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Experience Level



1-3 miles/day


8,800 - 9,400 ft.

Registration Fee


On this three-day, two-night backpacking trip, you will learn to bring your art into the wilderness and paint on location, recording your experience in the mountains watercolor and pen sketches. Join one of our naturalist guides and our guest instructor Rachel Fisher for a weekend adventure to scenic May Lake, where you’ll capture your outdoor experiences in a sketchbook and walk away inspired for future adventures. You will learn how to minimize your impact on your surroundings and apply a Leave No Trace backpacker’s mindset to create a wilderness-friendly, portable art supply kit. By the time you hop off the trail, you’ll have the skills to plan your next wilderness adventure and the inspiration to add to your art journal!

As you learn, you’ll enjoy breathtaking views of May Lake, where we’ll camp for two nights. Stunning views of May Lake and Mt. Hoffman will inspire your art. Rachel will share her love of the outdoors and support you in building confidence to create art in wilderness settings! This retreat will help you build the skills to make detailed pen drawings with minimal watercolor washes on top. Over the course of three days, Rachel Fisher will guide you through the process of creating and maintaining a travel sketchbook, offering ideas for how to choose what to sketch, simple drawing techniques, and more. This class is for anyone who wants to explore sketching and painting outdoors — some drawing, painting, and backpacking experience is helpful for this art retreat, but all levels are welcome. If you’re not sure if this workshop is the right fit for you, get in touch, we’re happy to help!


  • Program dates:  July 11 through July 14
  • Program location: Trailhead starts along Hwy 120 part way to Tuolumne Meadows, take the May Lake Trail north of Hwy 120 to wilderness camp overnight (July 12 & 13).
  • What’s included:  An evening meeting (July 11), three full days of progressive learning and painting en plein air with artist Rachel Fisher (July 12- 14), park entry (as needed), and shared tent camping (camping dates cannot be altered). There is no discount if you choose not to use the included gate pass or campsite.
  • Camping dates: Participants can arrive on July 11 after 12pm and must depart July 12. After the backpack, participants can arrive on July 14 after 12pm and depart July 15 by 11am. There are two shared campsites among all the participants. Please be prepared to tent camp. A picnic table, bear locker and firepit are provided at each site. Campsites fit 6 people and 2 cars per site, with overflow parking nearby. Please note:
    • There is no discount if you choose not to use the included gate pass.
    • We can’t allow unregistered friends or family of participants on this trip. Backcountry permits and lodging arrangements for unregistered friends and family are the responsibility of participants.
  • Campground Location: Crane Flat Campground (July 11th and 15th only)
  • Experience level: All levels welcome, must be physically fit to walk at high elevation with a backpack.  Please be prepared to walk 1-3 miles/day.

What’s not included:

  • Gear or meals
  • Transportation

View the supplies list.
View travel tips.
View sample itinerary.