A rollicking rafting trip on the Merced River goes only in spring and early summer—and this is a year not to be missed! Combine a rafting adventure with visiting Yosemite Valley. The river runs from Class 2 to 4, but after peak snowmelt like we’re seeing it’s running high and fast—Class 3 to 4. Who’s game?
Forget the crowded elbowing for campsites and cabins and get to Mariposa County’s less known but absolutely beautiful Lake McClure and its baby sister Lake McSwain. Close to Yosemite Valley but with a far-way feel, both these lakes can be entered at Merced Falls, about 27 miles from Merced and 25 miles from the town of Mariposa. McClure Point Campground and Lake McSwain have swimming, boat rentals, and all the creature comfort amenities for easy overnights!
Now is an ideal time to hike to two of Yosemite’s classic falls—Vernal and Nevada. They’re absolutely thundering these days, and the trails are less busy than in summer. (Get an early morning start to maximize solitude!)
Stay & Eat in Mariposa
Mariposa County has plenty of awesome lodging. Friendly and artisan, this gold rush town has plenty of dining options, and there’s a super popular craft brew scene. Just an hour from Yosemite via Highway 140, this route is one of California’s most scenic canyon drives: waterfalls spill over the canyon walls, wildflowers carpet the hills, and the fast-flowing Merced River parallels the road.
Check out Yosemite Mariposa County’s website for lodging and outdoor adventure ideas.