You can photograph the Merced River from many locations. Some of the best shots are from the footbridge in Cook's Meadow, Swinging Bridge, Gates of the Valley, and the section between Pohono Bridge and the Big Oak Flat Road (see A–D on map). But go out on your own and discover your personal location along the river.
The best locations from which to photograph Merced River: (A) Footbridge in Cook's Meadow, (B) Swinging Bridge, (C) Gates of the Valley, (D) from Pohono Bridge to Big Oak Flat Road. Other photo ops: (2) Bridalveil Fall, (4) Cathedral Rock, (6) El Capitan, (7) Fern Springs, (10) Horsetail Fall, (22) Three Brothers, (28) Yosemite Chapel, (29) Yosemite Falls.
Standing on the footbridge in Cook's Meadow (see A on the map) and looking west, you can frame your image with small rapids at the bottom of the frame and Sentinel Rock at the upper portion of your frame. Here, the river flows toward the open west end of the valley with the steep cliffs in the foreground and the wider spaces in the background. A second option is to photograph the river as it flows to this open end of the valley (see figure 15.1).