This photo needs editing.
Difficulty IV-V
Length 8 Miles
Gauge N/A
Flow Range
Reach Info Last Updated 04/22/2012 6:54 am

River Description

Yosemite is a fun creek with the unusual factor of a long downhill hike into Yosemite Valley at the end. The hike out is two miles on a good trail, but from the top of Yosemite Falls to the valley floor is about 2,500 feet of elevation drop. Save some energy and have a good system to carry your boat.

Put-in: From Yosemite Valley drive out highway 120 to the Tioga Pass road and then up to the Yosemite Creek. There is a pretty big parking area 100 yards past the bridge.   Elevation is 7440 feet.

It is best to have your gear all ready and do a fast put-in, so as not to attract unwanted attention. There is also road access to a campground two miles downstream of the Tioga Pass rd.

Take-out: There is a trail bridge (elevation 6580 feet) 250 yards above the actual Yosemite Falls, so there is no problem about knowing when to exit the creek. Also, there are plenty of pools and eddies above and below the bridge so that a swim here would not be catastrophic. After you take out at the bridge, you will need to chat with the many hikers and answer their questions. Then you can walk over to the falls overlook and be a tourist yourself for a little while. After relaxing and enjoying the scenery it is time to hike down the well maintained trail.

Yosemite Creek goes through a variety of terrain and character. It starts at around 7,500 feet elevation and drops to about 6,600 feet elevation at the top of the falls. Immediately below Tioga Pass road, this creek is just plain tiny! It is tight and not much wider than a boat till side streams start feeding it. It is silly to boat it there, but I liked it anyway. By the time you get to the old Tioga Pass Road bridge two miles downstream, the flow has increased to more respectable dimensions. Much of the creek is technical and rocky but not overly steep. There are a number of gorges that are class 5 and depending on flow or other factors may or may not be runnable. There is one beautiful section of steep bedrock slides and pools. There are also some long sections of meandering class 1.

Logs can be a problem at any point along this creek and the number of logs probably varies considereably from year to year. Expect to do numerous portages around logs. Portages are mostly pretty easy along this creek and are usually at river level. The creek is not down in a deep canyon but rather flowing through a moderate valleys, with only occasional small gorges of impressive or congested drops.  Seems like the logs were most frequent in the class 1 sections. 

When you do boat this creek, please leave a comment on the bottom of this page with the date, flow at Pohono, approximate number of logs, and that sort of info.

Other Information Sources:
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite Water Activities

Merced & SF Merced Planning Process:
The Merced River Plan process is still accepting public comments. Boaters should write comments about which sections of the river and tributaries that they like to boat on and want to boat on. Describe what the experience is like and how it fits into your appreciation and understanding of Yosemite.
Merced River Plan- Public scoping open! till Feb 4, 2010
Merced & South Fork Merced River Draft Outstandingly Remarkable Values Report (1.3 MB, PDF file)

Comment forms [772 kb PDF]
Submit comments electronically to the Yosemite National Park Service planning team at or

Rapid Descriptions

Bridge at Yosemite Creek Campground

Class - N/A Mile - 2
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

I was told that this is an older Tioga Pass road.  The creek should have a respectable flow from side streams by this point.

Bedrock Slides

Class - IV Mile - 5
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

These slides seemed very impressive back in the 1980's but are pretty tame by today's standards.  Nonetheless, they are very nice.  You can scout and photograph from either side, maybe easier on river left.


Class - V Mile - 7
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

This short gorge near the end was usually portaged on the right, because of a few problematic drops.  Modern creekers might not have any problems. 


No Gage

Gage Descriptions

Season: Late spring after Tioga Pass road opens through early summer. Flows in Yosemite Creek will be a fairly small portion of the Merced at Pohono Bridge.

Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

No Accident Reports



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ACTION ALERT–Help to open Yosemite to boating!

Megan Hooker

Yosemite National Park is currently seeking the public's input on how the Wild and Scenic Merced and Tuolumne Rivers will be managed in the future, including the question of whether to open them up to paddling. While we're pleased to see the park is considering lifing the ban in some areas, the preferred alternative for both rivers keeps the long-standing prohibition on paddling in place for the Tuolumne and on sections of the Merced. With your help, we can advocate more effectively for opening these stunning and amazing rivers to the public!

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Paddling on the Merced in Yosemite!

Megan Hooker & Paul Martzen

Yosemite National Park is currently seeking your input as they develop alternatives for the Merced Wild and Scenic River Management Plan. Boating is currently banned throughout most of the Park, and we are pleased to see that it is being considered on additional stretches of the river. Your comments can help support opening the entire length of the Wild and Scenic Merced River within the Park to canoes, kayaks and rafts!  Participate in public workshops and/or log in to a Webinar an April 11, from 6:30 to 8:30 (Pacific time) at

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Merced River Plan Suggestions Needed by Feb 4, 2010

Paul D. Martzen

Yosemite National Park is starting fresh with a new river planning process for the Wild and Scenic Merced River and tributaries. The public can tell the park what they want studied in the plan by submitting comments before February 4, 2010. Yosemite severely limits whitewater boating in the park, so this is your chance to ask the planners to increase whitewater boating opportunities.


Paul Martzen


Matt Muir


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1201201 04/22/12 Paul Martzen added rapids
1190127 01/17/07 n/a n/a
1197135 01/19/10 Paul Martzen