In spite of various burn scars the Merced River canyon remains beautiful with no dams to hold back the melting sierra snow. Plan a trip leaving from parking areas along Highway 140 in April or May when the lower snow is melting fast or in June and maybe into July before the snow runs out.
Casual rafting along the Merced River in the Yosemite valley is most popular during summer typically in June and July. Nonmotorized vessels, such as kayaks, and rafts are permitted. Many casual rafters put in along the Merced River at Stoneman Bridge (near Half Dome Village, formerly Curry Village) and take out at Sentinel Beach Picnic Area. You must have a personal flotation device immediately available for each occupant of the raft (and children under age 13 must be wearing one). This section of river is open to boating and rafting when the gage height at Pohono Bridge is below 6.5 feet.
Rafting is also allowed on the South Fork of the Merced River below Swinging Bridge (in Wawona).