Rivers_Creeks

The Merced River and its tributary creeks (Tenaya Creek, Yosemite Creek, Bridalveil Creek, etc.)
carry snowmelt down from the Sierra Nevada Mountains through Yosemite Valley over magnificent
waterfalls for which Yosemite Valley is famous. The Rivers and Creeks page displays many of the
images taken during the spring flood stage from a number of scenic areas in the valley, including
several images taken at various exposure times to create different visual character in the water.

Click an image to open a larger version.
Use your back button to return to this page.

Yosemite Section Index
 

Yosemite Select

Yosemite Valley
Valley Views
Yosemite Assorted
Mirror Lake
Rivers and Creeks

Waterfalls
Yosemite Falls

Yosemite Rim
Glacier Point and Washburn Point
Taft Point

Yosemite Wildlife
Deer and Birds
Squirrel and Marmot

Yosemite Plant Life
Mariposa Grove
Sequoia National Park
Assorted Plant Life

Bodie Ghost Town
Mono Lake
Mariposa

A 75 image Overview of the Yosemite Portfolio

An Overview page with sample images from the following pages:
Discovery View (Wawona Tunnel View) and Valley View
El Capitan, Half Dome, Cathedral Rocks, and other Scenery
The exquisitely beautiful Mirror Lake in Tenaya Canyon
The Merced River, Tenaya Creek, Yosemite Creek and more

Bridalveil, Vernal and Nevada Falls, and selected images of Yosemite Falls
Detail shots, vignettes and scenic images of Yosemite’s signature waterfall

An Overview page with sample images from the following pages:
Yosemite National Park’s two most famous rim views
Taft Point Fissures and spectacular views from 3000’ over Yosemite Valley

An Overview page with sample images from the following pages:
Mule Deer in the Valley meadows, Hummingbirds, Steller’s Jays, etc.
Golden-Mantled Squirrels, Ground Squirrels and a Tioga Pass Marmot

An Overview page with sample images from the following pages:
Images from the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias
Images from nearby Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Parks
Lupines, Dogwood, Snow Plants, Thistle, Forest Moss and Lichen

50 images of the gold mining boom town north of Mono Lake
A highly saline lake in the Eastern Sierras with otherworldly scenery
A Cigar Store Indian, a Thunderbird Totem, and antique Farm Machinery

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Yosemite Collection page where a Gallery can be selected.

PhotoshelterGallerySection


There are 15 Galleries in the Photoshelter Yosemite Collection

For convenience, Galleries containing the images of Wildlife, Plants,
Sequoia National Park, Bodie Ghost Town, Mono Lake and Mariposa
have been copied to the Yosemite Collection from their normal locations.

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Royal_Arch_Creek_Mirror_Lake_Trail_2646


Royal Arch Creek Mirror Lake Trail 2646
(654 KB)

Royal Arch Creek flows over the North rim in a 1250 foot Cascade beside Royal Arches and into the valley,
 where it continues onward, crossing the Mirror Lake Trail between the Ahwahnee Hotel and Tenaya Creek.
This shows Royal Arch Creek about 150 feet below the Cascade, where it crosses the Mirror Lake Trail.

Lower_Tenaya_Creek_2839


Lower Tenaya Creek 2839
(555 KB)

Lower_Tenaya_Creek_2852


Lower Tenaya Creek 2852
(680 KB)

Lower Tenaya Creek boiling around the rocks during spring flood. These images were taken below the
spot where the forest trail meets the paved road “trail” leading from the North Pines and Curry Village below.
These shots were taken at 1/40 (left) and 1/25 second to show flow character while maintaining water detail.

Tenaya Creek and Tenaya Lake above it were named for Chief Tenaya of the Ahwahneechee,
the people of Yosemite. Tenaya met the Mariposa Battalion near the shore of the lake in 1851.

Lower_Tenaya_Creek_2844


Lower Tenaya Creek 2844
(573 KB)

Lower Tenaya Creek on a cloudy mid-afternoon in May, taken at 1/125 second to stop much of the motion in the water.

