The designers of Zip Yosemite, Experience Based Learning, focuses on adventure and safety in building their courses, but they also take care to look after the environment. The company uses Professional Ropes Course Association–accredited builders, who anchor single cables to trees using an environmentally-friendly system. Using this system, the company can string seven ziplines up to 1,000 feet long at heights of up to 80 feet through the aromatic canopies of incense cedars and ponderosa pine trees. Guides take visitors darting down these single-cable paths and across three suspension bridges. Then, they rappel toward the forest floor at one of two rappelling stations. As visitors glide through the forest, they can catch glimpses of wildlife as well as the Fresno Dome and other natural rock formations.
Behind courtyards filled with lit fountains, verdant trees, and grassy spaces stands the glossy façade of River Park shopping center. During each annual A Taste of River Park these courtyards fill with local chefs serving tastes of their restaurants' signature dishes and Central Valley wineries pouring samples of their wines. While visitors stroll through the outdoor festival, the mall's retailers put on a fashion show of upcoming fall fashion trends and demonstrate the 21 ways to button a cardigan. Visitors can also thrill to the sights and sounds of the featured live entertainment.
Though the members of San Joaquin River Stewardship Program spend much of their time testing the San Joaquin River's water quality, studying its insects, and growing and replanting native vegetation, they also help make their prized waterway fun for visitors. They provide outdoor recreation, such as kayaking trips down calm currents during the day and at night, often teaching participants how to fish for rainbow trout and bass. They also lead nature hikes along the shore, where groups can see wildlife and native plants during bird-watching, animal-tracking, plant-identification, and scavenger-hunt excursions. Their outdoor-school programs reflect their dedication to conservation by teaching hands-on activities, exploration, and critical-thinking exercises for budding stewards. They also provide scholarships in canoe and kayak training, as well as fish crowd-control training, for visitors 10?18 years old. To get visitors of all ages interested in water and habitat conservation, they lead year-round river channel and shoreline cleanup projects on foot or in canoes.
Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad's track may only be four miles long, but their trains cover decades in that distance. Here, a duo of antique steam engines?one built in 1913, the other in 1928?tow travelers through the piney wilderness of Sierra National Forest. Along the way, guides provide a glimpse of how America's wilderness looked to the railroad companies and loggers as they worked their way westward and shipped raw materials back east. The lesson also incorporates a bit of biology, as tour-leaders will often deviate from historical discussion to talk about local wildlife or how lumberjacks evolved their ax hands.
On certain evenings, the conductors extend the track tour from one-hour to three. Guests begin the evening with a barbecue dinner, then ride the train to a campfire for a sing-along. They then get back on the locomotive for an evening trip back to the modern era.
California, like its European counterparts France and Italy, is synonymous with wine. During A Celebration of Wine, libations from 60 regional wineries fill tasting glasses. In addition to rich reds and crisp whites, cuisines from more than 30 central-California eateries are represented. This salute to epicurean taste is organized to raise money for the enology department at Cal State University, Fresno—it's the rare chance to drink wine and support education at the same time. The event itself is even educational, as a cooper takes the stage to perform a popular demonstration of how classic oak barrels are made. Participants can cap off their afternoon with coffee and dessert while dancing to live music performed by giant saxophone-playing grapes.
Moravia Wine's Howard Hammond is the patriarch of the family vineyards. For Howard, farming is a family tradition that stretches back to the late 19th century, when his Danish ancestor, Hans Jacob Jeppesen, arrived in America aboard a Norwegian vessel named "Moravia." Today, Howard, his wife Barbara, and a new generation of Hammonds carry on that tradition at the family's vineyards, a 400-acre estate in West Fresno. There, they produce Moravia wine inside a World War II-era farm and equipment barn. The barn's interior has undergone major changes to accommodate the production process and frequent tasting events. But its exterior still uses the original brickwork, maintaining the building's character.