Merced River Whitewater Rafting
The Merced River flows out from the western entrance of Yosemite National Park and descends from the waterfalls of Yosemite Valley in successive leaps. The speed of the flow produces exhilarating whitewater wave trains, technical challenges, and steep gradient drops. The Merced river also offers opportunities for laying back in the raft, relaxing and enjoying the scenery while the current takes us down the river canyon. The river is only about 45 minutes from the Yosemite Valley floor, so this Merced River rafting trip makes a nice activity for the day.
There are lots of historic remnants left over from the huge California Gold Rush of 1849, as well as remnants of the narrow railroad which carried tourists into Yosemite Valley in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. This same railroad also transported gold and other minerals out of the canyon.We offer different types of whitewater rafting trips on the Merced River: ½-Day and 1-Day trips.
Class III-IV Good for the adventurous beginner, intermediate, and fun for the advanced rafter
Early in the season while the snow is melting rapidly and the current is swift, the minimum age is 12 years old. As the snow melts, the current slows down, and summer approaches, youth as young as 7 years old will enjoy the river. The entire river from El Portal to Railroad Flat offers everything from floating to Class IV rapids. These rapids are each created by the presence of boulders or rocks in the middle of the river, or by the presence of a change in riverbed gradient, or by the river channel changing direction. Your experienced guide will almost always explain to you the features of the rapid allowing you to feel confident, though quite excited, that you will successfully run it.
The Rafting Season
May through July, depending on the winter snow pack.
Being one of the last free-flowing rivers in California with water flow based on melting snow pack, the Merced River is rafted in the spring and early summer. Only rarely does the river flow past mid-July.
Because the South Fork’s flow is controlled by dam-released water, this river offers dependable spring through summer rafting. Spring usually offers high water and fast currents and wetsuits are often required. Spring flowers such as the California Poppy and blue lupine cover the hills and the mountains, hills, and river banks are lush green. Summer finds the water levels at normal flow, the weather warmer, and the water temperature warm enough for swimming suits and shorts. Even September usually has warm days, warm evenings, and air-temperature water.