Merced is the Gateway to Yosemite and is located in California’s Central Valley. We are about 2½ hours from Yosemite National Park and 2 hours from San Francisco, Sacramento, and Monterey. The Gold Country is just a 30-minute drive into the mountains.
Merced is home the University of California’s newest campus, which is about a mile and a half away. Because it borders Lake Yosemite, the location is ideal for fishing, boating, sailing, and swimming. Visitors may wish to spend time at the Agricultural Museum, Merced Courthouse Museum, Applegate Park Zoo, or the Castle Air Museum.
University of California – Merced
The University of California – Merced opened for enrollment in 2005. The campus is now home to students pursuing degrees in many fields, including natural science, math, and engineering. Because of its location in the rural agricultural area, students can investigate many environmental issues.
Just a short distance from U.C. Merced is Lake Yosemite. This park offers water skiing, sailing, fishing, swimming, picnic shelters, barbecues, and a pleasant place to spend time relaxing.
Merced County Courthouse Museum
The second and third floors of this historic building house 8,500 feet of exhibits depicting the history of early settlers in the Central Valley. It is open to the public and hours vary. Books and gift items relating to the Central Valley and California are sold in the gift shop. Special group tours are available.
Applegate Park Zoo
A 23-acre park and zoo are located in the center of Merced. Visitors will enjoy this beautifully landscaped location featuring picnic areas, a skateboard park, tennis courts, an exercise course, and beautiful roses.
Just 20 minutes from Merced on Highway 140 towards Mariposa and Yosemite Park is the former Wild West gold mining town of Hornitos. It was the home of the first Ghirardelli Chocolate store and at least 36 saloons. Several historic buildings still stand in the town, which at one time served 10,000 people and has dwindled down to a population of 75.
Primarily populated by American Indians prior to 1848, this town became flooded with thousands of miners when gold was discovered in the area that year. John C. Fremont founded the town, and many historic buildings from the Gold Rush era are open to visitors today.
Yosemite National Park
Plan to spend some leisurely hours exploring the beautiful natural surroundings in one of the most widely known parks in the world. Although 95 percent of Yosemite National Park is designated as wilderness, it contains over 200 miles of roads and 800 miles of hiking trails. The park is home to hundreds of species of birds, mammals, and flowers along with over 30 types of trees. The YARTS bus from Merced makes the bus easily accessible to the public.