California > Merced River Rafting Near Yosemite National Park
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Merced River Rafting Near Yosemite National Park

1 Day from $144
Trip Highlights
  • Merced River rafting through pine forests and California poppy fields
  • Exciting Class III-IV Yosemite rafting
  • Delicious picnic lunch on a sandy riverside beach
  • Cranberry, Ned’s Gulch, Split Rock & Corner Pocket rapids provide white-knuckling whitewater action
  • Combine this rafting trip with a visit to Yosemite National Park
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(8 reviews)

Outside Travel Awards 'Best Outfitter' Runner Up National Geographic Adventure Magazine - Best River & Sea Outfitter on Earth As Featured On 50 Tours of a Lifetime - National Geographic Traveller Best of the Bay Area Winner

Call Toll Free: 800-346-6277 or enter the month and year you want to go on this trip.
The season runs April - July.

Travel Months *
April May June

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Departure Dates

Daily, April - July


20% Discount for Groups of 12 or More! (call for details)

$144 Weekdays!

$170 Weekends

Additional Cost:
$8 per person per day federal, state and local access fees
Wetsuits required on all early-season trips

River Rating Minimum Age
Class III - IV9 (16 during high water)
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Merced River Rafting near Yosemite National Park: Overview

Download Itinerary

Spring fever comes early on the Merced River, located near historic Yosemite National Park, as it flows through poppy-covered hillsides and burly pine forests. In April and May, the Class III-IV whitewater on the Merced is the stuff of avid paddlers’ winter daydreams. For the rest of the California whitewater rafting season, the Merced churns with bold wave trains and exhilarating rapids which are ideal for rafters of all levels. Consider combining a Merced River rafting one-day trip with a day or two spent exploring adjacent Yosemite National Park for the perfect California adventure vacation.

Merced River Rafting near Yosemite: Itinerary at a Glance

  • Our Merced River rafting trip starts out with a bang, with at least one mile of constant Class III-IV whitewater, rollercoaster wave trains and heart pounding action
  • In addition to the frothy whitewater, the calm stretches of the Merced offer a chance to enjoy this picturesque river canyon adorned with pine forests and colorful wildflowers
  • Lunch is a delicious deli-style picnic on a sandy beach
  • Back on the river, Ned’s Gulch and Gauge Hole provide more Class III-IV whitewater thrills
  • The Merced River rafting trip concludes with a shuttle ride back to our vehicles

20% Discount for Groups of 12 or More!
Call 1.800.446.7238 or 1.209.736.2597

Show Mile By Mile Guide

Rafting the Merced River Near Yosemite:
Mile by Mile Guide

Mile 0
RIVER ACCESS. Put-in (start) of O.A.R.S. Merced River Whitewater Rafting trips. The Cedar Lodge, one of three Yosemite lodging accommodations located just outside the national park’s Arch Rock Entrance on Hwy 140 in El Portal, can be seen from this point on the Merced River.
Mile 3.1
SOUTH FORK MERCED. The South Fork of the Merced enters the river here.  This is a splendid hike to consider either prior to or after your O.A.R.S. Merced River Rafting trip.  There is often an incredible display of spring wildflowers, which is worthy of a visit.
Mile 5
NED'S GULCH (IV). There is a very small turn-out on Hwy 140 where onlookers can view boaters run this ‘staircase’ rapid. A large eddy at the end of the rapid provides a place to regroup and watch other boaters maneuver the rapids from river level.  (An eddy is an area of usually calm water behind or downstream of an obstruction in the main current, such as a rock, where water flows counter to that of the main current.)  There are easy, splashy Class II rapids for the next six miles.
Mile 13.5*
Briceburg. Take out. Hot/cold drinks and a return shuttle to your vehicle await at the take-out of your O.A.R.S. Merced River rafting trip.* Hwy 140 leaves the river here, heading toward Mariposa.  There is a bridge that crosses the river and continues downstream for the next five miles.  There is also a dirt road that climbs up and out of the canyon leading toward Coulterville and Groveland.  Driving this road is not advisable – it is very steep, narrow, often severely rutted and extremely remote.
Mile 14.7
SPLIT ROCK (IV) There is a very large boulder in the middle of the river.
Mile 14.9
CORNER POCKET (IV) The river makes a very sharp right turn, and most of the current pours into a very large hole against a rock wall.
Mile 17.7*
Railroad Flat Campground. Take out. Hot/cold drinks and a return shuttle to your vehicle await at the take-out of your O.A.R.S. Merced River rafting trip.*

*O.A.R.S. sometimes varies its take-out (end) locations depending on the water level and whitewater rafting experience of its guests.

Information for this Mile by Mile guide was gathered from the books “California Whitewater” and “A Guide to the Best Whitewater in the State of California,” as well as from a variety of sources on the Internet.


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“In over 10 years of Rafting, we had some of the best water I've seen. Also, your guides were among the best we've ever had.”
Gerald E Melahn ~ West Dundee, IL

“Excellent Guide, Ryan. Told great stories, kept it entertaining, great lunch meal, we got to experience surfing, the 360 degree turn, got some education on how to read the water & the current  Excellent! He made our trip fantastic and a great time!”
Jenny Yang ~ Lake Forest, CA

“Steve the guide was excellent. The ages of our group ranged from 9 to 72 years old and everyone had fun. The special attention to engage the children was especially nice.”
Deena Smith ~ San Diego, CA

“I have been on about 8 different river rafting trips and this was one of the best.”
William Krechowski ~ Merritt Island, FL

Merced River Rafting - 1 Day Trip Planner

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Local Weather & Current Conditions

Average Temperatures
Month Low High
April 35° 65°
May 42° 73°
June 48° 82°
July 54° 90°
Water Temperatures
Seasonal Average: 45 ° F

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Company Info

O.A.R.S. is an author ized concessioner of Arches, Canyonlands, Grand Canyon and Grand Te ton National Parks and Dinosaur National Monument.
Outside Travel Awards 'Best Outfitter' Runner Up National Geographic Adventure Magazine - Best River & Sea Outfitter on Earth As Featured On 50 Tours of a Lifetime - National Geographic Traveler Mindy Gleason, O.A.R.S. Reservations Manager Condé Nast Traveler Top Travel Specialist 2007-2013 (River Rafting) Best of the Bay Area Winner

For consecutive years, O.A.R.S. has been named the "Best River & Sea Outfitter on Earth" by National Geographic Adventure and one of the top two outfitters in the world by Outside Magazine in its annual Active Travel Awards recognition program. In multiple years, O.A.R.S.trips have been honored as "50 Tours of a Lifetime" by National Geographic Traveler and since 2007, Condé Nast Traveler has recognized Mindy Gleason, O.A.R.S. Reservation Manager and International Adventure Travel Consultant, as Condé Nast Traveler's standalone Top Travel Specialist in the River Rafting category.

Questions about trips or making reservations? Contact or call 800-346-6277 in the USA or Canada or 1-209-736-4677 if outside the USA or Canada.
O.A.R.S. Companies Inc.,
PO Box 67, Angels Camp, CA 95222