We got all settled in to our campsite in Hodgdon Meadows the day before, and decided to rent a raft to float down the Merced on our first full day in Yosemite. The Merced River winds lazily back and forth along the valley floor. It’s a relaxing way to spend a few hours and take in a ton of great views along the way. In 2010 we brought our own raft. Although we saved some money on the ride, because we rafted on one of the busiest days of the year, July 4th, the logistics of two cars and moving the raft were not really worth the savings. This time we rented a raft. They charge per person, not per raft, so don’t feel the need to crowd into one raft. We had 2-4 people per raft, which worked just fine.
Carrying the raft to the launch point is the most work you’ll do for the next few hours. Once you get to the river, one of the employees for the raft rental company will give you a hand launching the raft. Randy, Ellen, Brian, and Haley were in the first boat.
Stacy, Katie, and Candice were next and then we put our boat in. There are no rapids, no big hazards, and very little shade on this float. Be ready to relax and put on plenty of sunscreen!
John and Brad were in the last boat into the water. The view of Half Dome behind them is just a bonus!
Actually there are views of either Half Dome or Yosemite Falls at different points all along the float. Even though it was a busy weekend in Yosemite, the river wasn’t overly crowded. We got started about 10:30 AM and finished before 1:00 PM. I snapped one more picture of Half Dome just a little ways from the launch point.
Due to a lack of snow and an extended drought in California, the river was very low for this early in the year. That was another good reason not to overload the boats.
We got our first glimpse of Upper Yosemite Falls about 30 minutes into the float.
Don’t pass up a good picture of the falls, but don’t worry about missing them either. The river meanders quite a bit and just when you think you have passed seeing them, there they are again!
Sean got plenty of practice rowing/steering the raft.
And I got lots of rest!
We pulled over lunch around 11 at a beach by House Keeping Camp. This place was perfect for lunch. There was a nice beach, some shade, and bathrooms! We ate lunch under some interesting looking trees.
And we had a great view of Yosemite Falls.
After lunch as we pulled away from the beach I got another view of Half Dome and some people enjoying the beach, the river, and even one guy sleeping in the raft.
Except for the one shady stretch of river…
Most of the rest of the float was about the same. Lots of smiles to go around.
Plenty of relaxing and the beautiful Yosemite Valley all around. At the end of the float the rental company loaded the raft onto a truck we got on a bus, and headed back to our cars. This is definitely the way to do this! After rafting we stopped at Yosemite Village to call to check on the daily Half Dome Hike permit lottery. Not our lucky day. Since we would not be hiking to the top of Half Dome, we decided to stick together as a group again, but to be a little more ambitious and hike to the top of Vernal Falls. I’ll add another post soon to share our hike and the rest of our visit to Yosemite.
Here are some more pictures from this awesome river!