Work with National Park Service trail crew to help improve and maintain trails in Yosemite Valley. Restore fragile natural resources damaged by visitor use, while enjoying vistas of the incredible granite walls. Yosemite Valley is 4,000 feet above sea level, which can pose a challenge for some, though past volunteers were a wide range of ages and abilities. No prior trail maintenance or restoration experience is required. We train you in all aspects of the work. As always, your education and safety are priorities. Tasks vary, but you should be able to hike up to two miles a day on mountainous terrain with some steep ascents and uneven trails, move soil or rock with a shovel, pull unwanted vegetation, and carry stones.
You may: use a pick or shovel to contour trail tread to shed water, cut and move vegetative plugs or branches to camouflage abandoned trails and slow running water, remove rocks or abandoned asphalt from the trail tread with rock bars, clip vegetation with a lopper or hand saw to improve trail safety, and/or move crushed rock or stone to create a dry walking surface.
Yosemite Valley is a wonderful place to volunteer. Conservation Volunteers International Program is pleased to offer this exciting opportunity to protect a national treasure.
Look through the tabs on the left for more details about the itinerary, price and gear list or to read reviews and prior trip reports
What follows is a general description of activities you can expect on the Yosemite itinerary. Please note, however, that every trip is unique. Because local conditions and the Park’s needs continually evolve, detailed plans are often finalized or revised after the group arrives and the trip leaders review the conditions at the site in light of the capabilities and special interests of the volunteers. As volunteers successfully complete conservation and restoration activities, new activities or areas can be targeted on subsequent days, which may result in a modified Yosemite itinerary.
Day 1: We meet for orientation at 2:30 p.m. at the Upper Pines Campground in the heart of Yosemite Valley. Here, you’ll get an overview of scheduled projects, as well as training in proper tool use. We stay in the Upper Pines Campground the entire trip. Hot breakfasts and dinners (including meat and vegetarian options) are prepared and served from a mobile kitchen at our campsite.
Days 2 – 5: We begin the day with breakfast, then prepare our own box lunches from the ingredients provided. We then travel a short distance to the day’s project in Yosemite Valley. We work from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. with an hour off for lunch. We return to camp for dinner and relaxation.
Day 6: On this rest day, trip participants are free to explore Yosemite or relax in the campground.
Day 7: The project ends after breakfast this morning. You may stay longer by making reservations at other campgrounds or lodging in the park.
Note: Although we do our very best to adhere to the schedule above, the itinerary is subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control, including weather and terrain conditions. Work locations may vary with each volunteer expedition according to the needs of park rangers at the time the expedition takes place.
$990 for seven days
(Note: Your trip expense may be tax-deductible. Please see our Frequently Asked Questions page and consult your tax advisor for details.)
- all meals from dinner on Day 1 through breakfast on Day 7
- campground reservations
- project leadership and support staff
- group tools
- transportation to and from worksites
- orientation and training
- park entrance fees
Price does not include:
- transportation to/from Upper Pines Campground, Yosemite National Park
- camping gear (you must bring your own tent, sleeping bag and sleeping pad)
- cost of medical immunizations
- insurance (emergency medical and evacuation insurance is mandatory for this trip )
- excess baggage charges
- airport taxes
- alcoholic beverages or soft drinks
- gratuities and personal items
Deposit and Cancellation
Payment for the trip is due at the time reservation is made. Cancellations requested 91 or more days before departure incur a $300 fee; at 31-90 days before departure, 50% of the trip cost will be forfeited. At 30 days or less, the trip cost is non-refundable.
Group Size: 8 – 12 plus trip leaders
The key to staying comfortable while on an active trip is layering. To get maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation, ventilation and weather protection. The gear list has been created to help you in choosing your equipment for the trip. View the Gear List PDF.
