Merced River Photos – The Lifeline of the Valley
Named by the Spanish – in honor of Our Lady of Mercy, the mighty Merced is Yosemite Valley’s main artery. With many different paces and a variety of scenery along it’s banks, no two stretches are alike. Here are some of my best Merced River photos from around the valley (and throughout Yosemite’s seasons).
Merced River in Fall
The photo above was captured on along El Portal Road, south of the main part of Yosemite Valley. By late October the river flow dies down, and big leaf maple trees along the banks come alive with gold & yellow color. I used an ND and polarizer for this shot.
This peaceful stretch is right in the heart of the valley, about a mile south of Yosemite Falls. You’ll notice deep, serene pools here with clear water. This lends itself nicely to the trees’ autumn colors reflecting in the water below.
Here is Berg bridge, a mile further north. This image is from late April when the weather warms and the previous winter’s snowmelt is at its peak. The river’s water level is quite high, and the current is more swift than many visitors realize.
Spring months of April and May bring beautiful colors back to the Merced River’s banks. I’m not sure what this pink tree is, but it makes for a nice scene along with the flowing river next to it. This is the Bridalveil Fall view turnout.
Also note the blooming dogwoods as you continue west on Northside Dr from here (in early May).
Sentinel Bridge View – Half Dome Above the Merced River
This is a beautiful scene that’s easy to miss as you quickly drive across the bridge to the visitor’s center. Can’t beat a view like that.
Rapids along El Portal Rd
Quite a bit further west, outside the most famous valley destinations, you’ll find the start of the Merced River’s rapids.
I believe these photos were taken in late Summer. While the water flow here looks intense, the real whitewater begins further downriver, about 4 miles south of El Portal.
Not sure if it’s just a coincidence or what, but the vast majority of bears I’ve seen in Yosemite were spotted here nearby the river. Perhaps it’s because there are less people, and more natural food sources?
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About My Photos
The images on this website are available for licensing and/or sale as framed prints. If you’d like to purchase them for a blog, news article, or gift, feel free to contact me with the specifics. This way you’re supporting photographers such as me directly (as opposed to buying from a faceless stock photo corporation).
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– Nathan Allen
I’m Nathan Allen, photographer / creator of YosemiteParkPhotos.com (Yosemite Photos) and international travel site I Dreamed Of This. In truth, I lived in San Francisco, New York, & Singapore…but nothing compares to life in the mountains. I share my experiences HERE.