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California Gold Country History Tour

Tour Length - 12 hours approximately

Hiking permit to Giant Sequoias (conditions permitting)
Entry to Angels Camp Museum
Free time in the historic town of Columbia
Local expert guide (English)
Pickup at most San Francisco hotels
Meals or beverages
Optional gold panning or vintage train ride
Guide gratuity: recommended

After gathering up our small group of adventurers and history buffs, we’ll hit the trail for a day in California’s Gold Country. On the way, you’ll pass through the bountiful San Joaquin (Central) Valley before beginning a gradual ascent to the Sierra Nevada mountains where gold was  first discovered at Sutter’s Mill.

You’ll be transported back 150+ years at Angels Camp Museum, where the extraordinary stories of California’s ‘49ers and the Mother Lode region will come to life. Stroll at your own pace exploring outdoor exhibits dedicated to carriages, wagons, steam engines, mining equipment, even Mark Twain.

Get ready for a stunning 1.7-mile hike (conditions permitting) to a stand of 100 Giant Sequoias, the only region in the world where these trees grow and thrive. The North Grove of Calaveras Big Trees State Park includes the "Discovery Tree", aka the "Big Stump" which was the first casualty in the rush to exploit the giant trees.

After Thaddeus and George Hildreth struck gold near Columbia in 1850, miners and adventure seekers soon streamed in to seek their fortunes. Today, Columbia State Historic Park features the largest collection of gold rush-era structures in the state. Period merchants, a blacksmith shop and the rumble of a stagecoach complete the experience of a nineteenth century mining town.

It will be lunch time, so pick out an Old West restaurant, ice cream parlor, candy shoppe, saloon or tea house to ward off those hunger pangs. Be sure to grab a cold, locally-made Sarsaparilla and head over to the portrait studio for an old-time photo.

The final chapter of California gold country history will be in Jamestown, CA (a designated California Historical Landmark) where you will have a choice of optional experiences—panning for real gold or riding a restored 1850s steam train! Tough choice.

If you’re feelin’ lucky, mosey on over Woods Creek where local guides, dressed in period costume, will fill in some California Gold Rush history and demonstrate the skills you’ll need to successfully pan for gold. Past guests have taken over 300 ounces of gold from this spot in the heart of the Mother Lode—Eureka!

Your other Jamestown choice is to ride behind a steam locomotive on a train trip through the rugged and timeless California Gold Country hills at Railtown State Historic Park. Your 6-mile, 45-minute round trip train ride to Rock Spur will take you past the actual Petticoat Junction water tower!

As the sun gets low in the West, our Gold Country explorer tour will be coming to an end. Your guide will have a few more old west stories to tell before arriving back where we started in San Francisco.



7:00 AM

Depart San Francisco for the Gold Country

9:30 AM

Tour Angels Camp Gold Rush History Museum

11:00 AM

Hike among Giant Sequoias in Calaveras Big Trees State Park

12:45 PM

Explore the historic Gold Rush town of Columbia

2:30 PM

Pan for gold or ride an 1850s steam train in Jamestown, CA

6:30 PM

Return to your starting point in San Francisco

Important Information
How long is the tour?

This tour takes about 12 hours.

Is admission included?

Admission to the Angels Camp Museum is included in the tour cost. The entrance fee to Giant Sequoias Grove is also included.

Do you offer this tour in different languages?

This tour is offered in English only. However, if required we can organize a private tour in several languages.

I'm travelling with a child

Please note that for your child's safety, we require you to bring a child safety seat or booster seat for all children under 8 years of age or 4' 9" in height, as dictated by California State Law. You will be required to bring your own child seat on all motor vehicle tours. Failure to provide a seat for your child will result in forfeit of your seats on the tour without a refund. Please also note that any children 12 years and older must have an adult ticket as they do not qualify for a child-priced ticket.

Do you pick up outside of San Francisco?

We only pick-up from hotels located in Downtown San Francisco including Union Square and Fisherman's Wharf.

Is this a guided tour?

Yes, the tour is guided with an English-speaking guide. There will also be time on your own during the stops.

What should I wear?

Temperatures vary depending on the season and time of day, so we recommend that you wear layered clothing in case of unexpectedly climbing or falling temperatures. We do not recommend wearing shorts or sleeveless shirts in the winter. However, we realize that everyone is acclimated to different weather and thus trust you to make your own judgement. For footwear, we recommend comfortable walking shoes, such as regular tennis shoes, sneakers, or boots with rubber soles and treads. In the summer months, hiking sandals can be worn on the tour, but high heels, beach flip-flops, and other open-toed shoes are not recommended.

What should I bring?

Extra spending money for meals, snacks, souvenirs etc
A light jacket (easily removable) in case of wind
Water bottle
Warm clothes and a waterproof jacket (during the winter months)
Hat and sunscreen (during the summer months)
Sturdy umbrella (if the forecast calls for rain)

Are meals included? Can I buy or bring my own?

Meals are not included on this tour. There are options to purchase lunch and snacks in Columbia and Jamestown.

Do I need to call to reconfirm my tour?

Yes, we request that you reach out to us at least a day in advance to confirm your tour and pick up details. You can contact us via our live chat function or by calling our office at 1-866-231-3752 (toll free from the USA) or +1-415-357-0700 (internationally) during office hours. You can call us from your hotel’s phone if you do not have a working mobile phone while you are in the area.

California Gold Country History Tour
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