Error message

Lingotek profile ID 4 not found.
Cherry Creek
Cameron Lawson/Getty Images

Cherry Creek

Cherry Creek
Tackle the Upper Tuolumne River near Yosemite for ultimate whitewater

Cherry Creek is often called the most difficult commercial rafting trip in California—and some say in the entire U.S. This is California’s gnarliest whitewater, rated Class V+ all the way, with fast-flowing rapids, whitewater plunges, and waterfalls galore. Technically the upper stretch of the Tuolumne River, Cherry Creek’s waters are so wild that the rafting season may not start until July, when booming snowmelt slows, and water flows drop to a safe enough level. Even then, it’s still at the upper end of the thrill threshold—and for very experienced paddlers only.

Cherry Creek’s geology creates its mighty whitewater fervor. This granite-walled canyon funnels the river so it’s fast and steep, dropping more than 100 vertical feet per mile. Paddlers must navigate their way through narrow, boulder-choked passageways and more than a dozen churning rapids. Expect a serious upper body workout as you paddle, paddle, paddle to stay on course. Unexpected swims in icy water are the norm. Only two outfitters run trips on Cherry Creek, All-Outdoors Rafting and Sierra Mac River Trips—making this one of the most exclusive whitewater experiences in the state. Put-in is near Groveland and State Highway 120, so you could easily combine your day on the river with a visit to Yosemite National Park, just east of your put-in site. Depending on the outfitter and conditions, trips run from June to mid-September.

Cherry Creek VCW_D_HS_Hero_packtrip_Sunset-TS_1280x642_sized
Thomas H. Story/ Sunset Publishing

Northern California

Discover the High Sierra

Cherry Creek vca_maps_highsierra
-2
December
Average (°C)
Dec - Feb
3°
High
-7°
Low
Mar - May
12°
High
-5°
Low
June - Aug
22°
High
5°
Low
Sept - Nov
18°
High
-4°
Low

Snow-covered peaks in winter, gushing waterfalls in spring, wildflower meadows and glistening lakes in summer, vibrant colours in fall—this is a land of dramatic and wild beauty. World-class mountain resorts circling turquoise-blue Lake Tahoe, and at Mammoth Lakes cater to all, with scenic ski trails in winter and trails and vistas in summer.

Yosemite Valley…is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and gold and wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space.”  --photographer Ansel Adams

Yosemite National Park, a World Heritage Site, is here, roughly 3½ hours east of San Francisco. Whether you hike a mountain, ski the steeps, or lounge in a hot tub beneath a canopy of stars, you’ll find your perfect getaway. 

Cherry Creek IMG_3821[1]
At 14,505 ft. above sea level, Mt. Whitney is the highest point in the contiguous United States.
Enter Yosemite Valley to travel back in time to Christmas Past

Enter Yosemite Valley to travel back in time to Christmas Past. Heraldic horns sound throughout Yosemite National Park's elegant ...

Cherry Creek Bracebridge_Dinner_Cast_low_preview_686x885
Lani Spicer
Cherry Creek vca_maps_highsierra
SPECIAL FEATURE
Family-friendly resorts, snowy escapes

High Sierra peaks, deep drifts on a Mammoth volcano, family-friendly resorts, snowy escapes on the edge of Yosemite and more—California has enough alpine destinations to keep any skier or boarder...

Cherry Creek MammothMountain_1251_preview_686x885
SPECIAL FEATURE
Relax after a day on the slopes

Kicking back after you kick off your boots is a snow-country tradition, and there’s plenty of post-slopes fun at California’s top alpine resorts. Have a beer or warm up with an Irish coffee, dance...

Cherry Creek KTBaseBar_JeffEnegerbretson_SquawValley_preview_686x885
Jeff Enegerbretson
SPECIAL FEATURE
Find whitewater rafting fun for all—from newbies to nerves-of-steel experts

Think of a river, and chances are you’ve got your own daydream. Maybe you want to float on inner tubes, or maybe your style is to careen through raucous rapids in an eight-person inflatable raft....

Cherry Creek VC_RiverRafting_Preview_Stock_RM_172652806_686x885
Groveb/Getty Images
Cherry Creek VC_Spotlight_LakeTahoe_Stock_RF_4223000027_1280x640_0
Alex Farnum

Spotlight: Lake Tahoe

Cherry Creek vca_maps_highsierra
Majestic Peaks, Bucket-List Essential

Blue as a topaz and circled by majestic peaks, this High Sierra gem straddling the California-Nevada border is a bucket list essential....

Cherry Creek VCW_D_MammothLakes_Hero_Horseback_1280x642_0
Rebecca Garrett

Spotlight: Mammoth Lakes

Cherry Creek vca_maps_highsierra
Snowy winters, wildflower summers

Surrounded by some of the highest peaks in the west, folks in this laid-back mountain town know they’ve got a good thing going. It’s a land...

Cherry Creek VC_LonePine_ST_RF_722224619_1280x640
Room/Getty Images

Lone Pine

Discover the natural beauty and another side of California in a historic Owens Valley small town

Head to Lone Pine to see a different side of California—one that is less connected to...

As it lay there with the shadows of the mountains brilliantly photographed upon its still surface, I thought it must surely be the fairest picture the whole earth affords.
Mark Twain (recalling his first sighting of Lake Tahoe)
July - August

With a pine-and-peak alpine setting and a relaxed and friendly ambiance, this appealing event in Bear Valley, roughly halfway between Lake Tahoe and Yosemite, includes performances by outstanding musical artists. Launched in 1967, the festival features a full symphony orchestra, international soloists, and legendary entertainers at pretty outdoor venues. Classical works, opera, Broadway show tunes, and opening weekend acts of contemporary and country music are offered, with past guest artists ranging from the Mamas and the Papas, to Big Bad Voodoo Daddies.

Cherry Creek BearValleyMusic_preview_686x885
Cherry Creek vca_maps_highsierra
Cherry Creek VCW_D_HS_T5_Mono Lake_VCL_HS_Mono_Kayakers_KG
Kodiak Greenwood

Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve

Visit bizarre formations, cinder cones, and a super-salty lake

There are few places in California—and maybe on the planet—that can make you think you might just be on Mars. This is one of them. At this high-...

Cherry Creek VCW_D_HS_T6_Bodie cars_VCL_HS_Bodie_KG-sized
Kodiak Greenwood

Bodie

Tour the eerie remnants of a former boomtown

There's something eerily appropriate about bumping down the dusty desert road that winds the final few miles into Bodie State Historic Park. Round...

Cherry Creek VC_LonePine_ST_RF_722224619_1280x640
Room/Getty Images

Lone Pine

Discover the natural beauty and another side of California in a historic Owens Valley small town

Head to Lone Pine to see a different side of California—one that is less connected to...

Cherry Creek Bishop_HighSierra_1280x642_downsized

Bishop

Explore an outdoorsy adventure town with an artistic side

Bishop brims with outdoor activities. Situated at the north end of the Owens Valley, with close access to some...

Cherry Creek CalaverasBTSP_sized
Lucas Himovitz

Calaveras Big Trees State Park

Look up at (and learn about) amazing giant sequoias

Established in 1931 to preserve a stunning stand of giant sequoias, this park offers one of the easiest places to see these towering trees. Head 4...