Yosemite_ValleyViews

The Valley Views page displays images from Discovery View (also called Tunnel View) and
Gates of the Valley (also called Valley View). Discovery View is the first view of Yosemite Valley
seen by visitors who arrive from the south, as it is outside the eastern portal of the Wawona Tunnel.
Gates of the Valley is the quintessential ground-level view, looking down the valley from across
the Merced River. These two iconic scenes display the true grandeur of Yosemite Valley.

Click an image to open a larger version.
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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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Yosemite_Valley_Dawn_Mist_X0333


Yosemite Valley Dawn Mist X0333
(286 KB)

Mist blankets Yosemite Valley at dawn in this scene taken in spring from Discovery View
(also called Tunnel View as it is the first view of the Valley after exiting the Wawona Tunnel).

Yosemite Valley was home of the Ahwahneechee tribe (the people of Ahwahnee, the
name the tribe called the valley). The valley was named Yosemite in 1851 by L. H. Bunnell,
after the Miwok word Yohha’miteh, which is what the Miwok Indians called both the valley and
its people. Derived from Uzumati (Grizzly Bear), Yohha’miteh means “they are killers”. The valley
is the centerpiece of Yosemite National Park, and attracts millions of visitors each year. Due to the
destructive effects of early homesteading and exploitation of the area, Abraham Lincoln signed a bill
(1864) which set aside the land in the Valley and in Mariposa Grove, granting it to the State of California
and designating it as the first Park. California had problems setting up administration, roads and facilities,
and this prompted the establishment of the first National Park at Yellowstone in 1872 to avoid similar issues.
 While Yosemite was a Park, the surrounding area was still subject to logging, mining and other exploitation.
John Muir made the damage to the subalpine area public, and in 1890 the entire region was made into a
National Park and put under US Army jurisdiction. After the National Park Service was founded in 1916,
the jurisdiction of Yosemite was turned over to the NPS, and all-weather highways were constructed.

Yosemite has been an extremely popular sightseeing destination since it was ‘discovered’ in the mid-1800s, and millions of people have visited since it became a Park. The spectacular granite monoliths towering thousands of feet over the narrow valley are awe-inspiring sights, and Yosemite has provided inspiration for artists over the years to create some of their finest work.

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Bridalveil Fall Dawn Mist X0331
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Bridalveil Fall thunders over the edge of a hanging valley next to Cathedral Rocks on the right. Half Dome is on the left.

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Bridalveil Fall Half Dome X0255
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Bridalveil Fall erupts from the hanging valley beside Cathedral Rocks at mid-afternoon in May (from Discovery View).

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Wawona Tunnel at Dawn X0790
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The eastern side of the Wawona Tunnel on the Wawona Road (Highway 41) at dawn, with a car approaching in the distance. The Wawona Tunnel is 4230 feet long, 19 feet high and 28 feet wide and was bored through a solid granite mountain.

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Wawona Tunnel at Dawn X6354
(414 KB)

The tunnel was begun in January 1931 to re-route the Old Wawona Road. When boring was completed in January 1932 it was the longest vehicle tunnel in the Western US, and included carbon monoxide sensors and ventilation.

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Wawona Tunnel at Dawn X6350
(408 KB)

The eastern end of the Wawona Tunnel at dawn. The eastern end is a solid granite bore
(some sections are lined with concrete where the condition of the rock required support).
700 feet of the western end and portal are concrete lined. All of the excavated rock was
used to build the approach road from the valley and a parking lot outside the east portal.

The eastern edge of the parking lot is the spot called Discovery View, or Tunnel View,
offering a breathtaking sight to visitors arriving from the south. The Wawona Road follows
much of the route into the valley of the Mariposa Battalion of 1851, diverging to pass below
Turtleback Dome and then into the Wawona Tunnel, which was bored to reduce the grade
into the valley for vehicular traffic. Discovery View is therefore about 1000 feet lower than
the spot where the Mariposa Battalion got their very first glimpse of Yosemite Valley.

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Yosemite Valley Salmon Sunrise X0797
(374 KB)

A beautiful salmon-tinted sunrise from Discovery View in May illuminates El Capitan on
the left, Half Dome in the center, and Bridalveil Fall below Cathedral Rocks on the right.

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Yosemite Valley Tunnel View 2784
(727 KB)

Tunnel View in the early afternoon in May, with a prescribed burn in El Capitan Meadow, between Cathedral Rocks and Sentinel Rock. Prescribed burns reduce the forest fuel load.

Yosemite_Valley_Tunnel_View_2788


Yosemite Valley Tunnel View 2788
(738 KB)

Yosemite Valley in May from Discovery View (Tunnel View). From left are El Capitan, Cloud’s Rest, Half Dome, Sentinel Rock (above the fire), Cathedral Rocks and Bridalveil Fall.

