Newton Jasper Phillips left his home in Santa Barbara and homesteaded in the Bootjack district of Mariposa Co in 1900. In the early 1900s tourists were flocking to the Yosemite area, drawn to this unique landscape by the words of John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt and guides were in demand. When Newt started packing into the back country of the Sierra Nevada's is not certain, probably in the late teens, but by 1920 he was going strong. Every spring Newt would leave his homestead in Bootjack and drive his stock to a small set of corrals behind the pond in Fish Camp on property rented from Charlie Beery, the major land owner at that time. Fish Camp served as Newt's summer Head Quarters until the early 1930,s when he moved his operation to Jackass Meadow.
                       
In 1916 a gentleman cowboy by the name of Fred Wass started working as a horse-packer and guide in Yosemite National Park. During the spring of 1934, Fred and his wife, Beryl, opened up the Fred Wass Pack Outfit on land previously used by Newt Phillips. Their Pack Station at Fish Camp started with 10 head of stock in 1935 gradually building up to 30 head. In 1937, Fred and Beryl, obtained a special use permit from the United States Forest Service
for 20 acres at Skidder Camp. Skidder Camp was an abandoned logging camp of the Sugar Pine Lumber Co., located
a little less than a mile down Big Sandy Road. (Now named Jackson/Big Sandy Road). In October of 1966, Mike and Sherry Knapp acquired the pack station and changed the name from Fish Camp Pack Station to Yosemite Trails Pack Station.

Over the last 70 years since its inception, Yosemite Trails has changed very little.   For three generations our family
has raised Black Angus cattle and we gather the cows every autumn from the high country when the snow starts to
fall.  It is then that our horses are moved onto winter pasture in the central San Joaquin Valley where most of the herd was born.  In fact, not only has the Pack Station been virtually unchanged for several decades, many of the American Quarter Hoses and American Paint Horses have also been raised at Yosemite Trails Pack Station.  We learned early
on that if a horse learns as a youngster how to travel in the Sierras, they are more “sure footed” than most horses. Our horses have been chosen for their kind, gentle personalities and for the fact that they are true mountain raised horses.

The Pack Station as it stands today is like a time capsule.  We have been blessed with an opportunity to share our western heritage with guests from around the world.  Third generation packer and cowboy, Larry Knapp is certified as a Master of “LEAVE NO TRACE” by the National Outdoor Leadership School and is committed to teaching low impact camping skills to fellow horsemen and campers. We take pride in our stewardship of the Sierras and the Pack Station so future generations can also enjoy these historic and scenic lands.

So when you’re planning your next vacation, bring your family up to the Sierras and enjoy a winter sleigh ride, or this summer; a western BBQ or a horseback ride with The Yosemite Cowboys.

 

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