Before You Go

High Country Experience (Late Season)


Trip Snapshot

We pride ourselves in running a relaxed and flexible schedule. Every trip is different depending upon the group, other trips on the water, and sometimes the weather. Please refer to your confirmation letter for the exact dates of your trip.

MEETING PLACE:Rush Creek Lodge, 34001 CA-120, Groveland, CA
RETURN TIME:Depart any time the morning of day 5
TRIP LENGTH:4 Days/4 Nights

Itinerary at a Glance

Day 1

On the morning of your trip, meet up with your trip leader and fellow travelers at Rush Creek Lodge. After quick intros, we’ll board our shuttle for the drive to Yosemite Valley and our first day of hiking.

We’ll head back to the lodge late afternoon to check into our rooms. Explore the property, go for a swim, or grab a cold beverage and enjoy the outdoor lounge areas. This evening, we’ll meet back up for dinner at the lodge.

Days 2 – 4 

Explore and hike in Yosemite. Refer to the trip page for a more detailed sample itinerary. 

Dinner and lodging are included on the final evening of your trip (night 4).

The Day After Your Trip

You’re welcome to enjoy the resort and its modern amenities however you wish this morning, departing in time for check-out at 11 a.m. Breakfast is on your own.

Included in Your Trip Cost

  • Skilled professional hiking guides
  • Delicious meals from lunch on day 1 through dinner on day 4
  • Four nights lodging at Rush Creek Lodge based on double occupancy
  • 40 oz. Klean Kanteen, single-walled water bottle appropriate for the trail
  • All transfers from the OARS meeting place to Yosemite National Park and back
  • Yosemite National Park entrance fee

Not Included in Your Trip Cost

  • Transportation to and from Groveland, CA/Rush Creek Lodge 
  • Pre- and post-trip accommodations and meals
  • Single Supplement of $1,200 per person
  • Insurance of any kind, including a travel protection plan
  • Alcohol
  • Items of a personal nature (an equipment list will be provided)
  • Gratuities

Getting Ready

Pre-Trip Checklist

Consider Purchasing Travel Protection: Learn more about the plan we highly recommend and get a quote.

Trip Forms: Each participant will need to complete the required trip forms within two weeks of making a booking. Refer to your confirmation email for the link to the online forms. If you prefer to fill out paper forms, please let us know right away. If you are reserving within 60 days of departure, your forms must be completed immediately to ensure we can properly plan for your trip.

Reserve flights, shuttles, and lodging: Verify with your adventure consultant that your trip has met minimum numbers prior to booking flights and/or reserving overnight lodging for the night before and after your trip, if applicable. It is important to make reservations early as rooms may be limited during peak travel periods.

Physical Requirements: Your outdoor adventure will be an active participatory trip. Please inform us of any physical limitations you may have as soon as possible. If you exceed 260 pounds, please give us a call. Make sure you are exercising frequently in the months leading up to your trip and can meet our Essential Eligibility Criteria

Payments: Final payment is due in our office 90 days before your trip (refer to your invoice for final payment date). Please let us know if you would like us to automatically charge your credit card on file when final payment is due.


1. Read the pre-trip literature and arrive at the meeting place on time.

2. Understand the risks: your safety is ultimately your responsibility.

3. Treat your fellow guests and guides with respect and courtesy; harassment of any kind will not be tolerated.

4. Wear clothing and personal protective equipment suitable for the current conditions.

5. Listen to and follow the guides’ instructions.

6. Abide by the managing agency’s rules.

7. Minimize your impact on the environment.

8. Your children are your responsibility!

Travel Arrangements


Both of our preferred lodging accommodations are located just past Groveland, CA, minutes from Yosemite National Park’s Big Oak Flat Entrance (Hwy 120). 

By Air

For those who are flying, Oakland (OAK), San Francisco (SFO), and Sacramento (SMF) all have relatively similar drive times to Groveland, CA. You may also want to consider the Fresno Yosemite Intl. Airport (FAT), which is served by most major airlines. 

Shuttle options are prohibitively expensive, but car rentals are available at all major airports mentioned above.


If you’re arriving by car, parking is available at the lodge. There is enough space to park all kinds of vehicles, including RV’s and trailers.

OARS cannot accept responsibility for any loss or damage to vehicles or their contents.

Pre- and Post-Trip Accommodations (not included in your trip cost)

If you wish to extend your stay in the area, we recommend that you make any additional lodging reservations well in advance. Yosemite and its outlying areas are extremely popular, and lodges fill up quickly.

Useful Information


All meals from lunch on the first day to dinner on day 4 are included. Depending on trail-specific start times, we will enjoy a lodge-based breakfast or a hiker-friendly breakfast, and while on the trail, healthy picnic lunches will be provided. Dinners will most often be enjoyed at the on-site restaurant or tavern offered at our lodging property. On longer days in the park, we may opt to dine at a restaurant offered at one of Yosemite’s lodges. 

We need to know as soon as possible about any dietary restrictions we must consider in planning your trip. If you have food allergies or necessary restrictions, we will do our best to accommodate your needs.


We carry sufficient drinking water with us to provide for your needs throughout the trip. Water jugs for refilling personal water bottles are accessible at lunchtime and before hikes. In some cases, we will re-supply water jugs with water filtered through a purification system we provide. (No iodine is used in the purification process.)


Alcoholic beverages are not included in the cost of your Yosemite Hiker adventure but are available for purchase at lodges and restaurants.

Foot Care

Good foot care is a must. You should have footwear that is comfortable and well broken in.
Trim your toenails a little below the tip of your toe before you begin your hike. As you hike
downhill, your toes will be pushed into the end of your boots. Toenails that are too long will
jam into the front of your boot, which can cause severe bruising to the point that they may
fall off. If you start getting hot spots, put some moleskin or second skin on the spot before it
blisters. Change socks, slow down, and rest in the shade.


Fire activity can impact the air quality on our trips, and occasionally wildfires may be present in the immediate vicinity of where we’re traveling. In general, we will not cancel a trip on account of smoky conditions, except in cases of clear danger to life or property. 

Learn more about traveling with OARS during wildfire season, including info about some of our protocols and travel protection recommendations.


Your trip will visit areas ranging from 3,000 to nearly 11,000 feet above sea level, therefore, you may experience symptoms associated with altitude illness. We recommend the following
measures to help prevent altitude illness: arrive ahead of your scheduled departure to allow
for acclimatization; drink 3-4 quarts of water every day; make sure about 70% of your
calories come from carbs; only use alcohol, tobacco, or sleeping aid medications in
moderation or not all. Please familiarize yourself with symptoms, treatment, and more about
altitude illness at the CDC.

Click on the links below for additional information on the following topics:


We recommend checking one week before your trip for an up-to-date weather forecast for Groveland, CA, and Tioga Pass. Being properly prepared for weather variations is an important factor in fully enjoying your trip.

Average Air & Water Temperatures

 Air (Day)°FAir (Night)°F
Daily temperatures at higher elevations along Tioga Road are typically 10-15 degrees cooler than Groveland.

Packing for Your Trip

We want you to be prepared and comfortable for your trip. Below, you’ll find some general tips for how to dress and what to pack and a comprehensive packing checklist. The need for warm weather or cold weather items should be based on a reliable weather forecast leading up to your trip.


Begin with shorts or long pants (convertible pants are great) and a synthetic, long-sleeved shirt. Depending on the time of year and weather, additional layers, socks, rain pants, and a rain jacket can also be worn. It can be quite cool in the morning, and as the day warms up, layers can be taken off and stored in your day pack.


For daily wear on the trail, you will want a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or boots with good support and soles. Wearing good socks, as well as broken-in shoes with sturdy ankle support will help to prevent blisters and rolled ankles. 

If you buy new shoes for the trip, make sure you break them in first!


Ball caps or wide-brimmed hats are a good choice for sun protection. A lightweight beanie may be useful for early mornings and late afternoons on early-season trips.

To Avoid Being Cold

Be aware that cotton items, once wet, do not insulate; only synthetic and wool materials will keep you warm during cool, wet weather. You should be prepared for inclement weather. Bring a good fleece or wool top and bottom, along with a warm hat and gloves.

Rain Gear

Rain gear protects you from rain and wind. It is one of the essential items that all guests should have no matter what time of year they are traveling. Look for a jacket and pants that are 100% waterproof, not just water resistant. A hooded jacket with secure closures around your head, neck, wrists, and ankles is recommended. Do not bring a rain poncho.

Sun Protection

Rain gear protects you from rain and wind. It is one of the essential items that all guests should have no matter what time of year they are traveling. Look for a jacket and pants that are 100% waterproof, not just water resistant. A hooded jacket with secure closures around your head, neck, wrists, and ankles is recommended. Do not bring a rain poncho.

Bugs & Mosquitoes

Bugs and mosquitoes vary depending on location and time of year. It’s a good idea to come prepared with insect repellent. Long-sleeved shirts and pants may be desirable at times. Often yellow jackets and wasps can be a nuisance. We recommend a eucalyptus and lemongrass repellent. If you are allergic, please bring two epi-pens.


