The riverside McConnell State Recreation Area is a 74-acre scenic public RV park located two miles north-east of Livingstone in California. Tucked beneath a canopy of towering cottonwood and sycamore trees and scattered along the banks of the Merced River, this family-friendly campground is an idyllic spot to escape the heat of the central San Joaquin Valley. RV campers can sunbathe on two beaches, set off to explore the wooded hiking trails and let the kids loose at the children’s playground.
McConnell State Recreation Area is a pet-friendly campground with just 21 primitive sites for tents and RVs with no hookups available. With a focus on the outdoors, the park enjoys an average of 263 sunny days a year, making it the perfect spot for all sorts of outdoor recreation - particularly water-related activities - such as swimming, fishing, canoeing, and rafting. The adventure doesn’t stop there though as hiking, biking, and picnicking can also be enjoyed on land.
The typical Central Valley climate varies between 90 and 105 degrees in the summer months, with mild spring and fall temperatures and winter days that can drop below freezing. There is an average annual rainfall of 12 inches. Whatever time of year you visit though, you can relax at camp or the riverside picnic areas and keep an eye out for all sorts of wildlife such as raccoons, weasels, opossums, cottontail rabbits, and the occasional beaver. If you’re into birds, you can spot robins, yellow-billed magpies, valley quail, as well as several types of hawks.
RV Rentals in McConnell State Recreation Area
Transportation in McConnell State Recreation Area
McConnell State Recreation Area can be found two miles northeast of Livingstone on US Route 99, between Turlock and Merced. Even though it’s just a short drive off the main highway, the park feels a world away.
The roads within the park are paved while the campsites for tents and RVs are dirt or gravel camping pads. Please keep to the speed limit of 15 miles per hour within the campground. Once you’ve set up camp, you can get around by hiking or biking through the park or launching a canoe or kayak to paddle along the river’s edge.
Campgrounds and parking in McConnell State Recreation Area
Campsites in McConnell State Recreation Area
McConnell State Recreation Area offers a family and pet-friendly campground in California. Campers can take their pick of 21 shady primitive campsites close to the banks of the Merced River. The campsites are suitable for tents and RVs and trailers up to 30 feet in length. Past campers have mentioned that their favorite campsites are numbers 11, 12, 13 and 18.
There are no hookups available for RVs (no electric, sewerage or water hookups), but drinking water and a dump station are available. Each campsite has a rock fire pit, picnic table, and food lockers. Modern restrooms are available with coin-operated showers and firewood is available at the park office.
Campsites at this RV park can be reserved up to six months in advance. Generators may be used, but only between the hours of 10h00 and 20h00.
Two group camps are available at McConnell State Recreation Area for tents only. Each caters up to 20 or 50 people respectively. They have piped water, two rock fire pits, picnic tables, a horseshoe pit, and a large barbecue area with an adjustable grill. Flush toilets and coin-operated showers are available.
Seasonal activities in McConnell State Recreation Area
McConnell State Recreation Area is a popular spot for waterside recreation such as swimming and non-motorized boating such as canoeing, kayaking and rafting. The Merced River has a gentle flow, especially over the summertime, so it’s a great spot for a leisurely swim for all swimming abilities. Take note that there are no lifeguards available and no boat rentals so you'll need to bring your own canoe or kayak from home. If you’re camping with kids, you can pick up life jackets from the ranger station at the main entrance.
McConnell State Recreation Area is a picnicking paradise with more than 70 acres of picnic, camping and play areas to enjoy. Hang out at the day use area or pack a picnic to enjoy at the beach during the summer months when the weather is hot. Bring your bathing suit along and enjoy a refreshing dip in the slow-moving river - a great spot for swimmers of all abilities.
Among the valley oak, box elder and cottonwood trees, you will find a variety of introduced species of trees including sycamore, fruitless mulberries, elms and Modesto ash trees. For those who enjoy foraging, there are also dense areas of native elderberries, wild grapes and blackberries that you can pick in the summer months.
Anglers love spending a weekend at McConnell State Recreation Area because of its excellent fishing opportunities. From your spot along the banks of the Merced River, you can enjoy fishing for catfish, black bass, and perch here. Please note that you will require a valid California sport-fishing license to fish in the park. These can be purchased online or at one of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's license sales offices.
Hiking and Mountain Biking
Nature lovers will enjoy getting out and exploring McConnell State Recreation Area. There are various hiking and biking trails passing through the park and the surrounding areas. The nature trail that leads from the campground to the river and back again is a popular spot for bird and wildlife watching. Please make sure that you wear a helmet at all times and check with the park office about the trail and road conditions before you set off.
You can enjoy a wide range of non-motorized water recreation all year round at McConnell State Recreation Area. Even when the sun isn’t shining, the Merced River is still a great place to go paddling and admire the wildlife and birdlife along the banks in the off season. There are no boat rentals here so make sure you bring your own canoes and kayaks from home so as not to miss out. Life jackets are available at the ranger station for kids.