Friday, May 23, 2014

River Rafting on the Tuolumne (Northern California)

When I was rafting in Patagonia, there was an trainee who usually guides rafting trips in Northern California. I asked her what her favorite river in NorCal was, and she told me that Tuolumne River is special. Now that I'm moving, I decided to raft this river before I leave! Because of my time constraints, I went with a 1-day trip with All Outdoors Rafting. The meeting point for the Tuolumne trip is in a town called Groveland, close to the west entrance of Yosemite National Park. We took a van on a bumpy road to the put-in.

Tuolumne can be rafted in 1 day, or on a 2-day camping trip, where you go at a more leisurely pace and have time to hike. I decided to go the 17 miles in one day. We were told that this was a special time to visit the Tuolumne. Remember the Rim Fire last year that burnt 250,000 acres? Well, this is the first spring after that fire and you can see wild flowers growing in the now-open areas.
Yellow flowers all around! You won't see this view much longer. Soon the trees will grow and cover the area.
Tuolumne is a great rafting trip, with plenty of class IV rapids all around and even a class V. You start off with a class IV rapid right off the bat, The Rock Garden. The 1-day trip is exciting as you hit the rapids in a fast pace. We stopped midway for a sandwich lunch and some rest.

Here's a video of the class V rapids, Clavey Falls. It looks much tamer on the video, though! And everything always LOOKS alright as long as no one falls ...

We did have a swimmer on the class IV Ram's Head but alas, my GoPro wasn't on at that time!

Other highlights include the class IV Gray's Grindstone which is a mile long rocky rapids. If you're considering rafting in Northern California, I would highly recommend Tuolumne!