Description - The Gold Country Region offers remnants of its wild days when the 1849 Gold Rush triggered the largest human migration ever known. Visitors can explore Sacramento, the state capitol, and follow the miners' saga along historic Highway 49. With its pastoral towns, Sierra foothills, recreational and cultural activities, this region is filled with opportunities.
Copyright: California State Parks
Aerial view of South Yuba River SP
This is where gold was discovered in 1848; it's where Mark Twain wrote his famous Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County; and it was a key stop along the Pony Express route. These landmark events and facts from the past, as well as countless other nuggets, have spawned a Gunfighters' Rendezvous in Coulterville, a Twain-Harte Festival in Soulsbyville, and, of course, the Jumping Frog Jubilee in Angels Camp, to name but a few. Indeed, California consumes its Gold Country past as if it were an ice-cold glass of sarsaparilla soda on a hot summer's day.
The epicenter of all this Gold Rush history is Coloma, home to Marshall Gold Discovery State Park. It was here at Sutter's Mill that the first little yellow nugget was discovered, setting off the feverish rush of fortyniners-from as near as San Francisco to as far away as Ireland-whose overnight migration jump-started California's economy. Many speculators made Coloma their first stop, while others headed for Columbia, where, during its heyday, 50 saloons, more than 150 gambling halls, and a single church competed for the attention of residents.
- Rivers, canyons, lakes, and reservoirs offer outstanding recreation opportunities. The Gold Country Region features Tahoe National Forest, Folsom Lake State Recreation Area, and a multitude of enticing state parks and historic sites. One of the world's finest railroad museums, and the opportunity to travel by steam through unspoiled countryside are among the attractions here.
These days Columbia is a historical village, much of which has been restored as a state park that's perfect for strolling. There's a gold rush of a different sort these days in the rolling foothills of the Sierra Nevada, south of Lake Tahoe and north of Yosemite, where more than 50 wineries are spread out like vines in an arbor. Nearby are several historical gold mines, open for tours.
Also a historical center is Sacramento, California's capital. Much of this city looks as modern as any other urban center, but Old Sacramento, in addition to being the perfect introduction to the Gold Country, is a lovely repository of the state's past. Elsewhere it might be the 21st century, but here a conductor still shouts "All aboard!" over the whistle of a vintage steam engine, and as you walk past the old buildings on the banks of the Sacramento River.
Recreation - Aside from viewing the numerous historic sites in the Gold Country Region, outdoor recreation activities in this area include: swimming, boating, fishing, horseback riding, hiking, road biking, mountain biking, picnicking, and camping.
Climate - Gold Country generally experiences warm to hot, dry summers and cool to cold, wet winters. Weather can change rapidly during all seasons of the year, particularly at the higher elevations. Elevation plays a major role in temperature and precipitation. This precipitation falls mainly from October through April. At higher elevations, it comes mostly in the form of snow. Clouds can build up during the summer to produce thunderstorm activity. It is wise to pack for any season with clothing that can be "layered", ready to peel off or add on as the thermometer dictates. Always include some kind of rain gear.
The Gold Country Region encompasses most of the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada in central and northern California. The region includes the city of Sacramento as well as smaller communities such as Sierra City, Nevada City, Auburn, Placerville, Coloma, Jackson, Sonora and Coulterville. The main highways accessing this region are Interstate 80 and US 50 running east/west, and California 49 running north/south.