Outdoorsy types understand the enchantment of Tuolumne County, California, where raw natural beauty abounds.
Although it’s best known for Yosemite National Park, there’s so much to discover beyond the California icon. Lakeside outdoor movies, roasting marshmallows around a campfire, hurtling down whitewater rapids and riding a steam-powered train are among the reasons to explore Tuolumne County. Here’s a curated list of not-to-be-missed activities and sights to satisfy your wanderlust.
Located off Highway 108, a quick trail leads to postcard-worthy overlook of a stunning lake set in a jagged canyon surrounded by forest. The lovely views include those of the Middle Fork of the Stanislaus River.
The breathtaking Donnell Vista as seen from Sonora Pass
Stanislaus National Forest
Camp, hike, fish, horseback ride, raft and mountain bike in one of the USA’s oldest and most pristine forests with over 1,280 kilometers of beautiful terrain. Mia’s Brick Oven Pizza & Specialties is also worth a visit for hand-tossed pizza and delicious pasta dishes.
Fly-fishing in the Stanislaus National Forest
Railtown 1897 State Historic Park
Step back into the California Gold Rush heyday, and ride an authentic steam train through rustic, historic sites. Enjoy the 45-minute round trip providing both history and scenic views of Gold Country.
A train ride back in time at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park
Trail of the Gargoyles
Hike this 2.4-kilometer trail through otherworldly geological formations resembling fantastical gargoyles. Be sure to stop by the Summit Ranger Station for a brochure before you take your self-guided tour.
Columns of the Giants
See and learn about basalt rock formations dating from 300 to 400 million years ago. It’s short hike with a big payoff once you reach this astounding site. Get your camera ready for some epic vacation shots you’ll definitely want to share.
Studying the rock formations at Columns of the Giants
Get lost in the serene atmosphere at this lake flanked by an alpine forest offering fishing, boating, camping and hiking opportunities, as well as outdoor movies and ranger-led activities. Head to the Pinecrest Lake Marina for boating opportunities from pontoon boats to kayaks.
Kayaking on Pinecrest Lake
Whitewater Rafting Trips
Sign up with a rafting outfitter for a memorable and fun trip down the rapids of the Tuolumne River. You can customize your rafting trip to fit your adventure level from an afternoon rafting excursion to a two- to three-day camping trip.
A whitewater rafting tour on the Tuolumne River
Jamestown’s Walk of Fame
Uncover Tuolumne County’s western film and TV heritage on this walk lined with medallions spotlighting all the famous movies and shows filmed in Tuolumne County. Films featured include the epic Western High Noon and the beloved classic Lassie.
Signage celebrating silver screen history along Jametown’s Walk of Fame
Columbia State Historic Park
Walk the streets of a Gold Rush town, ride an authentic stage coach, pan for gold and take in the sights and sounds of the blacksmith shop. Play amateur historian as you tour dozens of buildings built during the Gold Rush era.
Exploring Columbia State Historic Park via stage coach
Stay cozy in the main lodge or one of the quaint cottages complete with firepits at woodsy Evergreen Lodge. Another wonderful thing about staying here is its proximity to natural wonders and scenic hiking trails. Throughout the area, many more unique lodging options are available as well.
Twilight at the family-friendly Evergreen Lodge
Fly into San Francisco International Airport and rent a car. Travel two-and-a-half hours to Tuolumne County.