Tuolumne River rafting is one of those ‘must-do’ California rafting experiences, seriously. The Tuolumne River is California’s Class IV+ premier white water river, rushing through one of the most spectacular canyons in the Sierra! Flowing from the high Sierra, the Tuolumne River creates the “Grand Canyon” of Yosemite as it spills into the Hetch Hetchy Valley behind the O’Shaughnessy Dam above our put-in at Meral’s Pool. Between water control projects, the Tuolumne races through the deep granite canyons, creating some of the most exciting rapids and breath-taking scenery of the entire Sierra! This “Wild and Scenic” river section flows into the Don Pedro Reservoir below take-out at Ward’s Ferry.
Step up to the exciting thrills of a Class IV+ whitewater river! It’s a good idea to have rafted a Class III-IV river and be adventuresome and in good condition before moving up to Tuolumne River rafting. The river starts right out with a series of Class IV rapids with chutes, steep drops, holes and reversals to keep us on our toes. Tight, technical and steep describes rapids like Rock Garden, Sunderland’s Chute, and Ram’s Head, leading up to one of the biggest drops in the U.S., the Class V Clavey Falls! This dramatic staircase rapid takes us through two big drops and, hopefully, around a boat-eating hole and away from the left wall — enough exciting, adrenaline rush adventure for us all! The river continues on another 12+ miles through pristine forest/canyon land and many more Class III, IV, and IV+ rapids to our take out at Ward’s Ferry.
The isolated Tuolumne River is home to abundant wildlife; the river itself offers great fishing for rainbow and brown trout. Eagles and hawks circle overhead; if we’re lucky, we might spot a visiting bobcat or raccoon along its banks. We feel the serenity of the wilderness canyon as well as the excitement of great rapids for a complete whitewater wilderness adventure!
The Tuolumne River is done as a one day trip only in early spring and late summer/fall. We run all 18 miles of the Tuolumne in one day as there is only one place to put-in and one take-out area. Rafters need to be adventuresome and in good condition with prior rafting experience. Our day is long and full from the moment of meeting in the morning until we return to our cars around 6:00 PM.
Experience the thrill of great rapids with time to enjoy the serenity of a wilderness canyon. We meet early on the first morning of your trip at our outfitter’s meeting place on Highway 120 near Groveland, west of Yosemite Nat’l Park. The drive to our put-in takes us deep into the canyon on narrow back roads–an exciting adventure in itself! We meet our guides and boats, don wetsuits if needed for protection and comfort, stow our gear in waterproof dry bags in the oar boat, and head for the river in paddle boats–usually six paddlers plus your guide to a boat. We raft the upper section of the Main Tuolumne, scout and run Clavey Falls, and make camp below the falls for a well deserved evening on the river where we rest and play while our guides prepare a wonderful dinner and campfire.
On second morning we usually have time for a hike up Clavey Creek before setting out on the day’s exciting Class IV+ run, stopping for lunch on the river bank. We take out at Ward’s Ferry in mid afternoon and shuttle back to La Casa Loma and your cars by around 5:00 PM.
Take the time to truly enjoy the wild and scenic Tuolumne with an extra day on the river to hike, fish, relax and fully experience this extraordinary wilderness canyon. We raft the river with time to experience and enjoy the beauty and serenity of the river. Our camp is usually just below Clavey Falls, a wonderful area for hikes, fishing, and just relaxing in the “middle of nowhere” on our extra day in the canyon. We return to our cars around 4:00 to 5:00 PM on the third day, rested and refreshed from a true wilderness experience.