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Rafting Adventures Near Yosemite Park

A group of people bringing their rafts ashore

When you think about white water rafting, what image comes to mind? Maybe a large raft buffeted by waves of crystal clear water careening around rock formations. Or maybe a small raft tipping down a waterfall with screams of delight (fear) coming from the interior. It is important when planning a rafting trip to have a clear idea of what type of ride you are signing up for.

Around Yosemite, that can vary greatly by season and level of snowfall. Why? Because the water providing your adventure originates from the snow melt in the mountains, so water levels will usually be higher and stronger in the spring than later in the season.  The three main rivers closest to Yosemite–Merced, Tuolumne and Cherry Creek (which is part of Tuolumne) offer rides generally rated from III to V. What does that mean?

Class III Rapids 

Class III can be considered Beginning/Intermediate. This means part of the ride will be Class I and II, or moving, but calm. The Class III parts will have rapids with waves 2 -3 feet high, and some obstacles.  Think challenging, but not overwhelming.

Class III-IV Rapids

Class III – IV can be considered Intermediate. This means that you get everything from Class III along with occasional Class IV rapids–waves and drops of 4 feet and higher.  There are also higher and more difficult obstacles. There is a possibility of falling out of the raft for an unintentional swim.

Class IV+ Rapids

Class IV+ is Intermediate/Advanced. Add to everything mentioned previously 4 -5 foot waves and drops, adding in obstacles that require quick and precise maneuvering. Falling out of raft and swimming is difficult.

Class V Rapids

Class V is considered advanced. All of the above interspersed with long and tumultuous rapids with 5 – 8 foot drops and many obstacles that must be avoided. Falling out of the raft can be dangerous.

Rapids Trips on 3 Rivers:

There are numerous rafting companies with trips at all levels, two of which are headquartered out of Groveland. If you want to stay local, try Sierra Mac or ARTA, which donates part of proceeds to local environmental nonprofits.

Merced River

The Merced River tumbles and twists out of Yosemite. Early in the season, the ride is usually Class IV, but calms down to Class III and even Class I later in the season, making it a great choice for an inexperienced rafter. The slower run coincides with peak waterfall viewing. The river may be too low for rafting late in the season, depending upon conditions.

Tuolumne River

The Tuolumne River is considered a Class IV to IV+. There are more than 40 named rapids in 18 miles. But rapids are only part of the adventure–a trip may include stops at swimming holes, pebble beaches, or even a waterfall to frolic in.

Cherry Creek

Cherry Creek is considered the most challenging commercial rafting trip in California.  There is a 9 mile run with 15 Class V rapids and many Class IV. The names say it all–Guillotine, Eulogy, Corkscrew, to give you an idea.  The drops are steep and frequent, and should be attempted by experienced rafters.

Always check conditions before you start planning, to make sure it fits the level you want–water levels can change all the time. There are both day trips and overnight options with camping. We cannot wait to hear about your water adventure when you return to your relaxing room at Groveland Hotel. Make your plans early, as these trips fill up fast!

The Groveland 18767 Main Street circle logo

Summer Menu

Small Bites & Shares

Southwest Chicken Spring Rolls with Pico de Gallo $12

Vegetable Samosas with cilantro chutney $12

Heirloom Tomato Flatbreads with grape tomato, mozzarella, pecorino, pesto, balsamic reduction $14

Grilled Chicken Wings with teriyaki, pineapple pepper relish, scallions, peanuts $14

Truffle and Parmesan French Fries with garlic aioli $11

Charcuterie and Cheese Plate with mostarda, crackers, whole grain mustard $16



Fiesta Salad with romaine, Pico de Gallo, black beans, avocado, pepper jack cheese, chipotle ranch $13

House Caesar Salad with parmesan crisps, garlicky croutons, lemon Caesar dressing $12

Artisan Salad with apple, celery, dried apricots, cucumber, pumpkin seed vinaigrette $12

*Add Shrimp +$14, Chicken +$10, Steak +$14, or Salmon +$12



Vegetarian Orecchiette Pasta $24

with Spring vegetables, tomato coulis, pecorino Romano

Fried Chicken Sliders $22

with brioche bun, sweet pickles, coleslaw, chipotle mayo and house fries

Wagyu Burger Sliders $24

with aged cheddar, brioche bun, mustard aioli, romaine lettuce and house fries

Blackened Chicken Tacos $24

with flour tortilla, jack cheese, black bean aioli, mango salsa and tortilla chips

Pan Roasted Salmon $32 

with cous-cous tabouleh, seasonal vegetable, citrus vinaigrette

Jumbo Shrimp and Potato Gnocchi $34 

with English peas, mushrooms, heirloom tomato, lemon butter sauce

Grilled Steak Frittes $42

with Prime NY strip, house fries, chimi churi sauce



Room 110 is situated at the back of the hotel in the Annex building on the lower floor.  This cozy room features a queen bed, with a large private bathroom containing a tub/shower.  This room accommodates two guests. This is a pet-friendly room.

Accessibility Features: Entry door is 32” wide; there is an outlet within 4’ of the telephone jack; the door lock is located 44” from the floor; there is more than 36” of room to the right side of the bed; hangers are located 53” off the ground.  Currently, the door handle is a historic twist knob, but we are working with our locksmith to replace this with a levered handle that can easily be operated with one hand and without tight grasping, pinching or twisting the wrist.

The bathroom has room to do a t-turn; the toilet seat is 18” off the ground and has a grab bar located behind the toilet; the wash basin is 30” off the ground with insulated pipes; the wash basin faucet is easy to operate with one hand without tight grasping, pinching or twisting of the wrist; the towel racks are 46” off the floor; the bathroom floors are slip resistant.  There are no grab bars on an adjacent wall in the bathroom for the toilet as there is not an adjacent wall to place them on. 

The tub has faucet controls positioned at the center of the end wall and open side of the tub; faucet can easily be turned on and off with one hand without tight grasping, pinching or twisting the wrist; there is a grab bar at the foot of the tub and at the head of the tub; and there are two 40” grab bars alongside the tub to serve for low and high needs.  The fixtures in the bathtub are historic and therefore we do not have a 60” hand held shower wand.

Due to the historic nature of our property, our rooms are fairly small, therefore we are unable to provide 36” around both sides and the foot of the bed.  However, we do provide full clearance between the door and the right side of the bed.

You can book this room online or please call us 24 hours/7 days a week at 209-962-4000 or email us at guestservices@groveland.com and we would be happy to find the room that most meets your needs.  

Pet Friendly

Your search for pet-friendly vacation lodging near Yosemite National Park ends here.  Our four-legged guests love the Groveland Hotel as much as our two-legged ones!  We’re happy to offer select pet-friendly rooms, located on the first floor, for your stay in Groveland, California.  The pet fee is $75 per reservation, with a limit of one pet per guest.  We welcome pets 60 lbs or less.

For dog-friendly activities near the Groveland Hotel, we recommend a walk along the Hetch Hetchy Railroad or going for a refreshing dip in the pet-friendly Rainbow Pools swimming hole.  If you are heading into Yosemite National Park, check their website for pet rules and restrictions.

Looking for a local dog sitter/boarder where you can keep your dogs for the day while exploring Yosemite?  There is a great nearby facility called Big Creek Boarding.