California’s Tuolumne County is alive with thriving Gold Rush towns, fascinating rail history and outdoor adventure in the High Sierras and Yosemite National Park.

Discover living history with this guide to Tuolumne’s six historic towns. 


Climb aboard majestic locomotives for a cruise through the Sierra foothills at Jamestown – one of California’s original Gold Rush towns. Visitors can try their hand at prospecting, as many of the shops around town sell gold-sifting pans, and wade into river shallows to search for flecks of gold. Afterwards, be sure to visit the Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, which combines industrial railroad heritage and film history as the park has featured in Hollywood classics like High Noon to modern films like Back to the Future III. 

Don’t miss: Railtown 1897 State Historic Park. 


The county seat of Tuolumne County, Sonora was founded in 1850 by Mexican miners who  named the city after the Mexican state of the same name. Known as the ‘Queen of the Southern Mines,’ this historic town is rich in character and an easy access point to Yosemite National Park. The city is also home to fascinating museums such as The Tuolumne County Museum & History Center, the Sonora Fire Museum & Senior Lounge and the Veterans Memorial Military Museum. 

Don’t miss: Stroll through Sonora’s historic downtown. 


Once a gold rush town, today Groveland is home to the Hetch Hetchy Water Project, which supplies water for San Francisco. The town is a must-stop for visitors looking to stay in historic hotels, B&Bs and rentals, while a myriad of popular trails are available for all levels such as the Carlon Falls Trail and Wapama Falls Trail. Those looking for a bit more of a n adrenaline rush can explore the forests in an off-road Jeep adventure. 

Don’t miss: Miller’s Off-Road Jeep Tours 


There’s perhaps no better place to get immersed in California’s Gold Rush history than Columbia. Home to the Columbia State Historic Park, this is where travellers can stroll along wooden sidewalks, ride an authentic stagecoach, pan for gold and chat with friendly townspeople dressed in period attire. Historic inns, theatre and shops supplied with treats and trinkets adds to the town’s ambiance. 

Don’t miss: Visit a working blacksmith shop. 

Twain Harte

A quaint mountain town tucked between towering pines, charming Twain Harte was named for authors Mark Twain and Bret Harte. Between Dodge Ridge Ski Resort and the Stanislaus National Park, Twain Harte is the perfect base for outdoor recreation. Travellers can hit the slopes at Dodge Ridge resort and try their hand at the Twain Harte Miniature Golf Course, California’s oldest mini golf course. 

Don’t miss: The Twain Harte Miniature Golf Course 


Last but certainly not least is the town Tuolumne itself. A quiet and beautiful town surrounded by towing pines and oaks that made the area famous for its logging industry, today Tuolumne offers a variety of experiences suited for every travellers. Outdoor enthusiasts can hike The West Side Trail, which follows a historic rail line that used to ferry lumber from the forests to the mills. Those feeling lucky should head to the Black Oak Casino Resort, a beautiful state of the art entertainment centre built by the Tuolumne Me-Wuk Indians. 

Don’t miss: Sample a locally made apple pie at Covers Apple Ranch

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