Merced River

Section of river: Merced River (Rosebud to Railroad Flat)
Difficulty: Class 3-4
Length: 15 miles; 24 KM
Season: April – June
Best rapids: Chipped Tooth, Stark Reality, Cranberry, Percolator, Ned’s Gulch

Merced_River_CanyonFlowing from the High Sierra, the Merced River is a defining characteristic of world renowned Yosemite National Park.  Cascading through the park, this free-flowing river flows into Yosemite Valley, tumbling over the spectacular Nevada and Vernal falls along the way.  Reaching the valley floor, the Merced’s crystal-clear waters meander through the park, past a backdrop of aspens, cottonwood and evergreens, grassy meadows and dramatic, glacier-carved mountain peaks.

merced-scenicUpon leaving Yosemite, the Merced explodes into a flurry of whitewater, leaving its gentle nature behind at the park boundary.  Between Rosebud and Railroad flat there is an excellent – if not widely known – stretch of Class III-IV rapids that deliver a premier river rafting experience.   This nationally designated Wild & Scenic River offers a quietly beautiful yet wildly exciting river trip featuring mile after mile of huge wave trains and long staircase drops, delivering nearly non-stop whitewater thrills.

However, the Merced is still accessible for aggressive beginners; its intensity is kept somewhat in check by a general lack of obstacles amidst the rapids and the calm, glassy pools that provide a reprieve between bursts of whitewater.  One word of warning – the Merced’s free-flowing waters, dependent solely on snowmelt, keep its season short and sweet; Merced trips generally run from April through June or early-July only.