[VIDEO] Top 5 Rapids on the Merced River

Posted May 9, 2023 by Jack Armstrong: grandson of founder George Armstrong
View time: 2.5 mins

The Merced River is known for its big waves and continuous whitewater action. Located just outside Yosemite National Park, this Class III-IV run provides some epic rapids, all within a beautiful scenic canyon. Let’s take a look at the top 5 rapids on the Merced.

Number 5: Cranberry Rapid

Rated Class IV, Cranberry rapid is a long train of massive, splashy waves. It’s the first major rapid on the run, and happens just a few minutes after you get on the water. It’s the perfect way to kick off the trip!

Number 4: Endless Wave Trains

While the Mighty Merced is home to many exciting rapids, it also features long, nameless trains of waves between the bigger, more well known rapids. That’s why we’re giving them the number 4 spot in our ranking.

Number 3: Monster Mash

Similar to the wave trains of our number 4 spot, Monster Mash is a series of exciting roller-coaster-like waves. It’s a lot of fun, will get your heart pumping, and is a great warm-up for Splitrock rapid, which lies just downstream.

Number 2: Ned’s Gulch 

Ned’s Gulch is an exciting Class IV drop. The rapid has a few technical moves up top, before dropping the boats into a long train of waves. While still fun at high flows, Ned’s Gulch actually becomes a bigger rapid at lower flows and is one of the Merced’s most well known rapids.

Number 1: Splitrock Rapid 

Named for the giant, halved boulder on the right side of the river, this Class IV rapid is the biggest on the entire river. You and your crew must maneuver your line up top in order to smash through a massive wave at the bottom. 

And there you have it, our top 5 rapids of the Merced! Ready to find out which rapid is your favorite? Give us a call and our California Rafting Consultants will set you up for your ideal experience. We’ll see you on the river!

You may be also interested in:
[VIDEO] Spring Rafting: Merced River vs. Kaweah River

Author Bio

Jack Armstrong

Jack grew up 35 minutes from AO headquarters, and is the grandson of our founder, George. His education includes a film degree and art studies from Biola University, as well as lots of experience breaking camera gear outside. After graduating college, he started an outdoors/action sports focused production company and is largely responsible for our video, photo, and social media content. Jack’s favorite trip is the Cal-Salmon, because of the river’s awe-inspiring beauty and the sweet rapids. When he’s not rafting or playing with cameras, Jack can be found skiing, surfing, visiting art galleries, or eating tacos.


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