California Cities


Mariposa, California, Gold Rush Charm

Mariposa County Court House, California State Mining & Mineral Museum, and Mariposa Museum & History Center

Mariposa (which means butterfly in Spanish) is a charming California gold rush town in the foothills of the Sierra mountains. Serving as the gateway to Yosemite National Park, thousands of people pass through Mariposa, and many stop. Some even come just to visit this historic city, itself.

Several fantastic museums, historic courthouse, and ample events throughout the seasons, Mariposa is an attraction, itself. Many visit and don't want to leave.

Among the annual events that locals invite tourists to come see are a Butterfly Festival and Parade in May, an annual wine & art festival, and the County Fair at Mariposa County Fairgrounds.

The fairgrounds are available for rent and host a variety events throughout the year.

Life in Mariposa has seasons though you'll not see so much snow till you climb into the mountains. At just under 2,000' elevation, Mariposa winters can be chilly, mixed with pleasantly sunny & warm days.

You'll Strike it Rich on a Mariposa County Vacation

By: Debbie Stock Like gold prospectors who came to strike it rich in Coulterville, travelers today are discovering gold nuggets throughout the county. One of the most stunning pieces of gold is on display in the town of Mariposa, home to the California State Mining and Mineral Museum. Smithsonian Institution called California State Mining and Mineral Museum"the best state gem museum in the U.S." It lives up to its reputation. A huge, sparkling gold rock weighing 13.8 pounds is one of the highlights of the collection artfully displayed in this California State Parks showcase. Comprised of crystallized gold that shimmers in the light, the rare Fricot Nugget is the largest remaining intact mass of crystalline gold from 19th Century California. Discovered in the American River in 1864, its size and beauty draw the imagination to the miner, William Russell Davis, who found this specimen and must have declared, "Eureka!" Sitting in a safe deposit box in Calaveras, California for over 65 years, the nugget's rightful owner, Marie Berton, agreed to donate this world class specimen to the museum in honor of her father, Jules Fricot. He was a Grass Valley resident who purchased it from the gold miner, displayed it in Paris Exposition in 1878, and kept it in the safe deposit box where it sat even after he passed away. How different life may have been for earlier settlers, the Miwok Indians, who ignored gold in the river beds, not having any use for something they couldn't feed the family with! The museum is located at Highway 49S next to the Mariposa County Fairgrounds, Mariposa, CA 95338. Tel: (209) 742-7625. vidcam Mariposa Museum & History Center Another fantastic museum in the town of Mariposa houses many artifacts, gold rush collections, and documents key to the formation of Mariposa County. A large wall map in a room featuring antique printing equipment such as a Gutenberg printing press, provides a visual display that the "Mother of all Counties" once comprised one-fifth of the land in the State of California. Docents conduct guided tours and relive the past through activities and special celebrations at the Mariposa Museum and History Center, and nearby Mariposa County Court House. You'll find the Mariposa Museum at 119 Jessie St., Mariposa, CA 95338. Tel: (209) 966-2924. The oldest working Superior Court west of the Mississippi, Mariposa County Court House, was built in 1854. While cases today range from fishing without a license to ignoring a stop sign (there are no stop lights in the county), throughout its 150+ year history the court house has meted justice for countless bar room brawls, drunken card games and fights that all too often ended in murder. During its early days when crime was common, Mariposa County had a reputation for sending its convicts to jail rather than hanging them. The Court House is located at 5088 Bullion St., Mariposa, CA 95338. Tel: (209) 966-7081. Whether panning for gold or soaking up the natural beauty only Mariposa County offers, you'll strike it rich. Before you go: If you are planning a trip to Mariposa County, home to Yosemite National Park, there are many museums, cultural attractions and events throughout the year. A new guide published by Yosemite/Mariposa County Tourism Bureau provides complete coverage of the events and attractions you won't want to miss. Order the guide online at, or call and request your guide at Mariposa County Visitors Center: (866) 425-3366. Open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mon-Sat during the winter months, beginning in mid-May the Center stays open every day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. through November. Providing great information, hotel lists, road closures, weather reports and even selling books and souvenir gifts, you'll find it at 5158 Highway 140, Mariposa, CA. What to know:

It's a good idea to book before you go, especially during Summer weekends and Labor Day Weekend.

In the winter, the park is normally open, though Tioga Pass often is not. You can call the Visitors Center for updates.

The four seasons destination provides climate ranging from cold, snowy winters to warm, toasty summers. Guests are advised to dress in layers.

The area has bears so you should never leave food in your car. If a hungry bear breaks your car windows to get at food, you can be fined for not adhering to the rules.

Cell service is not available in some regions of the county, so plan accordingly.

There are no gas stations in Yosemite National Park. Fill up your gas tank in your vehicle before you arrive.

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