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Audio tour on the Yosemite Highway

The Issue

We are looking for ways to get visitors en route to Yosemite to also spend more time in Merced and Mariposa counties. This would generate tourism-related income and repeat visits in the future. Thousands of people drive from Merced to Yosemite each year but they probably know little about the agriculture, history and interesting features along the way. We wanted to increase their knowledge about area agriculture and its importance to the local economy.

What Has ANR Done?

Farm advisor Maxwell Norton worked with a small committee to develop an audio tour that travelers could listen to during their trip from Merced to Yosemite. Norton wrote a script in four tracks that explained the agriculture that is viewed along Highway 140, local history and interesting and unique geology. The last track discusses other attractions in the area the visitors may enjoy on a return visit. Norton and a volunteer recorded all the tracks. A third volunteer recorded a guitar soundtrack. A fourth volunteer mixed and edited the sound track. A large billboard gives the website where the tour can be downloaded to a personal device or laptop. Several hundred CDs were made, which are handed out to tour bus drivers that stop in Merced. The CDs are also available at the CA Welcome Center in Merced. The Merced CA Women for Agriculture chapter paid for the billboard and signs along the route that identify crops being grown.

The Payoff

People now know us

Hundreds of visitors now have a better understanding of the area agriculture and its importance. They also are aware of other attractions in both Merced and Mariposa counties. From July 2010 through March 2011, 414 tracks were played and 666 downloads occurred. The California Welcome Center and members of the project team have handed out over 600 CDs to bus drivers and others.

Clientele Testimonial

"The Highway 140 Audio Tour has proven to be a valuable asset to tourists from throughout the world who visit the California Welcome Center, Merced. Visitors have the ability to experience the richness of Merced County’s agriculture and history while driving to Yosemite National Park. - Karen Baker, City of Merced Visitor Services


Supporting Unit:

Mariposa and Merced Counties
Maxwell Norton, (209) 385-7403, mnorton@ucdavis.edu