Tuolumne River Rafting Dreamin’
I’ve got Tuolumne fever. Already.
And it’s only February.
I blame it on a recent hike at Hetch Hetchy (pictured above), where the gorgeous Tuolumne River rolls out of Yosemite National Park through a spectacular granite canyon and then flows down to create the most wild and exhilarating rafting in the U.S.
The weather was gorgeous for being the middle of “winter” and I found myself basking in the summer temps, day dreaming about a 3-day Wine on the River trip I took down the Tuolumne with OARS several years ago. It was epic. You know, the kind of trip that you’re always comparing to other trips because it was that good.
The Tuolumne is exciting. It’s the kind of river trip that challenges you with its Class IV-V rapids, but then rewards you for your efforts.
The reward? Sandy beaches perfect for sleeping under the stars (highly recommended), calm stretches for swimming (some of the clearest water you’ll ever see), the feeling of being a million miles from everything (unplugged bliss), and if you happen to be going on a Wine on the River trip, gourmet food and good wine too.
But, those are just a few reasons the Tuolumne makes it on my top five best trips ever list.
For me, the Tuolumne was adventurous and liberating. It was my first whitewater rafting trip, and I had plenty of worst case scenarios running through my head for weeks before I went. After the first day on the river though, I got over that fear, and fell in love with the adrenaline rush and exploring the backcountry in a whole new way. I knew the Tuolumne wouldn’t be my last trip. I was hooked.
Now, my ole’ bucket list has largely been taken over by the names of all the rivers in the West — the Rogue, American, Colorado, Snake. I want to raft them all, not to mention several rivers in other countries. But even after I’ve scratched a few rivers off my list, there’s still something about the Tuolumne deep down that gives me that fever — the eagerness to hop on a raft and disappear into a river canyon for a few days.
It’s special. It’s full of first adventures, lots of laughs, great camping, even better food and the start of what I’m sure will be some life-long friendships.
I’m not sure I’ll make it back to the Tuolumne this year. I might catch the Rogue instead. I’ve got that “list” after all. But I’ll be back on the Tuolumne some day, that’s for sure.