Average rating: 41 reviews
Dec 3, 2021
Can’t Get Enough
I had been to Yosemite a half dozen times before as a normal tourist and felt a desire to give back to this extraordinary place and to support ConservationVIP’s very worthy mission. What I got in return was a true gift. It was another real life example that it is in giving that one truly receives. So what makes me say this? Let me count the ways…
I grew up in Iowa and spent much of my career in Dallas, so for a flatlander who grew up a plowboy that turned businessman, going to the mountains is always a treat. Well, almost always, I spent the previous week at Lake Tahoe which is another amazing place - that is when it isn’t being evacuated due to forest fires. To leave a treasure like Tahoe not knowing if I would ever see its’ splendor untarnished by fire again, really gave me perspective. Upon arrival in Yosemite, I could literally breath and sleep again for the first time in a week without my body being in constant “fire” alarm mode. A true gift to fully appreciate its’ beauty.
The next gift had to do with the lack of crowds that you normally contend with which greatly detracts from my experience. Part of the crowd reduction was clearly due to Covid reduced occupancy, but it wasn’t all due to that. As a volunteer, you camp in the volunteer campground. It felt like a badge of honor to share your area with fireman, bear specialist, and others working to serve and protect this precious gift of a place. The experience as a volunteer was at least 10 times better than any trip as a tourist and I don’t make that statement lightly because I know the feeling of hiking to the top of half dome and of being mesmerized after hiking or driving to glacier point. I know the awe of the waterfalls, the groves, the highlands, etc. Yet, to experience working with like minded people, held such a deeper reward and fuller experience. You have to experience it to understand it.
The people are awesome. The volunteers, the leaders, the cooks, the park’s trail work leaders, the camp host, etc. everyone of them to a person added value and depth to the experience. You simply don’t get this experience without becoming one of them for a week and to give of yourself fully with absolutely no expectation of getting anything in return. I mean, come on, you actually pay to go work as a volunteer. That makes no sense, UNTIL YOU DO IT. After you do it, you understand that it mysteriously makes total sense.
Finally, the work is so rewarding. Perhaps it is like doing the things it takes to make a “house” become a “home.” The work is for real. There is something of value for all fitness levels and there is something to do that will challenge all fitness levels. And in the end, the team undeniably accomplishes something extraordinary in an extraordinary place. Ordinary people become extraordinary in the process, at least that is how you feel when leaving. Trust me, when leaving, your new found “house” now feels like a “home” that you will miss until you return.
While there volunteering in August I heard that a couple spots became available for the September trip. So guess what, I made the journey there again to volunteer in September. That is when it stood the test of time. The ConservationVIP leaders in August (Barbara and Richard) were awesome, but so were the leaders in September (Susan and Max). They really care and are professional grade when it comes to keeping you safe, ensuring you are welcomed into the group dynamics, and that you have fun while doing much needed work. And the volunteers in August were awesome and I feel like I truly made some new friends. Then in September it magically happens again. I don’t know how all this is possible, but it is and I am so grateful. To mention what felt like my new best bud Brent in August and my new best bud Tim in September is real, but a disservice to all the other friends I made and cherish. For example, if you were there in August you would know the infectious laugh and smile of Carmen. And in September there was the beautiful creativity and heart of Tommy. It is unfair to only mention these names, but if you were there, you know exactly what I am talking about. Everybody brought their gift and everyone was valued as part of the team and family. I could go on and on, but I felt I just needed to write a review following the Thanksgiving holiday and say “Thank You” to all who made these trips possible and so meaningful. And to those of you haven’t yet been able to experience these ConservationVIP trips, I pray you will be able to if any of this “speaks” to you and your soul.
Oct 3, 2021
Hard to put into words when you spend a week with great people in. an amazing location. The people were so much fun, I felt like I already knew them. The work was hard, but very rewarding to work with a group of like-minded people on a project where you could see the results. The food was so good and prepared with care. Our trip leaders really served and made everyone feel welcome. A truly remarkable week. Hope to do it again.
Sep 29, 2021
Yosemite 09/2021 - Wow!
Highly recommend this trip to anyone who's considering it! It was a fantastic experience, full of extraordinary company, excellent food, meaningful work, and beautiful surroundings.
I was concerned going in that I might not be fit enough to contribute in a truly meaningful way, but there were lots of opportunities for people of all fitness levels, and the work, while challenging in some regards, was all safely doable. There was a serious and ongoing emphasis on safety and everyone was able to work at a pace that was comfortable for them, taking breaks for water or snacks or a rest as needed. For reference, my fitness training for this trip was walking 3 miles per day on flat roads for the three months leading up to the trip.
