Over half of Yosemite National Park is in Tuolumne County, and it’s the least crowded half. While most people head for Yosemite’s Valley Floor or opt to hike or climb the majestic
Yosemite Falls, Half Dome or El Capitan, there are alternative options to discover parts of Yosemite in Tuolumne County that are just as awe-inspiring. Hetch Hetchy has one of the longest hiking seasons of any of the park attractions due to its relatively low elevation. If a short, peaceful stroll is more
your speed, enjoy a tour through the Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias.
In nearby Groveland, you can experience a round of golf at the Pine Mountain Lake Golf Course, a horseback ride, a
biking adventure along the trails or a relaxing spa treatment at Rush Creek Lodge and Spa. The new 5,000 sq. ft. spa is available for private rentals and offers a variety of relaxing treatments. One of the best parts, it features an indoor waterfall and river rock beds to recreate the rushing waters and granite formations of Yosemite. You or your group can also enjoy an exhilarating raft ride down the scenic
Tuolumne River, followed by a cold drink at California’s longest continuously operating saloon, the Iron Door Saloon.
There are also several restaurants around town you can relax in at the end of a full day or call it a night at one of the historic lodging properties such as Hotel Charlotte or the
Groveland Hotel, which has live music, bourbon tastings and is rumored to be occupied by a ghost named Lyle, who has a reputation for dimming lights and moving items.
Gear up for a great day in the High Sierra. The Summit Ranger Station is an ideal place to go for information on
hiking trails, fishing spots and more. Head to Pinecrest Lake for summertime camping, swimming, fishing (ADA fishing dock available), boating, hiking, horseback riding, paddle boarding and even paddle board yoga on some mornings. For lunch, head to The Steam Donkey or to Mia’s down the street. You can also golf nine holes at the
Twain Harte Golf Club or try your hand at Twain Harte Miniature Golf, California’s oldest mini golf course.
Kennedy Meadows is a great spot for fly fishing and horseback riding, while Clark Fork Meadow is ideal for a
relaxing picnic, hiking, camping and fishing as well. Dodge Ridge Mountain Resort is evolving into a year-round attraction and is the closest classic downhill skiing and snowboarding mountain to the Bay Area. It’s known for its old-school vibe with uncrowded slopes and is the kind of place where devotees learned how to ski as kids and
then return with their kids a generation later. Their creative seasonal pricing packages offer plenty of perks, including discounts for friends, fast track lifts, demo day discounts and participation with the Powder Alliance allowingpassholders to access 16 resorts around the globe.
Jamestown offers a glimpse of old time Hollywood everyone will enjoy. Take in the Walk of Fame and learn about the many movies and TV shows filmed in Tuolumne County. Catch a ride on the steam train at the Railtown 1897 State Historic Park that’s been featured in more than 300 movies and TV shows. There’s also several one-of-a-kind shops, wine tasting, museums and a 19th century old-west opera house to enjoy.
At the Columbia State Historic Park, you can catch a ride on a stagecoach, go gold panning, get a personalized item from a genuine blacksmith and so much more. You can even stay
at the Victorian Era Fallon Hotel, which is said to be haunted by a young lady lingering around the grounds. City Hotel in the same park is thought to be occupied by a sorrowful ghost named Elizabeth.
With all this rich history comes some additional friendly spirits throughout Tuolumne County. The Standard Pour
in Sonora is a local favorite restaurant for their innovative California cuisine. It is housed in what was once the Standard Lumber Company offices and there have been multiple ghost sightings here including a tall man in a top hat and
a young girl seen over the years. And if you’ve yet to have your friendly haunted fill, you can end your day at a Victorian home built in the mid-1800’s, now a B&B called The Royal Olive Manor. The roots of the home run deep into Tuolumne County history with the Manor being one of the first of ten
homes built in Sonora. It is believed the first owner, George Hale, is still lingering to make sure the home he built is being taken care of. A more playful spirit is an old housekeeper’s son, Peter, who leaves handprints around the property and often likes to show new guests around. There’s also an
abandoned ghost town in Chinese Camp, which was once a bustling town in the Sierra foothills. Walk through the rundown abandoned buildings for an eerie sense of how life would have been or to see if anything is still lingering today.
