Yosemite Wildlife Photos: Animals of the Valley

Although the park may not quite compare to Yellowstone (in terms of animals on the roadside), you can still find an abundance of Yosemite wildlife if you know when and where to look. Here are some of my favorite photos of its natural inhabitants…

Mule Deer

It’s interesting to see how deer sightings rise and fall throughout the year. I noticed a lot of them driving into the park on SR120 during the winter, but not so much in the summer.

Mule Deer Buck With Large Antlers - Yosemite Wildlife Photos
Mule Deer Buck With Large Antlers

In the fall, there were a ton of them in the field near the Ahwahnee Hotel, along Northiside Drive. The large buck above was also spotted on Northside Drive, a few miles west of there.


Shaggy Black Bear Cub By Boulders in fall (October)
Shaggy Bear Cub

Certainly, black bears are less common. However, I have been fortunate to spot a few over the years. Mostly along the Merced River near the Cascades. I’m not sure what it is about this area that is so attractive to bears. The only one I’ve seen outside of this area was walking through Leidig’s Meadow on a spring afternoon.

Chipmunks – Yosemite Wildlife

Chipmunk is actually a golden mantled ground squirrel - Yosemite Wildlife Photos
“Chipmunk” posing on a log

Though this may technically be a golden-mantled ground squirrel, most people assume it’s a chipmunk. These curious little creatures can often be found at popular roadside turnouts, popping up and begging for food. The one pictured above was actually spotted near May Lake, in the high country.

Yellow Bellied Marmots

Speaking of which, the yellow bellied marmot can only be found in alpine mountain regions.

Yellow bellied marmot on alpine granite rocks.
They’re a bit curious as well

What really struck me about these beaver-like animals is how tame they seem to be. Not unlike other high sierra wildlife, they don’t seem to be too afraid of humans. It’s not because they are begging for food, though. I find it interesting. That, and the fact that marmots are actually the largest members of the squirrel family.

Great Blue Herons – Yosemite Wildlife

Without a doubt, this was the most graceful bird I encountered in Yosemite. Just like the bears mentioned earlier, I spotted this Great Blue Heron along the Merced River, on El Portal Road.

Great Blue Heron Posing on One Foot - Yosemite Wildlife Photos
Graceful Great Blue Heron

To get these shots (you can click the image for more), I very slowly stalked over the river rocks. I took photos along the way, just in case each step was enough to frighten the giant bird away. I was shocked how close I was able to get, though my super zoom camera helped.

While these are some of my favorites, keep in mind I have many more Yosemite wildlife photos. Check the “more” section of the main menu. Of course, you can click through each of the images above to find more as well.

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About My Photos

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– Nathan Allen

About Me

Photographer 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.