There are so many adventures to be had as you travel along Highway 49 in Gold Rush country. Besides the small towns and gorgeous scenery, there are parks where you can experience some invigorating outdoor recreation. However, many travel this highway so they can learn the history of the region, and you will certainly get an education on the California Gold Rush days!
Start your journey in Columbia, California. This town is located right in the heart of the California Mother Lode. And the entire atmosphere is that of a town out of the 1850s, with the merchants all dressed for that period. At Columbia State Historic Park, you will discover saloons, ice cream parlors and boutiques where you can buy unique gifts. Take a stagecoach ride. You will really feel as if you have moved back in time. You can find several campgrounds for RVs including 49er RV Ranch, a great RV park with plenty of amenities.
Now head south to Jamestown, a historic spot with fine dining, historic buildings and even a restored jail. Hop over to Railtown 1897 State Historic Park where you can ride a steam train and visit a very interesting museum. Take a short side trip 12 miles east to Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park where the Sierra Nevada foothills come alive with nature. Explore the meadows and see amazing limestone formations.
Also make it a point to visit Sonora and take in more of the sights and sounds of Gold Rush history. Grab the camera and be sure to get a photo of the dark red St. James Episcopal Church. This is the second oldest Episcopal church of this construction in the state. Old Victorian homes are the sites of many businesses in the town now, most of them more than 100 years old.
Now head north on Highway 49 to Angels Camp. Take a walking tour of this mountain town and get the idea of gold miners flooding the area searching for their fortunes. From here, take a side trip over to Arnold and visit Calaveras Big Trees State Park. This is where you will see a grove of Giant Sequoias.
As you head further north, you’ll pass through another town, Coloma, where you can try some white water rafting. There is nothing quite as thrilling as traveling down the South Fork of the American River and feeling the cold splashes hit your face as you avoid jutting rocks. It is quite a thrill – but perfectly safe.
Your last stop will be higher in the Sierra near Sierra City. Enjoy a visit to Sierra County Historical Park & Museum. The stamp mill was quite an important mill in the 1800s, as it crushed gold-veined quartz. You will get to see it in action. But be ready for some noise! In fact, you may want to plug your ears in anticipation of the first stamp taking place.
You have covered a lot of ground with this tour. There is always more to see so make plans to return again in an RV for another adventure.