California Cities


Columbia State Historic Park Vacation

Columbia State Historic Park three miles north of Sonora, off Highway 49 features an authentic California Gold Rush town where people live and work, mostly running shops and restaurants that tourists visit when they see California's Gold Country. Visitors can wander the buildings, buy food & gifts, make soaps, dress in period clothes, and listen to stories told by docents. Sometimes (if you are lucky) you can attend one of the night time grave tours in the cemetery.

One of the most interesting, educational, and fun vacations is in the Gold Country hills of the Sierra Nevada mountains at Columbia, Calif. The Columbia State Historic Park makes up the town and ingredients for some rustic, unique living.

Forget the cell phones and other amenities when you stay at the historic hotels inside the park. It's possible that they have been upgraded but a few years ago they weren't and you simply had to resort to reading at night, or going to bed early because there wasn't any cell service, nor TVs. That's roughing it!

Shops, restaurants and two hotels preserve the Gold Rush era, taking visitors on a trip back in time to when gold miners sought their fortunes in the region after the first big gold strike was discovered. Ride a 100 year-old stagecoach, pan for gold, and take a tour of the town through the eyes of a docent dressed like one of its earlier residents.

Visitors can taste hand-dipped chocolates, a superior cup of coffee, or savor fine dining, family fare, or purchase picnic provisions. Stagecoach rides are available on the weekends, weather permitting. There's also the chance to relax at one of two comfortable hotels, listen to music in historic saloons, or take in a performances at the Fallon Theatr

Scheduled events and programs throughout the year provide living history days in which you actually will feel like you are living in another era.

Regularly Scheduled Programs Free Town Tours: June 15th - Labor Day: Daily 11 a.m. SEE FULL LIST EVENTS

Year-round: Saturday & Sunday - 11 a.m. Led by staff and docents. Meet at the museum. Approximately 1 hour. For large groups, special tours may be arranged in advance by calling 209-588-9128. Our Museum is open daily from 10-4, and closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Gold Rush Days: Second Saturday of each month from 1 to 4pm. Many special exhibits open and hands-on activities throughout the day. Park docents in period attire lead programs throughout the park. Call 209-588-9128 for details.

Location: Columbia State Historic Park is three miles north of Sonora, off Highway 49. Latitude/Longitude: 38.0364 / -120.4003

It is here that you'll see stone markers dating back to the gold rush era, reminding you that this location is authentic and well worth exploring. Visitors journey back to the 1850s, as you hear stories of the past. Locals dress in period clothes and work as silversmiths, conduct gold panning, history tours and even stagecoach rides. Located near the town of Sonora in the Sierra Nevada mountains, the 2,100 foot elevation provides dry, sunny summer days with temps in the 90s often, and winters that are cold and bring ring or even a bit of snow.

Two hotels in Columbia State Park offer accommodations minus television and other modern amenities. Sometimes you may get a room with shared bath facilities, in fact. The hotels were shuttered during state cut-backs but have been re-opened, and are well worth an overnight stay.

There's actually a play house at one of the hotels where you can see top productions with guest performers from around California. If you are just day-tripping and passing by Columbia State Park, take in a free Town Tour:

Learn about the Bucket Brigade that put out fires during the Gold Rush! Fires were responsible for completely burning down some gold rush towns, that had to be rebuilt.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

More Info

    Near Sonora