Frequently Asked Questions


Q: Where is the High Sierra Institute?

A. HSI is 58 miles east of Sonora and 32 miles west off Interstate 395 at Bridgeport on Highway 108. It sits at the foot of Sonora Pass.

Q: What is the elevation?

A. 6,200 feet

Q: How can college courses be offered at a historic field station owned by the Forest Services?

A. The Stanislaus National Forest has issued a use permit to the Yosemite Community College District.

Q. How is the weather?

A. From May-September, temperatures can range from 90's during the day to the 30s at night. To inform you on the current weather please visit our Weather section.

Q: Is there a body of water nearby?

A. The Middle Fork of the Stanislaus River flows right across the road from HSI.

 Q: Are there wild animals at HSI?

A. Mainly deer, raccoons, chipmunks, squirrels, and occasional black bears visit HSI. A rattlesnake was once spotted as well.

 Q. What types of courses are offered at HSI?

A. We usually offer courses in the humanities, natural resources technology, sciences, and physical education.

Q. Must all course start and finish at HSI?

A. No. Hybrid courses are welcome, as are courses that use HSI as a staging area. Additionally, HSI can be used for a course’s field component.

Q. How long are the courses?

A. HSI courses usually vary in length. See our course offerings page for details.

 Q. Do participants stay at HSI?

A. Yes. The Bunk House sleeps 32, and there is tent space for 10-15 more. There is also a cabin that is ADA compliant. Instructors usually stay in one of the cabins. See Accommodations.

Q. Where do the participants eat?

A. Participants usually bring their own food and prepare meals together in the Cook House, which contains a fully-functioning kitchen with a sink with potable water, two ranges, three refrigerators, pots, pans, utensils, and dishware.

Q. Where is the closest store?

A. The Dardanelle store is roughly four miles away. It carries very basic items.

Q. What kind of bathrooms does HSI have?

A. There are men’s and women’s bathroom buildings. The men’s has two sinks, two showers, and a toilet. The women’s has one sink, one shower, and a toilet. Both have hot water throughout the entire day. There is also a small bathroom in the Cook House and the ADA Compliant Cabin.

Q. Who oversees operations while courses are in sessions?

A. While courses are in session, a caretaker lives at HSI and makes sure classes’ needs are met.

Q. What do participants usually bring to HSI?

A. Participants bring their own food, gear, and clothes. See the packlist under Accommodations.

Q. Is there electricity?

A. A generator provides the Institute electricity at night and during class times when electricity is needed.

Q. Are there computers?

A. HSI has 11 laptop computers available to participants.

Q. Is there Internet?

A. No.

Q. Is there phone service?

A. Yes. HSI has a landline that is used for instructional and emergency purposes. There is no cell reception at HSI.

Q. How big are the class size?

A. Classes usually have 10-25 students in them.

Q. How much does a course cost?

A. Courses are $46 per unit, a fee that may increase due to State Budget issues. There is also a $13 health fee attached to each course.

 Q. How do students sign up for the courses?

A. Depending on whether a course is offered through Columbia College or Modesto Junior College, students can sign up at the specific college or online at either www.gocolumbia.edu or  http://mjc.edu

Q. Can students take courses more than once?

A. Depending on the course, yes. Prospective students must ask Admissions and Records about specific courses.

Q. What are the typical ages of HSI students?

A. Most HSI students are 20-70 years old. Mature high-school students have also taken courses at HSI.

Q. How long does it take to get there from Sonora? Modesto?

A. It takes roughly 75 minutes from Sonora and 2.25 hours from Modesto.

Q. Are groups other that from Yosemite Community College District able to use the site? If so, What are the fees? How do we reserve space at the High Sierra Institute?

A. Yes, outside groups whose purpose meets at least one HSI criterion are potentially able to use the site for $209 per 24-hour period. To request use of the HSI facility, please download, complete, and return the below forms to Kyle Elkins .

Q. What is the drug and alcohol policy?

A. Drugs and alcohol are not allowed at HSI.

Q. Is there cell phone reception at HSI?

A. No, but there is cell reception at the Clark Fork intersection roughly seven and a half miles west of HSI

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