Canoeing in Yosemite – Everything you need to know

Canoeing in Yosemite National Park can be an exhilarating experience at any age. Every year, people from all across the world flock to Yosemite National Park to enjoy its beautiful scenery and serenity. This article will explain how to canoe in Yosemite and where you can go to enjoy the best canoeing that this site has to offer.

Canoeing In Yosemite – General Overview

People who enjoy water sports in Yosemite come from right around the globe. The Merced River welcomes them with pleasant hues that vary according to the season. With a canoe, you’ll be able to enjoy the river at your own pace in a busy weekend or a more quiet business weekday. There are a lot of spots around Yosemite that are ideal for a picnic, so if you carry some food, you can relax completely for the day.

Can You Canoe In Yosemite?

You can canoe in Yosemite. In order to canoe in Yosemite, you’ll have to ensure that the river has been declared open by park officials. The Merced River is nothing to play with and canoers should always follow the park’s guidelines.

The gage height is measured at Pohono Bridge and for the safety of all canoers, this must be below seven feet. You are required to wear personal floatation devices while canoeing, whether you rent a canoe or bring your own gear.

The Best Times To Canoe In Yosemite

There are several unique places to canoe in Yosemite. All of these are best enjoyed during the months from May to September. If you’re planning a canoeing trip, plan for earlier in the year. Sometimes the river goes low from as soon as mid-August.

You can arrive early enough to be on the water from at least 10 a.m. You’ll be able to enjoy a full day from there, with good light and suitable temperatures lasting until around 6 p.m.

Summertime is a lot of fun. It’s the best time to plan for canoeing in Yosemite if you want to travel with your children, since they will be on holiday. The only drawback to canoeing in Yosemite in summer is that it’s a busy time. It will be harder to park close to a launch spot.

The same competition for spaces exists on the weekends. If you go at other times you’ll encounter a wide range of issues that detract from the experience of canoeing. For example, the river might be frozen over. At other tines, the river becomes high enough to flood the picnic areas and is unsafe.

Best Time For Fishing

Some canoers are also avid anglers. You’ll often glimpse fish in the water while canoeing and of course, you may even have limited fishing gear nearby. If you want to fish at Yosemite, you’ll need a fishing license. These fishing licenses are granted by the state of California.

Anyone in your canoe who is 16 or older must have a fishing license if they’re fishing. This is so whether they’re doing so on a whim or planned to go fishing. If you want to fish in your canoe, the best time to do so at Yosemite is from the last Saturday in April until November 15.

Fishing is catch and release only for most river fish that are found in Yosemite. You’ll be well advised to use artificial lures only. You’re also permitted to use artificial flies. You’ll find rainbow trout in the area and be able to catch and release a big one that makes you smile.

The Best Places To Canoe In Yosemite

The best place to canoe in Yosemite is along the Merced River, with Stoneman Bridge as your put in point. Most people who carry their own canoes choose to put out when they reach Sentina Beach Picnic Area. Access to the river is not readily available between these two points.

You are not allowed to use any point other than Stoneman Bridge or Sentinel Beach to put in or put out. If you decide to try to do so, you’ll put your safety at risk and you may damage rge riparian habitats that exist in Yosemite. You’ll also face the risk of penalties. If you wish to canoe in Yosemite, it’s always best to plan ahead because put in and put out spots are limited.

Accessing Put In and Put Out Spots

Ideally, you would be able to park as close as possible to your put in spot. This would make it easy for you to carry your canoe to the water. In busy times, such as summer, lots of other canoers are present and it’s difficult to do that.

Fortunately, there are paved bike trails that run along the same area. These are smooth enough to make it less strenuous for you to transport your canoe to the river via a portage cart. After putting in, you can effortlessly paddle upstream and stop for a while to take pictures.

The Level Of Experience You Need To Canoe In Yosemite

As long as you go canoeing in Yosemite during the seasons that are recommended here, you’ll have a fairly comfortable trip. The level of difficulty is not likely to ever exceed Class 1. You’ll need to keep your eyes on the river and not get too distracted by the glorious firs and other trees you’ll see along the route.

After you put in at the shallow point, the water level will gradually rise. Look out for boulders along the way. You’ll also need to be prepared for cold water and strainers. Ensure that everyone in your vessel is wearing the proper protective gear at all times.

Views To Enjoy While Canoeing In Yosemite

The scenery that you’ll enjoy while canoeing in Yosemite keeps changing and it will fascinate both adults and kids. It’s easy to forget your cares while you’re on the water.

The Merced River has naturally carved its onw waterways through the national park, so a trip will take you through gorgeous scenery. You can also expect to see schools of fish as you travel.

The Yosemite Valley and Wawona provide you with ample opportunities for taking pictures from the water. You’ll also be able to see popular geologic formations during your trip, although some will be closer than others. With a camera that allows you to adjust your focus, you can take lovely photos of the famous Half Dome and El Capitan.

Where Can You Rent Canoes In Yosemite?

You can’t rent a canoe in Yosemite at Curry Village. However, rafts are usually available there from May until July. You can carry your own canoe or another inflatable device.

Most water crafts that require paddling will have to be brought into Yosemite yourself. You’ll need to drive your own vehicle with your vessel. You could also contact rental places that are near to Yosemite and have canoes. These include the Padyak Shack, at Lake Yosemite.

Are Canoe Rentals In Yosemite Reasonable?

The Padyak Shack is one of the places that’s near Yosemite and offers canoes. It is not in the park, so you’ll have a longer distance to travel with your equipment than if you were able to rent a canoe inside the national park.

The price that you are quoted for a rental in or around Yosemite will sometimes include life jackets and paddles for everyone in your group. Always budget for extras. For example, if you bring your own canoe, the shuttle back to Half Dome Village will make your trip more relaxing. This shuttle will cost $5 per person, so a family of five will need to budget $25 for the shuttle back.

Lodging Around Yosemite Canoeing Sites

If you hope to canoe in Yosemite for a weekend, you’ll benefit from accommodations in the area. You are not allowed to park along the roadside and sleep overnight. You will receive a citation.

If you have a RV, you can book a spot for it ahead of time. If you’re looking for a relaxing set of accommodations outside of a Yosemite campground, there are cabins and other facilities nearby. It’s important to book far ahead of time to ensure that you get any of these, especially during the busy summer.


Since there are no canoe rental services directly in Yosemite park, you’ll have to carry your own vessel with you. Ensure that if you have a cart, you carry that as well, since there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to park close to the launch site. If you plan for a time that’s not as busy, that will be less of a possibility.

There’s a lot to see while you’re in your canoe and the trees will form a beautiful backdrop for your photos when you’re on the water. If you like to catch trout from your vessel, you can do so in the park at certain times of the year. Carry family or friends when you go canoeing in Yosemite and have an experience that you’ll treasure for many years to come.

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