McConnell State Recreation Area RV & Campground Guide


Located on the banks of the Merced River in central California, McConnell State Recreation Area is a popular spot for fishing and camping that offers recreational opportunities year-round. The park was named for Thomas McConnell, a sheep rancher and pioneer who had a homestead in the area around 1871. Today, this 2,500-acre park offers picturesque views and tranquil surroundings. The park is conveniently located near another state park, the George J. Hatfield State Recreation Area, and it is also close to the entrance to Yosemite National Park.

Nearby Cities

  • Turlock, CA

  • Delhi, CA

  • Stockton, CA

  • Merced, CA

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Spring 45–66 F
Summer 65–100 F
Fall 51–73 F
Winter 42–60 F
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RV Resorts & Campsites in McConnell State Recreation Area

Campground Accommodations

Bullfrog Pond Campground

  • Water hookup: No

  • Electrical hookup: No

  • Sewer hookup: No

  • Wi-Fi: No

  • Pet-friendly: Yes

  • Max RV length: 30 feet

  • Other amenities: Picnic tables, fire rings, grills, flush toilets, hot showers, drinking water

McConnell State Recreation Campground

This pet-friendly campground offers 21 primitive sites for tents and RVs. If you do plan to camp here, know that there are no hookups available. However, the spectacular views and weather make this a great location for your next trip. There are plenty of places to enjoy water sports like rafting, canoeing, swimming, and fishing. The price to stay the night is $30 per day.

• Water hookup: No

• Electrical hookup: No

• Sewer hookup: Yes

• Pet-friendly: Yes

• Other amenities: Drinking water, dump station, food lockers, modern restrooms

Merced River RV Resort

If you are looking for another great spot near Livingston, consider reserving a site at Merced River RV Resort. This spot is located just off Highway 99, and it is conveniently near Yosemite National Park. Each site offers 50-amp power with water and sewer hookups. With this location, you'll have more of a resort experience than a standard campground. Merced River RV Resort features a convenience store, 24-hour security patrol, and pet-friendly accommodations. 

• Water hookup: Yes

• Electrical hookup: Yes

• Sewer hookup: Yes

• Wi-Fi: Yes

• Pet-friendly: Yes

• Other amenities: Barbecue facilities, group meeting rooms, monthly discounts

Castle Air Museum and RV Park

When you visit the Castle Air Museum, you can grab a spot to park your rig for the night. Behind the museum, there are six full hookup spaces. These spots include water, electricity, and sewer hookups. With each site, you'll also get a free pass to the museum. Furthermore, there are 12 dry camp spaces with one dump access pass per day. This park is a bit rustic, but they do offer Wi-Fi access with pet-friendly accommodations. The fee to park here for the day is $40 with full access and $30 for dry camping sites. 

• Water hookup: Yes

• Electrical hookup: Yes

• Sewer hookup: Yes

• Wi-Fi: Yes

• Pet-friendly: Yes

• Other amenities: Cellphone reception

RV Rentals Near McConnell State Recreation Area

Nearby RV Rentals


What to Do at
McConnell State Recreation Area

Swimming, fishing, and kayaking are popular at McConnell State Recreation Area. The Merced River is also a popular spot to put an innertube in the water while you relax and gently float downstream. The Recreation Area has playgrounds for the little ones to enjoy, too.

Along with enjoying swimming and other water sports, you can relax in the scenic surroundings and enjoy a picnic at one of the shaded picnic tables along the waterfront. There are plenty more experiences to enjoy whether you're seeking a physical workout or would rather admire the animals and plants that inhabit the area.

Inside McConnell State Recreation Area

While water sports are popular activities at this location, there are plenty of places to bike, hike, or set out to explore. The riverside picnic areas are ideal for relaxing and keeping an eye out for wildlife, including cottontail rabbits, opossums, weasels, and raccoons. Bird-watchers can also spot yellow-billed magpies, valley quails, spot robins, and several species of hawks. Families will also appreciate that there's an on-site children's playground to let the little ones burn off some extra energy. 

Fishing Fishing

Fishing is one of the main reasons visitors flock to the park. Year-round, you can bait your line for catfish and perch. In the spring, you can catch rainbow trout and bass.

Geocaching Geocaching

Check your geocaching app to check the latest status of any geocaches that may be in the area. Have fun hunting for hidden treasure, and if you find a hidden cache, be sure to sign the logbook and then leave something for the next explorer to find.