Lower_Tenaya_Creek_3600


Lower Tenaya Creek 3600
(524 KB)

Lower Tenaya Creek taken at nearly the same time four days later, on a sunny day at 1/80 second to show a bit more flow.

Lower_Tenaya_Creek_Logjam_3593


Lower Tenaya Creek Logjam 3593
(695 KB)

A logjam in this same part of Lower Tenaya Creek, shot at 1/8 second to emphasize the flow of water around the rock.

Lower_Tenaya_Creek_Logjam_X2160


Lower Tenaya Creek Logjam X2160
(600 KB)

A logjam in Lower Tenaya Creek taken during a year with an exceptional spring flood at 1/6 second to emphasize flow.

The character of water flow changes radically with different shutter speeds. Faster shutter speeds
stop the water and allow display of high speed events and detail in the water. Slower speeds tend
to show the flow more at the expense of fine detail in the surface. Even slower shutter speeds
make water progressively more misty-looking, reducing detail further but creating a strong
illusion of flow. Select a shutter speed depending on the desired character of the shot.

Tenaya_Creek_Eddy_Bubbles_2736


Tenaya Creek Eddy Bubbles 2736
(397 KB)

A high speed shot (1/1250 second) of bubble formations in the eddy current around a rock.

Tenaya_Creek_Water_Sculpture_2731


Tenaya Creek Water Sculpture 2731
(545 KB)

A very high speed shot (1/3200 second) showing surface detail in the water flowing around a rock.
Following are a series of slow speed shots of Lower Tenaya Creek below the outlet of Mirror Lake.

Lower_Tenaya_Creek_Dawn_X0684


Lower Tenaya Creek Dawn X0684
(356 KB)

Lower_Tenaya_Creek_Sunrise_X0858


Lower Tenaya Creek Sunrise X0858
(349 KB)

Slow speed shots of the spring flood flowing around rocks in Lower Tenaya Creek,
taken below the outflow from Lower Mirror Lake during a year with an exceptional snowfall.
The image at left above was taken at dawn with a 1/10 second exposure, and the image at
right above was taken two hours later the following day, just after sunrise at 1/5 second.
Note the difference in character of the water flow around the rocks from center right.

Lower_Tenaya_Creek_Dawn_X0685


Lower Tenaya Creek Dawn X0685
(522 KB)

The image above shows water flow around rocks below the outflow from Lower Mirror Lake.
It was taken at dawn on Tenaya Creek during spring flood at 1/5 second to emphasize the flow.

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Yosemite Collection page where a Gallery can be selected.

PhotoshelterGallerySection


There are 15 Galleries in the Photoshelter Yosemite Collection

For convenience, Galleries containing the images of Wildlife, Plants,
Sequoia National Park, Bodie Ghost Town, Mono Lake and Mariposa
have been copied to the Yosemite Collection from their normal locations.

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Lower_Tenaya_Creek_Dawn_X2066


Lower Tenaya Creek Dawn X2066
(553 KB)

The image above was taken at dawn, just as good light was beginning to hit Tenaya Creek.
Taken during a year with exceptional snowmelt from a little further down the creek (the area
shown in the previous images is in the upper center of this scene), this was at 1.3 seconds.
Note the misty character of the water, especially around rocks and in the lighter areas.

Lower_Tenaya_Creek_Dawn_X0690


Lower Tenaya Creek Dawn X0690
(560 KB)

The section of Lower Tenaya Creek immediately below Lower Mirror Lake, taken at 1/2 second to emphasize water flow.

Lower_Tenaya_Creek_Dawn_X0691


Lower Tenaya Creek Dawn X0691
(392 KB)

Detail of the area in the center of the previous image, at 2/5 second. Compare the character of the water with X2066.

Lower_Tenaya_Creek_Dawn_X0687


Lower Tenaya Creek Dawn X0687
(369 KB)

Close detail of water flowing over rocks just below the outflow from Lower Mirror Lake on
Tenaya Creek, taken at 1/3 second. This is the area in the right center of the previous image.

