Highway 49
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.

black-and-white historic image of gold miners in California; image courtesy of Calif. State Dept. of Parks and Rec
black-and-white historic image of gold miners in California;
image courtesy of Calif.-State-Dept.-of-Parks-and-Rec

Highway 49
North end

These towns are arranged geographically/map-wise, with north at the top and south at the bottom.

Graeagle

shops
     Graeagle Restaurant

Sierra City

Attractions
Oktoberfest Festival
The Gallery in Sierra City
Sierra County Historical Park

VIDEO-Kentucky Mine–how a Pelton water wheel works
Restaurants
Sierra Country Store & Deli
Hotels
The Buttes Resort
Sardine Lake Resort

Nevada City

Introduction
Annual Events
fall colors
Victorian Christmas

Attractions
Asylum Down
Miners Foundry Cultural Center
My Favorite Things
Nevada Theatre

Pine Grove Cemetery
Spirithouse Import Gallery
Restaurants
Broad Street Bistro & Gallery
Sopa Thai Cuisine
Three Forks Bakery and Brewing Co.

Treats
   Hotels
The Art Cottage & Art Studio
National Hotel
Two Room Inn

Rough and Ready

Introduction

Penn Valley

Pilot Peak Vineyard & Winery
Blue Cow Deli

Grass Valley

Introduction
Cornish Christmas
Attractions
antiques shops
The Center for the Arts
Empire Mine State Historic Park
North Star Mining Museum
Tess’ Kitchen
Hotels
Gold Miners Inn–A Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites
Grass Valley Courtyard Suites
The Holbrooke

Auburn

Attractions
M and Company
Placer County Courthouse Museum
Machado Orchards
Restaurants
Awful Annie’s
Ikedas

Coloma

Olde Coloma Theatre
VIDEO–Melodrama–Peas Pudding Hot
VIDEO–Melodrama–Mary Had A Little Watch
VIDEO–Melodrama–Mary Had A Little Lamb
VIDEO–Melodrama–funny headlines

Plymouth

Article
Zero in on Zin
Attractions
Amador Four Fires Festival
Amador Flower Farm
Amador 360 Wine & Visitor Center
C.D. Di Arie Vineyard and Winery
Cooper Vineyards
Deaver Vineyards & Winery and Amador Harvest Inn
Jeff Runquist Wines
Shenandoah Vineyards
Sobon Estate Winery & Vineyards
VIDEO–old-time potato planters
Restaurants
Amador Vintage Market
Taste
Hotels
Shenandoah Inn

Amador City

Introduction
Attractions
Amador City Cemetery
shops
Restaurants
Andrae’s Bakery
Buffalo Chips Emporium
Hotels
Imperial Hotel & Restaurant

Sutter Creek

Introduction
Attractions
AmadorArts Gallery
Monteverde General Store Museum
shops
Restaurants
Susan’s Place
Hotels
Hotel Sutter and restaurant
Sutter Creek Inn

Volcano

Black Chasm Cavern
Volcano Union Pub & Inn

Columbia State Historic Park

Nelson’s Columbia Candy Kitchen
Columbia House Restaurant
Columbia Kate’s Teahouse, Bakery, and Boutique
Columbia City Hotels + restaurants and theater

more things to do + restaurants + hotels

Sonora

Indigeny Reserve
The Lighthouse Deli

Tuolumne

Black Oak Casino Resort

Jamestown

Attractions
antiques shops
Gold Prospecting Adventures
Railtown 1897 State Historic Park
VIDEO–Sierra No. 3 steam engine clangs and couples and spews plenty of steam
Restaurants
Here’s the Scoop
Hotels
Jamestown Hotel
National Hotel

Midpines

Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort

Mariposa

Mariposa Museum and History Center
drinking venues

Highway 49
South end

map of Gold Rush Country
map of Gold Rush Country