Current Conditions

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NatureBridge is shifting gears to summer programs in Yosemite! Check back for seasonal updates and as conditions evolve throughout the year.

Current Conditions: June in Yosemite is characterized by water; melting snowpack, swelling rivers, gushing waterfalls, and flooded meadows and wetlands. As June fades into July, the landscape starts to dry out creating conditions that are favorable for wildfire in the Sierra Nevada. Fire is a natural and critical part of California landscapes. While fires are possible throughout the year, peak fire season in Central California usually begins in June or July and runs through late October or November. NatureBridge closely monitors emerging fires in the Yosemite area and associated air quality concerns.  

The Yosemite Director Team meets consistently to assess current conditions and ensure it is safe to run programs. Decisions are made in partnership with the National Park Service and other park partners. Should conditions necessitate a change in program, NatureBridge will be in touch with the School Group Coordinator with updates and next steps. Please reach out directly to your school contact for updates on potential program changes. 

French Fire: NatureBridge is closely monitoring the French Fire burning in Mariposa County. We are working with local officials and the National Park Service to stay up to date with current information and will notify the group coordinator from your school if there are any impacts to your program. Highway 140 between Mariposa and Yosemite National Park will reopen with access to Yosemite National Park on 7/5/2024. 

Summer Program Activities #

Summer programs are based at our Crane Flat campus, located on HWY 120, away from the hustle and bustle of Yosemite Valley crowds. The rustic setting is peaceful and quiet, away from stores, large crowds and other distractions. The campus lends itself to an exploration of high-elevation flora and fauna and hands-on learning about fire ecology. Days on trail may include hiking to Crane Flat meadow, an active fire lookout tower or the Tuolumne Grove directly from the campus. Participants should be prepared to hike up to five miles a day.

Groups who have their own transportation on-site may take a field trip to other locations within the park, including: 

  • Yosemite Valley for iconic views of waterfalls and towering granite monoliths
  • Hetch Hetchy Valley for a lesson in California watersheds
  • Tuolumne Meadows for site-seeing in the high country or a hike up to May Lake or Lembert Dome

Average temperatures can reach mid-90's in the summer months. NatureBridge policies prohibit swimming during our program. Participants can enter water that is no deeper than their knees, so long as they are supervised by a NatureBridge educator. There is nowhere to enter water on our Crane Flat campus.

Lodging and Meals #

Our Crane Flat campus is at an elevation of 6,200 feet and is a picturesque example of an upper montane environment, including shady red fir forests, beautiful meadows and the nearby Tuolumne Grove of giant sequoias. 

The campus offers dorm-style lodging with two sets of dorms. Participants sleep on bunk beds and chaperones share gender-aligned sleeping spaces with students. Participants will need to bring pillows, sleeping bags and towels, as these items are not provided. Crane Flat’s capacity is 60 participants total. A group may have sole use of the campus or share common spaces with one other NatureBridge group, depending on group sizes. Refer to Lodging FAQs for additional information on lodging at Crane Flat.

All meals are provided by NatureBridge during your program. Participants enjoy delicious, healthy foods prepared by NatureBridge cooks that are appropriate for high-activity days. Breakfasts and dinners are served in the on-campus dining hall and lunch is eaten out on trail. Most dietary restrictions can be accommodated. Refer to Food Allergy FAQs for more details. 

Please note that during high precipitation years, Crane Flat groundwater levels can be impacted and conservative water usage efforts may be in place (as mandated by the state of CA). Restrictions include limits on the number of showers per participant, disposable cutlery for meals, etc. If such a mandate is in place, you will be notified prior to your group’s arrival. 

Prepare for Your Program #

Resources are available to prepare yourself and/or your student for a NatureBridge program. Our Students, Families & Chaperones page has a wealth of information including a list of forms required for all NatureBridge participants, student and adult chaperone expectations, a packing list and links to other helpful resources. 

  • Hydration: Summer at Crane Flat can reach average temperatures in the mid-90's. It is extremely important to pack extra water bottles to ensure that participants have the ability to carry enough water to stay hydrated for a whole day in the field. We recommend a 2-3 liter capacity for carrying water. 
  • Bugs: Warmer temperatures create a welcoming environment for mosquitos and other bugs. Please prepare your students with plenty of bug spray and/or protective layers for the duration of their stay at Crane Flat. 
  • Bear Safety: A common question that NatureBridge staff receive from parents/guardians is “Are there bears in Yosemite?” The short answer is “YES!” Yosemite National Park is home to around 300-500 black bears. During student orientation, students learn about black bears and what they should do if they encounter one. Our Crane Flat campus is equipped with bear boxes where participants are instructed to put any food or “smelly” items to keep themselves (and the bears) safe. Seeing a bear can often be the highlight of a student's time in Yosemite and we do everything we can to prepare them to have a positive experience. Visit the Yosemite National Park Bears page for more information. 
  • Traffic and parking: It is not uncommon for there to be a long line of cars waiting for their turn to pass through the entrance stations into Yosemite National Park. Even with the new implementation of a reservation system by the National Park Service, wait times can exceed one hour on weekends and holidays! Parking at popular areas within the park—especially Yosemite Valley locations—can be extremely limited, often filling to capacity by 10:00 a.m. It is important to plan ahead and arrive early to mitigate the stress of limited parking and traffic congestion. Our operations team will provide you with a waiver to sidestep the reservation system.