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. 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 wines before admiring the Gold Pocket, a remarkable 44-pound specimen of crystalline gold leaf in the winery’s Heritage Museum.
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.
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...
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,...
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-key city, with microbreweries, gastropubs, and trendy boutiques...
With throwback charm and a treasure trove of historic artifacts, this park presents the Gold Rush in living, breathing color. Costumed docents do more than lead tours of this carefully preserved Mother Lode town—the state’s second largest city at the peak of the Gold Rush; they actually live and...