Merced River Trips
The Merced river tumbles and twists out of Yosemite Valley, gradually mellowing into a raftable whitewater river just 4 miles below the town of El Portal. It is here that our trips begin. Offering abundant whitewater confined by a narrow corridor, this river is a must for the whitewater enthusiast. Indeed, the Merced river offers one of the best whitewater rafting paddle-boat trips in California.
- Full-day trips: Our most popular trip, our full-day trip covers 16 river miles and includes a great deli lunch. During normal water levels, we raft from Indian Flat to Railroad Flat, stopping for lunch along the way. And when the river drops to about 1500 cubic feet per second later in the season, we launch our 1-day trips at Briceburg and continue through Quarter mile rapid to Bagby, using a power boat to tow us the last 1 mile across Lake McClure to our take-out point. Meet at 10, back by 5.
- 1/2-day trips during normal water levels: We offer both morning and afternoon 1/2 day trips. Our morning trips meet at 8:30 and end about 1:00, and our afternoon trips meet at 2:00 and end around 6:30. This trip covers 11 miles and does not include lunch. We raft from Indian Flat to Briceburg. 1/2 day trips are nice, but miss the last very scenic and exciting 5 miles of river between Briceburg and Railroad Flat, including Split Rock, Corner Pocket, and the wave trains above these 2 rapids. So if you are debating between the 1/2 or full day trip, definitely choose the full day.
- 1/2 day trips during low water: the best summer family rafting trip near Yosemite. Later in the season when water levels drop, we move our 1/2 day trips down to "The Gorge". This 5.5 mile narrow, scenic, and exciting section of the Merced river (from Briceburg to Railroad Flat) is tons of fun, and allows us to squeeze out about 14 more days of rafting. The water is warmer, the air temperature is hot, and the lower water rapids are fun, technical, and the canyon narrow and intimate. We stop for snacks (which we provide) at a great beach/diving rock area for some great water play, swimming, and jumping off the jumping rocks. And, during calm sections, you can float downriver (with your lifejacket on of course). Because of the slower pace (although still providing for very fun, technical rapids...you still wear your helmet!) and fun water play activities associated with this trip, we have had clients say that this trip was more fun than higher water trips. Minimum age is a water-safe 6.
All Merced trips meet at our Merced river office next to Indian Flat Campground . Indian Flat is just outside Yosemite Park on the Highway 140 entrance into Yosemite, and only 4 miles down-river from the small hamlet of El Portal. From the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite Valley, the drive is about 30 very scenic minutes to our office. See our Trip Details page for recommended lodging/camping in the immediate area.
Trips on the Merced river begin and end close to the Arch Rock entrance to Yosemite Valley, and a visit to Yosemite can easily be incorporated with your rafting trip. Our staff has spent a lot of time in Yosemite, and we would be happy to help you with information on lodging, hiking, or restaurant recommendations. For additional Yosemite information, visit the Virtual Yosemite page .
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