Merced lies at the crossroads between the Pacific Coast, the foothills, Sacramento, and Fresno. The city has always been a gateway to Yosemite National Park, and high speed rail could soon make it a transfer point for Bay Area residents visiting the park. As a travel hub, Merced presents several largely untapped markets for imaginative entrepreneurs.
Outdoor gear and provisions for camping and hiking.
Outdoor experiences or training/conditioning related to Yosemite visits.
Environmental education associated with Yosemite.
Visitor services for UC Merced family visits and events. University expansion could create demand for visitor services beyond lodging.
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 out of Merced leads 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.
UC Merced Influence
UC Merced is experiencing rapid expansion, and with that comes an increase in family visits, particularly at registration and graduation. As a research institution, conferences and events will draw more visitors to the area. Farther out, Merced is poised to become a healthcare hub in the San Joaquin Valley when UC Merced adds a school of medicine. That, too, will draw visitors.
Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT)
2017 Q1 (PDF)
Quarterly Economic Snapshots were developed independently; figures may differ slightly from website due to variation in sources and time periods.
Travel and Visitor Facts & Figures
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
51,000 / 52,000
Hwy 140 at Motel Dr & Glen
19,100 / 12,200
Total Overnight Stays:
Local Tran. & Gas:
Arts, Ent. &Rec.:
Traffic Counts are Annual Average Daily Traffic; south or west direction (back) / north or east direction (ahead)
Full sources at bottom of page.
SOURCES USED ON THIS PAGE:
Yosemite Visitation by year, 2016 (https://irma.nps.gov/Stats/SSRSReports/Park%20Specific%20Reports/Annual%20Park%20Recreation%20Visitation%20(1904%20-%20Last%20Calendar%20Year)?Park=YOSE) (Dec 2017).
Type of Yosemite Visitor, 2016 (https://irma.nps.gov/Stats/SSRSReports/Park%20Specific%20Reports/Summary%20of%20Visitor%20Use%20By%20Month%20and%20Year%20(1979%20-%20Last%20Calendar%20Year)?Park=YOSE) (Dec. 2017).
Dean Runyan Associates, California Travel Impacts by County, 1992-2016p, May 2017 (https://industry.visitcalifornia.com/Research/ResearchTrends?tags=County) (Dec 2017).