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The Bus Trip Program

Dear Friends,

We planned 6 wonderful bus trips for 2020, but the Covid-19 Pandemic has changed everything.  We cancelled the March trip to the Tonto National Forest.  Everyone that signed up got a full refund.  We have now cancelled our May trip to the Grand Canyon, and the July trip to Hoover Wilderness.

We urge you to keep checking this website for up to the minute reports.  Our trips are fully planned, and we have all the permits.  However, we won't take signups until it is safe.

Hopefully, a vaccine will be developed soon, and we will be able to safely travel together again.

Mike Fry and the Bus Trip Committee

Since 1982 the San Diego Chapter has been offering bus trips to a variety of National and State Parks within an eight hour drive of San Diego.

Part of the largest grassroots environmental organization in the country, Sierra Club provides environmentally friendly outdoor adventures.

What makes these bus trips special is that they are organized by a fantastic team of volunteer leaders who do not get paid for their efforts. They do it out of an appreciation for these special places, and a passion for sharing them with you. Bus Trips include transportation by motorcoach unless otherwise specified, camping permits, backcountry backpacking permits, route planning and the expertise of our Chapter Outings Leaders. We look forward to having you join us on a bus trip to explore, enjoy and protect the planet.




Backpacking Trips

All of our backpacking trips are led by Sierra Club Chapter Outing Leaders. On each bus trip we offer a minimum of 4 backpack outing trips. We do our best to offer a variety of backpack trips from easy to difficult. We utilized a rating system to provide you with guidance on selecting a backpack that is in alignment with your fitness level and backpacking experience. The backpack trips are usually five days and four nights in duration. On some trips, you will backpack in to a remote location and set up camp and go on day hikes each day. On other trips you will backpack and travel from campsite to campsite each day. As we will be in the wilderness, restroom facilities, showers, tap water, restaurants and stores will not be available, therefore, you will need to bring all your food, cooking supplies, gear and water filtration/treatment products with you. If you have never backpacked before, we highly recommend taking the Wilderness Basics Course

Bus Camping & Day Hikes

Camping Bus Trips

Camping Bus Trips are also usually five day and four night trips. On these trips the bus will drop us off at a campsite usually in a National or State Park and we will set up a base camp. We offer a number of day hikes each day led by Sierra Club Chapter Outings Leaders that range from easy to hard or you may have the option of going on a self-guided hike. Depending on the location, the bus will take us to our trail head, we will use locally provided transportation or depart from our campground.

Pre-Trip Planning Meeting

Pre-Trip Planning Meeting

A few weeks before the bus trip, we will hold a pre-trip meeting where you will get to meet your leaders and the other participants on the trip. We will review general information about the trip, and you will have the opportunity to have your questions answered. In addition, the leaders will elaborate on the details of your outing, review plans, maps and required gear. You will have the opportunity to connect with other participants on the trip and discuss gear sharing. We will review the departure location information and what to expect on the bus.



Transportation is provided by San Diego's most trusted charter service. Our trips take us to some areas that can be quite challenging for a motorcoach to navigate. We developed a relationship with a team of dependable professional drivers to meet our unique needs.  Our bus of choice is a 47 seat passenger luxury MCI motorcoach with the following features:

  • Air Conditioning
  • Reclining Seats
  • Restroom-equipped
  • Privacy Shades
  • Large Overhead Compartments
  • Luggage Bays
What to Expect on the Bus

What to Expect on the Bus

The great part about not driving yourself is you don't have to worry about traffic and can relax and enjoy the view, eat, sleep, read a book, watch a movie on your tablet or smartphone, or talk to your neighbor. Seat selection on the bus is based on a priority system of when you signed up for the trip and your presence at the time of seating. On the ride up to our destination, we will do introductions and get to know one another. Depending on the length of our bus ride, we have a rest stop at the half-way junction to stretch our legs and grab a bite to eat. On our return trip home, every outing group is encouraged to share their trip's experience.

Post Trip Gathering

Post Trip Gathering

A few weeks after the trip, we all get back together for a post trip gathering. We set up a slide show for everyone to share their favorite pictures and videos and recount stories about their experience. Depending on the venue, participants are encouraged to bring a potluck meal to share and friends and family are welcome to join in on the post trip gathering.

Yosemite National Park

August 12-16, 2020

Our August Bus Trip features a number of trips in Yosemite National Park. Yosemite is home to fabulous granite faces, majestic domes, and striking peaks standing above expansive green meadows. Beautiful, glacier-filled lakes offer refreshing afternoon dips and create rushing streams and spectacular waterfalls. It is one of the finest of our national parks. John Muir called Yosemite "...the grandest of all the special temples of Nature I was ever permitted to enter." Join us as we explore the less crowded areas of this temple north of the Valley.

