The Merced River starts at more than 11,000 feet elevation, in the high Sierra Nevada mountain range and runs through Yosemite National Park. Gabriel Moraga, a Spanish army officer who explored the Yosemite area in 1806, called the Merced River the El Rio de Nuestra Senora de la Merced -the River of Our Lady of Mercy. In midsummer, the Merced River is the spot for canoeing, kayaking, inner tubing, or just sunbathing within Yosemite NP.
Patient fishermen can find rainbow and brown trout in the Merced River. A catch and release policy is in effect for the rainbow trout in the Merced River, but up to five brown trout can be taken per day. This is part of an effort to encourage the native rainbow trout to flourish again in Yosemite. The south fork of the Merced River at Wawona near the Pioneer Yosemite History Center is considered one of the best places for swimming in the park. The dazzling liquid beauty of Nevada and Vernal Falls is provided by the Merced River as it tumbles down to the Yosemite Valley floor.