Stoneman & Sentinel Bridges, Yosemite in Winter


The bridges that cross the Merced River provide some of the best places in the Yosemite Valley for photographs.  For me, it was awe-inspiring to know that I was standing in some of the exact same spots as Ansel Adams, and countless other photographers who have visited the park over the years.  The only downside is, you probably won’t take a picture that hasn’t been taken before — perhaps thousands of times before.

Even so, your friends back home will probably still be impressed with the shots you take at Stoneman and Sentinel Bridge.  At Stoneman, you’ll get a nice view of the surrounding cliffs…

… and a partial view of Yosemite’s most famous landmark, Half Dome.  As you’ll see later on this page, the view of Half Dome is better at Sentinel Bridge.

It may be hard to believe, but Stoneman Bridge and the nearby meadow were, at one time, the scene of riots and anarchy.  Back in the late 1960’s (some sources say 1968, others 1970), hundreds of people were taking LSD and camping illegally.  When park rangers confronted them, the crowd went wild, and overpowered law enforcement, sending them running for the woods.  The mob even rolled over a police car in the middle of Stoneman Bridge.  That incident caused the park service to increase the law-and-order side of a park ranger’s duties.

You can walk out into the meadow near Stoneman Bridge for a nice view up the valley.  It’s beautiful when everything is green, too.

LeConte Memorial

As you head further into the valley on Southside Drive, you’ll see the LeConte Memorial Lodge on the right side of the road, across from Housekeeping Camp.  The Sierra Club built the lodge in 1904, as a memorial to Joseph LeConte, a director of the Sierra Club, who died in Yosemite Valley in 1901.  For a time, the memorial served as the valley’s first welcome center.  In the winter, the memorial is closed, so all I was able to do was slip and slide up its unshoveled steps.

Even though it’s called a “lodge”, the LeConte Memorial has never been used for overnight accommodations.

Sentinel Bridge

If you stop at just one of Yosemite Valley’s bridges, hoping to get a good picture, make it the Sentinel Bridge.  At this spot, you’ll have a nice view of Upper Yosemite Fall…

… and a fantastic shot of the Merced River, which appears to flow directly out of Half Dome.  I stopped by here again on Day 6, when the skies were blue, but the light still wasn’t quite right, in order to capture the prefect Half Dome shot.

After driving up the south side, I crossed over, and headed back to Yosemite Falls, and to my accommodation for the night, the Lodge at the Falls.

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