We will be offering a car camp as well as several backpacking trips of varying degrees of difficulty.  We will travel in a chartered, air-conditioned bus.  Participants must provide their own meals and camping equipment.  Please check the information under the resources tab for more information about what to bring.  Upon registration, you will receive an email confirmation and information about an optional pre-trip meeting to meet your leaders and ask questions (highly recommended for first-timers). A hand-out will also be available with suggestions about what to pack, weather, safety tips, etc.  Please check out the documents found under the Resources Tab for more information.

Visit our Trip Rating System to determine which Backpacking Trip is right for you.

Trip #1
Tuolumne Meadows Car Camp
Leader: Sharon Rhodes Leader: TBD
Trip Rating: M
Event capacity: 11

Our group campsite at Tuolumne Meadows (8,700 ft) is in a great spot to easily access nearby trailheads, the store and cafe, and the park shuttle which will hopefully be in operation this year. The dayhike format will allow us to sample some of the most beautiful scenery in the area, as we have many hiking options and are limited only by how far we are willing to walk. This trip is intended for hikers who are fit, have had recent experience at altitudes up to 9,000 ft, and want to explore the area by hiking each day. We will hike at a moderate pace on well-used trails, with ample stops for snacks, lunch and enjoying our surroundings. Possible options include: hiking along the beautiful Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River, up to 8 miles RT with 500 ft elevation gain. walk to Lembert Dome 4.5 miles RT with 700 ft elevation, Cathedral Lakes Trail, 7 miles RT with 1000 ft elevation gain, Glen Aulin Trail to Tuolumne Falls and White Cascade, up to 10 miles RT with 500 ft elevation gain, Sunrise Lakes Trail from Tenaya Lake, 7 miles RT with 1300 ft elevation gain. This is an amazing area for exploration, and our spectacular surroundings will not disappoint.

Trip #2
Basecamp Backpack
Polly Dome Lakes Base Camp
Leader: Monica Elrod, Assistant Leader: TBD
Trip Rating: M3B
Event capacity 5

# of back pack days: 2, # of back pack miles: 6, # of dayhike miles: 30+ (optional)

This trip features a relatively short backpack with extended day hikes. It is perfect for those who like to hike, but do not particularly like to carry a pack. Our backpacking trail roughly parallels Murphy Creek; climbing through shaded Lodgepole forests with abundant wildflowers and crossing large granite slabs before a short, cross-country trek to our camp site next to shallow Polly Dome Lake. After setting up camp, we will head off on our first day hike to May Lake (10 miles, 1200 feet). Subsequent day hikes include: Ten Lakes Basin Trail (8-10 miles, 1500 feet gain and loss), and Glen Aulin (12 miles,1200 feet).

Trip #3
Twenty Lakes Basin
Leader: PJ Jeffery, Assistant Leader: TBD
Trip Rating: M5B
Event capacity: 4

Number of Backpack Days: 3, Number of Backpack Miles: 11.5, Number of Day Hike Miles: 10 - 14 miles

We will be treated to breathtaking alpine scenery throughout our trip. Besides the scenic lakes, North Peak, Mount Conness, the Shepherd Crest and the Tioga Crest will dominate our views. We will also be rewarded with meadows dotted with a wide variety of wildflowers, colorful crags, lovely waterfalls and cascading streams. There will be multiple opportunities for swimming, fishing, and photography. Much of the outing is above 10,000 feet. Participants should be comfortable hiking at high altitudes while carrying a backpack.
We will start at Saddlebag Lake, which is located just east of Yosemite National Park. After stopping at Hummingbird Lake , we will spend our first night at Lake Helen (4 miles, +/-500 feet) with an optional dayhike up Lundy Canyon (5-8 miles +/-2000 feet). Continuing on our path, we will explore the lakes along the north and west sides of the loop with an optional dayhike to the Hess Mine (1 mile, +/-300 feet). Nights two and three will be spent at Greenstone Lake (3 miles +/-300 feet) . On our layover day, there will be an optional dayhike to Conness Lakes. On our final day, we backpack out 4.5 miles to Tioga Pass Lodge to meet the bus (+100/ - 400 feet). The final 2.5 are on a dirt road.

