Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California – United States

Deep in the very heart of California lies a 145-mile San Joaquin River tributary called the Merced River. It flows faithfully and gracefully from the Sierra Nevada all the way down into beautiful San Joaquin Valley. However, it’s probably the best known and most widely appreciated for the part of it that flows through Yosemite National Park. It’s there that it’s at its swiftest and most alive, supplying the entirety of Yosemite Valley with clean, clear, lifegiving water.

In the springtime, the Merced River is truly a burgeoning paradise to behold, but it’s perhaps even more beautiful in the wintertime. It’s then that the snowfall transforms it into a veritable winter wonderland that looks like something out of a child’s picture book. The world becomes still, quiet, and serene that time of year. There’s nothing to be heard save for the gentle trickle of the waters and the sighing of the tree tops as they sway in the chilly winter wind. The air is cold to be sure – almost too cold to breathe — but it feels cleaner and purer because of it. As you draw it into your waiting lungs, you’re transformed and refreshed on a level you didn’t know you could be.

This image was captured late in the morning on Christmas Eve on just such a winter’s day. A fresh dusting of new fallen snow graced the landscape and sugared the banks of the Merced River as it meandered along its merry way. There’s nothing like a clean, fresh blanket of snow to make you feel like the deepest Christmas magic is afoot. Sit still enough and you’ll swear you hear sleigh bells in the distance as Santa himself feeds his reindeer their breakfast and prepares for the biggest, most magical night of the year.


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