Waking up to breath-taking beauty is one of the many rewards awaiting in Tuolumne County. There are a total of 54 lodging accommodations available spanning a wide variety of comfortable places to stay. You could relax in a secluded mountain resort, soak up the charm of a historic B&B, snuggle up in a cozy vacation home, camp in a covered wagon or stay under the stars at one of the convenient campgrounds. No matter your budget, a welcoming stay is yours to enjoy in Tuolumne County
The only incorporated city in all of Tuolumne County, Sonora’s historic past is evident today in the form of the many preserved mid 1800s and turn-of-the century Victorian residences and
buildings. Present-day Sonora is still bustling with eclectic shops, excellent dining venues, wine tasting and a pervasive aura of hospitality. Downtown Sonora makes a great basecamp and is home to a variety of shops, restaurants and fascinating museums. Nearby Indigeny Reserve offers tastings of their legendary local cider and spirits at its 160-acre nature retreat with hiking
trails, picnic areas and park-like settings. Have an afternoon picnic and wander through the 80-acres of organic orchards.
The Gold Rush might be over, but Columbia is now California’s best-preserved town from the 1850s. It was established in 1945 by the state legislature as a historic park to freeze the frontier
days in time. Step off wooden sidewalks into shops where iron implements, candy, candles and soap are made while you watch. You can also pan for gold, ride a stagecoach, stay at treasured hotels, sip a sarsaparilla in one of two ol’ timey saloons or take in a live performance at the restored Fallon House Theatre.
Named after Mark Twain and Bret Harte, two writers who eloquently wrote of Mother Lode days in California, this resort village community prides itself in being the “Gateway to the High Sierra.”
Situated under towering pines, visitors enjoy the beautiful scenery of higher elevations and many present-day recreational opportunities in the wilderness areas to the east. Bicyclists have found
several Rails to Trails routes that the area is becoming known for.
Gold prospecting is not only still practiced in the area, but also taught. Built in 1859, the National Hotel is one of Gold Country’s finest, continuously operated hotels, indulging guests with period accommodations and first-class cuisine – they even still accept gold as a payment method. In addition, Railtown 1897 State Historic Park offers tours of one of only a few roundhouses left in the U.S. They’ve also been featured in hundreds of productions with their steam locomotives appearing in The Unforgiven, High Noon, Back to the Future III and Petticoat Junction. And for some gaming fun, check out the expanding Chicken Ranch Casino.
The town was founded in 1854 during California’s gold fever days and is situated just outside the Stanislaus National Forest. Its riches take the form of outdoor activities such as camping, fishing, hiking, rafting, skiing and biking, as well as organized events such as the Tuolumne Lumber Jubilee each June. Cover’s Apple Ranch and the Black Oak Casino Resort offer even more variety for visitors. The Tuolumne City Museum is a must-see for railroad and logging history buffs.
At an elevation of 2,800 feet and just 25 miles from Yosemite National Park, the town is located on scenic Highway 120, placing it on the most direct route to this famous icon. Nearby Tuolumne River provides plenty of aquatic adventures. For land-farers, there’s plenty to do such as horseback riding, hiking, golfing and more. It’s also the perfect setting for a relaxing spa day. History is still very evident through buildings built in the 1800s, and the Groveland Yosemite Gateway Museum also showcases memorabilia and collections from bygone years.
From tent cabins to renting a vacation home to staying in a luxury lodge, you’re bound to be comfortable and at ease during your visit to the park. The Ahwahnee (Formerly Majestic Yosemite Hotel), for example, is a stunning building with granite facade, log-beamed ceilings and rich Native American artwork strewn about the hotel. Built-in 1927 near the base of Half Dome and Glacier Point, The Ahwahnee (Formerly Majestic Yosemite Hotel) is a National Historic Landmark and one of the most distinctive resort hotels in North America.
Other Yosemite lodging includes Cedar Lodge which offers private beach access on the Merced River, Curry Village (formerly Half Dome Village) where visitors have the option of sleeping in a tent cabin, and Yosemite Valley Lodge (Formerly Yosemite Lodge at the Falls), a rustic lodge just a short walk away from the Yosemite Falls. Consider your budget, party size, the kind of view you want and what in Yosemite you’d like to be closest to–you’re sure to find something that offers you everything you want for a price you can feel comfortable with.