Use the chart below to help schedule your travel. Below the chart, I’ve noted some additional items that need lengthier explanations.
For easier viewing, open this chart in a new window.
For meet-up points and important landmarks, consult this map. Some locations are not yet finalized, and this map will need updating.
At the “Briefing,” we will:
- Make introductions;
- Update you on conditions;
- Distribute breakfast & dinner rations, demo gear, and paper maps;
- Check over your gear, and weigh your full pack.
The guides normally arrive at the briefing location about an hour early to set up. If you have been instructed otherwise or if feel that you need a lot of help in checking your gear, you can arrive early as well, but please by no more than 30 minutes.
If you are able to drive to the meet-up location, be within at least three hours to avoid an absurd early-morning start.
Air travel and public transit
If you are flying in, you will need to arrive the day before. For high-elevation locations, it’s best to arrive two days beforehand.
You can fly out at the end of the last day, so long as you can make the timing work. Please don’t schedule a flight that is so early that your group is forced to exit unnaturally early on the final day. If you’re unsure if your departure time is late enough, contact Andrew.
The closest major airports are:
- Las Vegas: 4 hrs 45 min
- Salt Lake City: 4 hrs 45 min
Thankfully, it’s a very scenic drive from either hub. Depending on whether your trip starts in Escalante or Boulder, one of these airports may be more expedient.
Denver is another option, but it’s a much longer drive, at over 8 hours.
The closest airports serve Washington DC, and are about three hours east. Use Baltimore-Washington (BWI), Dulles (IAD), or Reagan (DCA).
The town of Seneca Rocks is equidistant to Spruce Knob and Dolly Sods. It has basic services, including lodging, restaurants, and a small grocery store.
Fly into Fairbanks (FAI). From airports in the Pacific Northwest (SEA, PDX), you’ll enjoy one of the most scenic flights in the world along the coastline. Pick a seat on the east/right side of the plane.
The groups will meet in Fairbanks. From there, we’ll fly to Bettles on a 9-passenger Cessna, and then from Bettles into the Brooks Range, on a 9-passenger Otter or two 5-passenger Beavers.
To exit, we will reverse our route. Or, if we plot our route to finish in Anaktuvuk Pass, we can fly directly to Fairbanks.
Mammoth Yosemite (MMH) is the closest airport to Yosemite National Park. But only United Airlines and Alaska Airlines offer flights into it, and connect only with Los Angeles, Denver, and San Francisco. More practical airports, in order of drive-time to Tuolumne Meadows, include:
- Reno-Tahoe (RNO): 2 hr 55 min
- Fresno-Yosemite (FAT): 3 hr 30 min
- Sacramento (SMF): 4 hr 0 min
- Oakland (OAK): 4 hr 5 min
- San Jose (SJC): 4 hr 20 min
- Los Angeles (LAX): 5 hr 35 min
- Las Vegas (LAS): 5 hr 50 min
Tuolumne Meadows can be reached via public transit. Use Greyhound, Amtrak, or Eastern Sierra Transit to reach one of the gateway towns such as Merced or Lee Vining. Then take a YARTS bus to Tuolumne.
The California and Colorado trips are at high altitudes, and non-acclimatized clients may experience acute mountain sickness (e.g. headache, nausea, loss of appetite). To minimize the risk of consequential symptoms, you are encouraged to spend at least the night before the trip at altitude. If you have the time, make it two nights — there are plenty of things to do nearby.
If you live at altitude, you are exempt from this recommendation. However, you should still try to occasionally get into the high country before your trip — the air is a lot thinner at 12k than 5k.
In Colorado, stay in Grand Lake, Granby, Winter Park, Estes Park, or similar.
In California, consider a motel in Mammoth Lakes or the Tuolumne Meadows Campground. Secure a vehicle site by reservation (recommended) or walk-up. You can also stay in the Backpackers Campground the night before and after your trip. You will need a copy of my backcountry permit reservation; I will email it to you.
Your schedule and travel is more involved than other groups.
A detailed planning document with all the details will be shared with you.