California Whitewater Rafting Trips near San Francisco and Lake Tahoe
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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.

  • The Rapids

    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.


Merced River Rafting Trip with Mariah Wilderness Expeditions

California White Water Rafting on Merced River with Mariah Wilderness Expeditions

Book Now

or call 1-800-462-7424

1 Day Merced River Whitewater Rafting Trip

You can easily combine this rafting trip with your visit into Yosemite Valley. During normal water levels, raft from Indian Flat to Railroad Flat. Lower water trips usually include Briceburg through the famed “Quarter Mile Rapid”. The season depends on the snow pack.

Duration: 1 Day (10:00-5:00)/lunch
Season:16 miles
Length: May–July

California White Water Rafting on Merced River with Mariah Wilderness Expeditions

Book Now

or call 1-800-462-7424

½ Day Merced River Whitewater Rafting Trip

Our Half-Day Merced River Whitewater Rafting Trips cover about 5-11 river miles (depending on river level) and do not include meals. A perfect trip for those travelers looking for just a half-day of rafting due to time or budget. /strong>

Duration: ½-Day (8:30-1:00 & 2:00-6:00)/no meals
Season:5-11 miles
Length: May–July