Merced River Rafting Near Yosemite National Park
Whitewater Rafting in California with O.A.R.S
- Enjoy a picturesque canyon adorned with pine forests, colorful wildflowers, rocky ledges and sandy beaches
- Delicious picnic lunch on a sandy beach
- Class III-IV whitewater thrills on Ned’s Gulch and Gauge Hole
Merced River rafting features first-class early season whitewater just outside Yosemite National Park through a picturesque canyon adorned with pine forests, colorful wildflowers, rocky ledges and sandy beaches.
Spring fever comes early on the Merced River located near historic Yosemite National Park in California. With the hillsides of California's Sierra Nevada gold-plated in orange California poppies and silvery alpine snows melting fast and furiously, the Merced River is a snapshot of reawakening Yosemite wilderness. With its expanse of burly pine forests, jutting rock and silky beaches, the Merced River runs through a sun-soaked California paradise. The Merced River guards the edge of Yosemite National Park, a spectacular place and a U.S. national park like none other. In April and May, the Class III-IV whitewater on the Merced is first class, the stuff of avid paddlers' winter daydreams. For the rest of the whitewater season, the Merced churns with bold wave trains and slick chutes friendly to rafters of all levels. Rafters on the Merced should always consider combining their Merced River Rafting one day trip with a night at a local lodge and a day or two exploring adjacent Yosemite National Park for the perfect Sierra getaway.
- Skilled professional guide service
- Delicious deli lunch
- High quality inflatable rafts and related river equipment including paddle and helmet, splash jacket and personal flotation device
- Transfers from the meeting place to the river and back
- Pre and post trip accommodations and meals
- Wetsuits (available for rent on early season or cold weather trips)
- Insurance of any kind, including travel insurance
- Items of personal nature
Day by Day Itinerary
You'll meet your trip leader and fellow adventurers at 9:30 AM-please be prompt. Once
everyone's arrived, we'll board our shuttle to the river. Reaching the put -in point, you'll meet the
rest of your O.A.R.S. crew and feel your anticipation build as you see the rafts waiting for you.
After the guides deliver an orientation and safety talk, your adventure begins.
The Indian Flat put-in will give the crews some time to get organized and paddle ready to hit the
first big rapid of the river, Cranberry! Exciting and wet, the Cranberry rapid is a favorite among
guides and a great way to start your day on the river. Depending upon water flows Our Merced
River trip can start at two different locations. The upper Redbud section needs medium flow and
will start with a bang, at least one mile of constant Class III-IV whitewater immediately puts our
paddling skills and teamwork to the test. Exhilarating wave trains, sweeping or sudden river
bends and quick drops keep our hearts pounding and our paddles digging as we continue through
Nightmare Island and Chipped Tooth. This section is rarely run due to the necessary water levels.
Each mile brings more white-knuckling thrills, more laughs, adrenaline and high fives. Still
excitingly consistent, the river does begin to give us short breaks between big rapids like Stark
Reality, Cranberry Hole and Percolator.
Beyond the alternating clear pools and frothy whitewater, the surrounding scenery is magnificent
and the calm stretches give us a chance to enjoy it. Just outside of Yosemite, we're rafting
through a picturesque canyon adorned with pine forests, colorful wildflowers, rocky ledges and
Lunchtime comes and we pull off the water for a delicious picnic. Knowing that a morning of
hard paddling inspires a very hearty appetite, we make sure that our lunches are always abundant
and satisfying. Lounge in the shade with a deli sandwich piled high with fresh cold cuts, cheese
and veggies or perhaps tasty taco salad, plus fresh fruit, cookies, icy lemonade, and water. After
feasting and relaxing on the beach, we resume our journey.
Back on the river, Class III and IV challenges like Ned's Gulch and Gauge Hole provide our
afternoon thrills as we continue down the Merced. On warm days, the slower stretches of cool
water may invite us to jump in for an invigorating swim.
As we reach Railroad Flat, our river trip draws to a close. At the take-out point, an O.A.R.S.
shuttle will be waiting to give you a ride back to Sand Pit. You'll be returned to your car by
approximately 5:00 PM.
