Merced River in Yosemite National Park, California
© Robb Hirsch/Tandem Stills + Motio
Wild scene on the Merced River. Wild scene on the Merced River
This stretch of the Merced River has been officially designated 'wild and scenic' by the federal government. The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act was signed October 2, 1968, by President Lyndon B. Johnson to preserve rivers with 'outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations.' It covers 13,416 miles of streams and protects parts of such natural treasures as the Allagash, Salmon, Snake, Trinity, and Missouri, which is the longest river in the US.
California's Merced makes its way through canyons, mountains, and foothills, flowing from the Sierra Nevada, through the southern part of Yosemite National Park, into the San Joaquin Valley. Rafters enjoy the Class III and IV rapids, and visitors can camp at several sites along the river's course while also exploring the Merced River Trail.