Merced River


Explore Merced River Rafting Trips

2024 Season: Mid-April through June. More

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.

Difficulty & Scenery

  • Intermediate Class III-IV
  • Huge, tall waves
  • Rugged Sierra foothills near Hwy 140

Who Should Go

  • Adventurous novice & veteran
  • People wanting easy Class IV
  • Usual min. age: 12 (may be increased in spring)

Trips Include

  • Pro guide & instruction
  • Equipment & shuttle
  • Fresh, delicious lunch

Trip Planning

Merced 1-Day Rafting Trip Options

Long day of fun Class III-IV rafting near Yosemite National Park

Class III-IV morning, Class III mid-day, Class III-IV afternoon
16 miles
Lunch Included

Merced River 1-Day Trip Pricing

$199 Monday - Friday
$219 Saturday, Sunday

Book Now

View Available Discounts
Cancellation Policy

Sample Itinerary

Indian Flat put-in to Railroad Flat take-out described below*

  • Meet mid-morning in Midpines
  • Sign-in, shuttle, instruction
  • Class III-IV rapids
  • Lunch
  • Class III rapids
  • Class III-IV rapids
  • Take-out, shuttle
  • Trip ends in mid-afternoon to late afternoon

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.

Merced River Rafting Map

More About the Merced River

The Rapids: exciting roller coaster waves

Exciting Class IV Roller Coaster Waves

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.

The river scenery: clear waters, grassy canyons and wildflowers galore

Clear waters flow through an open and grassy canyon

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.

Located just outside of Yosemite National Park

3.5 hours from San Francisco, 45 minutes from Yosemite Valley

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 River runs in the spring from melting snow

April - mid-July *

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.

Meals: Freshly prepared riverside feasts

Freshly prepared riverside feasts

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.

How You Participate in Rafting the River

How You Participate in Rafting the River

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.

Highly Recommended with Great Reviews

All-Outdoors is the most recommended whitewater rafting outfitter in California. See for yourself:

Leave us a review on Google
Leave us a review on Yelp
Leave us a review on Trip Advisor
Leave us a review on Facebook

First of Many More Rafting Trips!

"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

Read & Write Reviews

Deals & Discounts

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.

Group Discount

There are a variety of discounts for group rafting trips. All types of groups are welcome!

Learn More

Youth Discount

Youth 17 years or younger receive a 10% discount on any trip on any date!

Frequent Floater Program ®

You earn a FREE day of rafting with our exclusive Frequent Floater Program!®

Learn More


Group Rafting Trips on the Merced River

We Can Accommodate Groups as Large as 50 People

One of our specialties is creating fun and memorable whitewater rafting trips for small or large groups.

What Type of Group Trip are You Looking For?

Back to Top

Email Newsletter

Get season updates, latest rafting videos & blogs, plus enter to Win a Free Trip for Two! Learn more