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Atwater lies just eight miles to the north of its larger neighboring city, Merced, in the Central Valley of California. Founded in the 1870s, much of Atwater’s history is linked to the railroad as the valley produced food that the metropolitan areas of San Francisco and Los Angeles relied upon. Today the city, along with Merced, serves as a gateway to Yosemite National Park and all of the recreational opportunities in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Atwater is connected to the park via the Merced County Transit, which operates bus routes into Merced, and the YART system that shuttles tourists from there into Yosemite. This is probably the best method for entering the park during the summer months, when a flood of tourists will preclude you from driving your Atwater RV rental on its narrow roads.
Given Atwater’s smaller population and the abundance of RV parks throughout the Central Valley, you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a place to park your Atwater travel trailer rental or RV.
The closest RV park is probably the Castle Air Museum RV Park, adjacent to Merced County Castle Airport. The park only has a few sites, but each includes full hookups and a pass to the museum. The Merced River Resort is another option, located 15 minutes to the northwest of Atwater along CA-99. Sites have electrical hookups and the park offers laundry facilities and an on-site swimming pool. Ten minutes south of the city is Elks RV Park, which has full hookups at each site and has shower and laundry facilities available if you’re a member.
If you’re willing to stay a little farther away, the Lakes RV & Golf Resort near Chowchilla is another good option. As the name suggests, it is attached to an 18-hole golf course. Sites also include full hookups, a swimming pool and spa, tennis courts, and picnic tables on the lake. There’s also Santa Nella RV Park, about 45 minutes to the southwest. While it is a bit far from Atwater, it’s just a couple miles from Pacheco State Park and the San Luis Reservoir, and O’Neill Forebay, which have excellent watersports opportunities. Sites include full hookups and coin-op laundry facilities.
On the city’s south end, there is a Walmart, so if you need a place to park the Atwater rental RV for a night or two, this could be just the place to do it. You can fuel up your rig at one of the truck stops in town. At these stops, pump spaces are larger than at your typical city station, making it easier for you to maneuver around.
Yosemite will most certainly be the highlight of the trip when you book an RV in Atwater, but why not see some of the great attractions right there in town on the days you’re not visiting the park?
The Castle Air Museum is one of the most popular places to visit. It’s a can’t-miss attraction if you’re in Atwater and is home to a collection of historic military aircraft including the Douglas VC-9C that served as Air Force One for six previous presidents. There’s also the Carnegie Arts Center - just 20 minutes away in Turlock. This art gallery houses rotating exhibits and hosts frequent events with artists from the surrounding area. The Turlock Historical Society Museum is also located in town. The Historical Society Museum is run by a group of dedicated local volunteers and tells the story of the town’s founding and development. You might also want to take a look at the Merced County Courthouse Museum in Merced. The museum is only about 15 minutes away from Atwater and has a variety of exhibits on the history of the area.
If you fancy yourself a wine aficionado you might enjoy a stop at a local winery. Sample some wines, tour the vineyards, and maybe even enjoy one of the wine-themed events typically held during the summer and fall.
As the gateway to Yosemite, Atwater attracts many outdoor lovers each summer. It’s important to note though, that there are quite a few great things to do in nature before you even get to the park. Great Valley Grasslands State Park is 20 miles away from Atwater and focuses on preserving native grasslands while also offering visitors hiking, boating, and fishing opportunities. There’s also the nearby Merced National Wildlife Refuge, which is made up of over 10,000 acres of land with a few short hiking trails and a five-mile auto loop for wildlife viewing.
If you play golf, and your Atwater motorhome rental vacation involves hitting the links, you’re in luck, because there’s an 18-hole, par 72 course right in town.
If you’re up for an adventure with your Atwater rental motorhome, Yosemite National Park is only two and a half hours to the east of the city. It’s one of America’s most popular parks for a reason, with hundreds of miles of trail traversing some of the most awe-inspiring terrain in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Visit during the shoulder season to avoid the crowds as both the roads and trails get fairly packed in the summer months.