Travel Attractions

Tuolumne River Rafting

Described by river experts as one of the most challenging river runs in California, the main Tuolumne River is a scenic 18-mile journey. It passes through lands managed by the United States Department of Agriculture - Forest Service and the United States Department of the Interior - Bureau of Land Management.

Rafting on the Tuolumne River has evolved from a humble beginning. During the early 1970's, only a few hardy souls tried to float the river, but by 1975, an estimated 1,200 persons annually were making the trip. Forest Service officials soon realized the management of the Tuolumne River would have to change to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip, while at the same time protecting natural resources.

The Tuolumne River is one of the major rivers draining the western slope Sierra Nevada mountains of California. It is the slightly larger northern neighbor of the Merced River; both originate in Yosemite National Park.

Through successive Ice ages, glaciers carved valleys for both the Merced River and the Tuolumne River through what is now Yosemite National Park.

From its headwaters at 13,114 feet (3,997 m) above sea level at Mount Lyell (37°45′17″N, 119°16′03″W), the Tuolumne River runs as a somewhat wavy line from east to west, its waters eventually reaching the Pacific Ocean via the San Joaquin Delta and the San Francisco Bay. The Dana Fork of the Tuolomne River flows from Mount Dana and meets the Lyell Fork descending from Mount Lyell in Tuolumne Meadows, just west of the Sierra Nevada's main divide. As it runs west, though, its course deepens markedly as it drops over the first of a string of many waterfalls.

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