Lower_Tenaya_Creek_Dawn_X0694


Lower Tenaya Creek Dawn X0694
(525 KB)

Lower_Tenaya_Creek_Sunrise_X0868


Lower Tenaya Creek Sunrise X0868
(507 KB)

The two images above show the outflow from Lower Mirror Lake at dawn and sunrise in May.
Both images were taken at 1/3 second to emphasize flow (the left at f/11 and the right at f/16).

Lower_Tenaya_Creek_Dawn_X2068


Lower Tenaya Creek Dawn X2068
(574 KB)

The outflow from Lower Mirror Lake into Tenaya Creek at dawn, just as good light was available.
This image was taken at 1.5 second. Compare with the two images below at faster shutter speeds.

Lower_Tenaya_Creek_Dawn_X2216


Lower Tenaya Creek Dawn X2216
(559 KB)

Outflow from Lower Mirror Lake into Tenaya Creek at dawn, a half hour later on the following day.
This image was taken at 1 second (for more detail in the water, and a little less of the misty look).

Lower_Tenaya_Creek_Sunrise_X0860


Lower Tenaya Creek Sunrise X0860
(472 KB)

The outflow from Lower Mirror Lake into Tenaya Creek at sunrise during the previous year.
The flooding was about a foot lower in May. This was taken at 1/6 second for more detail.

Images of Mirror Lake are on the Mirror Lake page.

Exposure_Comparison_1_Lower_Tenaya_Creek


Exposure Comparison 1 Lower Tenaya Creek
(512 KB)

A comparative analysis of the effect of shutter speed on water, showing the same section of
Lower Tenaya Creek below the outlet of Lower Mirror Lake, taken at 1/6, 1/3, 1/2 and 1 second.

Tenaya Creek begins at Tenaya Lake ten miles up the canyon. Tenaya Lake is fed by several
creeks and springs and is also supplied by Cathedral Lakes via Upper Tenaya Creek. In years
with significant snowfall, the flow down Tenaya Creek to the Merced River can be spectacular.

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Yosemite Collection page where a Gallery can be selected.

PhotoshelterGallerySection


There are 15 Galleries in the Photoshelter Yosemite Collection

For convenience, Galleries containing the images of Wildlife, Plants,
Sequoia National Park, Bodie Ghost Town, Mono Lake and Mariposa
have been copied to the Yosemite Collection from their normal locations.

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Lower_Tenaya_Creek_X2195


Lower Tenaya Creek X2195
(575 KB)

Lower Tenaya Creek in late afternoon, 1/15 second.

Lower_Tenaya_Creek_X2197


Lower Tenaya Creek X2197
(535 KB)

Lower Tenaya Creek in late afternoon, 3 seconds.

Note the difference in the character of the water in the two images above.
In the left image, taken at 1/15 second, the detail in the flowing water is visible,
but you get little sense of the flow of the water. In the image at right (3 seconds),
the water has a soft misty character and you get a strong illusion of water flow,
but there is little detail. The shot below at 3/4 second is a good compromise.

Lower_Tenaya_Creek_X2206


Lower Tenaya Creek X2206
(583 KB)

Lower Tenaya Creek in late afternoon, taken at 3/4 second to impart a strong illusion
of flowing water in the creek while still retaining good detail in the surface of the water.
Some people like the misty look, and others like the look at faster shutter speeds. In my
opinion, median shutter speeds of 1/2 to 1.5 seconds offer a balance of flow and detail.

Lower_Tenaya_Creek_X2157


Lower Tenaya Creek X2157
(606 KB)

A section of Lower Tenaya Creek further down the trail, where the creek falls
into a forest grove and makes a turn to the left towards the Merced River below.
This shot was taken at 2 seconds. The water is beginning to get misty around the
waterfall and near the log, but there is still good detail and a strong sense of flow.