Trip #4
Porcupine Creek to Sunrise Lake
Leader: Mike Fry, Assistant Leader: TBD
Trip Rating: M6C
Event capacity: 5

# of back pack days: 4, # of back pack miles: 18.4, # of dayhike miles: 2 (optional)

See Joe's Guide to Yosemite:
There are many outstanding views from the North Rim of Yosemite Valley, and this backpack visits 5 of them. Total backpack mileage is 18.4 mi. Total elevation gain is -3300', +3620'. Total day hike miles = 2 mi.
Thurs, August 13, Backpack 4.5 mi from Porcupine Creek to North Dome, +800' -1400'. Pick up 3 qts water at Lehamite Creek and carry 1.4 mi to campsite. 0.5 mi day hike to North Dome and amazing view of Half Dome and Yosemite Valley.
Fri, August 14. Backpack over Indian Ridge and down to Snow Creek, 6 miles, +700', -1400'. 0.3 mi dayhike to Indian Rock and the only natural arch in Yosemite.
Sat, August 15. Backpack 4.1 mi and camp on Mt. Watkins, +1800'. More outstanding views of Half Dome and Cloud's Rest. Pick up 3 qts of water 2 miles before camp. Visit historic Snow Creek cabin.
Sun, August 16. Backpack to Sunrise Lake to meet our bus.

Trip #5
Waterfalls and Swimming Holes of Yosemite’s Grandest Canyon
Leader: April Armijo, Assistant Leader: Mark Lipschutz
Trip Rating: H10E
Event capacity: 5

# of backpack days: 4, # of backpack miles: 33, # of day hike miles: 6 (optional)

John Muir described the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne as “quintessential Yosemite”. Traversing this spectacular canyon from White Wolf to Tenaya Lake begins with a steep descent on Day 1 into Pate Valley to camp beside the roaring Tuolumne River, with its famed swimming holes, surrounded by lush trees and meadow. The roughly 3800’ descent over 10 miles paves the way for the next three glorious days as we gradually climb in the footsteps of John Muir, enjoying almost a dozen waterfalls including Waterwheel, Tuolumne, and Le Conte, while gazing at steep glacially carved granite walls from within Muir Gorge.
The leader prefers to hike in cool morning temperatures, giving ample time for leisurely afternoons basking in the warm sun while enjoying the cascading water adjacent to our camp. The temperatures in the Canyon are usually much warmer than in the High Sierra, ideal for swimming or enjoying excellent fishing for fishers carrying a rod and valid California fishing license.
Our second and third nights will be spent in the vicinity of the multiple falls and Glen Aulin with ample time to hike and explore. As an option, we will climb Wildcat Point, considered to be to the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne what Clouds Rest is to Yosemite Valley, the ideal vantage to appreciate the panoramic vistas and numerous granite domes jutting skyward. Instead, perhaps some individuals may prefer to sleep in or lounge around camp.
The distance we travel each day will be determined by group interest, weather and available campsites. It is possible that a day or two may exceed 10 miles and 2500 feet of elevation gain. So, if you are a strong hiker who has recently demonstrated the ability to thrive on a trip of similar difficulty please sign up. If in doubt please contact the leader with questions.

Trip #6
Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne Backpack
Leader: Diane Hargrove, Assistant Leader: Tanya Ingorvate
Trip Rating: S10E
Event capacity: 5

# of backpack days: 4, # of backpack miles: 31, # of day hike miles: 0

Description: Enjoy a classic point-to-point journey through the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River in Yosemite National Park – spectacular but exhausting. We will start at Tuolumne Meadows and finish at White Wolf with 4 days of backpacking, 6-10 miles per day, 4000+ feet elevation loss followed by 4000+ ft of elevation gain over a total of 31 miles. This trip has it all, gorgeous scenery, steep granite walls and carved slabs, a deep gorge, the roar of the River, waterfall after waterfall, and pristine swimming holes for cool refreshing breaks. Participants for this trip must be experienced backpackers in good condition with very strong knees.

Trip 7
Yosemite Bus Trip - Staff and Leader
This trip signup is for LEADERS ONLY.
Event capacity: 12

Space: Limited to 47 participants (including leaders and assistants)

Cost: $225

Registration Opens: June 26, 2020 at 6:00 a.m.

Pre-trip Meeting: Tuesday, August 4, 2020 at 6:15 pm at the University Community Branch Library, 4155 Governor Dr.San Diego, CA 92122  

Departure: August 12, 2020 at 12:00 noon

Return: August 16, 2020 at approximately 9:00 pm

For more information: Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., the trip coordinator.

Explore, enjoy and protect the planet