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Tuolumne River

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General Information

Description - California's premier whitewater river is a slalom course of boulders of escalating intensity.

Attractions - California's premier whitewater river is a slalom course of boulders of escalating intensity. Staircase rapids, chutes, and pools by the score and Yosemite National Park create the ultimate river adventure, a journey by turns exciting and pristine. World famous, the Tuolumne River is where ambitious runners earn their stripes.

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. The Forest Service has allowed commercial rafting on the Tuolumne River for 25 years. Commercial outfitters operate within a permit system under which the number of trips and passengers are limited.

In a further effort to protect the river resources and promote user safety, all noncommercial floaters were also required to obtain permits through the Stanislaus National Forest's Groveland Ranger District Office. However, visitors will not need a permit if they are rafting between October 1 and April 30. Rafters taking trips during the off-season are still encouraged to call the Groveland office for the latest weather, stream flow and safety information. For taped information on flow levels, call (916) 653-9647. Twelve undeveloped campsites are available along the river to noncommercial rafters on a first-come, first-served basis.

Recreation - The Tuolumne River offers many rafting, kayaking, hiking, fishing, wildlife viewing, and camping opportunities. The river features technical Class IV and V rapids with names like "Nemesis", "Thread-The-Needle" and "Pinball." The best time to float the Tuolumne River is usually May through September. High flows in the spring can make trips risky, especially for the inexperienced rafter.

Climate - Days in California are typically clear with less than 25 percent humidity. Temperatures are most comfortable in the spring and fall, with an average high of 85 degrees F and a low of 50 degrees F respectively. Winter brings cooler days, around 60 degrees F, and freezing nights. It occasionally snows at higher elevations. Summers are hot, over 100 degrees F during the day and not cooling much below 75 degrees F until the early morning.

Location - The Tuolumne flows through Yosemite National Park in east central California. To reach the river, take Highway 49 south from Sonora to Highway 120. Go east past Groveland about 7.5 miles to Ferreti Road to Lumsden Road to Lumsden campground.
Put-in: Lumsden Road Take-out: Wards Ferry Bridge

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
Add your own trip Report! Newly re-released feature. One of the most popular features on Wildernet, trip reports allow you to share your experiences with others. This is an invaluable resource for determining what to expect on your outdoor adventure, so please participate! To prevent spamming, you must be a registered user of Wildernet in order to submit a trip report

Filed By: Kim Brogan (Bonita, CA)
Number of People Encountered: 25-50 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: We have gone down this river twice now with Zephyr. We loved the guides and the food. The wetsuits smelled very funky and should be cleaned and aired so that they smell better when you put them on. Nonetheless, the river itself is awesome. Once you do the Tuolumne, it is hard to go back to anything less than a IV. Enjoy the trip.

More Information

Contact Information:
Folsom Field Office, 63 Natoma Street , Folsom, CA, 95630, Phone: 916-985-4474, Fax: 916-985-3259

Groveland Ranger District, 24545 Highway 120 , Groveland, CA, 95321, Phone: 209-962-7825

Additional Information:
California Rivers - This section mainly describes California's designated Wild and Scenic Rivers.
Groveland Ranger District - Groveland Ranger District features eight developed campgrounds, two picnic grounds, seven maintained hiking trails, Cherry Lake - the largest lake in the Forest, and a 29 mile section of the Tuolumne Wild and Scenic River complete with a boat launch and twelve undeveloped campgrounds.
High Sierra Region -
Yosemite National Park - Yosemite National Park lies in the heart of the Sierra Nevada among groves of giant sequoias, wildflower meadows, mountains, lakes and waterfalls.


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