The Merced River is a 145-mile tributary of the San Joaquin River flowing from the Sierra Nevada to the central valley of California. The most famous section of the river is where it travels through the renowned Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park. The Merced drops over the Nevada Falls and Vernal Falls and passes into the valley, where it flows in the pine forests that fill the valley floor. Visitors to Yosemite Valley can go almost anywhere along the Merced's banks and see the famous granite cliffs and formations. One of my favorite spots along the Merced is Cathedral Beach. Here, one of the most famous rock formations in Yosemite is often reflected in it's waters, El Capitan. It was early morning and the soft light was bathing the formation and the opposite bank. It's no wonder that the Yosemite Valley is one of the most visited national parks in the US.