Wishing to explore more of the Sierra Nevada foothills after spending some time in Yosemite? Consider an expedition along CA-140, a state route that meanders along the Merced River, takes you through Mariposa, and will take you west of Merced in the San Joaquin Valley.

Like much of California, the Merced River is thriving due the state’s bounty of rainfall and generous snowpack. Friends with whom I spent yesterday with in the route said they had never seen this 150-mile-long tributary, which eventually flows into the San Joaquin River, roar with such intensity.

Mariposa is definitely the place from which to start your journey. Moonbow Espresso is a great place to score some caffeine; next to it is a visitor’s center that can recommend hikes such as the one at Hike’s Cove, which can take you to some spectacular wildflower blooms depending on the weather. The Merced River Recreation area is a fantastic place to have a picnic lunch or camp overnight. And the drive along CA-140 affords lovely views of the foothills, along with plenty of spots in which to venture such as the hamlet of El Portal.

The Sierras, and the foothills to the west, are far more than the national parks. And right now is a great time to check out the Merced River if you happen to be in the middle of travel across this section of California.

Image credits: Leon Kaye

Travel, Merced River, San Joaquin Valley, Mariposa, Yosemite

Single lane bridge at Merced River Recreation Area

Travel, Merced River, San Joaquin Valley, Mariposa, Yosemite

Succulents along CA-140

Travel, Merced River, San Joaquin Valley, Mariposa, Yosemite

A tributary flowing into the Merced

Travel, Merced River, San Joaquin Valley, Mariposa, Yosemite

The rush of water inspires plenty of photo opps

Travel, Merced River, San Joaquin Valley, Mariposa, Yosemite

Abandoned houses in what was once a thriving logging center

Travel, Merced River, San Joaquin Valley, Mariposa, Yosemite

A drive through here offers incredible views

Travel, Merced River, San Joaquin Valley, Mariposa, Yosemite

Careful if you're considering white water rafting through here

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of GreenGoPost.com. Based in California, he specializes in social media consulting and strategic communications. A journalist and writer since 2009, his work has appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Areas of interest include the <a Middle East, sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at leon@greengopost.com. You can also reach out via Twitter (Leon Kaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). Since 2013, he has spent much of his time in Abu Dhabi, UAE, working with Masdar, the emirate's renewable energy company. He lives in Fresno, California.