5 Amazing Things to do Near Calaveras Big Trees State Park vc_ca101_fiveamazingthings_calaverasbigtreesstatepark_videostill_1280x640

5 Amazing Things to do Near Calaveras Big Trees State Park

5 Amazing Things to do Near Calaveras Big Trees State Park
The Gold Country area has rich prospecting history, cool outdoor adventures, and great wine

People travel from all over the world to marvel at the giant sequoia groves in Calaveras Big Trees State Park, where the tallest specimens top out at around 325 feet. While you’re in the area, you’ll want to experience all that Calaveras County offers, from gold mining history and wineries to caving adventures and whitewater rafting.

Stay the night at a Gold Rush-era hotel

Back in the day, the Murphys Historic Hotel & Lodge drew the likes of Mark Twain and Ulysses S. Grant when they visited the Gold Country. Now this 1856 hotel gives guests a taste of Mother Lode history in its vintage rooms and at a saloon where you can belly up to a bar that’s more than 160 years old.

Get inside on a cave tour

How low can you go? On the Cave Walking Tour at Moaning Cavern Adventure Park, you’ll descend 165 feet below the surface and into an underground world of delicate stalagmites and unique formations. For a different kind of adventure, race above the treetops for 1,500 feet along the park’s twin ziplines. 

Go rafting on a Sierra Nevada river

Paddle through granite gorges and eight rapids on a six-mile whitewater adventure with O.A.R.S. The unforgettable daylong trip along the North Fork of the Stanislaus River drops an average of 70 feet per mile and is best for intermediate to advanced paddlers. After all that excitement, mellow out with walks through the giant sequoia groves in Calaveras Big Trees State Park.

Learn about the Gold Rush

Pan for gold and discover a mother lode of mining history at the Angels Camp Museum. The museum is famous for its impressive collection of beautifully restored carriages and wagons, as well as an exhibit on Mark Twain. The Angels Camp saloon reportedly inspired the literary icon to write the famous tale “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.”

Taste wines in the heart of Murphys

Thanks to Val du Vino Winery and Allégorie, you won’t even have to leave Main Street in Murphys to find some of Calaveras County’s finest wines. Stop by a restored 1920s barn to try Val Vino’s varietals, such as its estate-grown Petite Sirah. At Allégorie, you’ll find sparkling wines and small-batch Zinfandels and can browse through its gallery showcasing acclaimed artists.

Also, don't miss...

While you’re in the area, catch a concert at a winery amphitheater—Ironstone Vineyards hosts a summer concert series that has featured artists such as Willie Nelson and Peter Frampton. Take a complimentary tour and taste wines before admiring the Gold Pocket, a remarkable 44-pound specimen of crystalline gold leaf in the winery’s Heritage Museum. 

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Calaveras Big Trees State Park: 5 Amazing Things
People travel from all over the world to marvel at the giant sequoia groves in Calaveras Big Trees State Park.
5 Amazing Things to do Near Calaveras Big Trees State Park VCW_D_GC_Hero_SierraFoothills_swim_Flippen_1280x642_sized
Laura Flippen

Discover Gold Country

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August
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Sept - Nov
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Dec - Feb
60°
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Mar - May
80°
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Bumping up against the west side of the Sierra Nevada Range, on California’s eastern side, the Sierra foothills that make up the Gold Country are California Classics.

Discovery of gold in 1848 sparked the largest mass migration in U.S. history, with more than 300,000 pioneers heading west.

Here, the state’s past, present, and future merge into one unforgettable destination. Pan for gold like a 49er, bike through meadow-and-oak countryside, and raft a rapid-filled river, then explore historic towns with Old West architecture and a new generation of pioneers, opening up outstanding wineries, farm-to-table restaurants, inviting shops, and charming B&Bs.

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Road Trip: California’s Historic Highway 49

Cruise along the Golden Chain Highway to discover gourmet eateries, classic inns, hilltop wineries, and all sorts of history

A road trip on historic Highway 49 doesn’t simply take you from point A to point B—it also transports you to the past. Begin in Old Town Auburn...

Sep 7 - Sep 9
Rub elbows with craft-beer makers and sample all manner of California brews at this annual three-day event

Beyond being the state capital, Sacramento has staked its claim as one of California’s nerve centers for great craft beer. This annual event, first launched in 2015, further enhances...

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Courtesy of California Craft Brewers Association
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Spotlight: Sacramento

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Golden past, bright future

Like many cities, California’s state capitol is undergoing an energetic renaissance. Young adults looking for an urban vibe are moving into this...

September

“Mountains. Magic. Music.” The tagline of this lively, four-day event says it all. Families and fans are encouraged to turn the event into a giant camping party, and there’s tons of space for...