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Yosemite Valley Prescribed Burn 2791c
(532 KB)

A detail crop from an image similar to 2788 (shown above) displays the features of
Yosemite Valley as seen from Discovery View (Tunnel View). El Capitan is on the left,
Cathedral Rocks and Bridalveil Fall are on the right. Just beyond Cathedral Rocks, in
El Capitan Meadow in front of the Cathedral Spires is the prescribed burn. Above the
smoke from the burn is Sentinel Rock, and to the left are Half Dome and Cloud’s Rest.

For 100 years, fire was prevented in Yosemite and other forest areas as a policy to
protect the beauty of the area, but this faulty policy caused an increase in forest litter
and undergrowth. Besides making it impossible for the Giant Sequoia seeds to gain
footholds (they need fire to open and clear undergrowth so the seeds can germinate),
the added fuel meant that when a fire did start, the risk of a disastrous crown fire was
increased. Beginning in 1970, the Forest Service began to use prescribed burns to
reduce the fuel load, open the forest structure and maintain the health of meadows.

Yosemite_Valley_Tunnel_View_2793


Yosemite Valley Tunnel View 2793
(691 KB)

A dramatic early afternoon wide-angle from Discovery View in May shows the U-shaped contours of
Yosemite Valley and the hanging valley above Bridalveil Fall, carved by glaciers during the Ice Age.

Discovery View, or Tunnel View, is one of the most spectacular views of Yosemite Valley, where
many of its most famous features are laid out in one panorama. The view is slightly different than the
first view encountered by the Mariposa Battalion from Old Inspiration Point (1851), or that seen by early
visitors who traveled the original Wawona Road, which entered the valley from Inspiration Point up on the
rim, following a steep treacherous set of switchbacks down the cliff. The Wawona Road was re-routed
from its original entrance to the Valley to reduce the grade by passing through the Wawona Tunnel,
so Tunnel View is 1000 feet below Old Inspiration Point where the Mariposa Battalion first saw the
magnificent spectacle. Inspiration Point can be reached via a steep hike from the south parking
lot at the east end of the Wawona Tunnel. Old Inspiration Point is further up the Pohono Trail.

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Yosemite Valley Tunnel View 2348
(654 KB)

Yosemite Valley in mid-afternoon taken from Discovery View in March.
Note the reduced flow of Bridalveil Fall (the flow peaks in May and June).
Closeup images of Bridalveil Fall are on the Yosemite Waterfalls page.

In the early days of Yosemite tourism between 1855 and 1864, before President Lincoln signed the Act of Congress which created the Yosemite Grant, visiting the park required an arduous two day trip from San Francisco to the nearest town, then a two or three day trek by foot or horseback along the rock mountainsides to the valley. Only 653 tourists visited the Yosemite Valley between 1855 and 1864.

After the Yosemite Grant was established, several entrepreneurs began to create trails and roads to ease travel to the valley. These included the Washburn Brothers of Mariposa, who bought Galen Clark’s property in what would become Wawona when Clark ran out of money after his project to create a road into Yosemite from the south failed to gain enough financial backing. The Washburn Brothers created the road from their Wawona Hotel to the valley floor via Inspiration Point, and not only made a good profit but also opened the valley to a great number of people. Their road was later improved and re-routed through the Wawona Tunnel, which was bored through the mountain to reduce the grade and avoid the danger of entering the valley from the rim down the treacherous series of switchbacks.

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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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Yosemite_Valley_Tunnel_View_3553


Yosemite Valley Tunnel View 3553
(787 KB)

Yosemite Valley in the early afternoon in May. Usually, the light is best later in the afternoon
and near sunset (although some interesting shots can be captured at dawn), but when there
are clouds in the sky, the shadows and cloud formations make this scene quite interesting.

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Yosemite Valley Tunnel View 2691
(832 KB)

Yosemite_Valley_Tunnel_View_2694


Yosemite Valley Tunnel View 2694
(685 KB)

A mid-afternoon wide angle and detail shot from Discovery View in May. In mid-afternoon, the
entire valley is evenly lit, and the light progressively softens and warms as sunset approaches.

Note the typical U-shaped curve of a glacially-carved valley. John Muir, an early environmental
activist and the man whose writings were most responsible for the preservation of Yosemite,
was the first to propose that Yosemite Valley was created by glacial activity. Josiah Whitney
(head of the California Geological Survey) was certain that it had sunk into the earth as the
result of a cataclysmic earthquake, and he suppressed evidence of glaciers in his survey
reports and dismissed Muir as an amateur and an ignoramus. He was proved wrong.