Nature Watching Nature Watching

With diverse landscapes and scenic riverfront views, McConnell State Recreation Area is an excellent place to observe the beauty of nature. When exploring the area, you may spot wild mushrooms, stunning hyacinth flowers, and California buckeye. After a good rain in the spring, the wildflowers will be at their peak.

Stargazing Stargazing

The stargazing is excellent at McConnell State Recreation Area. Most of the campsites have shade trees, so you'll have to step away a bit for the best view. Be sure to allow your eyes to adjust to the darkness for at least 30 minutes to maximize your stargazing experience.

Flora and Fauna

Towering cottonwood and sycamore trees line the banks of the Merced River throughout the park. The riparian habitat is home to nesting birds such as American robins, Western Bluebirds, and white-headed woodpeckers. Visitors to the area often report spotting raccoons, rabbits, and opossums. If you're lucky, you might spot the occasional beaver. Bird-watchers should keep an eye out to spot hawks, quail, and Western Tanagers. Other avian species to watch for include Hammond’s flycatchers and yellow-billed magpies.

Hiking Hiking

Although there are no hiking trails within McConnell State Recreation Area, there are some excellent options very close by. The Sunset Trail is a short out-and-back trail just north of Merced which offers stunning sunset views. Just outside of Crow's Landing, Levie Farms offers several waterfront trails to choose from. If you're looking for something more epic, Yosemite National Park isn't far away and offers an abundance of hiking and other recreational opportunities.

Swimming Swimming

The swimming is usually excellent in the Merced River, and you can generally pick any spot to enjoy a refreshing dip. After a downpour, however, the waters can flow quite heavily, making swimming dangerous. Be sure to respect the rules on any posted signs you see during your visit. Also, note that there is no lifeguard on duty when swimming at McConnell State Recreation Area.


Although there is no boat launch available, you can easily launch a kayak, canoe, or another hand-carried boat right into the Merced River. Many people come to McConnell State Recreation Area to enjoy floating down the river in an innertube as well. Life jackets are recommended when boating at the park. You can also rent a boat nearby at the Lake McSwain Marina.

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How to Get to
McConnell State Recreation Area

From the city of Merced in central California, head north on state highway 99. Stay on this route for about 17 miles, then take Exit #204 for Collier Road. Turn right onto Collier Road and then left on Canal Drive. From there, turn right onto Pepper Street. Follow this road as it curves around and turns into McConnell Road. Stay left as McConnell Road turns, and then you will see the signs for the entrance to McConnell State Recreation Area in front of you.

By Car

Entering McConnell State Recreation Area

Day-use fees vary depending on the season, but you can expect to pay $10 to $20 per vehicle. Seniors 62 and older receive a $2 discount.

McConnell State Recreation Area is a good place to sharpen up your fishing skills. You can also take a dip in the cool waters or hit the trails for a little exploration. With an RV rental from RVshare, you can have a relaxing vacation without any of the hassles. All you need to do is find your perfect spot and spend the day enjoying the wonders of the California landscape. When you're on the road, you can share your stories with RVshare on social media. You can also send some of your pictures to [email protected]. Your vacation might be featured on the site's social media channels or blog.

Frequently Asked Questions About McConnell State Recreation Area

What is the best time of year to visit McConnell State Recreation Area?

The fishing at McConnell State Recreation Area is usually best in the spring and early summer, after a light rain. Heavier rains make the water too dangerous for swimming on occasion, so the best time to visit really depends on what the weather's been like in the prior few months. The park is open year-round, however, and usually enjoys mild temperatures throughout the year. Lows rarely dip below the low 50s during the daytime, even in winter.

What kind of wildlife can be found in McConnell State Recreation Area?

Deer, coyotes, rabbits, and numerous bird species make their home in the park. More interesting animals such as skunks, moles, armadillos, and porcupines are also native to the area. In recent years, American white pelicans have begun to winter in the area. These majestic creatures can easily be spotted due to their vibrant white color and 9-foot wingspan.

Are there designated RV camping spots in McConnell State Recreation Area?

There are 20 campsites available for overnight stays at McConnell State Recreation Area. Of those, four are reserved for tent camping only.

Do you have to reserve a camping spot at McConnell State Recreation Area and what is the cost?

Yes. Reservations can be made up to six months in advance, and there is a $7.99 reservation fee. When staying overnight at McConnell State Recreation Area, expect to pay $30 per night for a standard campsite.

Are pets allowed at McConnell State Recreation Area?

Pets are allowed only in the camping area at McConnell State Recreation Area. Per the park's rules, they are not allowed to be left alone and they must be kept on a leash at all times. In the evening, they must be with you in your tent or RV and not left alone outside overnight.