Just a short drive on Highway 140 from Yosemite National Park is the small town of Mariposa.
It’s not only a convenient place to stay when visiting Yosemite but also a fun destination all on its own. Founded in the mid-1800s during the California Gold Rush, the town’s many original structures look like something straight out of an Old West movie set! Add a couple of days to your itinerary to experience some of Mariposa’s family-friendly adventures.
Be Transported Back to the Old West
If you’ve ever wanted to travel back in time, be sure to book a stagecoach tour on Mariposa Stage Lines. As you ride past old buildings and quiet side streets, you’ll be transported to a bygone era of prospectors and outlaws. Also stop by the California State Mining and Mineral Museum, and the Mariposa Museum and History Center, two of the town’s top attractions. Fascinating artifacts from the old mining days tell the story of how the Gold Rush shaped the area’s growth.
The whole family will love visiting the Wild West on a stagecouch tour.
Whitewater Rafting on the Merced River
The Merced River is the stuff of legends, and whitewater rafting is the ultimate way to experience it. Zephyr Whitewater Expeditions has half-day and full-day tours that come complete with all of the equipment you’ll need. There are flexible trip options for families so you don’t miss out on a moment of fun. Also check out O.A.R.S., which offers packages for more experienced rafters. You’ll ride past the California wilderness on exciting Class III and IV rapids. For a more subdued ride, rent rafts in Yosemite and meander down the calmer section of the Merced River.
Getting a little soaked is part of fun when whitewater rafting the Merced River in Mariposa County.
Fishing in the Merced River
The Merced River is also a dream waterway for both beginner and experienced anglers. The Merced River’s unparalleled scenery sets a perfect backdrop to cast a line for trout or bass. Book a guided fishing excursion to find the best places that only the locals know. Several companies have family fishing packages with equipment and instruction included. It’s a fantastic way to escape daily stresses and reconnect with your family.
Peaceful sounds of running water and birds chirping above make fishing the Merced River an excellent way to unwind in Yosemite.
Biking at Exchequer Mountain Bike Park
In Lake McClure, about an hour northwest of Mariposa, the Exchequer Mountain Bike Park is the place for adventure on two wheels. The well-maintained trails are in the foothills of the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains and include rides for all abilities, from children’s trails to hardcore descents. Be sure to rent a bike beforehand, as rentals aren’t available at the park.
Exchequer Bike Park offers over 64 kilometers of biking trails for all skill levels.
Aerial Adventures & More
For an experience you won’t be able to stop bragging about, take a scenic flight with Airborrn Aviation Services from Mariposa/Yosemite Airport. The one-hour flight offers unparalleled views over Yosemite and the Sierras.
To test your courage a little closer to the ground, head over to Yosemite Ziplines and Adventure Tours. The zipline tour takes you on seven increasingly long ziplines for a total of nearly 1,200 meters! And for something you’ve probably never done, try the Wild West Shootout Experience. This isn’t a make-believe shootout show – this is the real deal, where you can safely see what it’s like to be in an Old West shootout.
The ziplines at Yosemite Ziplines and Adventure Ranch increase in length and height as the tour, and your confidence, builds.
Fly into Yosemite via Fresno Yosemite International Airport. San Francisco International Airport is a few hours away from Yosemite by car and offers more global flight options. Public transportation from both airports into Yosemite is available year-round via Amtrak, Greyhound, and . The YARTS bus system connects to major hotels and gateways into Yosemite.