Private & Hiking Tours

Private & Hiking Tours of Yosemite National Park and the Sierra Nevada

Discover Yosemite offers private Private & Hiking Tours customized to guests’ abilities and interests. Whether you want to visit Yosemite Valley or the High Country, explore a grove of Giant Sequoias, identify Sierra wildflowers or hike to waterfalls, domes or mountain peaks, our Naturalist/Guides can take you there. They’ll work with you to customize your ideal tour and enlighten you about Native American history, geology, glaciers, flowers, trees, animals, photography – whatever interests you most.

We can accommodate up to 14 people on our private tours. Discover Yosemite’s Group Services department can help create customized Private & Hiking Tours for larger groups.

The following are just some of the many options for your tour:

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Customized Yosemite Tour

Create the Yosemite Tour of your dreams. Explore the Valley or other park highlights at your own pace. Would you like a nature walk of Mariposa Grove? Extra time to shop or view the exhibits at the Visitor’s Center? A leisurely lunch at the historic Ahwahnee Hotel? Stops at scenic viewpoints, short hikes, a side trip to Glacier Point or a picnic beside the Merced River are just some of the possibilities.

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 *Waterfalls

Waterfall walks/hikes can be short and easy to very strenuous. These can be included as part of a diverse tour or can be the theme for the day. Some waterfalls are seasonal, drying up in the later part of summer. Your guide will help you choose the best waterfalls running at the time of your visit.

Bridalveil and Yosemite Falls: These are two of the most beautiful waterfalls in the park and are easily included in a tour of Yosemite Valley. The paved walks are accessible to almost anyone. (Note: Yosemite Falls is seasonal.)

*Vernal and Nevada Falls: The first part of the Mist Trail involves a moderate climb to a footbridge with a lovely view of Vernal Fall. From there the trail becomes steeper and quite strenuous, with steps leading through the mist of the waterfall to the top. The hike to the top of the fall is 3 miles round trip. The 1.6 mile loop to the footbridge and back is one of our Half Day options. Either hike can be combined with other stops for a Full Day Tour (consider treating yourself to lunch at the Ahwahnee Hotel after your workout.)

The trail continues past Vernal Fall to Nevada Fall. The first part of this trail is flat and quite easy, with switchbacks leading to spectacular views at the top of the fall. This 7 mile round trip is for sturdy hikers. 

Yosemite Fall Trail: This trail leads from Yosemite Valley to the High Country, offering spectacular views of both the Valley and Yosemite Fall. For a short but energetic hike, take the 3 ½ mile round trip to Observation Point, where you can see the powerful Upper Fall close up and look down on Lower Yosemite Fall and the cascade connecting the two. This is a good winter/early season hike, when Yosemite Fall is running.

Avid hikers may wish to continue to the top of the fall. This 7.2 mile round trip with a 2,700 foot gain in elevation is for experienced hikers. The trail is set back in a recess for this final leg, so don’t expect views of the Valley as you climb, but it does offer intimate views of Upper Yosemite Falls. The upper trail is an early summer hike, with a short window between when the snow melts off this part of the trail and Yosemite Fall dries up.

*Ribbon Fall: Hike to a seldom visited waterfall with a sheer drop of 1,612 feet. Ribbon Fall is located in a large recess to the west of El Capitan, an unusual and spectacular location. This is a strenuous, off-trail hike for the more adventurous who want to get off the beaten path. The hike is about 4 miles round trip and is available from late April through mid-July, conditions permitting.

Cascade Fall: For those who enjoy a bit of rock scrambling, this short hike is a nice end-of-day treat. Cascade Fall is one of our smallest but most inviting waterfalls. As the name implies, it cascades down among granite boulders and green forests. Come prepared for a swim and you can end your day by cooling off in a natural pool.