Lower_Tenaya_Creek_X2159


Lower Tenaya Creek X2159
(651 KB)

Lower Tenaya Creek falls and turns left as it enters a forest grove in the mid-afternoon.
This image at 1/2 second shows strong detail in the waterfall and still maintains a sense of flow.

Exposure_Comparison_2_Lower_Tenaya_Creek


Exposure Comparison 2 Lower Tenaya Creek
(565 KB)

A comparative analysis of the effect of shutter speed on water, showing crops of the waterfall section
in this region of Lower Tenaya Creek at 1/2, 1, 2 and 4 seconds. You can easily see the detail in the fall
transitioning into the misty look. The optimum shutter speed for a particular look varies depending on the
speed of the water flow, but often you will achieve the results you want within 1/2 second of speeds shown.

Enough of this. I hope that this dissertation has not bored the people who are not photographers.

Yosemite_Creek_2471


Yosemite Creek 2471
(488 KB)

Yosemite Creek winding through the Valley below Yosemite Falls in the late afternoon in March.

Yosemite_Creek_X0424


Yosemite Creek X0424
(481 KB)

Yosemite Creek boiling past shaded boulders at mid-morning in May below Lower Yosemite Fall.

Yosemite_Creek_John_Muir_Cabin_Site_2629


Yosemite Creek John Muir Cabin Site 2629
(669 KB)

Yosemite Creek in March just below the John Muir Cabin Site, with Yosemite Falls peeking through the trees beyond.

Yosemite_Creek_John_Muir_Cabin_Site_X0403


Yosemite Creek John Muir Cabin Site X0403
(702 KB)

A Red Fir log on the bank of Yosemite Creek immediately below the John Muir Cabin Site at mid-morning in May.

John_Muir_Cabin_Site_2637


John Muir Cabin Site 2637
(558 KB)

The commemorative plaque at the John Muir Cabin Site.

John_Muir_Cabin_Site_Plaque


John Muir Cabin Site Plaque
(408 KB)

Detail of the commemorative plaque at the John Muir Cabin Site, mounted on a boulder at the site in 1924.

John Muir (1838-1914) was a naturalist and author who founded the Sierra Club. His writings and his activism were the major force which helped to create legislation to preserve Yosemite National Park, Sequoia National Park, and many other wilderness areas. He first saw Yosemite in 1868 and was overwhelmed with the landscape. The cabin he built at Yosemite Creek was designed so that a portion of the creek flowed through a corner so he could enjoy the sound of the flowing water.

Yosemite_Creek_John_Muir_Cabin_Site_X2087


Yosemite Creek John Muir Cabin Site X2087
(964 KB)

Roots and a Red Fir Log on the boulder-strewn bank of Yosemite Creek below the John Muir Cabin Site.

Sunburst3

Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Yosemite Collection page where a Gallery can be selected.

PhotoshelterGallerySection


There are 15 Galleries in the Photoshelter Yosemite Collection

For convenience, Galleries containing the images of Wildlife, Plants,
Sequoia National Park, Bodie Ghost Town, Mono Lake and Mariposa
have been copied to the Yosemite Collection from their normal locations.

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Merced_River_Dawn_Reflection_X6381


Merced River Dawn Reflection X6381
(668 KB)

Autumn foliage is reflected in the placid waters of the Merced River at dawn in October.

Merced_River_Autumn_Reflection_X6414


Merced River Autumn Reflection X6414
(770 KB)

Autumn foliage along the banks of the Merced River and the conifer forest below Bridalveil Fall in October.

Merced_River_Cathedral_Rocks_Sunrise_X0572


Merced River Cathedral Rocks Sunrise X0572
(653 KB)

Merced_River_Cathedral_Rocks_Sunrise_X0817


Merced River Cathedral Rocks Sunrise X0817
(672 KB)

The Merced River and the Gunsight of Cathedral Rocks at sunrise, both taken at nearly the same time
on two mornings in May from the Swinging Bridge, which crosses the Merced River at Leidig Meadow.