While the work we did in the park was highly satisfactory, what I think I enjoyed most were the other volunteers and the trip leaders. There was a great feeling of camaraderie and support from the very beginning, and by the end, it felt like family. My favorite moments typically occurred over a meal, listening to people tell stories, or share about their lives and families, or playing Code Names (which involved some good humored and friendly smack talking). There was a lot of laughter and after a year and a half of social isolation, this was just the medicine my heart needed. I had to leave pre-dawn on the final day, so didn't get to say my last farewells, and I think that is my biggest regret of the trip.
The catered breakfasts and dinners were fantastic (I overate at every meal), and the prepared bagged lunches included extras like granola bars, baby carrots, cheese sticks, chips, mixed nuts, and M&Ms, in addition to a sandwich. Desserts were home made and included key lime pie, chocolate cheese cake, and strawberry shortcake. In short, nobody went hungry.
The trip leaders, Susan and Max, were fantasic and did a good job of checking in with us daily to see how we were doing, reminding us to stay hydrated in the field, and just keeping everything rolling smoothly.
This was a great trip, well planned, and personally rewarding. Was grateful to have the opportunity to participate.
Sep 24, 2021
It was a excellent trip .
A very diverse group of people with interesting group dynamics .
Everyone was helpful and non judgmental .
The food was fantastic , I think I gained 5 pounds !
Weather was exceptional as were the group leaders .
Working in Yosemite on this project , provided great vistas , night walks , and fun camaraderie.
After the trip , the feeling of accomplishment and the reward of finishing a challenging vacation , is worth all the hurtles one must jump to travel with purpose .
Sep 17, 2019
Fun and very Rewarding!
If you are looking for a fun, rewarding and active vacation, where you can make a positive impact with a bunch of other like minded volunteers, then this is the adventure for you. We worked hard four days with one day off where we were allowed free time to explore. Excellent meals are provided, hot breakfasts and dinners with fixings for you to take a packed lunch. The leaders had a great sense of humor and were informative about the area. They were also very safety minded, regarding trail tools used, ensuring everyone kept hydrated and what you should/not do around wildlife. In the evenings after dinner, many took hikes out to see the full moon reflecting off El Capitan and to see the many dazzling stars in the night sky. If you're wondering what could have been tweaked to make this trip better, to be honest, I can't think of one needed change. The leaders were great, the amount of work load was fine, the food was amazing. From the moment we all (volunteers, leaders, cooks) arrived, we were like old friends reconnecting, enjoying each other's company with lots of fun and laughter. This is an adventure I won't quickly forget and know that it can't be recreated, so I am languishing in the wonderful memories of the moment. I highly recommend. If the beauty of Yosemite is calling, sign up and experience its magic.
Why did you choose this trip? Within driving distance. To experience Yosemite, to explore and to give back.
What would your advice be to potential travelers? Come with an open and curious mind, this is an adventure, enjoy the experience.
What was the highlight of your trip? Trail maintenance, doing something that will last for years which will allow others to continue to enjoy the amazing beauty of this park.
About Me Casual Adventurer
✔ Yes, I recommend this trip.
Sep 16, 2019
Excellent experience , highly recommend this trip
Wow ...this was a wow trip....we had more laughs , morning , noon and night ....the people were so fun and work was rewarding ....it was simple trail maintenance....filling in erosion locations and building up existing trail borders ...meaning we followed instructions of some great leader and the Yosemite conservation corp people .
Each day we reviewed our work and were able to realize the benefits of our efforts .
Evening were fun , the food was excellent and the “ group camp fire talk “ was alway interesting and informative....and dare I say funny ! We laughed so much , so many times ....that alone was worth the price of admission ....I haven’t laughed that much in years .
Sure their were tears, “ in every life , “ a little rain must fall “.....tears of stories told , stories that were close to the heart ....it was a very safe environment to be yourself and express life’s trials and tribulations...we were strangers who became friends and supported each other .
The group was comprised of people from many parts of the US ....the variety of people , allowed our differences to be a asset and of value , the points of views , of our fellow volunteers , widened my horizons .
