Merced River 1/2-day trips

Refreshing whitewater – close to Yosemite!

$113 to $128

About the Trip

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Our friendly office staff are ready to answer any questions and help you book your next adventure!



We offer both morning and afternoon 1/2 day trips. Our morning trips meet at 8:00 a.m. and end about 12:30 p.m.. Our afternoon trips meet at 1:30 p.m. and end around 6:00 p.m.. During our main season (April-July depending on snowpack), this trip covers 11 miles but does not include lunch.

Later in the season, as water levels slowly drop, we migrate these trips to the Merced river Gorge. These “Late Season” half day trips raft about 5 miles, are mostly Class 2-3, and great for families with kids as young as 7. (See a write up on these trips with a photo at the bottom of this page).

Minimum age: 8-12 (main season. depending on water levels), 7 (late season)

Merced 1/2 Day 2024 Trip Dates

Daily from April into July or early August depending on snow-pack
Main Season – 11 miles
Late Season – 5 miles (as water levels lower)
Both morning (8:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.) and afternoon (1:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.) trips are available daily

Merced 1/2 Day Pricing

SeasonStart DaysPrice
Group Price (12+)
  • Prices are per person and subject to an 8% Government access/service fee
  • 5% discount for groups of 6-11.
  • Group rates apply for 12 or more, plus 1 free trip with 24 or more.
  • Youth rates apply for rafters 17 and younger


  • Meet either at 8:00 a.m. or 1:30 p.m sharp at the Zephyr office:
    6940 Highway 140, MidPines, Ca 95345.
  • Park cars, do paperwork and fit wetsuits if needed
  • Safety talk, paddle instruction, shuttle to river, and then we start rafting
  • NOTE: The 4.5 hour window for each trip includes car parking, bus shuttle, a safety talk, etc. Actual “on-water” time varies depending on how high or how low the water levels are at trip time.

What’s Included

  • Wet suits and/or paddle jackets if needed
  • All river gear including helmets and life jackets
  • Cold beverages at the end of the trip
  • Parking and round trip bus shuttle to and from river
  • Lunch is not included on our 1/2 day trips

On the River

Half-day trips do not include lunch. All trips include cold beverages at the end of the trip. Make sure you are well fed before your meeting time – you’ll need the energy! There are numerous food options in Mariposa, including the excellent Yosemite June Bug Cafe directly across the highway from our meeting spot in Midpines.

Wet suits provided free of charge

As a service to our clients, Zephyr provides wet suits and paddle jackets free of charge. Wet suits are recommended on all trips through about late May – early June, depending on previous winter snowpack. Our wet suits are designed for whitewater rafting, and are very comfortable. The suit is a full-length “farmer-john” style, with sleeveless tops. We also provide an optional nylon paddle jacket which can be worn over the suit when necessary. You are welcome to provide your own suit if you wish.

“What do I wear underneath my wet suit?” An important question that comes up often. We recommend wearing a thin nylon swim suit, or other non-bulky swim attire. Avoid cotton clothing.

On the river

  • Shorts/swim suit
  • Shoes that will stay on your feet while swimming. Tennis shoes or river sandals (no flip flops/crocs please!)
  • Sunglasses with tie-on strap (straps available for sale at our river store)
  • Camera Note: On most trips, there is a professional photographer that will be taking photos along the way, and these photos will be available for you to see and purchase if you desire when the trip is over.
  • Light Windbreaker/wool sweater (spring trips only)
  • T-shirt or long-sleeve shirt
  • Hat/Visor with tie-on. Note: you will be wearing a helmet, and you will need a baseball style hat that can be worn underneath the helmet. and still screen you from the sun.
  • Sunscreen
  • Wet suit if you have one. Ours are provided at no charge, and include a nylon paddle jacket.
  • Change of clothes for after your trip

Cool weather or high water items

  • PLEASE NOTE: Cotton clothing is not appropriate for cool/wet weather, as it does not insulate when wet
  • Polypro or wool long underwear
  • Wool or fleece/pile pants
  • Wool or polypro sweater/jacket
  • Wool hat/Wool gloves

Logistics, Directions & Accomodations

All trips meet at the ZEPHYR WHITEWATER MERCED RIVER PROPERTY, located at 6940 State Highway 140, Midpines, CA, 95345. Our property is eight miles from Mariposa, and just across Highway 140 from the Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort in Midpines. Meet times are strictly adhered to. We recommend arriving 10 minutes early to allow time for parking and paperwork. If you are late and miss your trip, we are very sorry, but there are no refunds for missed trips as we more than likely had been turning others away.