Yosemite_Falls_Sunrise_Swinging_Bridge_X0814


Yosemite Falls Sunrise Swinging Bridge X0814
(698 KB)

Yosemite Falls and the Merced River at sunrise from the Swinging Bridge in May.

Yosemite_Falls_Reflection_X2106


Yosemite Falls Reflection X2106
(611 KB)

Yosemite Falls is reflected in waters flooding Leidig Meadow during a year with exceptional snowmelt.

Yosemite_Falls_Leidig_Meadow_3396


Yosemite Falls Leidig Meadow 3396
(712 KB)

Yosemite Falls and the Leidig Meadow Fir in May during a year when the meadow did not flood.

More images of Yosemite Falls are on the Waterfalls and Yosemite Falls pages.

Merced_River_Sentinel_Rock_Dawn_X0345


Merced River Sentinel Rock Dawn X0345
(432 KB)

The Merced River and Sentinel Rock at dawn in May from the Swinging Bridge, a superb spot to greet the sunrise.

Merced_River_Sentinel_Bridge_Dawn_X0387


Merced River Sentinel Bridge Dawn X0387
(420 KB)

The Merced River at dawn in May from Sentinel Bridge, directly below Yosemite Falls and Yosemite Village.

Merced_River_Sentinel_Bridge_Sunrise_X0587


Merced River Sentinel Bridge Sunrise X0587
(796 KB)

Merced_River_Sentinel_Bridge_Sunrise_X0828


Merced River Sentinel Bridge Sunrise X0828
(806 KB)

The Merced River from Sentinel Bridge at sunrise, taken on two mornings in May.
In the center of the frame is Middle Brother, the site of an enormous rockfall in 1987.
A huge slab of rock peeled off the cliff face behind the trees at left center, releasing
1.8 million tons of rock which covered Northside Drive 12 feet deep and sent debris
and a monumental cloud of dust into Leidig Meadow. The 1987 Middle Brother
Rockfall was the largest rockfall in the recorded history of Yosemite Valley.

Merced_River_Half_Dome_Sunset_3685


Merced River Half Dome Sunset 3685
(480 KB)

The Merced River and Half Dome at sunset from the opposite side of Sentinel Bridge.

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Yosemite Collection page where a Gallery can be selected.

PhotoshelterGallerySection


There are 15 Galleries in the Photoshelter Yosemite Collection

For convenience, Galleries containing the images of Wildlife, Plants,
Sequoia National Park, Bodie Ghost Town, Mono Lake and Mariposa
have been copied to the Yosemite Collection from their normal locations.

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Merced_River_Half_Dome_March_2390


Merced River Half Dome March 2390
(554 KB)

The Merced River and Half Dome at mid-afternoon in March from Sentinel Bridge.

Merced_River_Half_Dome_First_Light_X0364


Merced River Half Dome First Light X0364
(504 KB)

The Merced River and Half Dome at first light in May from Sentinel Bridge. Mist hugs the waters of the Merced River and passes in front of Half Dome where it reflects the rising sun.

Merced_River_Half_Dome_Sunrise_X0834


Merced River Half Dome Sunrise X0834
(608 KB)

The Merced River and Half Dome just after sunrise in May from Sentinel Bridge. This image is taken at f/11 so that the sun casts rays from the natural aperture formed by the trees.

More images of Half Dome are on the Glacier Point and Yosemite Assorted pages.

Merced_River_Spring_Flood_X2102


Merced River Spring Flood X2102
(678 KB)

Spring flood boiling past a rock in the Merced River during a year with an exceptional snowmelt.

The Merced River is the primary water feature in Yosemite National Park. Its headwaters are in the
Clark Range of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and it flows through Little Yosemite Valley, drops over
Nevada Fall and Vernal Fall, then into Yosemite Valley, where it is met by Tenaya Creek. It flows on
through the valley, where Yosemite Creek enters the river below Yosemite Falls. Near the end of the
valley it meets Pigeon Creek below Ribbon Fall and Bridalveil Creek below Bridalveil Fall, then it
breaches the glacial moraine at the end of the valley, picks up Cascade Creek, turns south near
El Portal, and flows into the Merced River Canyon towards the western entrance of the Park.

