The closest whitewater rafting destination to world famous waterfalls of Yosemite National Park, the Merced River is characterized by a steep gradient and few obstacles to hinder a raft’s momentum. Veteran rafters and adventurous novices alike enjoy long rapids and big rolling waves of this roller coaster like ride.
Your trip starts with a quick Class IV treat--Cranberry Hole Rapid. From there, a fast long succession of rapids gives you the chance to hone your whitewater paddling skills on their gigantic Class III wave trains. Once we reach our most challenging rapid--Class IV Ned's Gulch--we'll break for a quick snack and scout the rapid from shore.
After you've successfully navigated the intimidating obstacles in Ned's Gulch, we'll stop for lunch and dry out on a warm nearby hillside. Once you've boarded your raft again you will enjoy an easier section of Class II-III whitewater that leads to the grand finale, three miles of exciting Class III-IV rapids.
*The itinerary above may be altered due to a range of variables, including river flow levels, time of year, and other factors. Our standard trips run from Indian Flat put-in to Railroad Flat take-out. Occasionally river conditions on the day of the trip dictate running trips from Red Bud put-in to Railroad Flat take-out, or from Briceburg put-in to Bagby Reservoir take-out. Contact us if you have any questions.
The Merced is the closest a river can come to being like an amusement park ride. Rolling waves and speedy currents characterize its rapids. There are very few rocks to avoid, just large hydraulics. Normally on 1-Day trips, we raft a 16-mile section of the upper Merced. This lively section starts off fast for the first six miles, slows down in the middle section, and speeds up again in the final miles. You'll find your time is spent laughing as you sail over waves that are almost cartoon-like in their height. This is definitely a favorite run of many whitewater enthusiasts.
Protected by the federal government as a National Wild and Scenic River, the Merced has its headwaters in the heart of Yosemite. With such magical beginnings, it's no wonder the Merced is such a beauty. The river's broad, sweeping canyon is home to oak and pine trees and majestic grassy hills. In the spring, golden poppies, purple lupine and fragrant wild irises explode in color on the green hillsides. Near the river, a roadway follows the canyon line. At times during your trip, you'll hear the cheers of onlookers who have stopped to watch our raft navigate the clear blue waters.
Just ten minutes from Mariposa, a Merced River trip makes for an easy side trip when visiting Yosemite National Park. Traveling from Sacramento, it's a 150-mile trip. Nearby highways include Highway 140, 120, and 49. Explore other Yosemite whitewater rafting trip options.
The Merced is a free-flowing river. This means there are no upstream dams controlling its flow. So when the snow in the mountains begins to melt, the Merced begins to flow. Flows usually peak around early-June, and should become too low for rafting by mid-July.
* Season length and flows may vary. For this year's flow predictions and real-time water levels go to the River Flows page.
We provide a gourmet "build-your-own" sandwich lunch that includes all the fixings you’ll need to assemble the perfect sandwich along with kettle style potato chips, dried fruit, and chocolate. Enjoy your relaxing, riverside meal before heading back out on the water for more adventure.
If you have special dietary requirements, we encourage you to tell us at the time of your reservation so we can discuss options.
All-Outdoors usually runs paddle-rafts on the Merced River. In a paddle-raft, each guest and a professional guide have a paddle and navigate the river, working as a coordinated team. Merced trips are highly participatory so guests need to be ready and willing to paddle. In times of extreme high water, we may elect to use oar-paddle combination rafts (a professional guide steers the boat with oars while simultaneously calling commands to paddlers in the boat). All guests should be able to swim.
"This was my first rafting trip... and I will be going on many more! We had a blast! Clancy our guide was great! I am very glad I did my research and choose to raft with AO! Great organization and we really like that it is family owned! Everyone was very professional and down to earth! I will promote AO to everyone I know who wants to go rafting! Thank YOU!!!!"
Randy from SoCal
Start here to find the best possible deal for your next California whitewater rafting adventure. Please note that only one discount can be applied per person and must be mentioned at the time of reservation.
Youth 17 years or younger receive a 10% discount on any trip on any date!
One of our specialties is creating fun and memorable whitewater rafting trips for small or large groups.