  • Full day trips meet at 9:30 a.m.
  • Morning 1/2 day trips meet at 8:00 a.m.
  • Afternoon 1/2 day trips meet at 1:30 p.m.

Important note: if you are using GPS or Google Maps, please be sure to type in the town and zip code, and double-check that your directions are sending you to Midpines, CA and NOT Merced, CA.

Merced Meeting Place
Click to enlarge

Please note that the Highways in and around Yosemite can be confusing, and summer traffic and construction can add driving time to the estimates below. If you are driving through Yosemite Valley it can be especially busy during peak season. It is important that you key into where you are staying, and are clear on your driving directions. It is your responsibility to get to our meeting location ON TIME. If you are late, you may miss your trip, and there are no refunds for missed trips!

From Yosemite Valley

Take the Highway 140 Exit out of Yosemite Valley heading west toward Mariposa and follow the Merced River downstream. Continue traveling west on Highway 140 towards Midpines. As you pass the turnoff for the Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort on your right, begin looking for our signs on your left. Our driveway is on the left-hand side of the highway, on the outskirts of the town of Midpines. Driving time from the Yosemite Valley floor is about 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes, depending on traffic.

From Mariposa

Take Highway 140 toward Yosemite Valley, passing through the small town of Midpines. Stay on Highway 140, and about a mile past Midpines, begin looking for our signs on the right. Our driveway is on the right-hand side of the highway, next to the large Cal-Trans illuminated sign. Driving time from Mariposa is about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on traffic.

From the Groveland area

Proceed to Coulterville on Highway 49. From Coulterville, proceed south on Highway 49 to Mariposa.  Then, follow the “FROM MARIPOSA” directions above. Driving time from Groveland is about 1 hour and 20 minutes, depending on traffic.

From Tenaya Lodge/Fish Camp

Take Highway 41 South to Oakhurst. From Oakhurst, take Highway 49 North to MARIPOSA (about 30 minutes), and follow the “FROM MARIPOSA” directions above. Driving time from Tenaya Lodge/Fish Camp is about 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes, depending on traffic.

From Mammoth/Mono Lake

Take TIOGA PASS (Highway 120) west towards Yosemite Valley. When you reach the junction with the North/South Highway 120, turn left (South) and head towards Yosemite Valley. Proceed through the tunnels, dropping into the Merced River canyon. You will come to the junction of Highway 140. Turn right on Highway 140, following the Merced River downstream. Continue traveling west on Highway 140 towards Midpines. As you pass the turnoff for the Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort, begin looking for our signs. Our driveway is on the left-hand side of the highway, on the outskirts of the town of Midpines. Driving time from Mammoth/Mono Lake is about 4 hours to 4 hours and 30 minutes, depending on traffic.

The closest accommodations to the Midpines/Mariposa area are:

If you plan on staying in the Oakhurst or Fishcamp areas:

For vacation home rentals inside Yosemite:

For lodging between Groveland and Yosemite:

  • Evergreen Lodge is located just north of Yosemite off Highway 120, and offers a rustic, historical stay in its recently remodeled cabins. The food is excellent and the ambiance relaxing. Very close to Hetch Hetchy reservoir.
  • Rush Creek Lodge provides a relaxed, yet sophisticated experience in a hillside woodland setting at the Highway 120 West entrance to Yosemite National Park.

Bed & Breakfast Inns:

Merced Camping Map
Click to enlarge


Late Season 1/2 day trips during lower water

Corner Pocket rapid on our Late Season Family 1/2 day trip

When the normal 11-mile 1/2 day trip section of the Merced river becomes too low to raft as the snow melt slows, we move our 1/2 day trips down to “the Gorge”…a 5-mile narrow, scenic section of the river from Briceburg to Railroad Flat. The water is warmer, the air temperature hot, and the lower water rapids are fun and technical. We stop at a calm area for swimming, and kids love jumping off “Jump Rock”

If you are looking for a high water Class 3-4 trip, this is not it! But if your fancy is fun family rafting with warm temperatures, fun lower water class 2-3 rapids, and scenic floating and swimming, this trip can’t be beat.

Because of the slower pace (although still providing for  fun, technical rapids…you still wear your helmet!) and fun water play activities associated with this trip, we have had clients say that this trip offered more family fun than our higher water trips. Minimum age is 7-9 depending on the swimming ability of your kids and water levels.