|MEETING PLACE:||La Casa Loma River Store/Tangled Hearts Bakery, 8 miles east of Groveland on Hwy 120 (At the eastern intersection of Hwy 120 & Ferretti Rd); 30 mins west of the Hwy 120 entrance to Yosemite NP|
|GPS COORDINATES:||37.818955, -120.108526 (Intermittent GPS/cellular service in area)|
|MEETING TIME:||8:30 AM|
|RETURN TIME:||Approximately 6:00 PM|
|RIVER RATING:||Class IV+ (Suitable for intermediate to advanced rafters)|
|RIVER MILES:||18 river miles, with 15 named rapids|
|TRIP LENGTH:||1 Day|
|AGE LIMIT:||Minimum age is 14 (16 at high water)|
|BOAT OPTIONS:||Paddle raft; oar raft; paddle raft with oar assist|
The Tuolumne River is considered by many to be the best whitewater trip in California. Its pristine headwaters originate in Yosemite National Park, then surge through eighteen miles of non-stop, Class IV+ rapids. This incredible whitewater adventure includes intricate boulder gardens, rushing cascades and churning holes, which all combine for action-packed paddling from put-in to take-out.
The Wild & Scenic Tuolumne River flows through a beautiful wilderness canyon. The steep hills are lush green in the spring and golden-yellow in the summer, with oak and pine forests flanked by rocky terraces and sandy beaches. Early season wildflowers blanket the canyon in color. Tumbling creeks and glassy pools adorn the river corridor and its side canyons, creating the perfect outdoor experience for rafting, hiking, fishing and swimming.
- Paddle Raft with Oar Assist—During periods of high water and mid-season one-day trips, we will only offer paddle rafts with an oar assist. The most agile of any boat in the OARS fleet, your guide powers the raft with two hefty oars on a rear-mounted frame, while the crew wields single blade paddles up front for added horse-power. Helmets required. (Four to six paddlers)
- Paddle Raft—The sportiest of crafts we put on the water, everybody handles a paddle while the guide steers and gives directions from the back of the boat. Paddling together is essential to finding the right run, and teamwork begets success. A thrilling way to brave the rapids! Helmets required. (Four to six paddlers)
The water on the Tuolumne River is released from hydroelectric facilities located upstream. These water releases are solely controlled by the city of San Francisco and their Hetch Hetchy Reservoir; whitewater rafting companies have no influence in the schedule. It is important to understand that the water flow on the Tuolumne is directly related to the amount of snow in the Sierra Nevada, as well as demand for water and hydropower.
To increase your safety, we expect everyone to watch our 23-minute Whitewater Orientation video before joining us. Watch at https://www.oars.com/experience/safety/ or call 800-346-6277 to request a free DVD. Please don’t leave home without watching.
We pride ourselves in running a relaxed and flexible schedule. Every trip is different depending upon the group, other trips on the water and sometimes the weather. The following is a sample of what your trip might be like:
We will meet at the La Casa Loma River Store/Tangled Hearts Bakery, at the intersection of Highway 120 and Ferretti Road, eight miles east of Groveland and 30 minutes west of the Hwy 120 entrance to Yosemite National Park. We will take a steep shuttle ride down to the river via Lumsden Road to our put-in, where you will meet the rest of your OARS crew. The guides will present an orientation and safety talk and fit you with your safety gear. Then, we’re off!
The Tuolumne is nearly consistent whitewater, with three exciting rapids in the first two miles: Rock Garden, Nemesis, and Ram’s Head. Downstream, we encounter the ultimate thrill: Clavey Falls; this Class IV rapid features a series of staircase drops, which deliver unabashed excitement. The adventure continues with exciting Class III-IV rapids such as Grey’s Grindstone, Thread the Needle, and Hell’s Kitchen. Between rapids, you’re welcome to enjoy a refreshing swim in the calm stretches of cool water.
Come lunchtime, we’ll pull over to a sandy beach for a delicious picnic. Your guides might lay out an abundant spread of cold cuts, cheeses, veggies and breads, or perhaps a tasty taco salad for roll-your-own burritos. Lunch is always accompanied by fruit, cookies, cold water and lemonade.
