Great Parks of California–WAIT LIST ONLY

Trip Highlights

Learn about Yosemite National Park during an open-air tram tour of the valley floor, participate in a stargazing program, and stay at scenic Yosemite Lodge at the Falls. Cruise stunning Lake Tahoe, the largest alpine lake in North America, and taste local vintages during a guided wine tour and tasting in Sonoma. Admire the spectacular natural beauty of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, overnighting inside the park at Wuksachi Lodge; and behold the largest and third-largest trees in the world: General Sherman and General Grant. Spend time strolling the seaside towns of Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea, both havens for writers, artists, and celebrities. Learn California's history during a visit to a historic mission, and at a private after-hours tour of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, explore marine life exhibits and enjoy a special farewell dinner.


July 01 to July 09, 2017


North America

Tour Operator


Physical Activity Level

Moderately Active


8 Days


$ 3,995.00



Make a Reservation

Call Alumni Travel at 855.764.0064


Day 1: Arrive in San Francisco, CA
Welcome to beautiful San Francisco, the cultural capital of Northern California. Upon arrival, your Orbridge representative will greet and assist you with your transfer to your downtown hotel. This evening, meet your traveling companions and Orbridge Expedition Leader for a welcome drink, and discuss your upcoming California adventure.

Overnight: San Francisco Marriott Marquis (R)

Day 2: Sonoma / Lake Tahoe
This morning, cross the Golden Gate Bridge and head to California’s wine country, where you’ll enjoy a guided tour and wine tasting at a local vineyard. After your tour, spend free time in Sonoma’s picturesque town square for lunch on your own before the group continues to the resort town of Lake Tahoe. This evening is yours for time at leisure.

Overnight: Lake Tahoe Resort (B)

Day 3: Lake Tahoe / Yosemite National Park
Start the day with a beautiful cruise on Lake Tahoe. After lunch, depart for one of the first wilderness parks in the United States—Yosemite National Park. Photograph Yosemite’s spectacular scenes: within its nearly 1,200 square miles are wild meadows, rivers, lakes, and some of the world’s most renowned rock formations.

Overnight: Tenya Lodge at Yosemite (B,D)

Day 4: Yosemite National Park
An entire day in Yosemite is ample time to soak in the park’s natural beauty. Start with an open-air tram tour of the valley floor to learn about the wonders of this incredible reserve, and refresh with a picnic lunch. This afternoon is open to take a local hike or complimentary Ranger program offered by the National Park Service.

Overnight: Tenya Lodge at Yosemite (B,L)

Day 5: Yosemite / Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park
Spend the morning at leisure before departing on a tour of the Sequoia & Kings National Park. Sequoia National Park was established in 1890 to protect the General Grant Grove of giant sequoias. Kings Canyon National Park is a wide glacial valley with green meadows, waterfalls, tall cliffs, and meandering rivers set against the high peaks of the Sierra Crest in the distance. This evening, observe the waning light beneath the Southern Sierra Nevada mountains with stargazing (clear skies permitting) and storytelling.

Overnight: Wuksachi Lodge (B,D)

Day 6: Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park
Explore the trails, scenery, and Visitor’s Center to take in the beauty of these magnificent parks. Visit the largest known living single stem tree on earth: the General Sherman Tree. Linger in these outstanding natural preserves and discover some their other amazing features. For example, Kings Canyon National Park is home to the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States, Mt. Whitney, reaching 14,000 feet. The two parks protect numerous karst streams and some of the best alpine karst topography in the United States. The lower elevations are home to a variety of wildlife including bobcats, foxes, ground squirrels, mule deer, rattlesnakes, and reclusive mountain lions. This California Foothills ecosystem is the only one protected by the National Park Service. This evening is at your leisure.

Overnight: Wuksachi Lodge (B)

Day 7: Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park / Monterey
This morning travel through California’s farmlands to the Pacific coastal town of Monterey. Formerly the capital of Alta California under both Spain and Mexico, the town is packed with history and charm. A wonderful diversity of marine life distinguishes this area, including sea lions, sea otters, harbor seals, bat rays, kelp (seaweed) forests, pelicans and dolphins. Visit Cannery Row, immortalized by John Steinbeck in his famous novel set during the Great Depression. This evening is at your leisure to explore Monterey’s quaint shops, galleries, restaurants, and possibly the only whalebone sidewalk still in existence in the United States (in front of the Old Whaling Station).

Overnight: Monterey Marriott Hotel (B,D)

Day 8: Monterey / Carmel-by-the-Sea
One of today’s highlights is traveling along the scenic “17-Mile Drive” that hugs the Pacific coastline. View the “Lone Cypress” rooted dramatically to a granite hillside, the beautiful white sand beach at Fanshell Overlook, Spanish Bay’s grassy shoreline, treacherous Point Joe, Pebble Beach Golf Course, and the tony homes of Pebble Beach. Stop in the seaside town of Carmel, a haven for writers, artists, and celebrities. Browse shops, grab lunch, or perhaps take a stroll on the beach. Go back to California’s early years during a private tour of the San Carlos Borromeo de Carmel Mission. Return to Monterey mid-afternoon.

At the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium, arrive for a behind-the-scenes tour of the most popular exhibits with access to areas not normally open to the general public. The aquarium is renown for its interactive exhibits, an impressive Open Sea exhibit, and the ability to see an abundance of marine life up close. Afterward, celebrate your adventures at a special farewell dinner at the aquarium.

Overnight: Monterey Marriott Hotel (B)

Day 9: Monterey / Depart San Francisco
After breakfast, take the complimentary transfer to the airport for your flight home.

Led By

Mark and Pat Tessler 2 (1)

Mark Tessler is Samuel J. Eldersveld Collegiate Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan, where between 2005 and 2013 he also served as the University’s Vice Provost for International Affairs.  Professor Tessler has studied and/or conducted field research in Tunisia, Israel, Morocco, Egypt, and Palestine (West Bank and Gaza).  He is one of the very few American scholars to have attended university and lived for extended periods in both the Arab world and Israel.  Many of Professor Tessler’s scholarly publications examine the nature, determinants, and political implications of attitudes and values held by ordinary citizens the Middle East.  Among the fifteen books he has authored, coauthored, or edited are Public Opinion in the Middle East: Survey Research and the Political Orientations of Ordinary Citizens (2011); and his most recent book, supported by an award from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Islam and Politics in the Middle East: Explaining the Views of Ordinary Citizens (2015). Professor Tessler has also written extensively on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. His publications on the subject include A History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, which won national honors and was named a “Notable Book of the Year” by The New York Times. An updated and expanded edition of this book was published in 2009.

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