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Mother Lode Field Office

Merced River Recreation Area

Briceburg Visitor Center at the Merced River Merced Wild and Scenic River sign Wildflowers along the Merced River

Merced River Recreation Area:

Briceburg Visitor Information Hours:

Merced River Road is OPEN

The Merced River Road to the campground is OPEN

Visitor Center is OPEN for the season.
Open the last week of April thru Labor Day

Friday: 1 pm - 5 pm
Saturday and Sunday: 9 am - 5 pm

The site is located 15 miles north of Mariposa, California.

Beginning in the high country of Yosemite National Park, the Merced River makes a headlong rush through glacially-carved canyons, rugged mountains and foothills to the San Joaquin Valley. Multiple access points allow skilled whitewater enthusiasts to challenge the rapids at your own pace. Enjoy a day of fishing before gathering around the campfire to cook up the day's catch at McCabe Flat, Willow Placer or Railroad Flat campgrounds.

Phone: Briceburg Visitor Center (209) 379-9414

Take Hwy 99 to Merced. From Merced travel 37 miles east on State Highway 140 to Mariposa. Then travel another 12 miles on Highway 140 to the Briceburg Visitor Center.

Visitor Activities:
Whitewater rafting (Class III-V), hiking, camping, picnicking, nature study, hobby gold prospecting, wildflower viewing, birding, and swimming.

Merced River Recreation Area Map (pdf 478 kb)

Merced River Trail

Permits, Fees, Limitations:

  • There is a camping fee of $10.00 per site per night with a maximum of 8 people per site.
  • No glass bottles allowed within 1/4 mile of the Merced River.
  • Dogs must be on leash at all times.
  • No dogs allowed at McCabe Flat swimming beach.

 Campsite Procedure:

  • Camping is allowed only in designated, numbered camp sites. Maximum 8 people and two vehicles per site.
  • Camping is first come, first served: No reservations available.
  • Camp fee is $10/night—Pay within 30 minutes of occupying site.
  • A campsite is rented ONLY once it has been paid in full, pay-stub is properly completed and attached to campsite post, and site is occupied by campers. No person shall leave any property unattended for more than 24 hours.
  • Fires are allowed only in provided metal fire rings. (Additional fire restriction may apply, typically no fires or charcoal briquettes allowed by mid-summer).
  • No person shall enter a developed campground between 10:00 pm and 6:00 am, unless that person is a registered camper.
  • Persons who fail to comply with these written orders may be subject to a fine not to exceed $500 and/or imprisonment not to exceed six months. Title 43, section 8351.2-1 (A-L).

Campgrounds are accessible to persons with disabilities.

Camping and Lodging Facilities:
There are three BLM campgrounds along the Merced River between Briceburg and Bagby. They are the McCabe Flat Campground, Willow Placer Campground and the Railroad Flat Campground. The campgrounds are accessible only by crossing the bridge at Briceburg and heading down river on the road (old Yosemite Valley Railroad grade).

Please note: Trailers over 18 feet and large RV's are not recommended to cross bridge. The old Yosemite railroad grade is accessible by vehicle up to the Railroad Flat Campground. Only equestrian, pedestrians and bicycles are permitted beyond the Railroad Flat Campground.

Commercial lodging is available in the town of Mariposa.


Merced River Campground Map

McCabe Flat - 2.5 mile west of Briceburg
11 Walk-in campsites
3 Vehicle/RV campsites

Willow Placer - 3.8 miles west of Briceburg
9 Walk-in campsites
1 Large group site

Railroad Flat - 4.8 miles west of Briceburg
3 Walk- in campsites
6 Vehicle/RV campsites

Facilities at all campgrounds:
Pit toilets, and composting toilets
Picnic tables
Fire grills
Garbage collection

Food and Supplies:
Food and supplies are available in Mariposa. Potable water is available across the Briceburg Bridge as you head towards the campground facilities.  Look for the sign. Bring your own water for camping purposes.   Potable water is not available at the campgrounds.

First Aid:
BLM recreation crew are on duty on weekends during the camping season, which is generally from April through September. For emergencies dial 911. The Mariposa County Sheriff can be reached at (209) 966-3614, and the Mariposa County Fire Department can be reached at (209) 966-3621.

Additional Information:
The Merced River Recreation Area is near the entrance to Yosemite National Park, and provides overflow or alternative camping for park visitors, as well as a beautiful setting for river enthusiasts. The best times to visit are spring and summer. Many commercial raft outfitters, licensed and supervised by BLM, offer trips on the Merced River. Contact the BLM Mother Lode Field Office for a list of approved commercial raft operators and their schedules.

Please Note: River conditions vary, during spring runoff. (April thru June) Some swimming areas maybe unsafe and not suitable for swimming. Please use caution.