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Rafting in Yosemite
Merced River Kayaking
Kayaking is a fun sport, for old and young alike. In Yosemite park, the Merced river provides the beginner with a slow moving pace with ample shoreline to stop and see the views. But if you want to kayak in Yosemite, bring your own. There is no rental for kayaks in Yosemite, only raft rentals at the Raft & Bike rental (1-209-372-8319) at Curry Village.
Where you can kayak on the Merced:
There is a specific area that allows for both kayaks and rafts on the Merced in the Yosemite valley area. This begins at Stoneman Bridge at Curry Village
You are allowed to float or paddle to Sentinel point beach. This is located on the exit side of the Yosemite Valley loop and across from the Four Mile Trail head. However the only road access is on the exit side of the Yosemite valley loop. This is the side that is at the foot of El Capitan.
There is a large parking area on the El Capitan side of the river that affords you room to load / unload your kayak.
Time and restrictions for rafting and kayaking:
There are additional restrictions that apply to both rafting and kayaking . First, you may raft between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. You must have a personal flotation device on and in full view at all time. This means everyone in the raft.
And this one is from the people from the mountain shop at Curry Village - "Rafting is not permitted whenever the river stage (depth) reads 6.5 feet or higher and the sum of air temperature and water temperature is less than 100°F." So take the calculator with you. or check with the raft rental shop mentioned above, first.
This means that usually the Merced is within these limits above , during the latter month of May through September. However, in the August and September months, the water level is usually low and the heat is so bad, that passage down the river is difficult. Expect to "carry" your boat more then float in it. Remember nost of Merced river water comes from the slopes of Mount Lyell and is powered by snow melt. Late summer leaves many of the waterfalls dry and the river low.