University Friends Circle offers behind-the-scenes tour of Yosemite May 14

The University Friends Circle said it has arranged a private behind-the-scenes tour by Yosemite's new head ranger Charles Cuvelier of areas not generally open to the public.

UFC said you don't have to be a UFC member or connected with the university to attend the tour. Organizers said it was made possible by a special partnership between UC Merced and Yosemite National Park.

The UFC is sponsoring the group event May 14 to further engage the UC Merced campus with members of surrounding communities, the organization said in a news release.

Planned activities may include observing a special ceremony for the graduating class of mounted rangers who patrol the park on horseback; a visit and discussion at the search-and-rescue mission command post; a tour of the historic Ahwahnee Hotel and dining room kitchen; and a guided walking tour from Cooks Meadow to Yosemite Falls.

The cost is $40 a person and includes transportation, entrance fee, guided tour, boxed lunch and snacks. The bus will leave Merced at 9 a.m. and return by 5:30 p.m. UFC asked that people reply as soon as possible because space is limited.

Contact Peggy Biddison at (209) 384-8811 or e-mail peggy.biddison.mb13@statefarm.com. You must RSVP and send a check (payable to "UC Regents") to 1124 W. Olive Ave., #102, Merced, CA, 95348 by Friday.