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.”
Tip a glass of local libation in Murphys or Arnold
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. About a half-mile out of town down 6 Mile Road you’ll find Ironstone Vineyards, a sprawling and manicured estate where you can dine at Gold Leaf Bistro. If spirits are your preferred libation, Arnold’s Hinterhaus Distilling (vodka, gin, whiskey, liqueurs) offers distillery tours and, of course, tastings.
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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.