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Gold Country State Parks

Gold Country State Parks Overview

Gold Country

California State Parks in Gold Country include parks, giant sequoia groves, plant and wildlife reserves, recreation areas, wilderness areas, reservoirs, historic parks & homes and gold towns. Below you'll find a list of popular CA State Parks and ones we personally recommend from the site of the ill-fated Donner Party to the artifacts of early America at Indian Grinding Rocks. Camping in California is a popular activity with most Gold Country campgrounds offering conveniences like RV parks, flush toilets, running water and firewood.

An entry fee is required at almost all California State Parks. It may be beneficial to purchase a yearly California State Park Pass if planning to make multiple visits to CA State Parks. Several discounts are available including passes for Day Use, Veterans, Handicapped, Surfing, Seniors and more.

Gold Country

Donner Memorial State Park is located between Reno and Sacramento in Truckee. This California State Park marks the site of the Donner party's camp during their fateful trek from the Midwest to California in 1846. Donner Lake supports fishing, boating and water-skiing. Other popular activities include camping, picnicking, hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Two museums highlight the Donner party's expedition and immigration to California during the 1800's.

Donner Memorial State Park
12593 Donner Pass Road
Truckee, California 96161
(530) 582-7892

Map  |   Hotel  |   Camping  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


South Yuba River State Park is located off Highway 20 approximately 10 miles north of Penn Valley. This is a beautiful section of the Yuba River with steep granite walls, deep swimming holes, hiking trials and picnic areas. A popular point of interest is the Bridgeport Bridge which is the longest single-span covered bridge in the world that spans 210 feet over the Yuba River. This was once a major transportation corridor for supplies from San Francisco headed for the California gold fields. Activities at South Yuba River include swimming, fishing, gold panning, hiking, mountain biking and wildflower viewing. The park also offers a Visitor Center, historic barn, old cemetery and ruins.

South Yuba River State Park
17660 Pleasant Valley Road
Penn Valley, CA 95946
(530) 432-2546

Map  |   Hotel  |   State Website  |   Park Website  |   Other Ideas


Malakoff Diggins State Park is located 11 miles north of Nevada City. Situated deep in the forest off Highway 49, Malakoff Diggins is the site of a former hydraulic strip mining operation. Local streams were harnessed and used to wash entire mountains away in pursuit of gold. This process was eventually banned but not before suffering the scars that are evident at Malakoff Diggins. The North Bloomfield Museum documents the history of the old North Bloomfield mining town that supported Malakoff Diggins. Activities include sightseeing, picnicking, camping, fishing, hiking and gold panning.

Malakoff Diggins State Park
23579 North Bloomfield Road
Nevada City, CA 95959
(530) 265-2740

Map  |   Hotel  |   Camping  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Empire Mine State Park is located at the intersections of Highways 20 and 49 northeast of Sacramento. Empire Mine was one of the oldest, largest, deepest, longest and richest gold mines in California. It includes the owner's home and gardens, original mine buildings and equipment and a museum. The 3 dimensional model of the 367 miles of shafts below the surface is impressive. Be sure to go out back and look down the shaft that miners used to be catapulted into. Other activities include hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding.

Empire Mine State Park
10791 East Empire Street
Grass Valley, CA 95959
(530) 273-8522

Map  |   Hotel  |   State Website  |   Mine Website  |   Other Ideas


Folsom Lake State Park is located about 25 miles east of Sacramento on Interstate 80 or Highway 50. Activities include hiking, biking, running, camping, picnicking, horseback riding, water-skiing and boating. Fish species include trout, catfish, perch, large and small mouth bass.

Folsom Lake State Park
7806 Folsom-Auburn Road
Folsom, California 95630
(916) 988-0205

Map  |   Hotel  |   Camping  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Sutter's Fort

Sutter's Fort State Park is located in the heart of Sacramento between K & L and 26th & 28th streets. The fort was established in 1839 by Swiss immigrant, John Sutter who called it New Helvetia (New Switzerland). This was Sacramento's first non-Indian settlement and was the main destination for settlers crossing the Sierra Nevada. In 1847, the first few men from the Donner Party reached the fort and aid was sent to save the remaining settlers. Sutter's Fort was overrun by gold miners in 1849 and today has been rebuilt to its former state.

Sutter's Fort State Park
2701 L Street
Sacramento, California 95816
(916) 445-4422

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


The Governor's Mansion is located in downtown Sacramento at H and 16th Streets. This Victorian mansion was constructed in 1877 and has been the home to California Governors since 1903. Earl Warren and Ronald Reagan were among the last to stay at the mansion. Visitors are welcome to tour the Governor's Mansion on docent-led tours. The home is decorated in period furnishings and ornate architecture.