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Courtesy of Strawberry Music Festival
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SPECIAL FEATURE
Spend a few nights in California’s prospecting past—while enjoying plenty of 21st-century comforts

It’s no coincidence that the state highway running through the Sierra Nevada foothills is number 49. This is Gold Country, where, starting in 1849, a reef of gold-bearing quartz ...

5 Classic Gold Country B&Bs
Courtesy of Hanford House Inn
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During California's Gold Rush, over 25 million ounces of gold were mined from the Sierra Nevada foothills.
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Find whitewater rafting fun for all—from newbies to nerves-of-steel experts

Think of a river, and chances are you’ve got your own daydream. Maybe you want to float on inner tubes, or maybe your style is to careen through raucous rapids in an eight-person inflatable raft....

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Groveb/Getty Images
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Laura Flippen

Nevada City

Great food, wine, and shows find a home in the Mother Lode

This forest-wrapped hamlet of handsome Victorian-era homes and tree-lined streets 60 miles/98 kilometers northeast of Sacramento is one of the...

California Auto Museum
Richard Cummins/Getty Images

California Auto Museum

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This shrine to cool motors of all types has plenty to see and do

While many museums ask visitors to look but not touch, the California Auto Museum, in Sacramento, abides by the opposite policy. “...

SPECIAL FEATURE
Farm-fresh produce, culinary adventures

Juicy heirloom tomatoes and just-picked strawberries. Super-sweet peaches shaped like mini UFOs. Artisanal cheeses, emerald-green olive oils, local wildflower honey—California’s farmers’ markets...

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Laura Flippen
SPECIAL FEATURE
From Gold Rush history to the 8th wonder of the world, visit these favorites

If there was ever a box of chocolates—and all of them delicious—it’s the rich collection of natural treasures, fascinating...

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Amy Meredith/Flickr
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Jenny Pfeiffer

Apple Hill

Wine, beer, a bliss-out spa—and juicy, sweet apples

Autumn in the Gold Country means clear blue skies, fiery red grapevines, and an invigorating snap in the air. It’s apple season too, with more...

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Harriot Manley/ Sunset Publishing

Auburn

Explore an ideally situated Gold Country town with a sporty side

History and modern culture merge with outdoor adventure in this appealing town on the west side of the Sierra Nevada. While Auburn has long been...

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Marshall Gold Discovery

See where the rush for gold started

Driving the sleepy stretch of winding Highway 49 between Auburn and Placerville, it’s hard to believe the region was the booming heart of one of...

SPECIAL FEATURE
Take on whitewater rapids, pan for gold and explore California history

Pluck a bit of gold from a riverbed scoured by the original ’49ers. Descend deep into the earth to check out unusual rock formations. Get your heart racing with a ride down whitewater rapids. For...

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Rob Brodman

The American River

Rush for gold, rush for adrenaline

The most popular whitewater-rafting river in the West, the American tumbles through the Gold Country, an inviting jumble of churning rapids, deep...

SPECIAL FEATURE
Elegant estates, relaxed wineries, urban tasting rooms

Elegant estates at the end of country roads lined with vineyards? Check. Low-key wineries housed in converted barns? Check again. Urban wine trails with hip in-town tasting rooms? Yup,...

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Laura Flippen

Columbia State Historic Park

Step into the 1850s in this Gold Country gem

With throwback charm and a treaure trove of historic artifacts, this park presents the Gold Rush in living, breathing color. Costumed...

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Laura Flippen

Sip Wine in the Gold Country

Sample vintages from old vines and new varietals

The roots of old Zinfandel grapevines run deep in this northeastern region of California, with winemaking here dating back to the Gold Rush days...

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Jenny Ella Pfeiffer

Moaning Cavern

Walk, climb, or rappel into a subterranean wonderland

Discovered by miners in 1851, this vertical chamber near Angels Camp is so massive it is the largest public cavern in California—big enough to...

Jamestown's Railtown 1897

Jamestown

Climb aboard majestic locomotives for a cruise through the Sierra foothills

It’s unbelievable but true: you can still wade into the shallows of the South Fork of the American River, and find flecks of gold, just like the...

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Sutter's Fort State Historic Park was the first permanent European settlement in the Central Valley.
SPECIAL FEATURE
Hands-on fun for all at farms, ranches, and fields statewide

From almonds and olives up north to avocados, oranges, and dates in South, the Golden State has a crop (or 10) for nearly every stretch of terrain. After all,...

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Tai Power Seeff
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Trip 4 days 10 stops

California Gold

Whitewater Rafting, Tucked-Away Wineries
5 Amazing Things to do Near Calaveras Big Trees State Park Sac_StateCapitol_1280x642

Begin your trip in the center of the state, home to the capital city of Sacramento. Like many cities, California’s state capital is undergoing an energetic renaissance. Young adults looking for an urban vibe are moving into this low-...