a PDF attachment to an email from [email protected] with all the specific program details pertaining to your adventure.
I registered and I have not received any information about the program.
If you cannot see the confirmation email, please search for “[email protected]” in your “All Mail” box. Sometimes our confirmation emails will show up in “Spam” or “Promotions.”
If it is within one month of your program and you have not received your “Information Packet”, please reach out to [email protected] to ensure we have your email address correct.
What if I have to cancel?
We understand that you may need to cancel your registration or miss your adventure. Our cancellation policy enables us to issue some refunds within our limited budget as a nonprofit organization.
- If you cancel 30 or more days in advance, we will refund your registration. All refunds incur a $25 cancellation fee.
- If you cancel fewer than 30 days in advance, including in the case of illness, we will offer a 50% refund.
We strongly suggest purchasing trip-cancellation insurance through an online provider or your local travel agent. If we cancel your program, we will refund your registration in full. Note that the refund will cover your registration fee. You will still be responsible for the costs of any other travel or lodging you’ve arranged.
Are there additional forms I need to register for a program?
Every participant is required to complete a liability release form before attending a program. In addition, participants in backpacking trips will require a medical form.
Use your registration/confirmation email to access your private portal and fill out all necessary forms.
What is included in the fees?
- Your fee covers instruction with an expert naturalist guide
- Park entrance fees (as needed, no discount if you already have a pass)
- Be sure to print out your entrance fee waiver that will be attached to the information packet you’ll receive after you register.
- If you don’t have a physical copy or a screenshot of the entrance fee waiver on your phone, you will have to pay the regular fee of $35.00 per car. There is no cell service at the entrance gate.
- Shared campsites as needed, there is no discount if you choose not to use our shared sites. You don’t have to camp to attend the program.
- Wilderness permits (for backpack trips)
- Bear-proof canister on all backpacking trips as needed.
Please check specific program details for other things that may be included in your registration.
Are meals, transportation, or equipment included?
- Meals are not included in any programs unless specified in the program description. Only our Dine and Discover programs offer food and beverages. For all other programs, participants are responsible for their own gear, food, and water. Please be prepared to be self-sufficient out on the trail.
- There is no transportation included in any program. We help to arrange carpooling among participants, as needed.
- Bear canister rentals are provided when required. A coupon is included in the information packet, and you must pick up your own bear canister before your trip.
- Pick up canisters at any Wilderness Center in Yosemite. Wilderness Centers are in Yosemite Valley, Thomas Hill Studio in Wawona, The Big Oak Flat Entrance Gate, and Tuolumne Meadows. We recommend avoiding the Yosemite Valley Wilderness Center when possible since traffic in Yosemite Valley can be difficult.
How does the camping that comes with the program work?
Our campsites are shared between participants who have opted to camp. You will be asked during the registration process if you’d like to use our shared campsites. Each site can fit six people, has one bear locker, one table, one fire pit, and two parking spaces. No other equipment or supplies are provided.
- Our sites are for participants only, no partners, spouses or guests are permitted.
- We guarantee space for tent camping only. If you choose to bring a recreational vehicle, we cannot guarantee you will have a parking spot. Please be prepared to tent camp.
- We ask that you always leave one parking space open for the group to use. It is the responsibility of the group to decide how the parking spaces are used, unless you’re instructed otherwise by the office staff.
- Please let the office staff know right away if your camping request changes.
- Check specific program pages for camping dates and location.
- If you desire a private campsite, or have a camper or RV, or want to sleep in your car, call 1-877-444-6777 ASAP to handle your own reservation at the regular fee (Campsites can be difficult to secure and must be reserved in advance.)
- The National Park Service campgrounds have cold running water and flush toilets, and there are no showers or electricity (except in the bathrooms).
- Showers may be purchased through the concessionaire at Curry Village.
- Pets are not allowed on programs or in Conservancy-reserved campsites.
- Quiet hours are from 10:00 pm to 6:00 am.
- Please be considerate of other campers by being quiet if you arrive late or get up early.
What if I don’t want to camp? Are there other lodging options?
There is a lodging block for most programs. These rooms can be booked using a Group Code for an additional fee. Check the specific program page for lodging upgrade availability.
- All lodging reservations must be made 30 days before the start of the program. These rooms are released 30 days prior to the program.
