on location: west ❖ estled among natural monuments, vineyards and historic Gold Rush landmarks, Mariposa County is more than just California’s gateway to Yosemite National Park. Alive with possibilities for group travelers, it’s a worldclass destination for all seasons, with picture-postcard scenery, friendly locals, charming foothill communities and, of course, great outdoor recreation. Spring comes early in Mariposa County and is an ideal time for group trips. There is nothing quite like watching Yosemite’s winter wonderland trans-
form into the sights and sounds of spring. With three of the tallest waterfalls in North America and wildflowers unlike any others, Mariposa County beckons groups to witness the springtime splendor. Besides unmatchable scenery, the area offers endless activities, from hiking, golfing and rafting to fishing, cycling and horseback riding. To see what Mariposa County has to offer, you really need a week to 10 days to take it all in. But groups can see and
do a lot on a three-day/two-night spring itinerary that begins at lunchtime in historic downtown Mariposa, where the Butterfly Cafe is highly recommended. (Mariposa, named for the Spanish word for butterfly, is gearing up for the annual Mariposa Butterfly Festival April 29May 1.) After lunch, head over to must-see museums like the California State Mining and Mineral Museum, the Gold Rush History Center, Mariposa County Historical Courthouse and the Old Jail House. (This is a good time
CaliforniA Mariposa County, home of Yosemite, abounds with group-friendly delights in the heart of the Golden State Rafting on the Merced River is popular with groups. There are many outfitters to choose from.
All Photos Courtesy of DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc.
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A stop at Tunnel View captures the majesty of Yosemite National Park.
on location: west ❖ for the driver to drop luggage at your hotel.) Once you’ve explored the rich history of Mariposa, a perfect next stop is Casto Oaks Fine Wine & Art, where you can enjoy beautiful artwork while sampling wines. Before dinner, work in some time for shopping in downtown’s antique shops, art galleries and boutiques. Restaurants offer everything from casual fare to fine dining with wine pairing from a local winery. By day two, it’s time for the wonders of Yosemite National Park. Groups enjoy the drive along scenic Highway 140, “The All Season Motorcoach Highway,” that follows the Merced River, known for its Class 3 and 4 whitewater rafting
in late spring and summer. You’ll soon arrive at the Yosemite Valley floor. As winter recedes, the park comes to life in dramatic fashion. Roaring waterfalls are at their peak. After taking a two-hour narrated valley tour, enjoy a buffet lunch served at the Garden Terrace at Yosemite Lodge. After lunch, visit the Ansel Adams Gallery, the Indian Museum, the Yosemite Cemetery, Indian Cultural Exhibit, Historical Post Office, and save time for souvenir shopping. Then check into Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, a splendid lodging choice for enjoying the full impact of the waterfalls. After breakfast at your hotel on day three, save time to shop and stroll before boarding your motorcoach and depart the Yosemite Valley on the Highway 41
Yosemite’s Wawona Golf Course is the only golf course in a national park. 58 April 2011
corridor. Stop by Inspiration Point (also known as Tunnel View) for a stunning vista. Also stop by Wawona Pioneer History Center and look for deer grazing on the only golf course in a national park. Once outside the park, stop by Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad. It’s all aboard for a one-hour narrated steam train excursion over rails used for logging at the turn of the 20th century. An outdoor barbecue awaits your return to the station. The Sugar Pine Railroad is only minutes away from Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite, an upscale resort perfect for group conferences, reunions, weddings and retreats. You just may want to stop there and take in a massage at the all new Ascent, the Spa at Tenaya Lodge. Groups lucky enough to spend three days immersed in the history and splendor of Yosemite and Mariposa County will come away feeling they have seen the best of California. For more information, contact the Yosemite/Mariposa County Tourism Bureau at 866-425-3366; homeofyosemite.com. LGT Obtain California visitor guides and itineraries – and contact groupfriendly suppliers directly – at leisuregrouptravel.com/instant-info LeisureGroupTravel.com