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Yosemite Valley Tunnel View Sunset 2546
(552 KB)

Discovery View (Tunnel View) just before sunset in March. The flow over Bridalveil Fall
is considerably less as the snowmelt has just begun. On the left is El Capitan, on the right
are the Cathedral Rocks. You can easily discern the typical U-shape of glacial valleys in both
the hanging valley on the right from which Bridalveil Fall erupts, and in Yosemite Valley itself.

While Yosemite Valley has the U-shape of a glacially carved valley between its vertical cliffs,
the flat floor indicates that a lake once covered the valley, held back by the glacial moraines
near Bridalveil Fall following the retreat of the Tioga stage glaciers about 15,000 years ago.

Half_Dome_Clouds_Rest_Sunset_2536


Half Dome Clouds Rest Sunset 2536
(585 KB)

A telephoto detail shot of Half Dome and Clouds Rest from Discovery View at sunset in March. Cloud’s Rest is a 9930 foot arete (a knife-like ridge of rock) that separated the two glaciers which carved out Tenaya Canyon and Little Yosemite Valley. Half Dome is the most familiar (and famous) rock feature in Yosemite National Park.

At right is a portrait of Cathedral Rocks and Bridalveil Fall emanating from a hanging valley at sunset in March.

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Bridalveil Fall Cathedral Rocks Sunset 2912
(476 KB)

Bridalveil_Fall_Half_Dome_Sunset_2535


Bridalveil Fall Half Dome Sunset 2535
(614 KB)

A telephoto scenic from Discovery View showing (from left) Clouds Rest and Half Dome,
 Sentinel Rock and Sentinel Dome, Cathedral Rocks and Bridalveil Fall at sunset in March.

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Yosemite Valley Tunnel View Sunset 2899
(540 KB)

A wide angle scenic from Discovery View at sunset in March. From left are El Capitan,
Clouds Rest, Half Dome, Sentinel Rock, Cathedral Rocks and Bridalveil Fall. The pillar at
the far right peeking out of the shadow is the Leaning Tower. In the distance, above the
Gunsight between Cathedral Rocks, on the rim near Sentinel Rock, is Sentinel Dome.

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Yosemite Valley Tunnel View X2384
(882 KB)

Late afternoon wide angle from Discovery View in May, during a year with a very
high snowfall. Notice the exceptional amount of water flowing over Bridalveil Fall.
The melting snow caused widespread flooding in meadows in the valley, creating
some spectacular reflections (see the Waterfalls page and Yosemite Falls page).

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Yosemite Valley Wawona Tunnel Airshaft X2387
(681 KB)

This is a rather unusual view, taken from the airshaft about 200 yards from the
eastern end of the Wawona Tunnel. This view is not often seen. To get there, you
have to walk back down the tunnel from the eastern end, into the fathomless dark.
Beware of monsters. Just about the time when the hairs on your neck begin to twitch
you will sense an opening on your right. Enter here and duck to avoid the vampire bats.
Travel down this tunnel a few hundred feet to the opening. Do not run out of the opening
no matter how many monsters are chasing you, or you will find yourself treading air.
Once outside, look to your right. Don’t forget to pick your jaw up off the ground.

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Yosemite Valley Wawona Tunnel Airshaft X2392 M
(869 KB)

A 4:5 ratio crop, resized down to 1200 x 1590, of a portrait view from the opening of the
Wawona Tunnel airshaft. The Merced River winds through the bottom of Yosemite Valley,
and Bridalveil Fall emerges from the hanging valley below Cathedral Rocks at center right.
Overlooking Yosemite Valley from center left are El Capitan, Half Dome and Sentinel Dome.

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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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El_Capitan_Cathedral_Rocks_Valley_View_2482


El Capitan Cathedral Rocks Valley View 2482
(480 KB)

Yosemite Valley from Valley View in March. At left are Ribbon Falls and El Capitan.
At right are Cathedral Rocks, and just visible at the top of the trees is Bridalveil Fall.
This view is taken from the end of the log in the Merced River shown below in 2250.

Valley View, also known as Gates of the Valley, is the iconic ground-level Yosemite view,
on Northside Drive just before the Pohono Bridge at the western end of Yosemite Valley.

El_Capitan_Cathedral_Rocks_Valley_View_2252


El Capitan Cathedral Rocks Valley View 2252
(526 KB)

El_Capitan_Cathedral_Rocks_Valley_View_3768


El Capitan Cathedral Rocks Valley View 3768
(645 KB)

El Capitan, Cathedral Rocks and the Merced River from Valley View in March (left) and May.
Some early descriptions referred to El Capitan and Cathedral Rocks as the Gates of the Valley.
Ansel Adams took a famous 1938 winter photograph entitled “Gates of the Valley”, thus the name.

