• Rainbow over Half Dome

    Yosemite

    National Park California

Water Activities

Swimming

Besides the outdoor pools available to the public during summer at Curry Village and Yosemite Lodge, swimming is generally permitted in all bodies of water in the park. There are some exceptions, however, where swimming is prohibited:

  • Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, and within one mile upstream along any tributary (e.g., Rancheria Falls).
  • Dana Fork of the Tuolumne River
  • Emerald Pool and Silver Apron (above Vernal Fall)
  • Lake Eleanor Reservoir (when posted)
  • Wawona Domestic Water Intake (and 100 yards upstream)

Swimming in the Merced River is a popular way to cool off--but help protect the river by entering and exiting only on sandy beaches. Swimming in rivers is not without hazards, including swift currents, cold water, and hazards within the river (e.g., trees). See Water Safety for more information.

 

Boating and Rafting

Rafting along the Merced River is popular during summer. You can rent a raft (typically in June and July, but it varies from year to year, depending on water level) or bring your own. (Other nonmotorized vessels, such as kayaks, are also permitted.)

Rafting is permitted on the Merced River between Stoneman Bridge (near Curry Village) and Sentinel Beach Picnic Area between 10 am and 6 pm under the following conditions: the river stage (depth) must read less than 6.5 feet at Sentinel Bridge and the sum of air temperature and water temperature must be more than 100°F. You must have a personal flotation device immediately available for each occupant of the raft (and children under age 13 must be wearing one).

The Merced and Tuolumne River Plans allow for expanded boating on the Merced and Tuolumne Rivers. The park will need time to successfully implement many of the actions called for in the plans. So, for the time being, there are no immediate changes to boating access within Yosemite National Park and the El Portal Administrative Site. The park is working with the boating community to ensure a successful implementation later in 2014. Successful implementation will address safety, resource protection, and operational concerns, such as parking and shuttles, along with determining how to handle permitting.

Rafting is also allowed on the South Fork of the Merced River below Swinging Bridge (in Wawona).

Kayaking is a popular way to enjoy the calm waters of Tenaya Lake.

 

Fishing Regulations

Fishing regulations for Yosemite National Park follow those set by the State of California, including the requirement that people 16 or older have a valid California fishing license.

The season for stream and river fishing begins on the last Saturday in April and continues through November 15. The only exception is Frog Creek near Lake Eleanor, where fishing season does not open until June 15 to protect spawning rainbow trout. The late opening includes the first 1/2 mile of Frog Creek up to the first waterfall, including the pool below this waterfall. The late opening also extends 200 feet from the mouth of Frog Creek out onto the surface of Lake Eleanor and along its shore for a distance of 200 feet from the creek's mouth. Otherwise, all lakes and reservoirs are open to fishing year-round.

There are some special regulations that apply within the park:

  • No live or dead minnows or other bait fish, amphibians, non-preserved fish eggs, or roe may be used or possessed.
  • Fishing from bridges and docks is prohibited.
  • In Yosemite Valley and El Portal (Happy Isles to Foresta Bridge):
    • Rainbow trout are catch-and-release only.
    • Brown trout limit is five per day or ten in possession.
    • Only artificial lures or flies with barbless hooks may be used; bait fishing is prohibited.
    • Mirror Lake is considered a stream and is only open during stream fishing season.

  • In the Tuolumne River from the O'Shaughnessy Dam downstream to Early Intake Diversion Dam
    • Maximum size limit of 12 inches in total length.
    • Trout limit is two per day or two in possession.
    • Only artificial lures or flies with barbless hooks may be used; bait fishing is prohibited.

Fishing supplies

Fishing supplies, including fishing licenses, are available at the Yosemite Village Sport Shop and at the general stores in Wawona and Tuolumne Meadows.

The California Department of Fish and Game website lists current sport fishing license fees and regulations.

Did You Know?

Wawona Covered Bridge

Built to connect human developments on both sides of the South Fork Merced River, the Wawona Covered Bridge is one of few covered bridges in the region. Built in 1868 by Yosemite’s first guardian, Galen Clark, the Wawona Covered Bridge boasts state significance within transportation, entertainment, and recreation contexts.