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*Sequoia Groves

Explore a grove of Giant Sequoias, one of the largest living things on earth. Learn about these magnificent trees found in only a small area of the Sierra Nevada. Springtime hikes are often enhanced by flowering Pacific Dogwoods and our unusual Snow Plant (a bright red saprophyte). Our guides will tell you about the lifecycle of these extraordinary trees, and how the destruction of many Giant Sequoia groves led to some of the earliest land preservation efforts. One to six miles of easy to moderate walking. 

Mariposa Grove is the largest and most spectacular grove in the park. A hike to the massive Grizzly Giant and the California Tunnel Tree leads past many remarkable sequoias. This 2 mile round trip can be a Half Day Tour or combined with other activities. Or take the 6 mile round trip to Wawona Point. This hike leads through the park-like upper grove, which has a concentration of stately sequoias. You can see a replica of the log cabin that Galen Clark (the Father of Yosemite) built and the hollow sequoia where he stabled his horses. Most visitors only go as far as the California Tunnel Tree, so the upper grove offers a more peaceful experience of these majestic giants.

Tuolumne and Merced Groves are on the north side of Yosemite. An advantage of these smaller groves is that they are less visited than the Mariposa Grove, with the Merced Grove being the quietest one in the park. Both involve about 2 to 3 miles of hiking, and, with the driving time involved, will take most of the day. Your guide will help you decide which other activities to combine with your hike, based on your interests and activity level. Note: these are listed as “High Country” hikes in the fee and schedule table below.

Nelder Grove: See more under “Sierra Nevada Hikes.”

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South of Yosemite Valley

*Sentinel Dome: Locals consider this to be the best viewpoint in Yosemite. From the top of Sentinel Dome’s 8,122-feet, approximately 80% of Yosemite can be seen in a 360-degree panorama. This is an easy ¾ mile hike with a very short moderate section near the top of the Dome. A tour of Yosemite Valley or a wildflower walk along the Glacier Point Road compliment this hike perfectly.

Rim Walk: In depth hiking experience on the South Rim of Yosemite Valley. Hike to the top of Sentinel Dome and continue on the Pohono Trail to Taft Point and loop back around to our starting point. Along the way enjoy the seasonal wildflower displays, unique views into Yosemite Valley and a lunch stop at a spectacular overlook on the bank of Sentinel Creek. Five miles of easy to moderate hiking.

*Wildflowers: Seasonally dependent walks through the best wildflower meadows in Yosemite. Option: start this tour after lunch and finish with Sentinel Dome at sunset. (Tioga Pass also offers spectacular wildflower viewing)

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High Country

The Tuolumne Meadows/Tioga Pass area offers a full range of touring possibilities from sightseeing to extensive hiking or a combination of both. You can take a swim in Tenaya Lake, have lunch among the domes at Olmstead Point (with a great view of the north side of Half Dome) and meander among wildflower meadows.

For guests who enjoy walking, a moderate hike ranging from 2 to 5 miles takes you to the beautiful alpine lake basin of Gaylor and Granite Lakes. This area – at over 10,000 feet and right at the timberline – is famous for its broad vistas, flower filled meadows and animal life. There are many other hiking options we can discuss with you.

Birding enthusiasts or those who want to explore some of earth’s most unique geology may want to cross the Sierra to Mono Lake. Tufa towers emerge from the alkaline waters of the lake like something from an alien landscape. The lake’s unique ecosystem makes it one of the largest Sea Gull rookeries on the West Coast and a major feeding ground for migratory birds.

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Sierra Nevada Hikes

Just outside Yosemite’s boundaries are scenic attractions similar to those in the park that are much less visited. These hikes offer a more peaceful wilderness experience.

*The Nelder Grove of Giant Sequoias: This secluded grove of Giant Sequoias, located just a few miles south of Yosemite National Park’s Mariposa Grove, offers an easy, lightly visited 1 mile loop trail. Along the trail are numerous Sequoias over 2,000 years old as well as seasonal wildflowers and Pacific Dogwood trees. You’ll be accompanied by the soothing murmur of Nelder Creek, which flows through the center of the grove. A picnic table near the end of the trail is located on the site of an ancient Native American camp. This half-day walk can easily be combined with a hike to Fresno Dome or Grizzly Lake to make an all day adventure. Usually open from late April to mid-November.

