Yosemite Twin Valleys Waterfall Workshops

Art Shaped the National Parks (TBD)

James McGrew, a California born artist and interpretive naturalist in Yosemite National Park will lead the “Art Shaped the National Parks” workshops in both Hetch Hetchy and Yosemite Valleys May 2-5, 2014 for the unique opportunity to explore, compare, and contrast the magnificence of two Yosemite Valleys including Hetch Hetchy, the hidden treasure of the park.

A Yosemite 150th Anniversary Celebration Evening Program: How Art Shaped the National Parks will be presented by James McGrew at 7 pm on Friday May 2 in the Cliff Room at the Yosemite Lodge at the Falls. This event is FREE and open to the public.

Naturalist Tours

Explore scenic beauty while receiving a natural history education from expert guides with a wealth of knowledge of Yosemite National Park. James McGrew and David Lukas will each lead groups on tours that reveal the Natural History of Yosemite including its geology, flora, fauna, and the original inhabitants of the park. Specialty Birding Tours led by David Lukas will also highlight the week’s events… learn more…

Painting Workshop

Discover relationships of plein air techniques/materials, composition, color, value, brushwork, aesthetics, and reference photography with implications for studio work. From beginner to professional, you’ll view these famous painting subjects with a fresh perspective and deeper understanding as you learn about geology, flora, fauna, atmosphere and light relating to painting. Translate these elements through your brush and create more life-like and interpretive works of art… learn more…

Photography Classes

Spectacular views unfold as we walk through wildflowers to dramatic waterfalls while exploring aspects of composition, perspective, depth of field, motion, color, lighting, and natural history of your subject. We will discuss the techniques of wide angle photography, macro, and telephoto to isolate and simplify a subject. Tours last approximately 4 hours and may require up to 5 miles easy walking… learn more…


Soaring, oil on linen, 30×40 by James McGrew


In 1864 President Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Grant with photographs from landscape photographer Carleton E. Watkins fresh on his mind. It was the work of Watkins and painters like Albert Bierstadt who had influenced many Americans in their appreciation of nature which led to the protection of Yosemite “for all time”. Yosemite later became a National Park in 1890 and this national treasure is still faced with many challenges to protect it today.

 Over time, the Yosemite Valley has developed into a Mecca for painters and landscape photographers worldwide. However, it is the lesser known and least visited Hetch Hetchy Valley, dammed in 1923, that also awards its visitors with fresh artistic opportunities. Roaring waterfalls, granite cliffs, lupine, wildlife and beautiful California Black Oaks are all present above the waterline, and along the valley’s still unspoiled edges, and provide ample opportunities for interpretive expression. Central to the focus of our discussions will be the influence artists had while forming the national parks along with the opportunity for today’s artists to promote stewardship with their own interpretations.


Half Dome from Leidig Meadow by James McGrew

The week’s events will commence with an introductory hike in Yosemite Valley led by the group’s leader, James McGrew. A week of discovery will follow with instructional photography tours guided by acclaimed photographers Robb Hirsch, Al Golub,  and Gabriel Mange. James and renowned author and naturalist, David Lukas will guide nature excursions including birding tours that transect both regions.

Free Evening Program by James McGrew 7 pm May 2 in Yosemite Valley (TBD): “The Influence of Art in Shaping America’s National Parks”

The Hetch Hetchy Valley by John Muir (Sierra Club Bulletin, Vol. VI, No. 4, January, 1908)

After my first visit, in the autumn of 1871, I have always called it the Tuolumne Yosemite, for it is a wonderfully exact counterpart of the great Yosemite, not only in its crystal river and sublime rocks and waterfalls, but in the gardens, groves, and meadows of its flower park-like floor. The floor of Yosemite is about 4,000 feet above the sea, the Hetch -Hetchy floor about 3,700; the walls of both are of gray granite, rise abruptly out of the flowery grass and groves are sculptured in the same style, and in both every rock is a glacial monument. Standing boldly out from the south wall is a strikingly picturesque rock called “Kolana” by the Indians, the outermost of a group 2300 feet high, corresponding with the Cathedral Rocks of Yosemite both in relative position and form. On the opposite side of the Valley, facing Kolana, there is a counterpart of the El Capitan of Yosemite rising sheer and plain to a height of 1800 feet, and over its massive brow flows a stream which makes the most graceful fall I have ever seen.

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