As we reach Ward’s Ferry and flat water, our river trip draws to a close. At the take-out, an OARS shuttle will be waiting to give you a ride back to your car. You will usually return around 6:00 PM.
- Skilled, professional guide service
- Delicious picnic lunch and snacks
- High-quality inflatable rafts and related river equipment including paddle, helmet, personal flotation device and wetsuits (Wetsuits are only provided on early season—April to May—and cold weather trips)
- Transfers from La Casa Loma River Store to the river and back
What’s Not Included?
- Transportation to the meeting place and back
- Pre- and post-trip accommodations and meals
- Wetsuit booties
- Insurance of any kind, including a travel protection plan
- Items of a personal nature
Meeting Place & Time
Our meeting place is the La Casa Loma River Store/Tangled Hearts Bakery, approximately 8 miles east of Groveland, at the eastern intersection of Ferretti Road and Highway 120 (30 minutes west of the Hwy 120 entrance to Yosemite National Park). The meeting time is at 8:30 AM.
Getting to La Casa Loma River Store/Tangled Hearts Bakery
La Casa Loma River Store/Tangled Hearts Bakery is on the left-hand (north) side of Hwy 120 at the eastern end of Ferretti Rd, approximately 8 miles east of Groveland and 30 minutes west of the Hwy 120 entrance to Yosemite National Park. There is also a Ferretti Road in the town of Groveland just past the Groveland Wayside Park, marked with a flashing yellow light and sign. Do not turn here—this is the western end of Ferretti Road. (If you happen to enter Yosemite National Park, you have driven too far.)
These following list of times are estimates. Please allow yourself extra time for the curving mountain roads. For more detailed driving directions, we recommend you check www.maps.google.com.
Mileage and Driving Times
|Sacramento to Groveland||132 miles (2½ hours)|
|San Francisco Bay Area to Groveland||140 miles (3-4 hours)|
|Los Angeles to Groveland||330 miles (7-8 hours)|
|South Lake Tahoe to Groveland||150 miles (3 ½ hours)|
|Angels Camp to Groveland||35 miles (1 hour)|
|Yosemite Valley to Meeting Place||40 miles (1 hour)|
For those that are flying, we recommend the Sacramento (SMF) airport, which is served by most major airlines. A variety of car rental companies are available at the airport. Oakland (OAK) and San Francisco (SFO) are alternative airports with competitive fares.
Shuttle options from the three-closest major airports are prohibitively expensive. You will find that weekly car rentals are less expensive than most other travel options, even though your car remains at La Casa Loma River Store/Tangled Hearts Bakery while you are on the river.
By Bus or Train
Greyhound and Amtrak do not offer service to the Groveland area.
Pre- and Post-Trip Accommodations
We recommend that you make reservations well in advance in order to guarantee lodging. (Pre- and post-trip lodging is not included in the trip cost.)
- Rush Creek Lodge 209-379-2373
- Evergreen Lodge 209-379-2606
- Sugar Pine Ranch 209-962-7823
- Yosemite Westgate Lodge 209-962-5281
Yosemite National Park
- Murphey’s Hotel 800-334-6316
Other Camping Options
- Groveland Ranger District 209-962-7825
Weather & Water Conditions
You may want to check one week prior to your trip for an up-to-date weather forecast. We recommend the following website: www.wunderground.com for weather in Groveland, CA.
Average Air and Water Temperatures
|Air (Day) °F||Air (Night) °F||Water °F||Notes|
|April||60-70||35-40||44-46||Extremely variable weather; more wildlife & wildflowers|
|May||70-75||40-44||45-48||Chance of spring showers—but usually beautiful, sunny days|
|June||80-85||46-50||48-50||High-water time; rare rain-clouds|
|July||88-92||52-56||50-54||Hot, sunny days; perfect for swimming|
|Aug||88-92||52-56||54-58||Driest month; ideal for sleeping out under the stars|
|Sept||85-89||45-49||58-60||Warm summer temperatures start to cool down|
Our primary goal is for you to have an enjoyable experience. The nature of the trip is such that it involves some physical exertion and potential exposure to the elements, including cold water, heat, sun, wind and rain. We have experience accommodating people with a wide range of physical disabilities and/or health conditions. However, individuals who are overweight or lack conditioning can endanger themselves, other guests and the guides. Please consult your doctor if you have medical or health conditions that could impact your ability to participate in this outdoor adventure. In general, trip participants must be able to:
- Wear a Type V Coast Guard approved personal floatation device (maximum chest size of 56 inches)
- Climb on and off the boats multiple times each day
- Navigate uneven terrain
- Paddle or hold on to the boat while navigating whitewater rapids
- Self-rescue by swimming to a boat or to shore in the event of an involuntary swim in a whitewater rapid
- Self-rescue by climbing into a boat with the help of another person in the event of an involuntary swim in a whitewater rapid
What To Bring
The best choice is an amphibious shoe that drains water, protects your toes and won’t come off in swirling current. A retired pair of athletic shoes can work well, too. Sport sandals with a heel strap are a good option. Find professional-grade options made by Chaco®, the official footwear sponsor of OARS guides.
