Gold Rush Country
The Mother Lode, as this area is sometimes referred to (a term that is derived from a Spanish word for “riches”), stretches along the entire route of Highway 49, south from Mariposa and north through Nevada City, ending in Downieville. (On the other hand the Mother Lode veins, which run from Northern California to South America, surface in the area between Jamestown and Auburn and again in Nevada City.)
All the main Gold Rush towns can be visited by driving along Highway 49. But many scenic side roads lead to tiny hamlets with intriguing names such as Fiddletown and Rescue, inviting exploration.
This area provides history, adventure, and scenic beauty. Not yet heavily promoted and packaged, it also provides many low-key and inexpensive vacation joys for the hype-weary traveler. A thorough visit could take weeks, but a satisfying one takes only a few days. For a weekend visit, don’t attempt to drive the entire route. Visit one portion and then go back another time to see more.
Because the area is steeped in history, consider reading for more background information. Two classic books about the area that are also good for reading aloud are The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, by Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain), and The Luck of Roaring Camp, by Bret Harte.
Currently there is said to be another gold rush on. Many nervous people are staking claims, so caution is advised when doing any unguided panning or prospecting.
During the Gold Rush this area was filled with wineries. Its rich soil and high elevations produce excellent grapes and bold, deeply flavored wines. So be on the lookout for the nearly 100 wineries that have popped up here.
These listings are just a taste of each area.. They offer an introductory taste, so that you arrive with a few good leads on things to do and places to eat and spend the night. You’ll make many more discoveries as you explore on your own.
These towns are arranged geographically/map-wise, with north at the top and south at the bottom.
The Gallery in Sierra City
Sierra County Historical Park
VIDEO-Kentucky Mine-how a Pelton water wheel works
Sierra Country Store & Deli
The Buttes Resort
Sardine Lake Resort
Miners Foundry Cultural Center
My Favorite Things
Pine Grove Cemetery
Spirithouse Import Gallery
Broad Street Bistro & Gallery
Sopa Thai Cuisine
Three Forks Bakery and Brewing Co.
The Art Cottage & Art Studio
Two Room Inn
Rough and Ready
The Center for the Arts
Empire Mine State Historic Park
North Star Mining Museum
Gold Miners Inn-A Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites
Grass Valley Courtyard Suites
Zero in on Zin
Amador Four Fires Festival
Amador Flower Farm
Amador 360 Wine & Visitor Center
C.D. Di Arie Vineyard and Winery
Deaver Vineyards & Winery and Amador Harvest Inn
Jeff Runquist Wines
Sobon Estate Winery & Vineyards
VIDEO–old-time potato planters
Amador Vintage Market
Columbia State Historic Park
Attraction, Restaurant, Hotel
Black Oak Casino Resort
Gold Prospecting Adventures
Railtown 1897 State Historic Park
VIDEO-Sierra No. 3 steam engine clangs and couples and spews plenty of steam
Here’s the Scoop