Home  /  Why Merced?  /  Location


Strategic Central California location:

  • Silicon Valley and East Bay Area within 115 miles.

  • Gateway to Yosemite National Park.

  • 1-day access to all 163,700 square miles of California and beyond.

  • Major highway access plus rail-served industrial properties.

  • 64% of workforce commutes outside city for employment

map showing merced surrounded by San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Yosemite

Central Crossroads

Situated on highway 99 in Central California, Merced lies at the crossroads between the Pacific Coast and the foothills, Sacramento and Fresno. Merced is a gateway to Yosemite National Park, and high speed rail will soon bring Bay Area commuters within easy reach.

Industry Advantages


State Route 99 is a major north-south corridor in California's Central Valley. Local leaders have invested in significant upgrades at the freeway intersections in Merced. California High Speed Rail, now under construction, will improve collaboration with Bay Area firms, where 9% of our residents currently commute.

Surrounding Resources

Historically, agriculture drove the Central California economy, and food processing, packaging and distribution continue to play a large role in Merced, along with manufacturing industries that take advantage of access to the Bay Area, Sacramento, Central California and beyond.

Industrial Areas>>

UC Merced Influence

UC Merced is experiencing rapid expansion, and with that comes an increase in family visits, conferences, events, and collaborative opportunities in science and technology. Farther out, Merced is poised to become a healthcare hub when UC Merced adds a school of medicine. 

UC Merced>>

Travel & Tourism Advantages

As a travel stop between the Bay Area and Yosemite, and Southern and Northern California, Merced presents several largely untapped markets for imaginative entrepreneurs. For example:

  • Outdoor gear and provisions for camping and hiking.

  • Outdoor experiences or training/conditioning related to Yosemite .

  • STEM education associated with Yosemite & UC Merced.

  • Visitor services for UC Merced families and events. 

California Welcome Center

Merced hosts one of five California Welcome Centers in Central California. These state-sponsored visitor centers offer travel concierge services, including free maps and brochures. Located at 710 W 16th St, the Welcome Center shares space with YARTS, the Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System bus service to Yosemite.

Gateway to Yosemite

Highway 140 leads from Merced to Yosemite’s Arch Rock entrance — the oldest entrance to the park, and one of only five gateways. Significantly, this entrance is the fastest route from San Francisco and San Jose (Silicon Valley). Yosemite draws up to 5 million visitors per year, with over 1 million recreation visitors entering through Arch Rock.

Thumbnail of demographic report

Demographic Report

2019 (PDF)

Travel and Visitor Facts & Figures
Traffic Counts
in City of Merced

Peak Month (2016)

Hwy 99 at Jct Hwy 140 East


44,000 / 42,500

Hwy 99 at Jct. Hwy 140 West

(to Interstate 5)

51,000 / 57,700

Hwy 99 at G St

(UC Merced)

51,000 / 52,000

Hwy 140 at Motel Dr & Glen

19,100 / 12,200

Yosemite Visitors





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Visitor Spending
Merced County

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Traffic Counts are Annual Average Daily Traffic; south or west direction (back) / north or east direction (ahead)

Full sources at bottom of page.