We recommend starting with bathing suit/swim trunks and a lightweight synthetic shirt. For cool weather, add layers of synthetic long underwear and warmer clothes as needed.
Protecting yourself from the sun should be taken very seriously. A hat, sunscreen, lip balm and sunglasses are a must. In many cases, a long-sleeve shirt and/or light-weight pants are the best method for preventing sunburn.
☐ Sunscreen & lip protection; waterproof and SPF 30 or higher
☐ Water bottle
☐ Shade hat/visor, flexible enough to wear under your helmet
☐ Sunglasses (preferably polarized) with securing strap
☐ Swimsuit; a two-piece is recommended for women for changing and using the restroom
☐ Shorts (long board shorts preferable for sun protection) and quick-drying top
☐ River/tennis shoes or river sandals with an ankle strap River/tennis shoes or river sandals with a heel strap (such as those made by Chaco®)
☐ Synthetic long underwear for spring and early-summer trips
☐ Dry clothes and shoes to change into after your trip
Find all the gear you need for your trip online in the OARStore and receive FREE SHIPPING in the U.S. + 15% of your purchase helps provide disadvantaged youth with outdoor adventure experiences.
- ALWAYS BE PREPARED FOR CHANGING WEATHER! Especially during the months of April, May and early June, California can experience extreme changes in weather.
- Wearing cotton items on a river trip is only appropriate when the weather is hot. Wet cotton will chill your body temperature.
- Our wetsuits do not include “wetsuit booties”–please bring your own, or wear wool socks with tennis shoes as a good alternative.
Please let us know if you have any medical issues or dietary restrictions that well need to consider in planning your trip.
We provide one small, shared waterproof bag (approximate sealed size: 17” tall x 9” diameter) per raft to hold your camera and other items you might need during the day. While these bags are designed to be waterproof, you may wish to place your camera in a zip-lock plastic bag or waterproof casing for additional protection. Disposable waterproof and panorama cameras are also a fun option.
There are often professional companies taking photos of each raft at some of the Tuolumne’s larger rapids, which provide great action shots. These companies are not affiliated with OARS You will need to contact them separately to purchase these pictures. ‘Picture This…Rapid Shooter’ is one such company; visit them at http://www.rapidshooter.net after your river trip. Their phone number is (209) 379-2267.
Each participant will need to complete the required trip forms online and submit them no later than 30 days prior to your trip, or immediately if booking within 30 days.
Final payment is due in our office 60 days prior to your trip. Please let us know if you would like us to automatically charge your credit card on file when payment is due.
We recommend that you leave your valuables at home or in your private vehicle and take on the river only what’s absolutely necessary. We also recommend you leave dry shoes and clothing in your car to ensure a comfortable drive home.
If you feel your guides have provided a very special trip for you, you may leave a gratuity with the trip leader to be shared among the crew. This tip is entirely at your discretion, though we recommend a general tipping guideline of anything between 8% and 12% of trip cost. If you plan to tip, remember to bring a personal check or cash—ATMs are hard to find in the backcountry!
In reviewing your statement, you’ll note a $1/person/day donation to Tuolumne River Trust, a non-profit conservation organization dedicated to protecting the Tuolumne River through education, restoration projects and the advocacy for a healthy watershed. One-hundred percent of these funds go directly to these environmental actions, and your contribution is tax-deductible. Visit www.tuolumne.org for more information. This donation is voluntary, and may be removed from your invoice if you choose not to participate. Please notify our office to delete the donation from your balance.