*Fresno Dome: Take a pleasant, easy 1½ mile round trip through wildflower covered meadows and a Red Fir forest to the scenic vista on top of Fresno Dome. On a clear day you can see beyond the San Joaquin Valley to the Coast Ranges. There’s a good chance of spotting rock climbers on the dome or a nesting pair of Peregrine Falcons who make it their home. This can be a Half Day trip but is commonly combined with a walk through the Nelder Grove. Usually open from late May to early November.

*Grizzly Lake: This moderate one mile hike meanders through meadows and past glacial tarns to a ridge with immense vistas of the Sierra high country and the Clark Range in Yosemite. Our destination is Grizzly Lake, a glacial lake deep in a mountainous cirque. Along the way you’ll learn about the glacial action that sculpted this landscape. Spend the day picnicking, fishing, swimming or just enjoying the peacefulness of the lake in this lightly visited wilderness or combine this with a trip to Nelder Grove or Fresno Dome. Usually open from mid-June to late October.

Lower Jackass Lake:  This full day hike starts along an open ridge with vistas extending from the Minarets and Mammoth Mountain all the way to Kings Canyon National Park. We’ll pass through Red Fir forests, follow an ancient glacial moraine and enjoy meadows filled with seasonal wild flowers. The panorama opens up again just before reaching the lake. Our lunch destination, Lower Jackass Lake, has fine swimming. Our return route is a refreshing walk along Norris Creek. This is a fairly moderate 6 mile loop. Those wanting a more energetic hike can continue on to Upper Jackass Lake. Usually open mid-June to late October.

Sing Peak: Sing Peak is located on the boundary between the Ansel Adams Wilderness and Yosemite National Park. This strenuous all day hike starts with a 4-wheel drive trip to our destination. We’ll hike cross country through forests and meadows, up a glacier carved valley and past a picturesque glacial lake. The last leg involves a scramble up granite slabs to the 10,552 foot summit. This is a round trip of 8 miles and is usually open from mid-June to late October.

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*Half Day options available

Tours are led by professional Naturalist/Guides with extensive knowledge and experience in Yosemite National Park. Itineraries can accommodate everyone from families to avid hikers to senior citizens. All of our tours and hikes are based on a minimum impact philosophy, consistent with Park Service guidelines to preserve the Park for future generations.

2013 Fees and Schedules

Tour

Number of People

Cost

Pick Up

Return

AM Half Day

Up to 4

$410

8 a.m.

1 p.m.

Each additional Person

$75

PM Half Day

Up to 4

$410

2 p.m.

7 p.m.

Each additional Person

$75

Full Day

Up to 4

$640

9 a.m.

5 p.m.

Each additional Person

$105

High Country
(Full Day Only)

Up to 4

$740

8 a.m.

6 p.m.**

 

Each additional Person

$110

   
Sunset/Full Moon

Up to 4

$570

TBD

TBD

 

Each additional Person

$125

   

Alternative schedules may be arranged in advance.
Dress should be appropriate for weather and planned activities.

Half Day tours include transportation, Naturalist/Guide, park fees, snacks, water and soft drinks.
Full day tours include transportation, Naturalist/Guide, park fees, lunch and water.
Sunset/Full Moon Tours include dinner and other items that are included on our scheduled Sunset/Full Moon Tours.

Your lunch choices are:

· Smoked turkey and Gouda cheese on whole wheat bread

· Ham and Swiss on rye

· Roast beef and Cheddar cheese on sourdough bread

· Avocado, roast pepper, tomato, cucumber and alfalfa sprouts on seven-grain bread

· Peanut butter and jelly on white.

All lunches include fresh fruit and Potato Chips

**Some High Country Tours may require more time. Inquire with our Reservation Specialists.

 Gratuities are not included.

For reservations please call your hotel or Discover Yosemite at:
800-585-0565 or 559-642-4400

Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter." John Muir

 

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