UPDATE: The Governor's Mansion is once again the home of California's current Governor, Jerry Brown. Tours are canceled until the mansion is vacant again.

Governor's Mansion State Park
1526 H Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 323-3047

Area Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Old Sacramento State Historic Park

Old Sacramento State Park is located at 3rd and J Streets directly off Interstate 5 in downtown Sacramento. It features several square blocks of preserved and rebuilt gold mining era buildings. These structures now house touristy shops, museums and restaurants. The State Railroad Museum is on the same property. Visitors can ride in historic buggies, take an historic train ride or join a river boat cruise on the Sacramento River. Activities include picnicking, sightseeing, shopping and biking on the river trail. Accommodations are available on the historic Delta King river boat.

Old Sacramento State Park
1002 2nd Street
Sacramento, California 95814
(916) 442-7644

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Stanford Mansion

Leland Stanford Mansion is located off Interstate 5 off the Q Street exit. Situated in downtown Sacramento only one block from the State Capitol, the Stanford Mansion is an historic 1800's Victorian home that today serves as a museum and California's official reception center, where the Governor and Legislature meet with dignitaries from other states and countries. The mansion features crystal chandeliers, gilded mirrors and rich wood accents. Guided tours are mandatory and include an orientation film about the mansion's history. Stanford was the founder of Stanford University.

Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park
800 N Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 324-0575

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Sutter's Mill

Marshall Gold Discovery State Park is located on Highway 49 between Placerville and Auburn in Coloma. This is where the 1849 Gold Rush all began. It is the site of Sutter's sawmill where in 1848, James W. Marshall found a gold at the bottom of his sawmill. Activities include hiking, sightseeing and gold panning. Coloma Resort is situated just across the river where camping, gold panning, fishing, white water rafting and many more activities are available.

Marshall Gold Discovery State Park
310 Back Street
Coloma, California 95613
(530) 622-3470

Map  |   Hotel  |   Camping  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Indian Grinding Rocks

Indian Grinding Rocks State Park is located off Highway 88 southeast of Sacramento. It's nestled in a little valley of oak trees and meadows. Evidence of Indian inhabitants is clearly marked in the boulders throughout the park where mortar holes were formed from them grinding acorns into flour. Indian Grinding Rocks is the largest collection of Indian mortars found anywhere in North America. The Chaw-Se Indian Museum is part of the park and features Miwok Indian artifacts like weapons, tools, baskets, clothing and more. Today, the Miwok tribe continues to hold ceremonies at the 'Round House' on the property.

Indian Grinding Rocks State Park
14881 Pine Grove-Volcano Road
Pine Grove, California 95665
(209) 296-7488

Map  |   Hotel  |   Camping  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Calaveras Giant Sequoia

Calaveras Big Trees State Park is located east of Stockton and four miles northeast of Arnold on Highway 4. This is a grove of Giant Sequoias with a self-guided trail and campgrounds. Activities include hiking and camping. Some campgrounds are located adjacent to the sequoia trees but other, more secluded camps, are farther into the park. The self-guided tour is the most interactive we've seen in a giant sequoia park with multiple walk-through sequoia trees and a bench that tilts back perfectly to relax and view the entire span of the giant trees. The hard-packed trails and boardwalks through the sequoia grove are wheelchair accessible when dry.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, The Tunnel Tree at Calaveras Big Trees, also known as the "Pioneer Cabin Tree", fell on January 8th, 2017.

Calaveras Big Trees State Park
Arnold, California 95223
(209) 795-2334

Map  |   Hotel  |   Camping  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Columbia State Historic Park is located 3 miles north of Sonora on Highway 49. This is a well preserved gold mining town with historic buildings, live entertainment, stagecoach rides and workers dressed in period clothing. Activities include sightseeing and gold panning.

Columbia State Historic Park
22708 Broadway
Columbia, California 95310
(209) 532-0150

Map  |   Hotel  |   S.P. Website  |   Town Website  |   Other Ideas


Old #28 Railtown 1897

Railtown 1897 State Historic Park is located in Jamestown off Highway 49 at 5th Avenue and Reservoir Road. This is an operational railroad museum and train depot. The featured attraction is a short, historic, steam locomotive ride through Gold Country and back. Railtown 1897 includes a roundhouse, blacksmith shop, gift shop and several historic trains, some of which were used in movies.

Railtown 1897 State Historic Park
18115 5th Avenue
Jamestown, California 95327
(209) 984-3953

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


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