Stunning skies over Hetch Hetchy Resevoir
Visitors prepare to take a stagecoach ride through Columbia State Historic Park
Panning for gold at Columbia State Historic Park
The steam train chugs along at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park
Unspoiled meadows in Yosemite National Park
View of the High Sierras along scenic Highway 108
Horseback riding in Stanislaus National Forest
Cooling off in Groveland’s Rainbow Pools
Taking a run at Dodge Ridge Ski Area
A splashing good time rafting the Tuolumne River
History and hiking in California’s Gold Country
Yosemite and the Highway 120 Corridor
Over half of Yosemite National Park is located in Tuolumne County--it’s the least crowded half too. While in Yosemite, visitors walk in the majesty of towering giant sequoias in the Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias or in the incomparable and open scenery of Tuolumne Meadows. Also, a hike around Hetch Hetchy Reservoir to uncommon waterfalls that are comparable in beauty to their Yosemite Valley rivals is a must-do.
Highway 120 West, the Northern Yosemite Highway, is the access point to endless recreation on the Stanislaus National Forest. Camping, hiking, white-water rafting and swimming are just a few options. Travelers also pass through Groveland, one the County’s Gold Rush towns, which is a great place to get a bite to eat in a historic saloon, shop, golf, bike and horseback ride.
Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown is a visitor favorite with a working roundhouse, steam locomotives and railroad cars of the Sierra Railway. The highlight of the park is Sierra No. 3™, known as the movie star locomotive. It has been featured in hundreds of movies, TV shows and commercials such as High Noon, Back to the Future III and Petticoat Junction.
Also in Jamestown, the “Walk of Fame,” where park paths and sidewalks are dotted with plaques featuring many of the movies filmed in Tuolumne County delights movie fans.
There’s no better place to get immersed in California’s Gold Rush history than in Columbia State Historic Park. It’s where visitors walk wooden sidewalks, ride an authentic stage coach, pan for gold and chat with docents dressed in period attire. Historic inns, restaurants and shops supplied with old-fashioned treats and trinkets add to the ambiance of this working town.
Sonora is a great base camp for a visit to Tuolumne County. It’s an easy access point to all of the fun in the surrounding area with many lodging options. Its historic downtown is home to shops, museums and more, plus two casinos are nearby.
The High Sierra and Scenic Highway 108
No matter one’s definition of adventure, it awaits along the Highway 108 corridor. Uplift your spirit in the High Country while hiking, biking, backpacking or horseback riding on hundreds of kilometers of wilderness trails in the expansive Stanislaus National Forest. Dive in, cast a line or launch a boat on pristine mountain lakes, rivers and streams, or pitch a tent or park your RV under a blanket of stars that’s truly out of this world.
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In 1938 the O’Shaughnessy Dam was completed, creating the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park. Today, the 17-billion-gallon reservoir supplies drinking water to San Francisco.
At Columbia State Historic Park, visitors time-travel to the 1850s as proprietors in Gold Rush period clothing go about their daily lives in the style of this bygone era.
Tuolumne County has a rich film history with over 350 productions of movies, TV shows and commercials filmed here since 1919 including 'High Noon', 'Back to the Future III' and 'Little house on the Prairie'.
Photo: Menka Belgal