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Gold Country Region Profile

The western foothills of the Sierra Nevada Range, defining California’s eastern border, are known as the Gold Country, named after the rich Mother Lode discovered here in the mid-1850s. While gold is still found in the region, new riches include top museums and art in Sacramento, the state capital, plus whitewater rafting, tucked-away towns, farm-fresh dining, and award-winning wines.

 


MAJOR TAKEAWAYS

  • Gold Country is home to Highway 49 — dubbed the “Golden Chain Highway” — where gourmet eateries, classic inns, hilltop wineries and Gold Rush history are waiting to be discovered.
  • Sacramento hosts an annual three-day craft beer summit, and in the capital city of a brewing hub such as California, the festival draws thousands of attendees eager to taste the best of the best.
 

 

 
  • Calaveras Big Trees State Park boasts giant Sequoia groves with trees topping 325 feet, as well as rapids fit for white-water rafting and walking cave tours.
  • Old Sacramento gives visitors a sense of raucous Gold Country days with shops in restored buildings, horse-drawn carriage rides and excellent museums, including the California State Railroad Museum and California Museum.
     

Counties, Major Cities and Attractions

 

Counties

There are eight counties in the Gold Country region of California:
  • Amador County
  • Calaveras County
  • El Dorado County
  • Nevada County
 
  • Placer County
  • Sacramento County
  • Sierra County
  • Tuolumne County
 

Major Cities

The Gold Country region is moderately populated and is home to Sacramento, the capital of California.
  • Amador
  • Angels Camp
  • Folsom
  • Murphys
     
  • Nevada City
  • Placerville
  • Sacramento
  • Sonora
     

Major Attractions

The Sierra foothills that make up the Gold Country are California Classics. Here, the state’s past, present and future merge into one unforgettable destination. 

  • Apple Hill: From apple-picking and picturesque wineries to famed apple cider donuts, this collection of orchards and farms in Placerville is a great destination for a leisurely day outdoors
  • California Auto Museum: In Sacramento, visitors can check out a 72,000-square-foot museum featuring over 150 classic cars, race cars, muscle cars and early models
  • California Railroad Museum: Step into the Golden State’s train history in Old Sacramento, where you’ll find 225,000 square feet of exhibits and beautifully restored railroad cars and locomotives
  • Columbia State Historic Park: In the heart of the California Mother Lode, this park is a living gold rush town featuring the largest single collection of existing gold rush-era structures in the state
  • Empire Mine State Historic Park: Whether interested in a living history, mineyard or gardens and grounds tour, this park is a great place for families and visitors to take a step into California’s history 
  • Moaning Cavern: Take a walking tour or enjoy zip line adventure underground in Calaveras County’s Moaning Cavern, which is so large it could hold the entire Statue of Liberty 
 

Weather

Gold Country has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate, characterized by damp to wet, mild winters and hot, dry summers. The wet season is generally October through April.

Dec-Feb

60°F/16°C
High
38°F/3°C
Low

MAR-MAY

80°F/27°C
High
44°F/7°C
Low

JUN-AUG

92°F/33°C
High
56°F/13°C
Low

SEP-NOV

87°F/31°C
High
43°F/6°C
Low

California Welcome Centers

The Gold Country region has two California Welcome Centers:

 

Related Gold Country Images & Video