Merced_River_Mist_Trail_X2111


Merced River Mist Trail X2111
(760 KB)

The Merced River roaring past boulders below Vernal Fall, taken from the Mist Trail at noon in May.

Merced_River_Mist_Trail_X2135


Merced River Mist Trail X2135
(481 KB)

The turbulent waters of the Merced River boiling past rocks above the footbridge on the Mist Trail.

Merced_River_Vernal_Fall_Mist_Trail_X2122


Merced River Vernal Fall Mist Trail X2122
(565 KB)

The Merced River thunders past the rocks below Vernal Fall, from the footbridge on the Mist Trail in May.

Merced_River_Vernal_Fall_Mist_Trail_X2144


Merced River Vernal Fall Mist Trail X2144
(445 KB)

Vernal Fall and the torrential Merced River from the footbridge over the Merced on the Mist Trail in May.

Merced_River_Vernal_Fall_Mist_Trail_X2131


Merced River Vernal Fall Mist Trail X2131
(406 KB)

Vernal Fall and the Merced River in May, with Liberty Cap in the background, from Lady Franklin Rock on the Mist Trail.

Sugar_Pine_Bridge_Merced_River_2911


Sugar Pine Bridge Merced River 2911
(763 KB)

Sugar_Pine_Bridge_Merced_River_2913


Sugar Pine Bridge Merced River 2913
(974 KB)

The Sugar Pine Bridge (Kenneyville Bridge No. 2) was built in 1927-28 to carry the Curry Stables Road across the Merced River. The 106 foot span of the Sugar Pine Bridge is the longest single span of the eight historical bridges in Yosemite Valley. The concrete arch is faced with native granite to blend into the environment and make the bridge appear to be rough stone construction. It carries a limited access road to Mirror Lake, and was originally known as the Kenneyville Bridge #2 after the old livery stable and service complex owned by George Kenney, an early stagecoach operator (the Ahwahnee Bridge was Kenneyville Bridge #1). The Ahwahnee Hotel was built on the Kenneyville complex site below Royal Arches in 1926-27. Several images of the Ahwahnee Hotel can be seen on the Yosemite Assorted page.

Sugar_Pine_Bridge_Merced_River_3638


Sugar Pine Bridge Merced River 3638
(812 KB)

The 170 foot Sugar Pine Bridge on the Merced River above the North Pines.

Because of abutments built into the Merced River, the historic Sugar Pine, Ahwahnee
and Stoneman Bridges are under attack by environmentalists, who want to restore the
natural free-flowing conditions to the federally designated Wild and Scenic River. The
three bridges are threatened with removal because the abutments restrict water flow.

Sugar_Pine_Bridge_Merced_River_3641


Sugar Pine Bridge Merced River 3641
(815 KB)

The Sugar Pine Bridge (1928), was named for the Sugar Pine on the left.

The draft release of the Merced River Plan due in early December 2012 may call for the
removal of the historic Sugar Pine Bridge or “bioengineering” to reduce the impediments
to the flow of the Merced River caused by the bridge abutments, seen in the image above.

Sunburst3

Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Yosemite Collection page where a Gallery can be selected.

PhotoshelterGallerySection


There are 15 Galleries in the Photoshelter Yosemite Collection

For convenience, Galleries containing the images of Wildlife, Plants,
Sequoia National Park, Bodie Ghost Town, Mono Lake and Mariposa
have been copied to the Yosemite Collection from their normal locations.

Sunburst3
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Click the Display Composite above to visit the Valley Views page

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Click the Display Composite above to visit the Mirror Lake page

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Click the Display Composite above to visit the Yosemite Valley Assorted page

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Click the Display Composite above to visit the Yosemite Select page

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