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The following whitewater rafting information should answer your logistical questions concerning your Merced river whitewater rafting trip. If you still have questions after reviewing this material, please feel free to call our office.
Meeting Time & Place
All Trips meet at the ZEPHYR WHITEWATER MERCED RIVER OFFICE, located next to Indian Flat RV Park and Campground on the Highway 140 entrance into Yosemite Park. The address is 9988 Highway 140, El Portal, CA 95318. Indian Flat is 300 yards east of Cedar Lodge, a well-known first class lodge with restaurants. Indian Flat is 45 minutes to 1 hour from Yosemite Valley itself by car, depending on traffic.
Full-day trips meet at 10:00 a.m sharp!
Morning 1/2-day trips meet at 8:30 a.m sharp!
Afternoon 1/2-day trips meet at 2:00 p.m sharp!
Please note that the Highways in and around Yosemite can be confusing, and summer traffic can add driving time to the estimates below. 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 Indian Flat RV Park ON TIME. If you are late, you will 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. After about 30 minutes, you will pass the YOSEMITE VIEW LODGE. Continue through the small town of El Portal (still following the river downstream). Go another 4 miles or so, and you will see our office on the left hand side of the Highway directly next to Indian Flat RV Park. If you see CEDAR LODGE, you have gone 300 yards too far! Driving time from the Yosemite Valley floor is 30 to 45 minutes depending on traffic.
Take Highway 140 toward Yosemite Valley, passing through the town of Midpines and continuing down into the Merced river canyon. Continue up canyon, following the river, all the way to Cedar Lodge. We are 300 yards past Cedar Lodge right next to Indian Flat RV Park and Campground. Driving time from Mariposa is about 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on traffic. Caution: Highway 140 also exits WEST toward San Francisco on the south side of Mariposa. Make sure you take the 140 EAST towards Yosemite from the north side of Mariposa.
From Tenaya Lodge/Fishcamp:
Take Highway 41 to OAKHURST. From OAKHURST, take HIGHWAY 49 North to MARIPOSA. and follow directions “FROM MARIPOSA” above. Driving time from Tenaya Lodge to INDIAN FLAT is about 1 hour and 45 minutes depending on traffic.
From Bass Lake/Oakhurst:
From OAKHURST, take Highway 49 North to MARIPOSA, and follow “FROM MARIPOSA” directions above. Driving time from BASS LAKE / OAKHURST is about 1.5 hours 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 sharp right on Highway 140, following the Merced river down through El Portal to Indian Flat Campground. Driving time approx 3.5 – 4 hours depending on traffic.
Full-day trips include a deli-lunch served on the river. Half-day trips do not include lunch. All trips include cold beverages prior to boarding our bus for the ride back to your cars.
As a service to our clients, Zephyr provides wet suits and paddle jackets free of charge. Wetsuits are recommended on all trips through about mid June, depending on previous winter snowpack. The wetsuits 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 to Bring
On the river
- Shorts/swim suit
- Tennis shoes or river sandals (no flip flops please!)
- Sunglasses with tie-on
- Camera (see above) Note: 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: On the Tuolumne and Merced rivers, 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.
- Wetsuit if you have one. Ours are provided at no charge, and include a nylon paddle jacket.
Cool weather or high water items
- Polypro or wool long underwear
- Wool or pile pants
- Wool or polypro sweater/jacket
- Wool hat/Wool gloves
The closest motels to Mariposa are:
- Mariposa Lodge – (209) 966-3607 (800) 341-8000
- Mother Lode Lodge – (209) 966-2521 (800) 396-9770
- Miners Inn Motel – (209) 742-7777 (800) 237-7277
- Comfort Inn – (209) 966-4344 (800) 321-5261
- Best Western – (209) 966-7545 (800) 321-5261
- Sierra View – (209) 966-5793 (800) 627-8439
- Yosemite Motels – a series of 6 great motels in the Yosemite area.
- Yosemite Bug Hostel – a unique low cost hostel with camping, dorm type rooms, private rooms, and a great restaurant, and only 30 minutes from our meeting spot. Located in Midpines, only 8 miles from Mariposa on the way to Yosemite
- Miners Inn Motel – in the heart of Mariposa, this motel is very convenient and has a good restaurant as well.
The closest motels to Yosemite Valley, and also to our Indian Flat Campground meeting spot are:
- Cedar Lodge – (209) 379-2612…(800) 321-5261…1 minute from our meeting spot!
- Yosemite View Lodge – (209) 379-2681…(800) 321-5261…4 miles from our meeting spot!
- Yosemite Valley – (801) 559-5000…30 minutes from our meeting spot!
If you plan on staying in the Oakhurst or Fishcamp areas:
- Narrow Gauge Inn in Fishcamp, charming and great food. For reservations, call (888) 644-9050.
- Tenaya Lodge, also in Fishcamp, is a wonderful resort hotel with great restaurants and both indoor and outdoor pools.
- Chateau du Sureau is a 5 star, 5 diamond inn near Oakhurst.
- Hounds Tooth Inn is an excellent Bed and Breakfast near Oakhurst and the Southern entrance to Yosemite.
- Homestead Cottages offers rest and relaxation near Oakhurst.
- Sierra Mountain Lodge B&B is located in Ahwahnee, just 10 minutes from Oakhurst.
- Yosemite Southgate Hotel and Suites is located in the heart of Oakhurst.
For vacation home rentals inside Yosemite:
- Yosemite Vacation Homes is an excellent link.
- Yosemite Scenic Wonders provides cabin, home, and condominium rentals inside historic Yosemite.
- Redwoods in Yosemite offers year-round vacation home rentals.
- SierraScape Vacation Rentals offers several vacation rentals in Mariposa.
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 Hetch reservoir.
Bed & Breakfast Inns
- Indian Peak Ranch Mountain Top Hideaway is an excellent choice just south of Mariposa on 122 beautiful acres.
- Little Valley Inn also in Mariposa is close to restaurants and services.
- Indian Flat Campground – our meeting spot.
- Yosemite – a list of campgrounds inside Yosemite Valley. Yosemite Valley is 40 minutes from our meeting spot.
- See our Merced river camping map for BLM and USFS camp sites right on the river.
Breakfast the morning of the trip is your responsibility. There are many good restaurants in the Mariposa area, and if you are staying at either the Cedar Lodge or Yosemite View Lodge or camping at Indian Flat Campground, both the Cedar lodge and Yosemite View Lodge have very fine restaurants.
One-Day and 1/2 day Trip Logistics
Your head guide will meet you the morning of your trip at our Indian Flat Campground location.
- Full day trips meet at 10:00 a.m.
- Morning 1/2 day trips meet at 8:30 a.m.
- Afternoon 1/2 day trips meet at 2:00 p.m.
Please make sure you know how long it will take you to get to Indian Flat Campground from where you are coming from. If you are not there on time, you will keep others waiting, and you may miss your trip. There are NO REFUNDS or CREDITS for missed trips. If you are unsure about your driving times, please call our office. PLEASE DO NOT USE GPS.
We are frequently asked whether it is appropriate to tip guides. While our guides are well compensated for their skills, if you feel your trip was exceptional, or that your guide or guides went out of their way to make the quality of your experience a notch above the norm, tipping is a nice way of saying thank you.