About YExplore

DeGrazio Family in Yosemite Valley

DeGrazio Family in Yosemite Valley

YExplore Global Adventures is the only Yosemite Tour Company offering custom guided Yosemite experiences (Adventure Hikes, Half Dome Hikes, Multi Day Backpack Trips, Nature Walks, Birding Walks, Wildflower Walks, Snowshoe Hikes and Photography Workshops) 12 months a year. We guarantee smaller group sizes for a more personalized experience with our professional guides who are all local to Yosemite.


The mission of YExplore is to encourage travelers of all ages to get outside and make a connection with nature and wilderness through educational outdoor adventures that inspire personal growth while developing a deeper understanding of conservation and stewardship.

Our Founders  YExplore was created  by John and Catherine DeGrazio in January 2006 after arriving in the Sierra Foothills with a plan to develop a sustainable eco-tourism business in Yosemite National Park. Both have dedicated their lives to molding a tour company that offers the highest level of customer service and ensure this is possible through continuous involvement in its daily operations.

Our journeys throughout the years have led us from East Coast to California; from the Na Pali Coast of Hawaii to the Alaska Range. We hiked the Grand Canyon, explored the Rockies, trekked the Appalachians, and ascended Half Dome together. John has reached the summit of Mts. Shasta, St. Helens, and Rainier in the Cascades, as well as Whitney and Lyell here in the Sierra. We are proud to lead a company that brings outdoor experiences to adventure travelers who wish to enjoy the countless wonders of Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada Range.

Although we are a for profit business, we support many local and international organizations that protect the environment and encourage the arts. YExplore is proud member of 1% for the Planet where 1% of all our proceeds go toward protecting our earth. We also support the Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center, Tuolumne River Trust, Yosemite Conservancy, Yosemite Gateway Partners, Tuolumne County Arts Alliance, Mariposa County Arts Council, Support Sonora Schools, and the Karma Project.

Our Tours It is our passion to share the outdoors with you.  Every outing is designed to take advantage of the best locations available at the time of your visit. We will try to avoid crowds as best as we can and attempt to convince you to explore different areas of Yosemite National Park during the height of the summer season.  These adventures will provide unique photography experiences for each participant. We will also provide free photography services to capture images of you and your family while enjoying your outing. Certified wilderness guides provide security and safety while exploring the scenic terrain on every tour. Our richly experienced photography instructors focus on offering expert advice to clients while shooting in prime locations within the natural settings. We outfit every tour with communication devices, navigation tools, and first aid equipment. Anyone with a sense of adventure and a love of the outdoors is encouraged to join us for a day on the trails to share memories of a lifetime. Individuals, Groups, and Families are welcome.

We are a socially responsible company providing educational services that follow Leave No Trace principles to minimize our impact in nature to ensure that the ecology of our environs will not be compromised. Custom Workshops, Adventures, and Family Activities are available to Individuals and Groups of all ages and experience levels in every season. The feedback we receive from our clients on the TripAdvisor and Yelp travel review website have been tremendous, and we strive to continue to provide the ultimate customer care to every visitor on every tour.

Our Guides Each proven leader possesses fundamental outdoor survival skills and a wealth of experience hiking, backpacking, and guiding throughout Yosemite’s wilderness. All guides are required to obtain first aid training and complete Leave No Trace outdoor ethics courses. Our accomplished photo guides specialize in nature photography and have attained several publishing credits. Every guide also owns a vast knowledge of Yosemite’s terrain which allows us to offer many unique specialty outings throughout the park in all seasons.

Wilderness Guides & Naturalists John DeGrazio is the company’s founder and continues to enjoy sharing wonderful Yosemite experiences with clients of all ages on numerous diverse trails throughout the park. Pete Devine is a Yosemite expert who has served in the park for over 25 years. Dan Webster has been an outdoor educator for several years and is among the most respected naturalists in the Yosemite region. Author, David Lukas, lends his expertise to the faculty of YExplore and directs our birding tours and natural history walks. David is the author of Wild Birds of California and the newly revised Sierra Nevada Natural History guidebook. Lindsay Black and Matteo Fiori are both bilingual and can lead English and Spanish speaking tours. As a climber and photographer,Gabriel Mange is a well rounded adventure guide with vast experience and interesting insights. Glen Young is an environmental educator in Yosemite and has has led expedition trips in Alaska, Canada, New Zealand, Ecuador, Peru, Southeast Asia, and Nepal. Ryan Potts and Tamara Faulkner are expert backpackers who completed the 2600 mile Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) together. Mark Petersen is a geological engineer who has been passionately exploring the Sierra for the greater part of four decades. Zeb Drivdahl is a trained EMT and Search and Rescue professional who enjoys every minute of the time he spends in the mountains. James McGrew returns to Yosemite each summer to lead interpretive programs for the Parks Department and is the leader of our specialty nature, photography, and plein air painting programs in Hetch Hetchy and Yosemite Valley each May during our Yosemite Twin Valleys Waterfall Workshops. All of our assistant guides  have spent countless hours on the trails in Yosemite and throughout the world. Alexa Melville and Christelle Harris are an avid hiking and rock climbing mother and daughter team whose team building skills are appreciated by all groups. Thomas Atkins has spent his lifetime backpacking in the Yosemite region, and Carrie Carlson is a recreation specialist who has developed several programs for the youth, families, and seniors.

