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. in a 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 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.
$1,090 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:
A deposit of $400 per person is required at the time of signup; final payment is due 90 days prior to departure. The payment and refund policy can be found here.
Group Size: 10 – 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: 45 reviews
Oct 11, 2022
Yosemite September 2022
My time in Yosemite was so wonderful as to be nearly indescribable. I can’t say enough about the organization of the project, our trip leaders and their leadership, the NPS employees and our caterers, not to mention the beautiful campsite. We worked hard, but the effort was far exceeded by the rewards we realized (and the wealth of delicious food that sustained us). Most important, I truly feel that the work we did was valued and will contribute to the future enjoyment by visitors to this amazing national park. I am excited to return to Yosemite with Conservation VIP and will plan to do other Conservation VIP trips.
Sep 27, 2022
Yosemite September 2022
A great learning experience in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Our leaders and Nat’l Park Service guys were knowledgeable about the work we participated in and all had great attitudes towards why we were there. If you like work, mixed in w/fun and are into star gazing, then this is for you!
Sep 22, 2022
Yosemite September 2022
This trip just gave and gave and keeps on giving. To begin with, and to state the obvious, Yosemite is one of the prettiest places on earth and for a week it was both my home and place of work. Each day began at our secluded campground hidden deep in the valley, amid tall pines with the Merced whispering in the background as morning sunlight inched its way down a 3,000 foot granite wall. The day ended after a sumptuous meal with our weary group gathered around a campfire under a diamond-studded night sky. In between, we worked among magnificence a flatlander like me usually only dreams about. The work was hard yet worthwhile. It also provided instant gratification. All week long as we drove around the park we saw our projects: a rebuilt split-rail fence here, a partially reconstructed backcountry trail there, a restored landscape where we’d removed human-made scars, an upgraded trail through the valley floor, and so forth. Visitors noticed too. Dozens of times a day passersby stopped to thank us. Once near Lower Yosemite a group of 30 or so Taiwanese visitors stopped and applauded. It was very gratifying. It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten so much satisfaction from work. I expect it will be a while before that glow of satisfaction dims. I carry great memories too of my dedicated co-workers. Our group leaders, Shelley and Norman, kept us safe, informed and motivated. They embody the merits of volunteerism and are exemplary ambassadors for Conservation VIP. Our young Park Service crew chiefs had a seemingly endless store of knowledge about the park’s history, operations and activities. If we had a question, they usually had an answer and a colorful story to go along with it. They were patient and detailed in explaining our tasks and teaching us all necessary skills. I’ll never look at a trail or any natural resource the same way again. Their love of the park was infectious. They made me long to be young and pursuing a passion. I cannot praise them highly enough. The same goes for my fellow volunteers, who welcomed me into their worlds and ceaselessly entertained and inspired me. I will hold them close forever. Millions of people visit Yosemite each year. Unwittingly or in some cases wittingly they leave their mark. The Park Service does not have nearly enough resources to do everything necessary. The improvements we made this week were tiny in the scope of work to be done, but they were valuable improvements nonetheless as the park is in a little bit better shape in some places. We did good work and I’m proud of it. I hope to return to help out again and I’m going to encourage my friends and family to join me. The park needs all the help we can give.
Jun 21, 2022
May in Yosemite
Wow what a great trip. Team work, waterfalls, trail work. Wonderful food, wonderful people
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 .
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!
Participants will have to comply with the regulations established by the State of California and the National Park Service at the time of travel. We cannot predict what those regulations may be at the time of the trip.
While on the trip, participants will also have to follow procedures such as mask-wearing and social distancing as instructed by the trip leader. More specific safety instructions will be provided to those registered for the trip.