- Once you register for a program, you’ll get an automated email with the group code.
- If you register with the intent to use the lodging upgrade and our room block is full, reach out to us right away for a full refund.
What do the three Experience Levels mean?
For Day programs and all programs that are not backpacking trips:
- Easy: Requires walking on fairly flat trails, moving at a slow pace and stopping often to discuss the surroundings. Traveling 1-5 miles on foot throughout the day without much elevation gain, and carpooling when needed to higher elevations.
- Intermediate: Generally requires hiking 6-9 miles per day with an elevation gain of 200-900 feet and could include some off-trail travel. Check specific programs for additional information on mileage and elevation gain.
- Advanced: Generally requires difficult hiking and intense physical activity, covering 8 miles or more per day with an elevation gain of over 1,000 feet. Usually these trips begin in the Tuolumne region and participants hike to higher elevations over 9,000 feet.
For backpacking trips:
- Easy: Suitable for participants with little to no backpacking experience. Hikes are usually limited to less than five miles per day with daily elevation gains of less than 1,000 feet.
- Intermediate: Best for participants who have prior backpacking experience. Hikes are usually between 6-10 miles per day with daily elevation gains of over 1,000 feet.
- Advanced:: Participants must have extensive prior backpacking experience. Hikes are generally over 10 miles per day with daily elevation gains of over 1,000 feet.
Consider the following factors when choosing a program that involves hiking:
- Your personal fitness level.
- The overall elevation of the hiking area. Tuolumne Meadows hikes start at 8,600 feet elevation; Tioga Pass at 9,940 feet; Yosemite Valley and Wawona at 4,000 feet.
- Each hike’s round-trip mileage per day.
- The overall elevation gain or loss of a hike. If you gain or lose over 1,200 feet, the hike will be demanding.
- Winter courses can become more challenging than usual when there is a lot of fresh snow.
What is the typical class size?
To ensure a quality experience, we limit most courses to 12-15 students. Programs that require a more focused level of instruction may be even smaller in size. We allow groups between 15 and 20 when there is more than one instructor leading, such as during photography and basketry workshops.
Where should I stay?
For registered participants, fees cover the cost of camping (a value of up to $36 per night where applicable) at shared campsites.
Additionally, a limited number of hotel rooms or tent cabins are available for participants at an additional cost through Yosemite Hospitality (the concessionaire that manages the park’s lodging, food, and retail operations). Check the specific program for lodging upgrade information.
You’re also welcome to find lodging on your own outside the park in the surrounding gateway communities.
I don’t see a program that fits my schedule or interest. Can Yosemite Conservancy arrange a private guided hike for my group?
We love doing this! We regularly plan and lead Custom Adventures for corporate groups, tour companies, church or university groups, friends, families or individuals looking for a companion to hike with and learn from. Learn more & submit an inquiry online, or call 209-379-2647 to get started arranging a special adventure for your group with one of our top-notch naturalists.
Do I need to donate to Yosemite Conservancy to participate in a program?
No, but Yosemite Conservancy members do receive a 15% discount on all course fees (along with many other benefits).
Please consider becoming a member of our Sequoia Society with a monthly gift of $5 or more. Find more information online or email [email protected] with any questions.
How difficult will the hiking be?
- Hiking is an integral part of practically every course, so you must be in good physical condition to participate.
- All programs in Tuolumne Meadows are at high elevations starting at 8,600 feet going as high as 10,000 feet. Elevation affects everyone differently, so please do practice hikes in similar elevations, be well hydrated and eat plenty of food in preparation for your trip.
- Backpacking programs require an even higher level of fitness, and if you wish to participate you will be required to complete a medical questionnaire before your space in the class can be confirmed. The health and safety of all our participants is our priority; if you are unprepared or appear physically unable to complete the required activities during any program, trip leaders reserve the right and responsibility to ask that you do not take part in the program in order to ensure the safety of the group.
All courses have been rated according to the difficulty of the hiking. Daily hiking miles are listed in the description of all classes. If you have questions regarding the demands of any course, please call the office and we will be happy to help you decide whether the course is a good fit: 209-379-2647
What’s involved in backpacking trips?