Professional Photography Guides National Geographic photographer, Phil Schermeister headlines the faculty for YExplore where each professional possesses a wealth of unmatched photography experience in Yosemite National Park. Phil has completed several single-photographer books for the National Geographic including “The Range of Light: California’s Sierra Nevada ” and “America’s National Parks”. Robb Hirsch is a “Nature’s Best” Photography Award winner whose fine prints are on display at the Ahwahnee Hotel. Al Golub and Walter Flint are 25 year Yosemite veterans whose unmatched teaching styles are complemented by an expertise developed from years behind the camera while hiking and backpacking countless miles throughout Yosemite’s wilderness. Joining them is the highly respected naturalist/artist/photographer, James McGrew, who literally grew up in Yosemite National Park. His studio is located in Portland, Oregon, but he returns “home” each summer to lead interpretive programs for the Parks Department and is available for a limited number of our specialty programs. As a photography guide and climber, Gabriel Mange has been able to share with park visitors brilliant moments of light at many stunning locations. Joshua Cripps is a resident of the Sierra with an outstanding knowledge and understanding of photography which parlays exceptionally well with his experience in the education field. Chris Falkenstein is a world class climber with a masterful eye who has spent decades living in Yosemite.

Our Members/Advisors In July, 2003, five like-minded entrepreneurs shared ideas to create an adventure company that would lead Yosemite visitors in search of unique photo opportunities. Joining John and Catherine that day on the Half Dome Trail were Ram Rao, Ed Chao, and Alice Chao. Together they have joined Catherine and John as the members of YExplore Yosemite Adventures and serve as advisors on key decisions that move the company forward each year.

Our Network:



Payment Policy: We require full payment via credit card or Paypal for all 1 day tours at time of reservation. This will secure a date, guides, and any necessary permits for your tour.

Cancellation Policy: We run our tours in all weather without canceling. The only way we cancel a tour is if the roads leading into Yosemite National Park are closed due to extreme weather conditions.

We require 14 days advanced notice to cancel a tour for a refund. We will charge a transaction fee commensurate to the amount of charges we incur and will refund the difference. Refunds are not offered to those who cancel within two weeks but consideration will be given based on the circumstances of an emergency.

Although we do rarely cancel tours for bad weather, we would invite you back on a future tour at a discounted price. The size of the discount would depend on the severity of weather and the ability to successfully complete the tour. This clause applies mainly to our Photography Workshops.

Bad Weather and Fire Policy – We hike in all weather. If bad weather or fire causes a trailhead or a road inside Yosemite to be closed, we will reschedule a comparable tour in a different location of the park.

Short Notice Policy: We reserve the right to charge a $125 privacy fee for all groups booking a tour with advanced notice of 3 days or less.

Backpacking Reservation Policy: We charge a non refundable $500 deposit for all backpacking tours. The remaining balance will be charged two weeks prior to the first date of the backpacking trip.

Tipping Policy: We allow our guides to receive tips, and they are greatly appreciated. We have no set guidelines for tipping but can refer you to the FindaLink.net Tipping Etiquette Page if you feel inclined to tip.

Photography Policy: We will photograph you during the tour and will share free copies with you with a link from our website. We sometimes use these photos in our promotional material and share them on our social networks. Please let us know if you do not wish to have your photos taken or shared and we will respect your wishes.

Referrals & Discounts: We offer a 5% discount for all referrals and return clients. We will also apply this discount to members of the military and senior citizens 65 and over.

We occasionally will run a discount special on certain workshops to increase attendance. In this rare event, clients who are signed up for the session will not be eligible for the new discount. If we run a special after a client has signed up for the event, the cost to cancel the transaction and run a new one would be prohibitive and would prevent us from offering the new discount.


John P. DeGrazio
Y Explore LLC
P.O. Box 4951
Sonora, CA 9537o
(209) 532-7014
(800) 886-8009

John DeGrazio
[email protected]

Catherine DeGrazio
[email protected]

Book a Tour & General Information
[email protected]

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