northern california tour





Join us this autumn when the fall foliage is at its peak in Yosemite National Park as we explore the historic sites of this fascinating and beautiful corner of the American West.

We have hired an impressive team of local experts who will join Ed Bearss in interpreting the historic sites on our itinerary.  Here is just part of the lineup: One of Ed’s colleagues, Ranger Martini, will be taking the day off just so he can give us a private tour of Alcatraz.  Interpretive Program Manager, Michael Greene, is scheduled to give us a tour of the historic sites of Monterey.  On our visit to San Juan Bautista State Historic Site, Chief Guide Marcos Vizcaino will lead us on a private tour of the historic Mission complex.  In Yosemite, we will spend a full day with Yosemite Conservancy’s Resident Naturalist Pete Devine. Pete has led tours of Yosemite for 30 years. A team of senior docents will interpret the sites of Historic Sonoma and Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park.  And at Fort Ross Historic Park, Program Manager Hank Birnbaum will personally lead us on a tour of this former Russian trading post.



October 24, Friday

Individual arrivals in San Francisco. Check into the Hyatt Fisherman’s Wharf Hotel and join staff and fellow travelers at tonight’s welcome dinner.

Overnight at the Hyatt Fisherman’s Wharf Hotel, San Francisco


October 25, Saturday

Begin the day with an orientation tour of San Francisco. Proceed south to the Monterey Peninsula where Spanish explorers landed in 1602. We will tour the scenic 17-Mile Drive which hugs the coast from Pacific Grove to Pebble Beach.  Hyatt Regency Monterey


October 26, Sunday

Take a 2-hour walking tour of Old Monterey that served as California’s capital under Spanish, Mexican and U.S. military rule. The U.S. flag was first officially raised in California here on July 7, 1846.  En route to Yosemite National Park, we will visit San Juan Bautista, which features California’s largest intact mission complex and the only remaining Spanish plaza in California.  Portions of Alfred Hitchcock’s film Vertigo were filmed at the mission. Proceed to Yosemite National Park where we will spend two nights.

Overnight at the Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, Yosemite National Park


October 27, Monday

Begin the morning with a tour of the valley floor led by Yosemite Conservancy’s Resident Naturalist Pete Devine. Known for its waterfalls, alpine meadows and steep valleys, Abraham Lincoln initiated its protection by signing a bill in 1864 granting Yosemite Valley to the State of California. Articles written by John Muir led to the establishment of Yosemite National Park in 1890. After lunch, Pete will lead us on a walk under the giant Sequoia trees in Merced Grove. Overnight at the Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, Yosemite National Park


October 28, Tuesday

Today we will drive east through Yosemite and stop to see the spectacular tufa (calcium carbonate) spires at ancient Mono Lake. An alkaline lake over a million years old, it is one of the oldest lakes in North America. Continue to Lake Tahoe, the nation’s largest alpine lake, and check into the Hyatt Regency where we will spend two nights.

Overnight at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Incline Village, NV


October 29, Wednesday

Upon seeing Lake Tahoe for the first time in 1862, Mark Twain uttered, “It must surely be the fairest picture the whole world affords.” We will spend the day exploring Lake Tahoe; activities will include a tour of Tallac Historic Site and a lake cruise aboard the Tahoe Queen, a Mississippi paddlewheeler. O/N at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Incline Village, NV


October 30, Thursday

This morning, we will visit Donner Memorial State Park, the site where the ill-fated Donner Party was trapped during the winter of 1846–1847. Caught without shelter or adequate supplies, members of the group resorted to cannibalism to survive. We will continue to Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park in Coloma, CA where James Marshall discovered gold in 1848. We will see over 20 historic buildings and visit the Gold Discovery Museum.

Overnight at the Hyatt Regency, Sacramento


October 31, Friday

John Sutter established Fort Sutter in 1839 initially calling it “New Helvetia” (New Switzerland).  On a tour of Fort Sutter’s State Historic Park, we will learn how the fort was connected to the Donner Party, the Gold Rush and the formation of the town of Sacramento.

In Napa Valley, we will have lunch and tour a local vineyard.  Check into our hotel located just north of Petaluma. Overnight at the Doubletree, Rohnert Park


November 1, Saturday

We will spend the morning in the historic town of Sonoma, site of the Bear Flag Revolt in 1848. We will see the mission (the last and northernmost of the California missions), the Sonoma Barracks (built in the 1830s to halt Russian incursions into the area) and the Blue Wing Inn, the oldest hotel north of San Francisco.  Its hotel register contains the names John C. Fremont, William Tecumseh Sherman, U.S. Grant, Kit Carson, and Joe Hooker.


After lunch, we will tour Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park, the largest privately owned adobe building in northern California during the 1830s-1840s. It was the headquarters of General Vallejo’s 66,000-acre ranch. Overnight at the Doubletree, Rohnert Park


November 2, Sunday

Today we will tour Fort Ross on the Pacific coast.  Russia’s southernmost colony in North America, Fort Ross was a thriving Russian-American Company settlement from 1812-1841. Following a tour of the fort, we will have lunch in Bodega Bay where Sir Frances Drake may have anchored in 1579. We will stop for photos of the Golden Gate Bridge before checking into our hotel near the San Francisco International Airport.  We will celebrate our adventure at this evening’s farewell dinner.

Overnight at the Hilton Garden Inn, Burlingame (2 miles from San Francisco Airport; 16 miles from downtown SF)


November 3, Monday

Individual departures.



Chief Historian Emeritus of the National Park Service, Edwin C. Bearss is an author, lecturer and America's foremost battlefield guide.  Ed's encyclopedic knowledge and unflagging energy is legendary; Ed brings history alive like no other.  Two of his recent books are Fields of Honor and Receding Tide:  Vicksburg and Gettysburg – The Campaigns that Changed the Civil War.

* Service of an Historian Guide: Ed Bearss is scheduled to lead this program
* Service of a Tour Manager: Marty Gane is scheduled to lead this program
* 10 nights hotel accommodations

* all admissions, excursions, and transportation
* two wine/beer welcome reception; 6 breakfasts; 8 lunches; 6 dinners
* all taxes and gratuities; pre-trip notes, reading list and map book

Double Occupancy: $3795 per person
Single Occupancy: $4595

(NOTE: ALL costs are based on a minimum of 25 participants)