We planned to spend the weekend at Pinnacles N.P. but with temperatures in the 90’s, we changed our plans and headed off to some BLM land next to the Merced River (fly fishing for Gi?). We found information about this site on the BLM web page. Leaving Santa Cruz late Thursday night, we drove to Merced where we spent the night in the Walmart parking lot. It was a free and safe location to stop for the night but the Walmart store is located next to the main train line so we were woken every hour by the passing freight trains.
We woke up Friday morning at 5am, made some coffee, and hit the road with the goal of beating everyone else to the campground. At sunrise we turned off of Highway 140 and crossed old Briceburg suspension bridge. Our 24′ Winnebago View class C (a narrow RV at 7’6″) was a really tight fit so I wouldn’t recommend taking anything wider or longer. This is a low clearance bridge due to the suspension cables buried in the hillside, our 10’11” RV was able to slip under with ease but the turn was tight.
The asphalt quickly ends and we drove down this gravel road which is built on the old Yosemite Valley Railroad grade. The road passes three campsites, the first two have very few spots for an RV
The 4.5 mile gravel road to the campground was surprisingly smooth with very few potholes or ruts but we were limited to slow speeds due to the washboard gravel. This is a one lane road with a few turnouts.
After 20 minutes of driving 10 miles an hour down the gravel road, we arrived at the Railroad Flat campground and were pleased to see an almost empty campground. We grabbed site 29 which is the biggest, most private RV spot at the end of the road. A river front treat! These campgrounds are first come, first served so being there early is the key to getting a good spot.
Katie (our dog) and I hiked the 7 mile round trip to where the Merced River meets the North Fork of the Merced. It was a most beautiful hike on the Merced River Trail that follows the old Yosemite Valley Railroad grade.
Our friend, Sergio arrived on Friday night and it was a good, fun time. The next Day Sergio and I rode our motorcycles to Yosemite while Gianna fly fished all day and into the early evening.
Sunday morning came quickly. As I packed up the RV, Gianna put on her gear and fly fished for a couple more hours.
It was a super great trip to a super great place.
Things to do
It’s only 30 miles down Highway 140 to Yosemite N.P. so this is a great base for day trips. There’s only one hiking trail at the campsite but it’s a beauty. Fishing, swimming, gold panning are the popular things to do. This part of the Merced is class III/IV rafting so be careful when playing in river.
Things we learned
Don’t sleep in the Merced Walmart parking lot unless you love trains.
Arrive at the Railroad Flat campground early to get the best spot, site 23! You can fit two small RVs or 2-3 cars in this site but all of the other sites can fit just one car or a small RV. We also heard in the summer when the fish are running, this place can be rather crowded and, some say, rather rowdy. With the drought in full swing in California, the trout were not biting; we heard they moved down to the reservoir and now they can’t make it back to the river.
- March 26-29, 2015
Overall, this is one special place and we hope to come back again!