If you enjoyed your trip, consider donating to the O.A.R.S. Foundation. This organization is a not-for-profit 501 (c) 3 organization with the express goal of providing opportunities for young people to experience the magic of the outdoors. Visit www.oarsfoundation.org to learn more about how a tax-deductible donation can change young lives for the better.
Watch our 23-minute Whitewater Orientation video
Shop for the latest in top-quality gear for your trip
Recommended reading list
OARS practices Leave No Trace outdoor ethics
Watch our “How To Pack For A River Trip” video
Additional information about Yosemite
Terms & Conditions
Reservations and Deposits
A $125/person deposit is required at the time of reservation. The balance is due 60 days prior to departure.
Cancellations and Refunds
If you find it necessary to cancel your trip, please notify us as soon as possible. The cancellation fee after you’ve made your deposit can range up to the entire trip cost, based upon the number of days prior to your trip that we receive your cancellation notice. We regret we cannot make exceptions for personal emergencies. For this reason, we strongly urge you to investigate trip insurance (see Insurance).
Cancellations 60 days or more prior to your trip earn a full refund less a $50/person fee. Cancellations 59 days or less prior to your trip are not refundable.
If you transfer from one trip to another within the same season, there is a $25/person charge up until 60 days before the trip. Transfers made after this time will be treated as cancellations.
Under most circumstances, if you are of an adventurous spirit and in reasonably good health, you should have no problem enjoying an OARS trip. People with medical conditions, including pregnancy, should have a physician’s approval before taking an adventure travel trip.
We strongly recommend that you protect yourself, your belongings and your vacation through the purchase of a travel protection plan. They cover your non-refundable payments in most cases, should you have to cancel your trip due to illness or injury—yours or that of an extended family member—even at the last minute. If coverage is purchased at the time of your initial reservation, pre-existing medical conditions may be covered. No one wants an expensive helicopter to become necessary, but if you need to be evacuated or if an immediate family member dies and the local management agency is requested to notify you by helicopter, the helicopter expenses will be your responsibility. Evacuations can be prolonged, difficult and expensive. Personal belongings and cameras are carried entirely at the owner’s risk, and OARS accepts no responsibility for lost, damaged, delayed or stolen property. You can protect yourself through Travel Insurance Services or with alternative insurance. Call Travel Insurance Services at 800-937-1387 or visit their website at http://www.travelinsure.com/cobrand/select/oars
Everyone is required to sign a standard liability release form before the trip, acknowledging awareness that there are inherent risks associated with the trip. Due to the nature of the activities, a condition of your participation is that you will sign this form and return it to our office before the trip begins. Anyone who refuses to sign the form will not be allowed to participate, and consistent with OARS cancellation policy, there will be no refund of the trip fees at that time.
Responsibility – An Important Notice
O.A.R.S. West, Inc. and cooperating agencies act only in the capacity of agent for the participants in all matters relating to transportation and/or all other related travel services, and assume no responsibility however caused for injury, loss or damage to person or property in connection with any service, including but not limited to that resulting directly or indirectly from acts of God, detention, annoyance, delays and expenses arising from quarantine, strikes, theft, pilferage, force majeure, failure of any means of conveyance to arrive or depart as scheduled, civil disturbances, government restrictions or regulations, and discrepancies or change in transit over which it has no control. Reasonable changes in itinerary may be made where deemed advisable for the comfort and well-being of the participants, including cancellation due to water fluctuation, insufficient bookings (this trip requires a minimum of 6 guests), and other factors. There is risk in whitewater rafting, particularly during high-water conditions. Rafts and kayaks can capsize. You could be swept overboard. Your guide will make every attempt to assist, but you must be strong and agile enough to “self-help” and “float-it-out” without further endangering yourself or others. We reserve the right not to accept passengers weighing more than 260 pounds or with a waist/chest size exceeding 56 inches. We may decide, at any time, to exclude any person or group for any reason we feel is related to the safety of our trips. We are experienced at accommodating people with various disabilities. Please give us an opportunity to make you feel welcome. We need to discuss any special requirements ahead of time. On advancement of deposit the depositor agrees to be bound by the above recited terms and conditions. Prices subject to change without notice.