Clair Tappaan Lodge on Donner Pass near Truckee, Calif., is a cozy mountain inn that warms skiers in the winter. But before skiers take over, the Sierra Club plans to fill it with opera buffs for a week this fall. At the gathering, from Oct. 14 to 20, enthusiasts will hear recordings of operas followed by discussions about them. For fresh air, guides will lead daily hikes in the woods. The group is limited to 17.
Cost: $595 per person, including accommodations, activities and all meals. Non-Sierra Club members pay a $35 membership fee. Transportation to the lodge is extra.
Contact: Sierra Club National Outings Department in San Francisco; telephone (415) 977-5588, http://www.sierraclub.org/outings/national.
Arizona: Rocks and Stars
If you can tilt your head back, you may enjoy Crow Canyon Archeological Center's "Navajo Skies and Star Ceilings: Astronomy and Cosmology in Dine Culture." The tour of Canyon de Chelly National Monument in Arizona, from Oct. 13 to 19, will be led by Harry Walters, a Navajo tribal member, and Von del Chamberlain, physical sciences scholar in residence at Utah Valley State College.
During moderate hikes into the canyons and mesas of Canyon de Chelly and the Dinetah (the Navajo sacred homeland), Del Chamberlain and Walters will guide the group to see rock art motifs and discuss their roles in Navajo astronomy.
Participants will meet Navajo medicine men, visit the upper reaches of Canyon de Chelly and look at seldom seen rock art panels. The tour begins and ends in Farmington, N.M.
Cost: $1,595 per person, including lodging and most meals. Transportation to New Mexico is extra.
Contact: Crow Canyon Archeological Center; tel. (800) 422-8975, Ext. 146 or (970) 565-8975, http://www.crowcanyon.org.
Ireland: For Women
A women-only trip to Ireland from Sept. 30 to Oct. 9 will cover such topics as food, history, art, education, music, architecture, theater, literature and shopping on visits to Dublin, Killarney, Limerick, the Ring of Kerry, Waterford, Tralee and Cork.
Travelers will have a chance to kiss the Blarney Stone "to gain the gift of eloquence," see Irish crafts and design at the Kilkenny Design Centre, and shop for Waterford crystal in the company's hometown.
A cooking demonstration, tours of distinguished homes and gardens, a visit to Trinity College to view the medieval Book of Kells, and an evening of theater in Dublin are included.
A highlight will be a visit to the Queenstown exhibit at Cobh, which tells the poignant tale of Irish emigration.
Cost: $3,299 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles, hotels, some meals and guides.
Contact: Harvest Travel International, Moraga, Calif.; tel. (800) 227-0464, http://www.harvesttravel.com.
Greece: Seven Islands
Cruise to Mykonos, Delos and Santorini and the less visited Paros, Naxos, Ios and Tinos for seven days aboard the Viking Junior, a 52-foot yacht with three double cabins for six guests. Or travelers can take the same itinerary on a larger yacht, the Aegean Lady, which has 12 cabins and carries 25 guests. Both yachts are air-conditioned and have a private bathroom in each cabin.
The captain and crew will take guests sailing for three to four hours daily. In the afternoons, the yachts will dock at each island, where passengers can go ashore to sample restaurants, explore ancient sites, shop or relax on the beach.
Breakfast and lunch or dinner is served daily. A captain's dinner and Greek dancing are included.
Cruises depart Fridays through October.
Cost: $1,195 or $1,295 per person (depending on vessel), double occupancy, including transportation from Athens to the yacht. Air fare to Greece is not included.
Contact: Viking Tours of Greece; tel. (800) 70-VIKING (708-4546).
Italy: The South
Odysseys Unlimited is offering a 14-day tour of Sicily and Southern Italy, with departures Sept. 26, Oct. 17 and Nov. 7.
