California State and National Parks in or about the Gold Country

Bodie State Historic Park
        P.O. Box 515; Bridgeport, Cal 93517
760/647-6445
Made into a State Historic Park in 1962, Bodie today remains in a state of "arrested decay." Which means, it's one of the best preserved Ghost Towns in the west. Over 170 buildings remain from the old mining days, which represents less than 5% of the towns buildings during its heyday. If you like to take pictures, this is the place for you. No neon lights, no stores selling merchandise (with one exception-the Bodie Museum), there's nothing in the town to tell you it isn't 1880.
        Goodbye God, I'm Going to Bodie
        A Great Ghost Town off Hwy 395

 
Calaveras Big Trees State Park
        1170 East Highway 4, Arnold, CA 95223
209/795-2334
Located in Calaveras County, Calaveras Big Trees State Park is open year round and offers visitors miles of hiking trails, picnicking and camping sites, fishing and swimming in the North Fork of the Stanislaus River, nature studies, and a fine Visitor Center stocked with nature exhibits, maps and books. And lets not forget the most amazing sights in the park, Sequoiadendron giganteum, the Giant Sequoias, the Big Trees. These huge Sierra Redwoods reach up to 325 feet in height and may reach an age of between 2,000 and 4,000 years. Walking amongst these ancient groves is truly an awe-inspiring experience that shouldn't be missed.
        California State Parks Page
        Visitor Basics
        Calaveras Big Trees Association

 
Columbia State Historic Park
        POBox 151, Columbia, Cal
209/532-0150
Located in Tuolumne County, just north of Sonora, Columbia State Historic Park was created in 1945 when the state of California purchased the site. The remaining buildings were carefully restored to their former appearance, while other buildings not so fortunate to have survived were reconstructed into exact replicas, with the aid of old photos and documents. Today the business district is a living museum, with the buildings open for viewing, complete with artifacts, tools, goods, and regalia from Columbia's mining heyday. The park also includes picnic areas, hiking trails, stage coach rides, gold panning and mine tours.
        For a true sense of what a California gold rush town was like, take a walk through Columbia's streets in the early morning or late afternoon. And don't be surprised if you hear the buildings talk to you, this mining camp is still alive.
        Visitor Basics
        Where History Is Made Every Day

 
Donner Memorial State Park
        
(530) 582-7892
Located in the rugged Sierra Nevada, off Hwy 80, Donner Memorial State Park is a tribute to the ill-fated members of the Donner Party who reached reached this point in the winter of 1846. Their story is told in the Emigrant Trail Museum, which is located in the Park. The Pioneer Monument, miles of hiking trails, fishing and boating are also awaiting the visitor to this beautiful State Park.
        Visitor Basics
        The History and tragedy of the Donner Party

 
Empire Mine State Historic Park
        10791 East Empire St., Grass Valley, Cal 95945
916/273-8522
Located in the town of Grass Valley, Nevada County, the Empire Mine State Historic Park encompasses some 784-acres, approximately 750 of which are forested backcountry complete with trails and a self-guiding brochure for hikers. The mine buildings, offices, and workshops have been restored with an eye to historic integrity, which in effect transports visitors back in time to the days when the Empire Mine was California's major gold producer (an estimated 5.8 million ounces pulled from some 367 miles of underground passageways). The grounds, gardens, fountains, and pools are maintaned to perfection, including the Bourne Cottage, the showpiece of the park.
        A Brief History
        California's Hard Rock Mining
        Visitor Basics
        An Historic Hard Rock Mine
        A Fascinating State Park
 
Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park
        14881 Pine Grove/Volcano Rd., Pine Grove, Cal. 95665
209/296-7488
Located in Amador County, this 136-acre State Park preserves the largest bedrock mortar in North America. Once used by Miwok Indians, the mortar is part of a limestone outcropping measuring 173 by 82 feet, and is covered with 363 petroglyphs (rock carvings) and 1185 mortar holes, called chaw' ses. The park also contains several Indian buildings, each carefully recreated from written descriptions, and the Chaw'se Regional Indian Museum. Campsites and hiking trails are also available.
        An Introduction to the Park
        Ms. Freeby's 3rd Grade Class Visit
 
Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park
        North Bloomfield
916/265-2740
Located in Nevada County, the "ghost town" of North Bloomfield and the nearby Malakoff mine are both within the boundaries of the three thousand acre Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park. Several of the town's original buildings are still standing, while a few others have been reconstructed to thier original designs. The museum contains numerous exhibits of the town's history, and the Ranger's office can usually answer any visitor's question. The park also contains picnic and camping grounds, and numerous trails that wander through the mountains, lakes, streams, and diggings. Blair Lake, originally a reservoir for the mines, offers a beautiful spot for a picnic and is furnished with tables and barbecues. The Malakoff Mine pit is the most amazing site within the Park's boundaries today. At one time nearly six hundred feet deep, erosion has since poured tons of material onto its floor, leaving the mine only three hundred feet deep today. Time and nature have turned what was once an ugly, barren mining pit into a place of unusual beauty. Sheer cliffs reveal layers of gravels and rock and range in color from sand white to blazing red. Trees cling precariously to the very edges of these towering cliffs, seeming todefy the forces of gravity. And who knows, there's probably still gold in them thar hills (and cliffs).
        Visitor Basics
        North Bloomfield Mining and Gravel Co.
 
Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park
        POBox 265, 310 Back St., Coloma 95613
916/622-3470
Located in El Dorado County, the little town of Coloma is where the Gold Rush started. The park features an excellent museum, mining exhibits, hiking trails, picnicking and camping sites, the South Fork of the American River, and the centerpiece of the park, a working reproduction of Sutter's Mill. Many historic buildings from the days of gold still survive about the park, featuring shops and displays.
        Visitor Basics
        Back to the 1800's
        Coloma, California
 
Plumas-Eureka State Park
        310 Johnsville Road, Blairsden, Cal 96103
530/836-2380
Located six miles from Graeagle on Johnsville Road, the Plumas-Eureka State Parks sits at the foot of Eureka Peak which produced some $25 million in gold during the 1880's. The Park features miles of hiking trails, camping sites and an excellent indoor-outdoor museum of early gold mining equipment and relics, including a miner's residence.
        Visitor Basics
       
 Gold Mountain/Eureka Peak
 
Railtown 1897 State Historic Park
        5th Ave. & Reservoir Rd., Jamestown, CA 95327
209/984-3953
800/446-1333
Located in Jamestown, Tuolumne County, Railtown 1897 State Historic Park occupies the original grounds of the Sierra Railway. It is home to three original Sierra steam locomotives and additionals cars and equipment, including the only operating round house in the west. Train rides on part of the old line are available, as well as a gift shop with historic and train related items.
        Visitor Basics
        Historic Sierra Railroad Shops
        Taking the Kids for a Train Ride
 
South Yuba River State Park
        17660 Pleasant Valley Road, Penn Valley, CA. 95946
 
Located on and about a long stretch of the South Yuba River, the South Yuba River State Park extends from the Englebright Reservoir below Bridgeport into the Tahoe National Forest. Visitors can swim at a number of choice spots along the river, pan for gold, or explore the trails which lead to historic mining sites. The main attraction of the Park is the Bridgeport Covered Bridge. Constructed of timber, iron bolts, and braces, this 225-foot span is the longest covered bridge of its kind in the United States. Built by David Wood in 1862, the bridge crosses the South Fork of the Yuba River and is one of the local's favorite spots to cool off on a hot summer's day.
        Visitor Basics
       
 Enter the Bridge Across Time!

 
Sutter's Fort State Historic Park
        26th & K Streets in downtown Sacramento, Cal
916/445-4422
Located in downtown Sacramento, Sutters Fort is open every day of the year, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day. Restored to its 1847 appearance, the Fort was built by Swiss immigrant John Sutter more than 150 years ago and was the site of many important events in California history. Today, the Fort features exhibits, crafts, and demonstrations of the 1840's and should definitely not be missed.
        Visitor Basics
        Step into History
 
Yosemite National Park
        PO Box 577, Yosemite National Park, CA 95389-0577
209-372-0200
Located in the Sierra Mountains of central California, Yosemite National Park has been called "The Most Beautiful Place on Earth." The park encompasses some 1,170+ square miles of scenic wildlands which includes: the famous Yosemite Valley, sky-scraping granite cliffs, unusual rock formations, thundering waterfalls, three groves of giant sequoias, beautiful meadows, forests, and high country. The park ranges in elevation from 2,000 feet above sea level to more than 13,000 feet, truly something for everyone can be found in this national treasure.
        Everything You Wanted To Know
        The Offical Park Site
        The National Park Service Page

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