Water Activities

Swimming

Besides the outdoor pools available to the public during summer at Curry Village and Yosemite Valley 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

Merced River

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.)

Most people put in along the Merced River at Stoneman Bridge (near Curry Village) and take out at Sentinel Beach Picnic Area, under the following conditions:

When the river is open

This section of river is open to boating and rafting each day when the gage height at Pohono Bridge is below 7 feet at 8 am.

Personal flotation devices required

Every occupant of a boat, raft, or inflatable must wear a personal flotation device each day when the gage height at Pohono Bridge is above 4 feet at 8 am. When the river is 4 feet or lower, every person must have a personal flotation device immediately available for each occupant of the raft/boat (and children under age 13 must be wearing one).

Put-in/take-out limited

You may put in and take out your boat/raft at Stoneman Bridge and Sentinel Beach, but not anywhere between.

South Fork Merced River

Rafting is also allowed on the South Fork of the Merced River below Swinging Bridge (in Wawona). Every person must have a personal flotation device immediately available for each occupant of the raft/boat (and children under age 13 must be wearing one).

Tenaya Lake

Kayaking is a popular way to enjoy the calm waters of Tenaya Lake. Every person must have a personal flotation device immediately available for each occupant of the raft/boat (and children under age 13 must be wearing one).

More experienced boaters with appropriate equipment have additional opportunities along the Merced and Tuolumne Rivers.

 

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. There are additional more specific National Park Service regulations.

The season for stream and river fishing begins on the last Saturday in April and continues through November 15. All lakes and reservoirs are open to fishing year-round.

Last updated: December 2, 2021

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