McConnell State Park, a San Joaquin valley SRA.

By Dave Boyer.


(Please click on any image to enlarge)

McConnell SRA 002A 

Located in California’s Central Valley between Modesto and Merced just off highway 99, McConnell State Recreation Area is well suited as a layover spot for those traveling through the center of the state.




With its thick overhead tree cover and abundant three season shade, this small park is relatively scenic and because it’s off the beaten track, traffic noise is little to none.





McConnell SRA 017A

There is access to the Merced River that originates in Yosemite National Park and meanders through the south side the campground.


It offers swimming and fishing during much of the year, just be advised that the river closes annually for the Salmon run. Check with California Fish and Game for river closures.

McConnell’s location also puts you within two hours of several prime spots to visit that central California offers. Depending on traffic, Yosemite, Monterey Bay, and San Francisco are all within a two hour reach for visitors who plan to use this state park.



Half of McConnell is structured for folks who like to picnic while the other half features a handful of camp sites.





Individual camp site privacy is limited due to the fact that there is no real vegetation, low level trees or brush to isolate yourself from your neighbor.





Most of the sites have grassy areas for pitching tents. These campsites have parking along side the roadway but there are also several pull in sites that can hold a medium sized RV like a Sportsmobile on asphalt pads.




Of the 20 campsites available, most have tables, fire rings, a small cabinet for holding camp equipment and many have BBQ’s.





Sites 11-14, 18 and 20 can be pulled into with a vehicle. While length can be an issue for larger RV’s, many of the sites are large enough to park a vehicle and smaller trailer side by side.




There is a small group site that will hold a limited amount of people and an overflow area that is normally closed in the off seasons.

In the summer you can reserve the overflow area for large parties but it’s pretty dusty. This road leads out to the river where there’s parking for those who want to picnic along the water.


The park features very nice bathroom facilities with showers that seem to be tidy and well kept up by the park management. The showers are time based and require coins (quarters) to operate.

Whether it’s legal or not, I would think you could get away with using the showers provided you paid the day use fee to picnic. During winter and early spring the kiosk is closed and self registration is in effect. I notice that the kiosk is un-manned much of the time and self registration must be used. Also one sign reads that the park closes at 8 PM. I found in the past that rangers would close the main gate leaving you locked in or out! If you plan to visit, call to make sure this policy is still in place if it bothers you.

The park gets heavy use in the late spring through fall months. Obtaining a camp site during the summer generally requires reservations due to the high traffic.


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Weather conditions vary between the months with summer temperatures averaging between the mid and upper 90’s to lower 100’s. After June it gets a bit dry but much of the parks grassy areas are watered, so there is still plenty of greenery. Although rare, it’s possible to be subjected to temperatures up to 115 degrees between July and August. Mosquito activity is high during late summer and early fall. November through April is a good time to visit this area. Both late fall and spring offer milder temperatures on an average. Winter days can be cold and might dip into the mid 20’s, but daytime temperatures generally hover between 35 and 50 degrees.

Probably the best time to visit would be during late February to early March when the Central Valley comes into bloom.

Copy of Img0588Fall 2006a






The local hills are green and the springtime flowers are in full show. Also the orchard trees, mainly almonds and peaches are in bloom.

McConnell is located about two miles east of Delhi California.

Delhi Ca map

Take El Capitan Way east to Pepper St, turn right and continue driving south on Pepper to the end of the road where it dead ends into the park.

Delhi is a small town but has all the amenities needed to stock up your vehicle. There is a large super market and deli located on Schendel Ave that has a good vegetable and meat selections. Reasonably priced fuel is available just south of Delhi at the 24hr mini mart visible from highway 99 although fuel is available in Delhi itself. But I guess Delhi’s shinning light would have to be a fine restaurant called the Elegant Bull. It outperforms most establishments located in the larger outlying cities. The business has been in operation for several years and continues to thrive. (Google it for current information).


Overall McConnell is a reasonably nice campground during the cooler months of the year. I won’t say to avoid this State Park during the peak season, but I prefer to steer clear of large crowds and hotter weather. Coin operated showers are a definite advantage for travelers who pass through this area. Also because Yosemite is less than 2 hours away, it’s a good spot to rest up from a long drive rather than proceeding into the national park itself and then having to hunt for a campsite. As I said early on, day trips can be made to the coast as well. The Monterey Bay aquarium or San Francisco’s wharf might be of interest to some sightseers. If anything, McConnell State Park is a good pit stop for weary travelers passing through California’s Central Valley.

California State Parks

Start Park access link

A few other interesting events or places to see that are relatively close to McConnell are:

Path of the Padres: Link

Columbia Ca: Link

Sierra RR: Link

Sugar Pine RR: Link

Bird watching: Link

White water rafting: Link

For reference, McConnell is located two hours south of Sacramento or slightly over an hour north of Fresno on California 99 highway.

Sportsmobile owners:

One of the reasons I’m highlighting this State Park is the fact that it’s fairly close to Sportsmobile West. McConnell SRA would be a good choice during the off season to familiarize new Sportsmobile owners with their investment. If something fails, the drive is only a short hop back to the shop for repairs.