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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.

  • 72% 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 10% 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. 

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 over 4 million visitors per year, with a half million visitors entering through Arch Rock.

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

Peak Month (2016)

Hwy 99 at Jct Hwy 140 East


50,000 / 44,000

Hwy 99 at Jct. Hwy 140 West

(to Interstate 5)

54,000 / 69,000

Hwy 99 at G St

(UC Merced)

53,000 / 54,000

Hwy 140 at Motel Dr & Glen

22,700 / 13,000

Yosemite Visitors





Concession Lodging:


Tent Campers:


RV Campers:


Backcountry Campers:


Misc Campers:


Total Overnight Stays:


Visitor Spending
Merced County

Food Service:




Retail Sales:


Local Tran. & Gas:


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Food Stores:


Traffic Counts are Annual Average Daily Traffic; south or west direction (back) / north or east direction (ahead)*Note: Figures are available for Yosemite Visitors in 2020 and 2021 but they misrepresent typical traffic due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

illustration - magnifying glass
  1. U.S. Census Bureau,, 2019 data (Commuting data, March 2022).

  2. Yosemite Visitation by year, 2016
    Caltrans, 2020-AADT (Feb. 2022).

  3. Type of Yosemite Visitor
    National Park Service (Feb. 2022).  

  4. Visitor Spending, Merced County
    Dean Runyan Associates, Inc., Economic Impact of Travel in California 2011-2020 (March 2022).  

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