Merced River

The Merced River, in the central part of the U.S. state of California, is a 145-mile-long tributary of the San Joaquin River flowing from the Sierra Nevada into the San Joaquin Valley. It is most well known for its swift and steep course through the southern part of Yosemite National Park, where it is the primary watercourse flowing through Yosemite Valley. The river's character changes dramatically once it reaches the plains of the agricultural San Joaquin Valley, where it becomes a slow-moving meandering stream.
The river first formed as the Sierra Nevada rose about 10 million years ago, and sediment eroded from its canyon helped form the flat floor of the San Joaquin Valley. Glaciation during the ice ages carved the high elevation parts of the watershed, including Yosemite Valley, into their present shape. Historically, there was an extensive riparian zone which provided habitat for millions of migrating birds, and the river had one of the southernmost runs of chinook salmon in North America.
Miwok and Paiute people lived along the river for thousands of years before Spanish and Mexican military expeditions passed through in the early 19th century.
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