The most important first step in your backpacking program is that you are well prepared. If you are backpacking for the first time, we highly recommend that you:
- Participants provide all their own food and equipment, other than a bear-proof canister, which are mandatory and are provided. (Approximately 1-2 months before the trip you will be emailed a complete information packet, which contains your fee waiver, detailed program schedule, packing list, park information, and bear canister rental coupon, if applicable.)
- If you are a first-time backpacker, we suggest you refer to REI’S Expert Advice backpacking articles and watch a few instructional videos. Go into an outdoor store to talk to knowledgeable staff or search for books at your local library.
- We also recommend watching How to Pack your Backpack with Yosemite Conservancy Naturalist Guide Marty Anderson. Marty has done over 80 backpack trips in Yosemite and shares some tips and tricks to help pack your bag.
- Each participant must be in excellent physical condition and prepared with proper gear in order to attend. Even introductory trips involve hiking at high elevations and are physically demanding.
- Each year we make an effort to offer backpacking trips designed for all skill levels, ranging from introductory programs for beginners who are physically fit (or for those who want to refresh their backpacking skills) to advanced hikers who are in excellent physical condition and have previous multi-day backpacking experience.
- The health and safety of all our participants is our priority; if you are unprepared or appear physically unable to complete the required activities during any program, trip leaders reserve the right and responsibility to ask that you do not take part in the program in order to ensure the safety of the group.
What if I don’t own all the gear I need for the trip?
There are many ways to source gear. Here are three options to consider:
- REI’s gear rental program from Yosemite’s local REI in Fresno, CA.
- Along 120 W just outside the park boundary in Groveland, you’ll pass the Echo Adventure Cooperative. Echo’s Yosemite Basecamp Outfitter has a limited number of backpacking kits available to rent for a weekend’s adventure. To reserve, visit echocoop.com.
- If you’d rather have the items at home in advance of your trip – we’ve got a third option for you! KitLender.com offers complete camping and backpacking kits that they will mail straight to your door so you’re ready to go at a moment’s notice.
What should I expect from the weather?
Expect the unexpected! Weather conditions vary greatly in the Sierra Nevada, so be prepared for all conditions in all seasons.
- Programs are conducted rain or shine.
- For current road and weather conditions call the NPS 24-hour hotline at 209-372-0200 (press 1, then 1) or visit gov/Yose.
Here is some general weather information by region:
- Yosemite Valley: The weather here can shift suddenly. In May for example, days can be warm and sunny one day, and cold, wet, and stormy the next. Spring temperatures typically range in the 70s, June temperatures are in the 80s. July and August are in the 90s and occasionally they reach the 100s. In September the temperature returns to the 80s.
- Wawona: May temperatures are typically in the 60s, June and September they are in the low 70s. July and August they are in the high 80s.
- Tuolumne Meadows: Temperatures in mid-summer are usually in the 70s in the daytime and in the 30s at night. Though skies are usually clear, thunderstorms can be a daily occurrence in summer afternoons.
- Usually developing at higher elevations, thunderstorms form suddenly and can provide intense but brief downpours, lightning, thunder, hail, and gusty winds. Typically skies clear by nightfall.
Leave No Trace
We want to Leave No Trace during our time in Yosemite, to contribute to the care of the park and respect others who will want to enjoy it as well. Please stay on trails, pack out all litter (including toilet paper), leave what belongs in Yosemite, don’t feed animals, and be considerate of other visitors.
Yosemite is a paradise to many but it does have its dangers, and unfortunate things befall visitors here every year. Among the challenges you might encounter on some of our Yosemite Outdoor Adventure programs are: stream crossings, exertion at elevation, continuous ascents or descents on trails, strong sun, lightning, and the general elements that make Yosemite wild: uneven terrain, steep slopes, rough trails, swift streams, mountain weather, wild animals, etc. It’s also a reality that Yosemite’s popularity makes traffic and driving a hazard; winter conditions add more challenge. Snowshoeing is harder than walking and if we have fresh, deep snow, it’ll be hard work. Some of the issues we worry about most on our courses include: dehydration, knee or ankle problems, getting lost, and getting sunburned. All of these are preventable with prudent attention. Please pay attention to your instructors and alert them to any problems you’re having, eat and drink adequately, use sun protection, pace yourself, and don’t stray from the group.