Everyone one in the group was open and helpful . We watched out for each other and brought spontaneity and fun to the experience . Sure ....the trip was well planned , safe and enjoyable . Yet, everyday held surprises , like , a full moon hike , a swim in the river , a shopping adventure ... a new learning adventure in camping and the skills of camping .
I had not camped in 40 years , but I am so proud of myself, to have camped for a week and learned new skills . I wish I was still there !
Wow...it was a fun trip and I am better for having stepped outside my comfort zone and made the effort to go to Yosemite and join other like minded people in a life experience , that I will cherish for a life time .
Become a volunteer, it will enrich your life in unexpected ways .
Why did you choose this trip? It was winter , raining A LOT ...and i needed something to look forward to for sept .i wanted to learn how to camp , and I achieved my goal .
What would your advice be to potential travelers? Be positive and go with a open heart and a helping hand ..
What was the highlight of your trip? The Hiking was excellent , all the laughs and the beauty of Yosemite . I now carry with me this experience and hold it close to my heart and “ lean on it “ ,during tough times as a example of how good life can be . Our guides were ED , .Dale the silverback , and Shelly ....wow they were fun and safe ! I learned so much from them , they were mentors and shining examples of healthy human beings , .... we had fun !
About Me Avid Adventurer
✔ Yes, I recommend this trip.
May 22, 2019
If you like an active vacation, conservancy/volunteering, and meeting like-minded people in one of the greatest parks in the world, I recommend this trip. We worked with professional organizations such as the CCC and NPS and learned skills to help prepare the park for the tourist season. We worked 4 days and also had time to hike or visit in the valley after work and on our day off. Food was catered so no meal prep or doing camp chores! The food was delicious. We had sun and rain but enjoyed all of it, the beautiful park, working with CCC and NPS and being with like-minded individuals of all ages and background. We had two great leaders who took care of everything, safety, coordination, logistics and ensuring everyone had a good experience.
Why did you choose this trip? I like active vacations, camping and conservancy volunteering
What would your advice be to potential travelers? Use the REI guidance for packing and fitness; break in your equipment/boots and be prepared for changes in weather.
What was the highlight of your trip? Impressive spring scenery and exploding waterfalls, wild flowers; work and group.
About Me Avid Adventurer
✔ Yes, I recommend this trip.
Sep 16, 2018
A trip I will remember forever!
I just came back a couple weeks ago from the September 2018 Yosemite Volunteer Vacation, and it was an absolutely amazing experience! The Yosemite trail crew that we worked with were so talented and so knowledgeable and so passionate about what they do. It was an honor getting to work with them! We ended up getting to work in a different area of the park every day, so that was perfect for those in the group who had never been to Yosemite so that we could explore different parts of the park. There was a decent amount of free time in the evenings to do whatever- swim (or bathe!) in the river next to the campground, go into the Village, go for a hike, take a trip to the real showers, etc. The volunteer campground has to be one of the best in Yosemite. It was very private and well tucked away under the pines right next to the river. We were so spoiled with the home-cooked meals that were prepared and served right there at the campsite as well. The two guides from CVIP were great and were very knowledgeable about the park, the experience, and their organization. Definitely a trip that I will look into taking again!
Why did you choose this trip? To go to Yosemite (I had never been before) and to give back through volunteering
What would your advice be to potential travelers? Either bring your own car or rent a car from a nearby city to have for the week. Yosemite is huge, and if you want to see all you can see in a week’s time, a car really helps.
What was the highlight of your trip? Working with the Yosemite trail crew and climbing Half Dome!
About Me Avid Adventurer
ConservationVIP has always focused on our volunteers’ safety. The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened that focus. Traveling with COVID-19 safety concerns requires some extra planning and flexibility both for trip leaders and trip participants!
Because of continuing COVID concerns, we are restricting participation on this trip to people who have received their COVID-19 vaccinations. Participants will also have to comply with the regulations established by the State of California and the National Park Service at the time of travel. While we expect that the restrictions may change between now and the time of travel, we cannot predict what those changes will be.
While on the trip, participants will also have to follow procedures such as mask wearing and social distancing. More specific COVID related safety instructions will be provided to those registered for the trip.