Summer in Yosemite: the traffic! the crowds! the screaming of "Elmer" in the campgrounds! Though summer is not Yosemite's most idyllic season, the range of activity for people from all walks is great. Hiking, biking, swimming, rockclimbing, camping, horseback riding, and the best way to spend a hot summer day - rafting. Once the snow melts and the river level lowers, the three mile stretch of Merced River from Curry Village to the Yellow Pine Campground becomes a lazy meander perfect for a half day float trip. Don't own a raft? No problem, the concession company rents four-person rafts for a per person fee. Bring a cooler of cold drinks, put in at Stoneman Bridge and bring your sun hat for a hassle-free way to spend the day in Yosemite.
The views of Yosemite's icons, Half Dome and Yosemite Falls, provide a different perspective from the water. Any sign of thunderstorms will shut down the raft rental operation, and though we spied ominous clouds above Half Dome, today's rentals were curtailed by the traffic back up in Yosemite Valley. Rental rafts are ferried back to Curry Village by truck, and due to the extended wait for traffic in the Valley, rentals were limited. So on a busy summer Saturday, we had the river mostly to ourselves. Though plenty of people bring their own rafts/kayaks/canoes (like us), the majority of river vessels stems from the raft rental operation. This section of the Merced River is filled with wide sandy beaches for swimming and sunbathing. Sierra Nevada rivers sparkle with flakes of pyrite (Fool's Gold) and since the river flows downstream from the site of the historic Old Yosemite Village (you can see relocated buildings in the Pioneer Yosemite History Center at Wawona), you often see sherds of white ceramic crockery.
At the Yellow Pines take out we loaded the raft onto our truck, and suffered the slow crawl through traffic back home. Fortunately we were relaxed and sun-warmed from our river trip and lucky that we have such a great opportunity right outside our front door.
Curry Village Recreation Center (raft and bike rentals): Junk in the Trunk!