Evergreen Lodge at Yosemite introduces one-of-a-kind custom camping

This spring Evergreen Lodge at Yosemite unveils custom camping, a new concept in which guests arrive to a fully set-up tent site with all the equipment provided, and expands its recreational program.

GROVELAND, Calif., April 27, 2006 - This spring Evergreen Lodge at Yosemite unveils custom camping, a new concept in which guests arrive to a fully set-up tent site with all the equipment provided, and expands its recreational program, which includes alpine fly-fishing, bike & hike tours and GPS/Geocaching. The historic lodge, described in "Frommer's California 2006" as an "idyllic, affordable, and crowd-free hideaway," also has an innovative social mission: the owners run a successful youth employment program in which high-potential young adults from urban backgrounds gain valuable work experience and receive career, educational and life counseling.

Evergreen Lodge, established in 1921 and located near the serene Hetch Hetchy Valley of Yosemite, has long been a getaway for those seeking to avoid the crowds in Yosemite Valley. In 2004, under new ownership, the Evergreen was extensively upgraded and expanded. The 70-cabin resort now offers an unparalleled, all-around Yosemite experience.

New this year at the Evergreen is "Custom Camping," a 'cushy' camping option for those who enjoy getting closer to nature without the hassle of setting up camp. Guests arrive to a fully furnished (and fully set up!) tent site, including comfortable airbeds, sleeping bags with liners, pillows, towels, toiletries, camping chairs and a lantern. Set among the big trees, these spacious, mesh-topped tents offer views of the stars. Custom campers have exclusive use of Evergreen's new bathhouse and have access to all property facilities and activities.

The resort also has a significantly expanded professional guided recreation program. The Evergreen is the only resort in Yosemite with its own guided services. Evergreen co-owner Dan Braun, a Yosemite expert with over 30 years of wilderness experience and ten thousand trail miles logged, has crafted programs that are diverse, have broad appeal and get guests off the beaten path. Guests can choose from numerous new outings, including the following: - Naturalist Yosemite Valley Van Tour (with optional self-guided hike down the famous Four-Mile Trail)
- High Country Fly Fishing Adventure, including naturalist tour and pack ride - GPS/Geocaching Excursions
- Two High Country guided hikes: High Country Naturalist Hike to North Dome and High Country Naturalist Hike to Polly Dome
- Nightly Sunset Happy Hour Vista Tours
- Late afternoon Fly Casting Adventures

Evergreen's Recreation Department provides complimentary materials for self-guided outings and associated activities for guests, including campfires, lectures, clinics, and an array of rental equipment that includes mountain bikes, GPS and snowshoes. When the day is done, guests can enjoy a relaxing massage, also new at the lodge.

"We are dedicated to providing an unsurpassed recreation program that appeals to a wide range of guests," says Braun. "Most Park visitors are 'turn-key' tourists, who see only the most popular sites as directed by their guidebooks. We give our guests an insider's look at the Park, and we have developed excursions for all skill levels that show guests Yosemite's undiscovered vistas, waterfalls, trails and swimming holes. It's this combination of the varied trips we offer and the access we provide to off-the-beaten path adventures that makes the Evergreen appealing to so many."

Not only is the Evergreen a novel Yosemite destination, it is also part of a growing trend in travel philanthropy. The new owners of the resort designed the business with a built-in social mission. A portion of Lodge profits fund an innovative, 'behind-the-scenes' youth development program. In the program, high-potential young adults from urban backgrounds gain work experience at the lodge and receive career, educational and life counseling while living on the property in a supportive community and enjoying outdoor experiences that challenge, motivate and inspire them. "Guests staying with us are supporting a high-impact youth program while having an amazing time in Yosemite," said owner Lee Zimmerman. "The program has had great success in helping these kids develop skills, build momentum in their lives and go on to obtain excellent, career-oriented jobs."

First Light Destinations, based in San Francisco and founded by Lee Zimmerman, Brian Anderluh and Dan Braun, purchased the property in 2002 and began to restore, upgrade and expand this historic lodge. The Evergreen expansion, designed by architect Howard Backen (of Sundance Resort fame), included a new event hall, recreation center with indoor/outdoor fireplace, general store and private campground for groups up to 50 people. With these event facilities, the expanded Evergreen is ideal for groups of all types, including corporations, weddings, schools, family reunions, yoga and artist retreats, and even bands who use the property for music festivals.

About Evergreen Lodge
Evergreen Lodge (www.evergreenlodge.com) offers a classic Yosemite experience with unsurpassed year-round recreation and activities. Surrounded by the Stanislaus National Forest and bordering Yosemite National Park, Evergreen Lodge features 70 fully furnished cabins. Built in 1921, the lodge is just one mile from Yosemite's western border and the Park's Hetch Hetchy entrance, making it a convenient, uncrowded gateway to the area's many popular attractions.