The poppies in the Merced River Canyon have defied my expectations. Not only did they survive the series of storms over the last two weeks, but the bloom has expanded further up the hillsides to some of the highest ridge tops, and east towards El Portal. The stretch on the north side of the river, about three miles east of Briceburg (and opposite the Slate Creek Bridge), looks particularly good, as does Grandy’s Hill a couple of miles further east.
The poppies near the beginning of the Hite’s Cove Trail have faded, which is not surprising, since they’ve been blooming for a couple of weeks now. That means the most easily-accessible spot for poppies isn’t as spectacular anymore, but there are still poppies there, and further along the trail you’ll find a variety of other wildflowers – not large swaths, but good subjects for closeups. And there are plenty of other good places for poppies if you look around; just drive up the canyon on a sunny afternoon and you can’t miss them.
Although early-blooming spots like Hite’s Cove are starting to fade, other places are just getting started, so I’d guess that there will be good displays for at least another week, maybe longer. This all looks very similar to 2012, which is the second-best poppy bloom I’ve seen in this area. The photograph above, made yesterday afternoon, shows what some of the hillsides look like now.
— Michael Frye
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Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He is the author or principal photographer of The Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite, Yosemite Meditations, Yosemite Meditations for Women, and Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters. He has also written three eBooks: Light & Land: Landscapes in the Digital Darkroom, Exposure for Outdoor Photography, and Landscapes in Lightroom 5: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide. Michael written numerous magazine articles on the art and technique of photography, and his images have been published in over thirty countries around the world. Michael has lived either in or near Yosemite National Park since 1983, currently residing just outside the park in Mariposa, California.