Merced river rafting

Merced river rafting

MERCED TRIPS will resume in 2023, Saturday, April 1st

The Merced river tumbles and twists out of Yosemite Valley, gradually mellowing into a raftable whitewater river below the town of El Portal. Offering abundant whitewater confined by a narrow corridor, this river is a must for the rafting enthusiast. Indeed, our Merced River rafting trips offer one of the best white water paddle-boat trips in California.

The Merced’s proximity to Yosemite makes it a popular choice for visitors looking for a half-day or 1-day Class IV rafting trip as part of their visit to the Park. The Merced’s spring and early summer rafting season coincides with peak waterfall viewing season in Yosemite. In later season the bouncing rapids of the river provide a fun way to beat the heat. Our trip meeting location is also close enough to the Central Valley (just 1 hour from Merced) to draw visitors from throughout California. Your head guide will meet you the morning of your trip at our Merced meeting spot, located about 11 miles east of Mariposa, California, and about a 1.5-hour drive west from Yosemite Valley. Minimum age is 10 years old in the spring and lowers to age 7 in summer as the water drops. Participants will be provided with maps, detailed directions, and meeting times. Sierra Mac merged our Merced River rafting operations with Zephyr Expeditions in 1985.


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Merced Full-day trips meet at 9:30 a.m. sharp! Morning Merced 1/2-day trips meet at 8:00 a.m. sharp! Afternoon Merced 1/2-day trips meet at 1:30 p.m. sharp!

Merced Rafting Meeting Spot. All trips now meet at the Merced Rafting Headquarters, located at 6940 CA Highway 140, Midpines, CA, 95345. Our secure meeting spot is eight miles from Mariposa, and just across Highway 140 from the Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort. About a 1 hour and 15 minute drive from Yosemite Valley.

Please note that cell reception is limited in the region. Highways in and around Yosemite can be confusing, and summer traffic can add driving time to the estimates below. It is important that you key into where you are staying, and are clear on your driving directions. It is your responsibility to get to our meeting location ON TIME. There are no refunds for missed trips!

From Yosemite Valley: Take the Highway 140 Exit out of Yosemite Valley heading west toward Mariposa and follow the Merced River downstream. Continue traveling west on Highway 140 towards Midpines. As you pass the turnoff for the Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort, begin looking for our signs. Our driveway is on the left-hand side of the highway, on the outskirts of the town of Midpines. Driving time from the Yosemite Valley floor is about 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes, depending on traffic.

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From Mariposa: Take Highway 140 toward Yosemite Valley, passing through the small town of Midpines. Stay on Highway 140, and about a mile past Midpines, begin looking for our signs on the right. Our driveway is on the right-hand side of the highway, right next to the large CalTrans illuminated sign. Driving time from Mariposa is about 15 to 20 minutes depending on traffic.

From San Francisco and Los Angeles, please use the town of MARIPOSA as a destination marker and then follow “FROM MARIPOSA” directions above.

Trip Logistics

One Day Trips meet at 9:30am at our staging area in Midpines (above). After brief orientation, guests are fitted for wetsuits, and vehicles are secured, we take shuttle bus to put-in. We’ll raft for 16 miles with a stop for lunch. Guests arrive back at their vehicles between 3:30 and 5:30, dependent on water levels.

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Morning Half-Day Trips (8am) and Afternoon (1:30pm) meet at our staging area in Midpines (above). After a brief orientation, guests are fitted for wetsuits, and vehicles are secured, we then travel by shuttle bus to put-in. Early season trips raft for 11 miles. Late season half-day trips raft 5.5 miles. Half-Day trips do not include lunch.


  • Shorts/swimsuit
  • Tennis shoes or river sandals (no flip flops please!)
  • Sunglasses with tie-on
  • Camera (see above) Note: There is a professional photographer that will be taking photos along the way, and these photos will be available for you to see and purchase if you desire when the trip is over.
  • Light Windbreaker/wool sweater (spring trips only)
  • T-shirt or long-sleeve shirt
  • Hat/Visor with tie-on. Note: On the Tuolumne and Merced rafting trips, you will be wearing a helmet, and you will need a baseball style hat that can be worn underneath the helmet. and still screen you from the sun.
  • Sunscreen
  • Wetsuit if you have one. Ours are provided at no charge and include a nylon paddle jacket.
  • Water bottle for yourself, or a larger one for your group to share.

Cool weather or high water items

  • Polypro or wool long underwear
  • Wool or pile pants
  • Wool or polypro sweater/jacket
  • Wool hat/Wool gloves

We recommend travel insurance to protect your travel investment. Coverage is available to protect yourself in the event of last-minute cancellation. For information and rates, please visit or call (800) 937-1387 or (925) 932-1387 (Mon- Fri, 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, Pacific Time).

Looking for a place to camp before or after your rafting trip on the Merced? For information on campgrounds inside Yosemite National Park visit the official Yosemite NPS Campground Reservations Page. Campsites in Yosemite can be hard to find in summer months, but there are a few first-come first-served campgrounds in the area around the river. Our Merced River Camping Guide blog post has details on sites located outside the Park.

For further information on any of our rafting trips, call Marty at 209.591.8027

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