El_Capitan_Cathedral_Rocks_Valley_View_2241


El Capitan Cathedral Rocks Valley View 2241
(556 KB)

El_Capitan_Cathedral_Rocks_Valley_View_2250


El Capitan Cathedral Rocks Valley View 2250
(540 KB)

El Capitan, Cathedral Rocks and Bridalveil Fall from Valley View (Gates of the Valley) in March.
Image 2241 (above left) was taken from the log in the Merced River, shown in image 2250 (right)

El_Capitan_Cathedral_Rocks_Valley_View_2245


El Capitan Cathedral Rocks Valley View 2245
(487 KB)

A cloud acts as a headdress above El Capitan in this scene from Gates of the Valley (Valley View)
taken in March. Bridalveil Fall erupts from a hanging valley to the west of Cathedral Rocks on the right.

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El Capitan Ribbon Fall Valley View 2486
(513 KB)

Ribbon Fall trickles over the cliff to the left of El Capitan in this scene from the Merced River log at Valley View in March. Ribbon Fall (1612 ft.) is the tallest uninterrupted fall in the US.

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El Capitan Ribbon Fall Valley View 3774
(692 KB)

Ribbon Fall and El Capitan from Gates of the Valley in May.

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El Capitan Ribbon Fall Valley View X2377
(585 KB)

Ribbon Fall, El Capitan and the Merced River in May during a year with exceptional snowfall.

Just to the west of El Capitan is Ribbon Fall, one of the tallest sheer-drop waterfalls on Earth.
Ribbon Fall drops 1612 feet, and is the tallest uninterrupted waterfall in North America. It is on
the north wall directly opposite Bridalveil Fall. The Paiute name for the fall was Lung-yo tocoya,
which means Pigeon Basket. This name caused Lafayette Bunnell of the Mariposa Battalion
to call it Pigeon Creek Fall. James Hutchings translated the name as “long and slender” for
the tourist parties he led in the early years, and named it Ribbon Fall. Ribbon Fall is an
ephemeral fall that dries up as soon as the snow has melted in early to mid-summer.

El_Capitan_Cathedral_Rocks_Valley_View_3406


El Capitan Cathedral Rocks Valley View 3406
(653 KB)

Ribbon Fall, El Capitan, Cathedral Rocks and Bridalveil Fall on a rather bleak afternoon in May from Gates of the Valley.

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El Capitan Cathedral Rocks Valley View 3760
(738 KB)

The scene from Valley View on a beautiful afternoon in May. Gates of the Valley is the iconic ground level Yosemite view.

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El Capitan Cathedral Rocks Valley View 3765
(734 KB)

El Capitan, Cathedral Rocks and Bridalveil Fall from the log in the Merced River at Valley View.

El Capitan is a granite monolith rising more than 3000 feet over Yosemite Valley. The largest granite
monolith in the world and once considered unclimbable, it is now the world standard for big-wall climbers.

El_Capitan_Cathedral_Rocks_Valley_View_3796


El Capitan Cathedral Rocks Valley View 3796
(629 KB)

El Capitan and Cathedral Rocks, beautifully lit in the mid-afternoon in May from Gates of the Valley.

Other views of El Capitan including the Rock Spirit Totock’anula are on the Yosemite Assorted page.

Cathedral_Rocks_Valley_View_2476


Cathedral Rocks Valley View 2476
(579 KB)

Cathedral Rocks (Poosenachucka, or Large Acorn Cache) from Valley View in March.
Bridalveil Fall can be seen erupting from a hanging valley to the west of Cathedral Rocks.

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Cathedral Rocks Valley View 2475
(619 KB)

A wider view of Cathedral Rocks and Bridalveil Fall from Valley View, from a higher angle farther back on the bank.

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Cathedral Rocks Autumn Reflection X6408
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Cathedral Rocks and Autumn foliage reflected in the waters of the Merced River. Bridalveil Fall is a mere trickle in October.

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Cathedral Rocks Autumn X6404
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Cathedral Rocks and Autumn foliage beside the banks of the Merced River in October.
This image was taken a few hundred yards east of Valley View (Gates of the Valley).

Bridalveil Fall is one of the few waterfalls in Yosemite which flows year-round due to the
large basin above with lakes, marshes and meadows which retain groundwater all summer.
Images of Bridalveil Fall in its full glory in the Spring are on the Yosemite Waterfalls page.

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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Mirror_Lake


Click the Display Composite above to visit the Mirror Lake page

Rivers_Creeks


Click the Display Composite above to visit the Rivers and Creeks page

Yosemite_Assorted


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

Yosemite_Select


Click the Display Composite above to visit the Yosemite Select page

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