Yosemite floods display on Superintendent’s Bridge

Yosemite valley has become a lake due to flooding many times in history and you can visualize the depth standing on Superintendent’s Bridge, which has a display that you can stand next to, showing the depth of the water during 5 major Yosemite valley floods.

metal sculpture with various years on it

The water overflowed the bridge to these heights as measured from the bridge deck:

Dec. 11, 1937     2.7 feet

Nov. 18, 1950     3.9 feet

Dec. 23, 1955     4.1 feet

Dec. 23, 1964     3.8 feet

Jan. 2, 1997     5.3 feet

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Below, a NPS photo of the bridge being rebuilt after the 1997 flood:

partially torn up wooden bridge with two men repairing it.

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This webpage has various maps and descriptions of routes to find Superintendent’s Bridge.

The NPS color photo map below shows the trails to lower Yosemite Falls from shuttle stop #6, the trail to Columbia Rock and on to the top of Upper Yosemite Fall, and the trail thru Cook’s Meadow.

Take a look at the lower section of the figure-8-ish Cook’s Meadow loop, and you can spot where Superintendent’s Bridge crosses the Merced River. In this photo map there are two river crossings below the words Cook’s Meadow, one at the left for Superintendent’s Bridge for foot traffic and bikes only, no vehicles, and one towards the right, at the very bottom center of the photo map, for Sentinel Bridge, on a major road with vehicles.

map with waterfalls, cliffs, trails and a few buildings

The section of a shuttle bus map below shows stop #6 at the top center and a dotted red line showing the path to Superintendent’s Bridge to the south. The bridge is just below the letter “M” in the words Yosemite Lodge.

map showing bus stops, the Merced river, parts of roads and parts of  trails

One way to walk to Superintendent’s Bridge is to take the free Yosemite National Park valley shuttle bus to stop #6. From there, looking across the road at a cross walk near the bus stop, you can see a meandering path leading to a pedestrian bridge over the river (Superintendent’s Bridge).

crosswalk across road and people on trial on other side of road

When you first step up the stairs onto to the bridge from the north, the metal sculpture is on the left hand side.

metal display on bridge railing

You can also find the bridge, on your drive into the valley, by going directly across Southside Drive from the Chapel and walking a path to the bridge. (Again, see the section of shuttle bus map above and follow the dotted red line from the Chapel going north.)

The bridge is in the upper left hand side of this photo taken from the Chapel area:

road in foreground, path to bridge beyond the road

A third way to find the bridge is to go to free shuttle bus stop #11 (Sentinel Bridge), go through the parking lot to a path / trail some times of the year with large puddles, (dotted black line in this mini-map):

map showing bus stops, the Merced river, parts of roads and parts of  trails,

and follow the pathway, roughly parallel to the Merced river, and take a left hand turn to a section of pathway (again, the red dotted line in the shuttle bus map above) towards the bridge.

As you walk from the far side of the parking lot at shuttle stop #11, you may see a sign showing the depth of the water at that location during the 1997 flood:

path with sign showing water depth during the 1997 Yosemite Valley flood

Past this the walkway goes over a bridge across the often wettest part of the meadow. Sometimes you can see Mallard families swimming and eating. The park warns: “Boardwalks are slippery when wet and even more so when covered in snow or frost.”

boardwalk and meadow

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Video of the floods of 1996 and 1997:

https://www.nps.gov/media/video/view.htm?id=EA81A54A-CB4D-410C-6BCB1393E86F108A

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Below: the line on a sign (that has since been removed), next to Superintendents Bridge in the upper right of this photo shows the water depth during the January 1997 Yosemite valley flood:

line on sign was water depth during Yosemite flood:

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Press releases and details about recent Yosemite valley floods, including April 7, 2018 (the largest flood in 21 years), January 7-9, 2017 and May 16, 2005, are at: Yosemite Valley spring runoff and flooding / Yosemite snow pack

How much water will there be in the Yosemite waterfalls?

How much water has been flowing the last few days?

To see the water flow at Happy Isles where the section of the Merced River that fills Vernal and Nevada falls enters the valley, click on this webcam link:

http://ca.water.usgs.gov/webcams/happyisles/

You can also find a Weekly Video & Image Archive.

How cold is the water in the Merced River in Yosemite valley right now? Scroll down at:
https://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv/?site_no=11264500