Top Ten All-Time Classic Whitewater Rafting Trips

Tuolumne, California

Difficulty: Class III to V

Season: April to October

Trip Lengths: One to three days

The Tuolumne is the archetypal High Sierra river. Its damming to create the Hetch Hetchy reservoir in Yosemite National Park was a clarion call for environmentalists in the early 20th century, leading to the founding of the Sierra Club. The Tuolumne's immersed canyon was said to be another Yosemite Valley.

But all is not lost. Thirty-six miles of the Tuolumne still flow between Hetch Hetchy and the New Don Pedro Reservoir. The 18-mile run between Meral's Pool to Ward's Ferry is a popular overnighter, offering profound wilderness isolation and teeth-rattling Class IV whitewater. Go in the early season, and the whitewater is staunch and fun. Go in late summer, and the river slows down and warms up. According to Eric Grathwol of OARS, "It's a great temperature for swimming and kicking back."

If you want to try a shorter but wilder run, the Cherry Creek Run is a nine-mile Class V terror.

Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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