Tuolumne River Whitewater River Rafting near Yosemite
The Tuolumne River (pronounced too-all-o-me) Canyon, near Yosemite National Park, is a magical 18-mile corridor of wondrous side creeks and wide, sandy beaches for camping, and Tuolumne River Rafting is California’s Class IV+ premier white water rafting river. Rushing through one of the most spectacular canyons in the Sierra, the Tuolumne River creates the “Grand Canyon” of Yosemite as it spills into the Hetch Hetchy Valley behind the O’Shaughnessy Dam above our put-in at Meral’s Pool. Tight, technical and steep describes rapids like Rock Garden, Sunderland’s Chute, and Ram’s Head, lead to one of the biggest drops in the United States, the Class V Clavey Falls rapid for whitewater rafting.
We run several Tuolumne River Rafting trips on the main Tuolumne River: 1-Day, 2-Days, 3-Days. PLUS, we raft the upper Tuolumne section we call Cherry Creek is run as a 1-Day trip.
Main Tuolumne Rafting: Class IV-IV+ Upper Tuolumne-Cherry Creek: Class V-V+
A Tuolumne River Rafting trip is appropriate for rafters who have had some experience and feel they are ready for Class IV rapids. An adventurous beginner who is comfortable being in the water may also have a good time. Cherry Creek’s Class V rapids are so demanding that a training seminar and a Class V Paddling clinic are given at the put-in. Those who do not pass these tests receive a 50% refund and are not allowed to join the trip.
The entire Tuolumne River from Meral’s Pool to the Take-Out at Ward’s Ferry Bridge is 18 miles in length. There are over 50 rapids given a classification of Class III-IV+. 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. On your Tuolumne River rafting trip, a professional 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
April through mid-September
Because the main Tuolumne River and the Cherry Creek flow is controlled by dam-released water, this river offers dependable spring through late-summer whitewater 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.