Let us paint you a picture: It’s 90 degrees and you’re sweating. You desperately need to cool off but you’re too far away from the beach. Where can you go to escape the sweltering dry heat of the Central Valley? Well folks, sweat not! We have your answer right here: McConnell State Recreation Area. A shaded campground with a wooded hiking trail right alongside the Merced River, McConnell will shield you from the sun and let you chill out in a friendly, flowing river. Bring a canoe or floating tube. Bring your fishing poles. Stock your cooler full of tasty treats and cook ‘em up on the provided hibachi grills. McConnell is the perfect oasis for river hang out time. So head out there, cool off, and chill out. Really, we’re concerned about you.
The earliest residents of what is now McConnell State Recreation Area were the Northern Valley Yokuts, who lived in small groups in an extensive area between the Coast Range and the Sierra Nevada. The Yokuts, known for their artistry in creating both coiled and twined basketry, depended on hunting and gathering for their needs. Salmon fishing, acorn harvesting and deer hunting provided a rich, stable food supply. When Europeans arrived, they discovered a native people willing to defend their lands and their way of life. About four miles upstream of the park, a Yokut village site provides evidence of their presence.
McConnell State Recreation Area is a shady oasis, a small island of peace and quiet. Named after Thomas McConnell, a sheep rancher and pioneer who homesteaded the site in 1871, it offers year-round recreation. As the first state park in the San Joaquin Valley, this 74-acre recreation area opened in 1950.