The tour begins with a six-day stay in the medieval seaside town of Taormina, Sicily, from which guests will take day trips to Mt. Etna; Agrigento's Valley of the Temples, whose Doric structures were built by the Greeks in the 5th century BC; and the half Baroque, half medieval town of Piazza Armerina, site of the Villa Romana del Casale and its Roman mosaics. A highlight of the small group tour is a lunch at a working Sicilian farm.
The tour continues with three nights in Rome with extensive sightseeing and an optional full-day excursion to Florence. The last part of the journey includes Sorrento, Pompeii, the Amalfi Coast and the island of Capri.
Cost: from $2,395 per person, double occupancy, including hotels, many meals, entrance fees and guides. Air fare is extra.
Contact: Odysseys Unlimited; tel. (800) 239-0329, Ext. 700, http://www.odysseys-unlimited.com.
The L.A.-based Norris Center for the Performing Arts is hosting an art, wine and culinary journey to Alsace, France, from Sept. 20 to 29. Participants will attend private wine tastings in this region filled with storybook villages, museums, vineyards and medieval towns.
The tour includes two nights in Paris and three nights each at 19th century chateaux near Strasbourg and Colmar.
Highlights in Paris include a lunch at the Jacquemart-Andre Museum and dinner at the Tour d'Argent, overlooking Notre Dame.
In Colmar, participants will have a private look at the Isenheim altar, a Renaissance masterpiece at the Unterlinden Museum.
Cost: $1,400 per person, double occupancy, including hotels, village tours along the Alsace wine route, daily buffet breakfasts and dinners, wine tastings, guides and museum entrance fees. Air fare is not included.
Contact: Sharon Ryan at An Uncommon Journey; tel. (310) 541-5022.
Danube: Holiday Markets
Small towns along the Danube River start celebrating Christmas early in December with little stalls filled with decorations, gifts, baked goods and the traditional hot spiced wine. Travelers can sample many of them on a cruise through Austria and Germany that begins Dec. 2.
For seven nights, passengers aboard the Amadeus II will visit Christmas markets, including one of Germany's oldest, in Nuernberg.
Participants will also attend a Strauss concert in a Viennese palace and taste wines in Austria. A day in Salzburg, setting of "The Sound of Music," is included.
Cost: $2,406 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip flight to Europe, port taxes, cabin and all meals aboard the ship, a dinner in a Bavarian brewery with entertainment, seven guided excursions and the services of a tour escort.
Contact: Caren Erickson at Unique Vacations; tel. (800) 713-2207, Ext. 14.
China: Crisp Fall
When the temperatures turn cooler, prices drop on trips to China. But the sights of Beijing and Shanghai will remain the same on a 10-night tour beginning Nov. 2.
The trip starts in Beijing, with visits to the Forbidden City and the Great Wall. Then travelers will fly to Xian to view the terra-cotta soldiers of Emperor Qin Shi Huang. Next is a quick flight to the picturesque city of Guilin.
A half-day cruise on the Li River will reveal the serene landscape often featured in classical Chinese art. The tour will end in Shanghai with a free day for shopping.
Cost: $1,870 per person, double occupancy, including air fare from Los Angeles, hotels, ground transportation and all meals except lunch and dinner on the free days (in Beijing and Shanghai).
Contact: Hermes Travel & Tours; tel. (310) 791-5556.
Combine the festivities of New Orleans' Mardi Gras with a cruise on the paddle-wheel steamboat American Queen.
The cruise, from Feb. 9 to 16, includes shore tours to historic sites and plantations along the Mississippi River, and all dining and entertainment on board.
Cost: Outside cabin fares begin at $1,956 per person, double occupancy. Those who book by Aug. 13 can save $400 per person. Discounted air fare and transfers are available.
Contact: Don Eslinger at Historic Tours and Cruises, 20325 Seabright Lane, Huntington Beach, CA 92646; tel. (714) 536-3434.
The Times is not responsible for changes in prices, dates or itineraries. These should be confirmed with cruise lines, travel agents or tour operators.