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Just a few miles from the town of Livingston, between Delhi and Atwater, lies the charming McConnell State Recreation Area. With Merced River passing through the park and towering cottonwoods and sycamores providing shade on both banks, the park is an ideal location for anglers, Merced County campers, and families looking for a nice place for a picnic.
McConnell State Recreation Area was actually the first park to open in San Joaquin Valley back in 1950. The park sprawls across 74 acres, which is plenty of space for biking, hiking, and birdwatching. The trails wind through the wooded area, offering plenty of chances to explore nature and observe wildlife. The river is one of the park's focal points, so water-based activities like canoeing, kayaking, and swimming are quite popular at the park.
McConnell State Recreation Area has lovely campgrounds that can accommodate tents, trailers, and RVs. Anyone who loves motorhome camping will certainly love it here. If you don’t have an RV, you can search for an RV in Merced County. You'll have no trouble finding an RV rental that suits your needs, so start planning your camping trip and gear up for some fun in the sun.
McConnell State Recreation Area campers love to spend their weekends fishing. A peaceful spot for anglers, the park has several tranquil fishing spots, and the river boasts perch, catfish, and black bass. The river is great for swimming as well; however, guests are advised to be cautious and be on the lookout for drop-offs.
The park also features a lovely playground where the kids can play. Thanks to the fertile soil of the region, there are dense areas where wild grapes, elderberries, and blackberries grow. Even Native Americans used this area for gathering food, and today, farmers utilize those same fields for ranching. If you're into foraging, help yourself to some delicious berries during your stay.
The pristine river and rich vegetation create a biodiverse ecosystem that many animal species call home. You should have no trouble spotting weasels, muskrats, opossums, raccoons, and rabbits. If you're lucky, you might also see a beaver or a black-tailed deer. As far as the birds go, some of the most common species around here include crows, yellow-billed magpies, woodpeckers, valley quail, and robins. You may also see some migratory birds depending on the season, like band-tailed pigeons and different hawk species preying on woodland critters.
McConnell State Park's campground has over 20 spacious campsites for RV camping. The campsites are located along the river’s coastline and can accommodate trailers up to 30 feet in length. Each campsite has a picnic table and fire ring; however, there are no hookups available for your camper rental.
The sites are pet-friendly, and drinking water, as well as a dump station, are both available. You can book a site up to six months in advance. Reservations are recommended during the busy summer season, especially if you hope to snag one of the lovely shaded spots on the banks of Merced River.
Even though the McConnell State Recreation Recreation Area isn't as big as some of the other state parks in California, you'll find plenty of fun activities on-site as well as places to explore nearby. Livingston is close by, which will certainly come in handy if you need to go grocery shopping or refill your tank. Livingston also has a number of Mexican restaurants, pizzerias, seafood, grill, and Chinese places in case you decide to eat out.
Around 16 miles away from Livingston is the city of Merced, where you can visit the courthouse museum, a zoo, and an art gallery. The courthouse museum is housed in one of the oldest buildings in the state of California, constructed back in 1875. The exhibits here depict the history of Great Central Valley and its settlers, as well as the history of Merced County. The museum has permanent and temporary exhibits, so check out their current schedule online when planning your visit.
Visiting a zoo is an ideal family fun experience, and the zoo in Merced boasts a decent number of animal species. Discover a variety of mammals, like black bears, coyotes, bobcats, foxes, and capuchins, in addition to an array of birds and reptiles.
Arts enthusiasts will want to stop in at Merced Multicultural Arts Center. Explore any of the four galleries managed by the arts center, which offer educational programs for aspiring artists as well as temporary exhibits and artistic events.