Even if you aren’t anticipating your menstrual period, come prepared for it. We recommend you bring some sandwich-size zip-close bags. These bags can store products during the day while you are on the river. Used pads or tampons can be disposed of in the trash at lunch or at camp. We provide some menstrual products on most trips for emergencies.

Packing List

Equipment and Personal Items

☐ Day pack/hydration pack: large enough to carry water, lunch, camera, a warm layer, and rain gear (750-2000 cubic inches)
☐ 1-liter water bottle: durable and reusable
☐ Sunglasses (preferably polarized with securing strap)
☐ Personal toiletries
☐ Sunscreen and lip protection: SPF 30 or higher (aerosol sprays not recommended)
☐ Moisturizing lotion or cream
☐ Insect repellent
☐ Personal first-aid kit (band-aids, antibiotic ointment, ibuprofen, moleskin, eye drops, etc.)
☐ Spare pair of glasses and/or contacts
☐ Cash for gratuities as well as goodies at various shops in Yosemite


☐ Hiking boots or shoes with good tread and comfortably worn-in to prevent blisters
☐ Hiking socks: mid-weight (multiple pairs)


☐ Long-sleeved shirts: lightweight and light color for sun protection 
☐ Long pants: lightweight and light color for sun protection
☐ Wide-brimmed hat or ball cap 
☐ Rain jacket & pants: waterproof (not water resistant). A hooded jacket with secure closures is recommended.
☐ Swimwear
☐ Underwear
☐ Shorts: 1-2 pair
☐ T-shirts/tops
☐ Jacket: fleece or down/synthetic fill puffy (depending on the time of year, weather, and location)
☐ Leisure-wear for evenings at the lodge. Seasonally appropriate.

Optional Items

☐ Camera and accessories
☐ Bathing wipes: pre-moistened disposable cleansing towels
☐ Small bags: stuff sacks, zip-close bags, or similar for organizing items
☐ Earplugs
☐ Binoculars
☐ Sketchbook, notebook and pen, paperback book
☐ Bandana
Stand-up urination device

  • Visit our Trip Resources page for more info on the use of drones, electronics, cannabis, CPAP Machines, firearms, and more.
  • Find all the gear you need for your trip online in the OARStore, and 15% of your purchase helps provide under-resourced youth with outdoor adventure experiences.
  • Shop for the latest in top-quality clothing, footwear & outdoor gear at REI.



Tipping is appreciated by our staff. If you are wondering how much to tip, you may consider that we operate in a service industry with a host of behind-the-scenes contributors in addition to the guides on your trip. In general, we suggest a gratuity based on 10-15% of the trip cost. It is customary on OARS trips for gratuities to be given to the Trip Leader in the form of cash or a personal check, who will then distribute appropriately amongst all the guides and support staff.


In reviewing your statement, you will note a $1/person/day donation to Friends of the River, a non-profit conservation organization dedicated to protecting California’s rivers, streams, and watersheds. One hundred percent of these funds go directly to Friends of the River, and your contribution is tax-deductible. This donation is voluntary and may be removed from your invoice if you choose not to participate.

Terms & Conditions

Reservations and Deposits

An $800/person deposit is required at the time of booking with final payment due 90 days before departure. Accounts on which final payment has not been received 80 days before the departure date will be canceled.

Payments can be made by check, money order, eCheck, wire transfer, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover. Prices are in US Dollars, and all payments must be made in US Dollars. Payment of the deposit establishes your acceptance of our complete Terms and Conditions. Individual departures and trip capacity are strictly limited by the managing agency. Your payment is fully refundable for 7 days, less a 3% processing fee, after making a reservation when you reserve a trip 7 days or more prior to the final payment due date.

Cancellations and Refunds

Canceling your trip after your deposit is processed will incur cancellation fees because OARS has absorbed costs on your behalf and will turn others away who would like to book the spaces we’re holding for you. If you must cancel your reservation after the rescission period described above, your cancellation fee will be determined according to the schedule below.

We regret that we cannot make exceptions to the cancellation policy for any reason, including foul weather, poor air quality, wildfire activity, acts of terrorism, civil unrest, or personal emergencies. For these reasons, we strongly urge you to consider purchasing a travel protection plan.

180 or more days before your trip$100/person
179 – 120 days before your trip$200/person
119 – 90 days before your trip$400/person. The remainder of your payment can be transferred to another trip within the same year (or to a credit account for the following year). No refund.
89 days or less before your tripFull fare

Please note that different deposit/cancellation policies may apply for charter groups. Refer to the group organizer’s confirmation email for details.

Canceled Trips

OARS reserves the right to cancel any trip due to insufficient registration or other factors that make the trip impractical to operate. In such instances, we will inform you at least 45 days prior to departure. Do not make non-refundable travel arrangements until you have verified with OARS that your trip is confirmed. 

