Northern Pacific Rattlesnake Photos – Yosemite Reptiles

Although I haven’t technically seen a rattlesnake in Yosemite, I know they can be found there. The following northern pacific rattlesnake photos were shot just outside the park, in the Tuolumne river canyon.

Full grown adult in striking pose (closeup) - Northern Pacific Rattlesnake
Full Grown Rattlesnake in Defensive Posture

This large adult was stretched right across the trail. I was lucky I saw him before I got too close. Interesting that he didn’t even rattle his tail…or budge at all! Eventually my impromptu photo shoot got to be too much for him, though. He started slithering away.

Rattlesnake slithering through grass - Tuolumne River Canyon
Snake in the grass

I was able to bring him back with a large stick, so I could take a few more pictures. He didn’t seem to mind at all, but after a certain amount of time he realized he couldn’t make it far, so he coiled in a defensive “striking pose”. Though he did raise his rattle, he still never shook it.

Northern Pacific Rattlesnake With Rattle Up, Ready To Strike
Ready For Action

Never actually struck at me or the stick, either. I have always loved snakes, so I was grateful to be able to photograph this one so closeup (and in a natural setting). Don’t be too alarmed – I used a zoom lens…it gives the impression I was closer than I actually was.

Closeup headshot with forked tongue out - In the Wild
Closeup Headshot

In truth, though, these snakes will not bother you if you don’t corner or step on them. They are vital parts of the ecosystem, and help keep the pesky rodent population in check.

Baby Rattlesnake On the Road – Yosemite Reptiles

Beautiful juvenile northern pacific rattlesnake - bokeh
Basking on the road

To my surprise, just after leaving the parking lot when returning from this hike, I spotted a baby snake right on the road! This was also a northern pacific rattlesnake, a beautiful juvenile specimen.

What was interesting to note was that this little guy was much more aggressive. I suppose this is because at this age, they are much more vulnerable to larger animals trying to prey on them. By contrast, the adult snake is more calm because it’s not such an easy target?

Young rattlesnake on asphalt in afternoon sun - Tuolumne County
They are most vibrant and colorful at this age

However, I do hear that the baby rattlesnakes pose more of a threat if they actually bite you. This is because they sometimes stay attached to your skin after biting. As if they haven’t mastered the art of striking then pulling back. The extra bite time may give the opportunity for more venom to enter your bloodstream.

Although I wanted to photograph him as well, I also just wanted to rescue him from the passing cars on the street. When I got near it with a stick, it started striking at me right away. Of course, I kept a safe distance, and was able to relocate the snake down the canyon a bit.

They seem to be most active here in the late afternoon when it cools a bit. Considering that the only other rattlesnake I’ve seen in the wild was also along the Tuolumne River canyon, I am dubbing this area “the rattlesnake capital of California.”

For more related images, see my Yosemite Wildlife Collection.

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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 (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.