Summer Backpacking

Nature, New Friends & New Discoveries
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In the heart of California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range, Yosemite National Park is home to one of the world’s most striking and beloved landscapes. Towering granite domes, gushing waterfalls, and diverse forest and meadow habitats provide the perfect setting for endless exploration and exciting, hands-on environmental science research. This summer, you can avoid the crowds and see a side of Yosemite National Park that many will never encounter.

Summer 2020 Registration is Now Open
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Yosemite Trips

Also check out our Olympic Summer Backpacking programs! ->>>

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Why Join?


  • Hike through the stunning wilderness of a national park
  • Learn the basics of backpacking and backcountry travel
  • Live simply, bringing only what will fit into your (rather large) backpack


  • Use science to gain a deeper understanding of your natural surroundings
  • Conduct hands-on science projects
  • Apply your experience to high school capstone projects, college applications and job resumes


  • Strengthen your leadership skills
  • Test your decision-making skills as you alternate with your peers as one of two Leaders of the Day
  • Have fun and create long-lasting friendships
  • Apply your experience to high school capstone projects, college applications and job resumes
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Schedule, Prices and Financial Assistance

Enrollment & Tuition: Prices include all meals, lodging and educational experiences. Transportation costs to and from the NatureBridge campus are the responsibility of the participant.

Tiered Pricing:

We believe all students should have the opportunity to explore and learn in our national park classrooms. To make our Summer Backpacking programs financially feasible for all families, we use a tiered pricing system. 

How does it work? 

Determine which price your family is able to pay for your Summer Backpacking program and select this tier when you checkout on our registration page. Your choice is confidential and will have no effect on your child’s experience. 

Thank you for choosing the price that is right for your family’s circumstances and helps us to serve as many students as possible.

Tier A represents the full price of a Summer Backpacking program, covering the costs of our experienced educators, gear, food, transportation and all the other things that makes these experiences truly life-changing. If you are able to pay this price, please do so. 

Tier B represents a partially subsidized price in which we seek additional funding from grants and donors to cover our costs. 

Tier C We want all students to have the ability to attend a highly impactful backpacking program in our national parks. If your family needs financial assistance beyond Tier B, please apply using our online application form. Submit your application by March 1st for priority consideration.

Summer 2020 Programs Dates Cost (Tier A / Tier B)
Yosemite Science Expedition June 28 - July 11, 2020 $2,780 / $2,320
Yosemite Science Adventure June 14-20, 2020 $1,730 / $1,490
Yosemite Science Adventure: Middle School! June 14-20, 2020 $1,670 / $1,430
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Get Ready

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    Our Crane Flat campus is nestled in the forest on the northwest side of Yosemite National Park. The campus includes a cozy dining hall, a large dorm with bunk beds divided into male and female sections, a bathhouse, and a spacious outdoor area for group activities. The campus also has several trails that lead to local points of interest, like the famous Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias.

    Students at the Crane Flat campus in Yosemite

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    We can’t wait to see you this summer!

    Yosemite National Park is in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. It is your responsibility to get to and from Yosemite at the beginning and end of the course. Travel options are listed below. Please refer to the program-specific student packets under “Getting Prepared” for exact arrival/departure times.

    Travel by plane

    We offer a shuttle service, for a fee, to and from Fresno Yosemite International Airport on the first and last day of each session. Please review the student packet for your program before buying airline tickets to ensure that the arrival and departure times coordinate with our shuttle service. You can purchase this shuttle service while registering for the program on our online registration page.

    Travel by car

    If you’re planning to drive, indicate this on your online registration, or email Katie Draude, Summer Programs Manager, at kdraude@naturebridge.org so that we can help you arrange carpooling with other participants.

    Map and Directions

    Google Map of NatureBridge in Yosemite National Park. Route to Crane Flat Campus.

    When you arrive at the park

    Present your gate pass (you will receive this via email prior to your trip) at the park entrance to waive the park entrance fee. Tell the rangers at the gate that you are going to NatureBridge’s Crane Flat Campus (not Yosemite Valley), and they will direct you. Our Crane Flat Campus is on Highway 120, about one mile East of the Crane Flat gas station.

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    Ready, set, go!

    Unless you are an experienced backpacker, the thought of living in the wilderness for multiple days and nights can be a little daunting. Rest assured that our environmental science educators have a great deal of experience leading wilderness expeditions and will be able to help you live happily and comfortably in the backcountry.

    It is important that you arrive physically and emotionally prepared for the challenge. Our student packets will help you to prepare with a complete packing list and guidelines for buying or renting the right equipment and clothing.

    2020 Student Packets


    Registered Student Paperwork and Information

    Registered students must complete the following forms:

Our Team

The magic of NatureBridge begins with our staff. Our Summer Backpacking staff consists of three administrative members and 14 year-round environmental science educators. Scroll down to learn more about the people who make up this professional, well-qualified and fun group of people.

Summer Programs Manager Katie DraudeKatie Draude, Summer Programs Manager

Katie worked as an environmental educator for Olympic National Park and NatureBridge for three years, leading Summer Field Research Courses (the predecessor to the Olympic Science Expedition) each summer. Now, as the Summer Programs Manager, Katie enjoys finding ways to get more students backpacking in national parks. When not backpacking or thinking about backpacking, Katie enjoys canoeing on Lake Crescent, playing cribbage, and sipping coffee while watching the ships go by out her back window.


John PattonJohn Patton, Science Education Manager at Yosemite

John has spent the past 11 years helping to share the natural world with students as an environmental educator. Upon arriving in the mountains of California in 2010, John found a wild natural place to adventure in and call his home. When not looking under river rocks for tiny aquatic insects, John can be found skiing, fly fishing, snorkeling, and photographing the phenomena of the natural world.



Chris MorganChris Morgan, Science Education Manager at Olympic

Chris has been involved with connecting youth to the outdoors for 13 years.  He has spent 9 of those years working with NatureBridge trying to provide meaningful wilderness experiences to students both as an educator as and as someone working behind the scenes.  When not trying to help get others outside, you can find Chris getting muddy, wet, and snowy in the forests, rivers, ocean, and mountains of the Olympic Peninsula.


Our Educators

Though we can't guarantee who your NatureBridge educators will be, we can promise you that they will be fantastic. Our educators are highly qualified and passionate about the natural world. During the school year, they teach for NatureBridge's Environmental Science Program, working with K-12 school groups in our national park locations. Every educator is trained in Wilderness First Responder and CPR, and has multiple years of teaching experience in formal or informal settings. We maintain a 1:7 ratio adult to teen participant ratio, which works out to two educators per trail group at all times.

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Contact Us

Katie Draude
Summer Programs Manager

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Where to

Find Us

NatureBridge at Yosemite
P.O. Box 487
Yosemite National Park, CA 95389

Katie Draude
Summer Programs Manager

Go backpacking with NatureBridge this summer!