If a trip must be canceled or postponed due to force majeure (factors outside the control of OARS), OARS will provide full credit for payments made toward future travel, or a refund less the initial deposit amount and any non-refundable payments made on your behalf to 3rd-party suppliers. OARS will make good faith efforts to recover deposits made on your behalf to 3rd-party suppliers, however, we cannot guarantee recovery of any or all of the advance payments made. OARS is not responsible for expenses incurred by participants in preparation for a canceled trip.


If you need to move your reservation to a different trip during the same season or to a credit account for the following year, there is a $50/person fee up until 120 days before departure for a one-time transfer of your payment. Transfer requests made 119 days or less before departure will be treated like a cancellation according to the schedule above.


Under most circumstances, if you are of an adventurous spirit and in reasonably good health, you should have no problem enjoying an OARS trip. People with medical conditions, including pregnancy, should have a physician’s approval before taking an adventure travel trip.

Travel Protection

Because there are costs that you will incur if you cancel the spaces on this trip that we’re now holding for you, or in the event you need to be evacuated during the trip due to an unforeseen illness or injury, we strongly encourage our guests to purchase an optional travel protection plan. A travel protection plan may help reimburse the cost of your pre-paid, non-refundable payments in the event you are prevented from taking your trip for a covered reason. Trip participants must understand that in the event of an illness or injury on a wilderness trip, evacuation can be prolonged, difficult, and expensive. Learn more about the plan we recommend.

Please note: To be eligible for coverage for pre-existing medical conditions, you must purchase the plan within 21 days of your initial trip payment, and you must be medically fit to travel at the time you pay for the plan.

Emergency Medical Evacuation coverage can be purchased as stand-alone coverage, independent of a comprehensive travel protection plan. You can get a quote for this type of policy by entering a Trip Cost amount of $0 when getting a quote.

Please note: By entering a Trip Cost amount of $0, the plan will not include Trip Cancellation coverage, and you may not be eligible for Emergency Medical Expense benefits relating to any pre-existing conditions.

Liability Release / Assumption of Risk

Everyone is required to sign a standard liability release / assumption of risk form before the trip, confirming awareness that there are inherent risks associated with the trip. Due to the nature of the activities, a condition of your participation is that you will sign this form and return it to our office before the trip begins. Anyone who refuses to sign the form will not be allowed to participate, and consistent with OARS cancellation policy, there will be no refund of the trip fees at that time.

Responsibility – An Important Notice

O.A.R.S. West, Inc. and cooperating agencies act only in the capacity of agent for the participants in all matters relating to transportation and/or all other related travel services and assume no responsibility however caused for injury, loss, or damage to person or property in connection with any service, including but not limited to that resulting directly or indirectly from acts of God, detention, annoyance, delays and expenses arising from quarantine, pandemics, strikes, theft, pilferage, force majeure, failure of any means of conveyance to arrive or depart as scheduled, civil disturbances, government restrictions or regulations, and discrepancies or change in transit over which it has no control. Reasonable changes in the itinerary may be made where deemed advisable for the comfort and wellbeing of the participants, including cancellation due to water fluctuation, insufficient bookings (this trip requires a minimum of 4 guests), and other factors. There is risk in whitewater rafting, particularly during high-water conditions. Rafts, dories, and kayaks do capsize. You could be swept overboard. Your guide will make every attempt to assist, but you must be strong and agile enough to “self-help” and “float-it-out” without further endangering yourself or others. We reserve the right not to accept guests weighing more than 260 pounds or with a waist/chest size exceeding 56 inches. We may decide, at any time, to exclude any person or group for any reason we feel is related to the safety of our trips. We are experienced in accommodating people with various disabilities. Please give us an opportunity to make you feel welcome. We need to discuss any special requirements ahead of time.

OARS trips occur in areas where unpredictable environmental conditions are to be expected. To moderate dangerous situations for our guests and guides, all travelers must obey the rules and regulations, as determined by the managing agencies and the Trip Leader, and demonstrate reasonable consideration for other guests and OARS employees. We reserve the right to remove any guest from a trip if, in our opinion, that guest’s actions or behaviors pose a threat to the safety of her/himself or others, or if those actions or behaviors compromise the enjoyment of the trip for others. Should a guest be asked to leave a trip, there will be no refund for the unused portion, nor will OARS be responsible for additional expenses incurred by the guest for accommodations, return transport, change fees, etc. Prices subject to change without notice. Upon advancement of deposit, the depositor agrees to be bound by the above-recited terms and conditions. OARS is an equal opportunity provider.

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