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Whitewater rafting in Yosemite National Park near Mariposa County, California
Trey Clark
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Enjoy time together, Old West-style, in Mariposa County's charming gold rush towns and the unmatched natural beauty of Yosemite.

Yosemite National Park may be the reason that brings you to the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains of central California, but you’ll want to make Mariposa County your homebase to stay, play and experience it all. Mariposa is the western gateway to Yosemite, and all four Yosemite highways travel through the county to the park's iconic granite peaks, pristine waterways, picturesque meadows, giant sequoias and cascading waterfalls. The region's mountains, lakes and rivers provide an endless array of kid-friendly outdoor fun, and the county's towns are full of entertainment and attractions perfect for bringing the family together.

Old-West Atmosphere with Modern Entertainment

As you walk past historic buildings in downtown Mariposa, you’ll be transported to a bygone era of prospectors and outlaws. The Mariposa Museum & History Center presents an authentic picture of life before, during and after the California Gold Rush. Down the street, learn about bold explorers at the Yosemite Climbing Association Museum & Gallery. In the park, local Indigenous American culture and geologic history are on exhibit at the Yosemite Museum and nearby Happy Isles Nature Center.

You’ll find top-notch culture in art galleries and music venues too. In fact, Mariposa is the smallest town in the USA with its own symphony orchestra, which performs several shows a year. Back in the park, the Yosemite Theater features live shows every evening during the warmer months. Specialty stores and antique shops can be easily spotted next to must-try breweries and wineries, providing bigger city amusements among small-town vibes.

Showcasing artifacts and exhibits at The Mariposa Museum & History Center

Showcasing artifacts and exhibits at The Mariposa Museum & History Center
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Patrick Pike

Wild Fun on Rivers and Lakes

Whitewater rafting is the most exciting way to experience the waters of Mariposa County, especially the Merced River. Zephyr Whitewater Expeditions and OARS Adventure Company provide child-friendly voyage options. For a more subdued ride, rent rafts and meander down the calmer section of the river inside Yosemite National Park. The unparalleled scenery here also sets a beautiful b