Women of Color Wilderness Retreat
About This Event
Join an incredible community of inspired women on the backpacking trip of a lifetime! We will explore identity, community, and transcending both internal and external limitations during this empowering experience. This trip is beginner friendly and gear loan is available.
Anyone who self-identifies as a woman including queer and trans woman, and as non-white such as Black, Hispanic/Latinx, Asians, Native Americans, Indigenous people and mixed race people is welcome and encouraged to join!
We've found that women — and specifically women of color — are highly under-represented in the backcountry. In this four-day course, we hope to share our love for the Yosemite wilderness by introducing women of color to the beauty of its backcountry in a supportive environment. Our amazing, experienced instructors create a safe space for learning, while inspiring participants to go beyond their comfort zones for an empowering and rewarding experience.
Our core curriculum of yoga and reflection is incorporated on this trip as much as weather and time allow. Outdoor yoga classes on glacially polished granite expanses allow us to unwind after a day of hiking. Balanced Rock values time set aside for journal-writing and sharing in order to reflect on personal growth and achievements during the trip. There will be plenty of time to savor, and enjoy the mountain landscape of the High Sierra.
As featured in Outdoor Afro: Black Women DO Camp - Experience Yosemite this Summer! Our annual Women of Color Backpacking Retreat began in 2004 and, to our knowledge, was the first of its kind for women of color in the country. We are excited and encouraged to know that there are other WOC backpacking programs becoming available. Tuition assistance is available.
Want to donate to help support our Women of Color programs? Click here.
Backpacking, hiking, and camp-craft skills
Shared adventure with other women of color
Outdoor yoga, journal writing, and personal reflection
Immersion in granite peaks and forests of the Yosemite wilderness
Fresh meals include local and organic ingredients
We will meet at the trailhead at 9 am on our first morning. We will take time for introductions and trip orientation. Next we will have thorough instruction on what and how to pack our packs and then be on our merry way. The hike to our new home will take us the entirety of the day. We will stop for breaks and to enjoy the scenery. We'll enjoy a delicious dinner after yoga as the Range of Light, bathed in alpenglow, lives up to its reputation. Evenings may include fireside stories, music, or gazing at the Milky Way from the cozy comfort of our sleeping bags.
The next day allows us to adapt to the natural rhythms of the planet, and flow with the specific needs and desires of the group. We may move our camp or go for a day hike and exploration of the surrounding landscapes. We may now feel a settling into our new home among granite domes and peaceful lake waters. In addition to the adventure of backpacking, each day provides opportunities for swimming in alpine lakes, day hikes to sweeping views of the High Sierra, or perhaps relaxing creek-side. Evenings are set aside for intentional discussion, wilderness education, creative journaling, music-making, or quiet contemplation around the campfire.
We might enjoy a long summer day with a lovely hike, yoga session and/or meditation session. We may choose to summit a nearby alpine peak and enjoy a lovely evening under the stars. We will continue to cover topics such as: instruction in backcountry travel skills, Leave No Trace, hiking and camp-craft, and instructor area of specialty.
Our last morning, we will enjoy a final yoga class and meditation before sharing our final breakfast together in the field. Then we will pack our backpacks and begin our hike back to the exit trailhead. After putting closure on our journey together, we will aim to conclude by 2 p.m.
*Note on Itinerary: This schedule is an outline. It is subject to change depending on the needs of the group and allowing for spontaneous inspiration. Almost all of the activities offered are optional. This program operates rain or shine.
Packing list available here
Professional instruction and guiding, campground and permit fees, first-aid supplies, and group gear for backpacking and camping. Balanced Rock provides delicious and high-quality meals, cooking gear, and water purification supplies.
Not Included in Program Price
Transportation to and from your hometown to Yosemite, park entrance fees, and personal items.
Cancellation Policy available here
Venue HighlightsOur staff and instructors are a fun group of inspired mountain adventurers who have honed their skills living and loving life in connection with wilderness. Accomplished musicians, artists, naturalists, yogis, healers, chefs, and free-spirits Balanced Rock instructors have a knack for making people feel super safe and comfortable in the mountains. We strive to help people feel capable and competent in their own selves in the wilderness through our competent, attentive guidance.
- Gluten Free
- Dairy Free
- Nut Free
DirectionsEach course explores a different region of the Park. With our staff of resident Yosemite experts, we specialize in visiting less crowded, yet stunningly beautiful corners of the Park. We have decades of collective experience in exploring Yosemite National Park, and have a wide range of hidden sanctuaries, secluded lakes, outdoor granite-slab yoga “studios”, and comfortable campsites in our routes and itineraries. If you want to also see some of the more popular icons and destinations, there is ample time at the beginning and end of each course.
Once you complete your registration for a course, we will send you detailed directions and a map to the meeting place for your course. This will usually be a campground inside the park boundary on the Tioga Pass Road.
100% deposit refund for cancellation 30+ days before event.
50% deposit refund for cancellation 15-29 days before event.
0% deposit refund for cancellation 0-14 days before event.
The remaining balance (total price minus deposit) is due upon arrival.
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Reviews To review this event, visit the page for the venue or retreat leaders (above).
Marcia Hodges June 07, 2020
I've been on several Balanced Rock retreats and every single one was AMAZING!! The attention to detail for every participant made me feel like it was designed specifically for me. Everything from making sure my sleeping accommodations were cozy to yoga poses right for me in that moment to the Over-the-Top Excellent food! You can be assured you will be WELL taken care of and fully nourished in your body, mind and spirit!
Ruth Alana Smiley November 16, 2019
Heather has a way of bringing the outside inside, and helping to connect people to nature right from the start of her yoga class. A wonderful way to stir a pot of something delicious! Jambalaya has always been amazing, but it keeps getting better
Kristin Huss August 16, 2019
This trip couldn't have come at a better time in my life. I was finally able to quiet my heavily distracted and fast paced mind with the guided meditations and yoga poses taught by Jana. She meets you at your level and provides you with a variety of meditation styles to take home and practice whenever you like. Patrick prepared the best meals for the group and even snuck in a sweet dessert once in awhile. Overall, this retreat was much needed and I am very grateful to have been a part of it. The connections that were made on this trip will stay with me for a lifetime and I look forward to my next trip with them.
Endria Richardson August 05, 2019
I've been backpacking and climbing for over nine years, and this was one of the most special, healing, and joyous backpacking trips I've ever been on. I really loved spending time in the mountains with women of color--sharing space to talk about our experiences, joys, and pains in the outdoors, and cultivating the healing that comes with being heard and seen (and from plunges in freezing alpine lakes). Thank you to the trip leaders, Grace and Miho, for holding such beautiful space, and to Balanced Rock for providing this magical and necessary space!
Andrea Gallego Jacobo July 30, 2019
My yoga and backpacking retreat, couldn't have gone any better, this was a life changing experience were reconnecting to nature and spirit was the key, the instructors (Breezy and JP) are absolutely exceptional yoga instructors, they care tons about the welfare of the group, the food was super healthy and convenient, meditations were beyond my expectations, the place was fantastic and the instructors were super knowledge of our surrounding environment. ***** 5 stars Highly Recommended :)!!!!!
Jessie Copeland June 05, 2019
I attended the Writing from the Heart retreat. From the moment I stepped into the campsite, I felt loved, welcomed, and safe. Our yoga practices were centering and our writing time helped me to reignite my love of writing. Heather Sullivan was an amazing leader. I am so thankful for my time in Yosemite. The peace and rest I found there are truly indescribable.
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