Guided Rafting & Hiking Tours in Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park, located just 3½ hours by car from San Francisco and Sacramento and 6 hours from Los Angeles, covers nearly 1,200 square miles and is visited by more than 4 million people each year. What is surprising, however, is that many of these visitors only spend time in the 7 square miles of Yosemite Valley. The Valley is lined with waterfalls, including the tallest waterfall in North America, 2,425-foot-high Yosemite Falls. Giant granite formations such as El Capitan and Half Dome bookmark this iconic landscape and outdoor adventurer’s paradise.
We owe a tremendous amount of thanks to Abraham Lincoln, John Muir and President Theodore Roosevelt for their forward thinking in preserving this land. In 1864, President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill that set aside park land specifically for preservation and public use, the first such action by the federal government. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, John Muir advocated for federal preservation of Yosemite, lobbying Congress to make it a national park. Then, in May 1903, Muir took President Theodore Roosevelt on a three-day camping trip near Glacier Point and convinced him to create a federal park. Finally, in 1916, Yosemite became a national park under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service.
Today, OARS is proud to be a licensed commercial permit holder in Yosemite, offering hiking tours and whitewater rafting near Yosemite.
Yosemite Whitewater Rafting Adventures
Two of the most exciting stretches of California whitewater rafting are located just outside the park’s boundaries on the Wild and Scenic Tuolumne and Merced Rivers.
Merced River Rafting
Combined with a spring visit to see Yosemite’s waterfalls at full throttle, a Merced River rafting trip with OARS is a classic springtime whitewater experience. Typically running April through July, this 1-day adventure takes you down 16 miles of thrilling Class III-IV whitewater near Yosemite’s Arch Rock Entrance. If you want an amped up experience full of huge wave trains, make sure to go in early spring during peak snowmelt which typically lasts until mid-June. Later in the summer as the snowmelt subsides, the Merced mellows to a splashy, family-friendly rafting trip near Yosemite that’s fun for everyone.
Tuolumne River Rafting
Further north, near the park’s Big Oak Flat Entrance and the charming community of Groveland, OARS offers 1- to 3-day Tuolumne River rafting trips. This Wild and Scenic River crashes down from the High Sierra peaks in Yosemite to provide rafters with an 18-mile stretch of nearly non-stop, white-knuckle Class III-IV whitewater. You can experience all of the excitement in one day, but when you opt for a 2- or 3-day trip you’ll also have the chance to hike up to secret swim holes, kick back in camp with friends and family, and sleep under the stars in a secluded river canyon away from the park crowds. Big on adventure, the Tuolumne is the ultimate Yosemite rafting trip.
Guided Hiking in Yosemite
Looking for an all-encompassing Yosemite National Park vacation? OARS’ Yosemite Hiker trips have been meticulously planned by our team to show our guests the best the park has to offer during the spring and summer, but also give you a taste of Yosemite’s lesser-traveled wild side. These unique trips combine several days of guided hiking on the park’s iconic trails like Upper Yosemite Falls, Half Dome and Clouds Rest with whitewater rafting on the nearby Merced and Tuolumne Rivers. It’s the ultimate Yosemite adventure, minus the hassle of having to figure out all of the logistics.
O.A.R.S. West, Inc. operates as a licensed commercial permit holder in Yosemite National Park and on the Tuolumne River as a permitted outfitter of the Stanislaus National Forest.