A Vegan Service Project in Spectacular Yosemite Valley, California

Sierra Club Outings Trip # 13277A, Service/ Volunteer


  • Enjoy trip-tested vegan meals
  • Help care for one of our most treasured national parks
  • Explore the wonders that Yosemite has to offer


  • All vegan meals and snacks
  • Instruction on the importance of habitat restoration
  • Group campsite fees


DatesJul 7–14, 2013
StaffRobert Groff

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Trip Overview

The Trip

Yosemite has long been hailed as the flagship of our national park system. Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees received federal protection in 1864 when Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Grant, considered the foundation upon which national and state parks were later established. Sierra Club founder John Muir helped lead the drive for a much larger Yosemite National Park, which was established by Congress on October 1, 1890.

Yosemite's unique beauty continues to enchant visitors from around the world. More than 3 million people a year come to experience its vertical granite walls, cascading waterfalls, Sequoia groves, and microclimates that range from 4,000 to more than 10,000 feet in elevation. The contrast from a flat, lushly green valley floor to treeless granite peaks has been the muse for authors and artists for decades.

We will have the opportunity to learn more about this park's natural and cultural history and to create our own personal experiences. Bring your curiosity and hiking boots, and explore Yosemite Valley while we work and play.

Our primary transportation choices during the week will be the valley shuttle buses, walking and, lastly, private automobiles. 

The Project

We will work with the park's Vegetation and Ecological Restoration Program on projects in or around the valley that are of the greatest importance to the National Park Service. Flexibility is the key here as we will be involved in a variety of projects. Work may include: the removal of invasive plant species, planting of native species, trail cleanup, eradication of unauthorized "social" trails, and campground refurbishment. The National Park Service will provide all tools and instruction.


We will assemble by 2 p.m. on day one, Sunday, July 7. After introductions and orientation, we'll set up our base camp for the week. We will likely work four days in all, taking one day off midweek to explore or relax. Our last full day of work will be on Friday, July 12. The trip will conclude at midday Sunday, July 14.

Flexibility is always important -- for instance, a late snowpack may change the work project or our base camp location. We'll adjust to whatever surprises come our way!



Getting There

If you fly to Fresno or Merced airports, you will need to drive about two hours to reach the park. Flying to San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland airports requires about a four-hour drive (but it will likely be a less expensive flight).

Please note: If you plan to arrive at Reno Airport, you will need to drive over Tioga Pass Road (State Hwy 120), which may or may not be open by this time in the season. Driving that route would likely take four to five hours.

State Highways 120, 41, and 140 provide park access. Please make sure the route you plan to use is open. Amtrak services Yosemite via Merced, where you change to YARTS bus transport to the valley.

Carpooling is strongly recommended.

Accommodations and Food

We will camp in a semi-developed campground designated for our group's use. You will need to bring a weather-tested tent, a three-season sleeping bag and pad, and personal camp gear for your comfort. A recommended equipment list will be sent to each participant.

There is no shower facility at the campground, but you may bring your sun shower or use a shower facility nearby in the valley.

We will be in the mountains at about 4,000 feet of elevation, so plan accordingly. Bring raingear and be prepared for any type of weather. The days can be quite warm, but temperatures drop once the sun falls behind the valley's rim.

Our first meal will be dinner on Sunday, July 7, and the last will be breakfast on Sunday, July 14. The food on this trip will be part of this wonderful adventure.  We will be providing healthy, nutritious, vegan food experiences. You will be able to enjoy many of our trip-tested vegan dishes that have plenty of flavors, tastes and protein. The meals will be satisfying while not including meat, fish, poultry, dairy, eggs, or honey. Trip menu planning considers that there is no refrigeration, and food must be protected from animals. Everyone takes turn pitching in with food preparation (sous chef opportunities) and kitchen cleanup. People with food allergies and/or strong food preferences should note this on their participant approval form.

Black bears are ever present in the valley, seeking easy calories. All food and anything with a scent will be kept in steel bear boxes at all times. Even with these precautions we should not be surprised if curious bears or other wildlife wander through our campground.

Trip Difficulty

This trip should not be too strenuous. You may find you are a bit short of breath due to the elevation, but you should adjust in a few days. The valley trails are almost all well developed, with reasonably good footing. You will need boots while we are working on the project, and they are recommended if you intend to do more strenuous hiking above the valley floor.

Safety is a priority and you are the best judge of your abilities. We work at our own pace. At the end of each day, we will be free to hike, tour the immediate areas, or just rest our tired muscles.

We suggest a good conditioning program prior to the trip so that you can do a full day's work. The trip staff welcomes beginners and experienced hikers alike.

Equipment and Clothing

In addition to your regular camping gear, you must bring two pairs of sturdy work gloves, a good pair of over-the-ankle hiking boots, a pair of long pants, and a long-sleeved work shirt to wear while working. You will need to supply your own tent and all of your own camping gear. The park will furnish our work tools and Sierra Club will provide our cooking equipment. You will need a day pack to carry all you will need for the hike to the work site. You should also bring a bowl, cup, and eating utensils, as well as a leak-proof plastic food container for packing your lunch each day. While we will provide a first-aid kit for emergencies, you should bring your own personal kit and any personal medications you require. A detailed equipment list will be provided by the leader after registration is complete.

Typical summer temperatures will be around the 80s while we work during the day, and cool off to around the 40s at night. The beginning of July is typically dry, but be prepared to hike, work, play, and sleep in any kind of weather; afternoon showers are possible. Snow may remain in isolated areas of the park.



  • Muir, John, The Yosemite.
  • Giacomazzi, Sharon, Trails and Tales of Yosemite and the Central Sierra.
  • Schaffer, Jeffrey, Yosemite National Park - A Complete Hiker's Guide.
  • Wolff, Kurt; Amy Marr; David Lukas; and Cheryl Koehler, Lonely Planet Yosemite National Park.



We will learn about the toll that large human impact has on this park's front-country and backcountry access, traffic, flora, and fauna. We will also discuss how park policies deal with this issue and what the future may hold.

The Sierra Club is an environmentally focused entity. We are concerned about conservation and sustainability of resources, both locally and globally. Our work is accomplished by volunteers and aided by a salaried staff, and encourages grassroots involvement. Our outings seek to empower participants toward greater understanding, advocacy and participation in the goals of the Club. 



An avid outdoor enthusiast, Bob Groff has led and participated in several service trips. He lives in Campbell, California, and is a frequent hiker and cyclist. Bob has hiked in several national parks, national forests and wilderness areas in California, Oregon, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Colorado. His objective is for you to enjoy the wonderful solitude of the backcountry. Bob is happy to answer any questions you may have about the trip or the area, and we will send bulletins prior to the trip with further details.


Eric Hoyer began his involvement with Sierra Club Service Trips in 1988 and has shared his love of the wilderness on numerous service trips in California, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona and Utah. Eric is employed as a Quality Manager and will apply those skills to satisfy trip participants. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, backpacking and canoeing. The Lake Tahoe region has been a favorite of his since visiting the area as a child.

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