“Yosemite Park is a place of rest, a refuge from the roar and dust and weary, nervous, wasting work of the lowlands, in which one gains the advantages of both solitude and society….This one noble park is big enough and rich enough for a whole life of study and aesthetic enjoyment. It is good for everybody, no matter how benumbed with care, encrusted with a mail of business habits like a tree with bark. None can escape its charms. Its natural beauty cleans and warms like a fire, and you will be willing to stay forever in one place like a tree. – John Muir, famed naturalist and author

Students in Recreation Administration 87: A Yosemite Experience had the opportunity to see firsthand Muir’s words come to life as they explored the majestic national park for their experiential course this past fall. 

The course is part of the Outdoor Recreation and Natural Resource Management option, in the Department of Recreation Administration, which is meant to provide students with an understanding and appreciation for outdoor recreation opportunities. 

Under the direction of Dr. Jason Whiting, the students were tasked with learning in-depth about Yosemite including its vibrant history and how it’s used today in park planning, recreation, and tourism. In previous years, the course would wrap up with an overnight field trip to the park, encompassing the whole class.

This year, to comply with safety regulation and physical distancing measures, students were asked to visit the park by themselves or those they live with and participate in a scavenger hunt of some of Yosemite’s most iconic spots and even some hidden features. Here are some of their experiences in their own words! 

Julia Mendez 


“This was my very first trip to Yosemite and honestly it was fun filled and memorable from the very start. The drive was very exhausting, we actually got ‘lost’ and ended up driving about an hour longer than expected. But, we got to see a lovely scenery as we drove past Bass Lake. Once we finally arrived to Yosemite, it was honestly not as cold as I expected, the weather was quite nice. All around, each way that you turned  you were left speechless. The drive through the long tunnel opened up to this amazing view, it was the first glance to take my breath away. 

One of the pictures listed on the scavenger hunt was the boulder with the lightning bolt painted in white. I had made it my mission to definitely find that boulder. This task was not so easy so I had to ask a park ranger for some guidance. When we finally made it to Camp 4 we ran into this very friendly man who so happened to be none other than Mr. Ron Kauk, the very first man to ever climb up that boulder with the thunder bolt back in 1978. I had no clue who this man was. Something told me to ask if maybe he knew the significance of the thunderbolt on the rock. Seeing that man’s face light up like it did was priceless. He shared so much neat information and stories from back when camp 4 was home to many rock climbers just like him. The lightning bolt on the boulder is in fact made out of chalk by the rock climbers that visit the camp site and successfully reach the top of the boulder, just as he did. I also learned the name of the boulder is Midnight Lightning.


All in all, this trip was a very neat experience and I hope to soon pay Yosemite another visit. This time I won’t get lost and actually have a better chance to explore more of the park and its amazing scenery.”

David Marez-Lopez

“The view was nice, but I get the most enjoyment in nature because I feel so small in it. I imagined standing and being compared to all the big mountains we pasted on the way to our next stop with awe. I also imagined what I would do if I got lost in the forest area.

It was a cold, wet, long walking experience, and I was able to rediscover my love for hiking. School takes up too much time, but having this assignment was an excuse to enjoy nature on the weekend.


The bear driving the car full of food that almost hit me is a warning to let everyone know that they are putting themselves at risk by showing up to Yosemite with food if they do not store it properly. It has information that talks about the black bear population that the park is home to, as well as how they have a great sense of smell that can detect food even in a sealed package or a canned food. They are said to be smart enough to get into cars, as well as to know that ice chest and grocery bags can have snacks. It should be common knowledge, but it is there for anyone who might not be aware and it probably draws the attention of children.”

Michael Derry


“Lower Yosemite Falls was one of the small little hikes we did. I have also never been to this area besides seeing it from the meadows. This is a very popular trail for tourists, since the trail is only one mile and you get to see the famous Yosemite Falls waterfall. There was no water this time around, but it was still cool to witness. The best time to go is the spring and early summer times. I have also heard you can very much get wet from the mist of the falls. When we made it to the waterfall, sleet began to fall. We took our pictures and headed back down the trail, barely making it to the car before the sleet worsened. So, that was something that I have never experienced.  

The Indian Village of Ahwahnee was right behind the Museum. This was cool to see. My grandpa is a half Chickasaw Indian, so seeing the homes of the Miwok people was something. I really liked that Ceremonial Roundhouse. I learned that it was used for ceremonial activities. The bark houses are something I have only seen in books or pictures, so seeing them for the first time is strange. How did families live in them? Make me think of my grandpa and stories he used to tell us when we were younger. The sweathouse was also interesting to look out. It was used to remove human scent for the men to go out hunting and get closer to their prey.”


Yesenia Becerra Lorenzo

“After driving another 20 minutes from the tunnel view you come across Yosemite Valley with various trails to explore. We decided to stop here at Sentinel Meadow and Cook’s Meadow Loop. A simple 2.25 mile round trip hike that captures various viewpoints of Yosemite Falls and Half-Dome. Unfortunately, during this visit, there was no water flow at Yosemite Falls as shown in the picture above, but the impact the water leaves on the granite rock is clearly seen. My favorite part of this hike was going by the Merced River and touching the freezing water and looking at the orange hue the grass gives off. 


Descending towards Yosemite Valley, you are amazed by the orange, yellows, and reds of the leaves that are falling from the trees and that’s when I finally realized this is what Fall is supposed to look like. There was a quick random stop in the middle of the road due to an expected visitor, a black bear! Once we made it to Yosemite Valley we started the scavenger hunt.

Overall, I had a great experience visiting Yosemite National Park during the fall. This was my third time visiting, but this time around I got to visit new areas of the park and learn about different landmarks as well as the history of past inhabitants. Can’t wait to plan my next trip!

To learn more about this RA 87 course, contact Dr. Jason Whiting at jawhiting@csufresno.edu or visit the Department of Recreation Administration website