About The Operator:
Angels Camp, CA
O.A.R.S. was the first exclusively oar-powered rafting company permitted to operate trips on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Through our four decades in the adventure travel industry, we have become the largest and most diverse family of river-based adventure travel companies in North America, operating on over 1230 miles of rivers in the continental U.S. In addition to our signature Grand Canyon trips, we offer adventure vacations in Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming, as well as in British Columbia, Chile, Galapagos, Fiji, Baja and Peru. The heart and soul of O.A.R.S.-from president and founder George Wente to the more than 300 dedicated guides and employees on our team-is that we are all genuinely invested in every passenger, every trip and every lifetime memory.
We consider our O.A.R.S. outdoor adventure guides to be among the best in the industry! Some began their river-guiding careers more than 30 years ago; others were born into it. They are entertainers, historians, geologists, botanists, chefs, medics, anthropologists, event planners, authors, photographers, wilderness pathfinders, and they are the single most complimented component of our organization. Our guides are also professional, playful and ever mindful of your wants and needs, and their enthusiasm for the natural world is contagious. Learn about our guides through reading their detailed biographies, experience and interests.
Our Adventure Consultants and our year-round office staff who provide you with all the trip-specific tips, trip planning assistance and adventure travel trip logistical support have more than 100 years of combined experience in the adventure travel industry, as well as close to 1000 river trips between them.
Your O.A.R.S. Adventure Vacation
You concentrate on fun. We brew the coffee, cook the meals, pump the boats, provide the gear, plan the day, find the best camp spot, and we strive to fill each day with excitement, discovery and the attention to detail you deserve. O.A.R.S. provides the best average guide-to-guest ratio in the adventure travel business (1:4).
You do only what you feel like doing. Want to paddle a ‘ducky' or admire the view from the bow of a boat; go on a day hike or stay in camp and read; save room for dessert or have two pieces of seared salmon? Every day is yours to do with as you please.
Is there any other experience more conducive to creating new, lasting friendships and deepening family bonds than an O.A.R.S. adventure? Our outdoor trips are wonderful equalizers, bringing together like-minded people from diverse backgrounds. Time and again we hear from guests about their joy of having met kindred spirits and new traveling companions. Parents bask in their child's newly-gained confidence in the natural world. Gone are electronic distractions, commutes and deadlines, leaving guests with uninterrupted time to relax, snuggle under the stars, savor a sunset and swap tales around the campfire.
When you join an O.A.R.S. adventure travel trip, you're not just a customer-you are a friend, a member of the crew and an extension of our family-owned and operated company. We'll answer your questions, feed you well, show you a good time and share with you our passion for the world's waterways.
Outdoor adventure vacations are our specialty, and we work hard to provide our guests with the best travel experience of their lives. If part of your trip under our control wasn't everything you expected, we will work with you to make it right.
Environmental stewardship is nothing new to O.A.R.S. We've been at it for four decades. In partnership with our guests, we have contributed more than $3 million in donations and fees toward the preservation of the environment and to environmental and wildlife conservation initiatives. For a detailed account of our environmentally responsible practices, check out our Responsible Travel page.
Don't Just Take Our Word for It
O.A.R.S. has been routinely recognized by adventure industry experts, media and our guests for our commitment to excellence and innovation in travel. In both 2008 and 2009, National Geographic Adventure magazine selected O.A.R.S. as "The Best River & Sea Outfitter on Earth" based on their criteria including education, sustainability, quality of service, spirit of adventure and references. Since 2007, Condé Nast Traveler's Wendy Perrin has recognized our Reservations Manager, Mindy Gleason, as the "Top Travel Specialist" in the River Rafting category for her unique ability to offer O.A.R.S. travelers "the best blend of expertise, access, and good value." Additionally, year after year magazines such as National Geographic Traveler, Outside, Men's Journal and Sunset along with NBC, CNBC, Forbes Traveler and SmarterTravel.com have all recognized O.A.R.S. for serving up some of the "Best Trips on the Planet."