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Being the first mountain range in North America means massive storms pummel the peaks of the Sierra Nevada in the winter. In the summer, this DEEP snowpack feeds the rivers & lakes, leading to many opportunities to raft a rapid-filled river or coast a tranquil lake. Here’s a few of the best lake & river cruises in the High Sierra to check out this summer.

Paddle An Otherworldly Lake

Mono Lake Lake & River Cruises In The High Sierra
Image appears courtesy: Mono County Economic Development, Tourism and Film Commission

Otherworldly doesn’t even begin to describe the waters of Mono Lake. On the surface, this hauntingly beautiful lake might look “desolate” but as you paddle off the shore, you’ll notice it’s immense biodiversity. Alkali flies, brine shrimp, underwater tufa towers and nesting birds, this place is alive with nature. Mono Lake Committee offers canoe and kayak naturalist tours on weekends into early September, providing a unique vantage point into the geology & history of this place.

See The “Fairest Picture The Whole World Affords” On Water

Lake & River Cruises In The High Sierra
Image appears courtesy: Go Tahoe North

There’s almost an infinite number of things to do in & around Lake Tahoe. From skiing in the winter to hiking in the summer, the choices are endless. Regardless of time of year, one item that should be on ALL visitors’ to-do lists is to get out on the water via a boat cruise. A cruise on Big Blue will provide scenery & views that just can’t be seen without help from a boat. From cruising on a riverboat-style craft to riding along on a 1966 million dollar yacht, and even sailing via the power of wind, there’s an option for everyone.

Become A Splash Rat!

Yosemite Merced River Whitewater Rafting
Image appears courtesy: Yosemite Mariposa County Tourism Bureau

Within Yosemite National Park, the Merced tumbles, splashes, and twists its way out of the legendary Yosemite Valley. Luckily, the waters calm down enough to be raftable about four miles below the town of El Portal. In fact, it’s so good that it offers one of the best whitewater rafting paddle-boat trips in California. For adventurous & fit beginners, these waters provide world-class, fun rafting trips for all skill levels, led by savvy, fun-loving guides. Want to find some warmer water on the Merced River below Yosemite? Take a paddle, swim, camp or rent a house boat on Lake McClure or McSwain!

If you’re a person that enjoys water or just wants to experience something different, look no further than these tours. Lake and river cruises in the High Sierra will create memories that will last a lifetime!

Author: Alex Silgalis

Alex Silgalis is an outdoors travel writer who enjoys snowboarding, mountain biking, or having a cold one from a local mountain brewery. See more of Alex’s work at

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