Mariposa Creek

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This article is about Adobe Creek in Santa Clara County. For Adobe Creek in Sonoma County, see Adobe Creek (Sonoma County, California).
Mariposa Creek
Mariposa River[1]
Country United States
State California
Region Merced County
 - left Stockton Creek, Spring Creek, Brushy Canyon Creek, Ganns Creek
 - right Agua Fria Creek, China Gulch, Bull Run Creek
Cities Mariposa, Le Grand
 - location Western Sierra Nevada foothills
 - elevation 3,092 ft (942 m)
 - coordinates 37°32′10″N 120°00′40″W / 37.53611°N 120.01111°W / 37.53611; -120.01111 [2]
 - location Duck Slough
 - elevation 0 ft (0 m) [2]
 - coordinates 37°14′55″N 120°18′34″W / 37.24861°N 120.30944°W / 37.24861; -120.30944Coordinates: 37°14′55″N 120°18′34″W / 37.24861°N 120.30944°W / 37.24861; -120.30944 [2]

Mariposa Creek, originally called the Mariposa River,[1] is a creek that has its source in Mariposa near the town of Mariposa, California, United States that flows through that town southwest through the Sierra foothills, into and across the San Joaquin Valley in Merced County, into the sloughs of the San Joaquin River south of Merced, California.


Mariposa Creek, was named by the Spanish explorer Gabriel Moraga on September 27, 1806, when they discovered a great cluster of butterflies ("mariposas" in Spanish and Portuguese): "We named this place Mariposas [butterflies] because these abounded, especially at night and during the morning. These butterflies became quite a nuisance. Their eagerness to escape the sun's rays was so pronounced that they pursued us closely everywhere and one of them got inside the ear of one of the privates, causing him great discomfort and us much trouble in extracting it."[3][4] Each year, the first weekend in May, residents mark the annual arrival of migrating monarch butterflies with a "Butterfly Days" festival and parade.

During the California Gold Rush, the Mariposa River was a rich gold-bearing creek and the site of several mining camps, including Logtown, Mariposa and Mariposita.


Mariposa County contains three major drainage basins: the Merced River, Chowchilla River/Fresno River, and a localized cluster of streams of the east valley known as the Lower Mariposa group of streams. These three basins and their component watersheds are part of the much larger San Joaquin River system that drains the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada. At the lower end of the watershed, Mariposa Creek is dammed by the Mariposa Creek Dam (88 feet (27 m) high). The Mariposa Public Utilities District (MPUD) operates the Stockton Creek Dam (95 feet (29 m) tall) on Stockton Creek, a tributary of Mariposa Creek.[5]


  1. ^ a b Nellie Van de Grift Sanchez (1914). Spanish and Indian Place Names of California: Their Meaning and Their Romance. California: A. M. Robertson. p. 291. Retrieved May 31, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c "Mariposa Creek". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. 
  3. ^ Fray Pedro Muñoz, Robert Glass Cleland and Haydée Noya (May 1946). "The Gabriel Moraga Expedition of 1806: The Diary of Fray Pedro Muñoz". Huntington Library Quarterly. University of Pennsylvania Press. 9 (3): 223–248. doi:10.2307/3816007. JSTOR 3816007. 
  4. ^ Phil Townsend Hanna (1946). The Dictionary of California Land Names. Los Angeles: The Automobile Club of Southern California. p. 167. 
  5. ^ County of Mariposa General Plan – Volume III. Technical Background Report (Report). Retrieved May 31, 2016. 

The name "Mariposa" means "butterfly" in Spanish. Source: