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It’s wild all these flowers!

March 24, 2017 | admin

As the age old saying goes “April showers bring May Flowers!” Here in Tuolumne County we are fortunate to have a very long wildflower season thanks to our varying elevations. In fact, you can catch wildflowers here from March to September so long as you know where to go! We have put together some insider tips for catching that perfect shot or just smelling roses.

As your out and about be sure to tag us in your Instagram posts so we can marvel at the beauty you discover. #VisitTuolumneCounty, #MyTuolumneCounty, #TuolumneCountyWildflowers. Check out this little delight we found near the Chinese Camp Visitor Center:


Yosemite National Park

Let’s start by saying we would be crazy not to mention all the wildflowers you can spy while in the park! The park has put together some great resources for finding wildflowers within the park including a common wildflower illustration guide, a short video series, and a guide to wildflower trails.

Common Wildflowers in Yosemite
Yosemite Wildflower Video Series
Wildflower Guide


Early Season March-May

Dragoon Gulch Trail

This 2.5 mile loop is a series trails that offer varying difficulty and plenty of flora to explore. The City of Sonora has created a great resource of what you can expect to encounter on the trail.

West Side Trail

The West Side Trail in Tuolumne is easily accessible perfect for morning or late afternoon leisurely walk or bike ride along the flower-lined path with fantastic vistas. The trails website is a great resource for planning you adventure.

New Melones Lake Area

This area is one of the earliest to bloom in Tuolumne County. The trails are generally easy without too much elevation gain. But if you’re in for a little workout the wildflowers along with incredible views can be found along the Table Mountain Trail. In the spring, summer and fall the rangers of the New Melones Dam offer ranger led hikes teaching you about the wildflowers and history of the area. Check in with the Visitor Center for days and times to join in.


Mid-Season June-July

The Red Hills Recreation Management Area

The Red Hills Recreation Management Area consists of numerous easy loop trails through the serpentine landscape and is a locals’ favorite for wildflower viewing. You may even cross paths with a road-runner while you explore. The area is located near the junction of Highways 49 and 120 in Chinese Camp.

Big Trees State Park

While the BIG TREES do not exactly grow wild flowers, they are quite the sight to be seen. Do not worry there is no shortage of foliage growing in the area. You can expect to see Purple Milkweed, Pearly Everlasting, Wild Daisy, American Winter Cress, Red Snow Plant and Chinquapin.

North Grove Big Trees Flower Guide
South Grove Big Trees Flower Guide


Late Season August-September

Emigrant Wilderness Area

If you are up for some serious off the beaten path foraging for flowers Emigrant Wilderness Area is quite a gem. There are several Day Hike options if overnight in the wilderness isn’t your cup of tea. The Gianelli Cabin area offers a moderate trek of about 4.5 miles. You will see Spreading Dogbane, Bloomer’s Goldenbrush, Purple Sand Spurry, and Scarlet Gilia to name a few.

Sonora Pass Area

If you have ever had an itch to get a small glimpse into the travelers of the Pacific Crest Trail, now is your chance. Along this more difficult trail you will run across Mules Ears, Sneezeweed, Blue Flax, and Wandering Daisy. Since this will be an out and back excursion you can decide how far you would like to go but suggest shooting for 2 to 3 miles before you turn around.

Even if you’re not a hiker, just a drive along Highway 108 towards Sonora Pass uncovers some hidden gems for wildflower viewing such as Kennedy Meadows.

Top 7 Reasons to Visit Highway 120 Today!

March 2, 2017 | Jen Lopez
TuolumneWildflowers

While an incredible rainy season has a portion of Highway 120 temporarily closed beyond Crane Flat towards Yosemite Valley, there’s plenty of reasons to keep your plans to visit, including visiting the under loved but so amazing (and open!) north side of Yosemite.  Here’s more reasons why you should head on up Highway 120:

  1. The Hills are Alive It’s been a while since we have seen the rolling foothills leading into Tuolumne County this green! Tie that in with a spectacular backdrop of the snow-covered Sierra Nevada mountains and you have an epic scenic drive as you enter Tuolumne County.
  2. Mountain Sage NurseryGet Your Groove on in Groveland Maybe you recently read in the Bay Area News about all the ways to play at Highway 120’s Groveland? In case you didn’t here’s some tips for a good place to start! Go: The Iron Door Saloon Sip: Mountain Sage Coffee, Yosemite Cellars (by appointment) Explore: Yosemite Gateway Museum Eat: Fork and Love Restaurant Fork and Love meal Sleep: Hotel Charlotte
  3. Bragging Rights Did you know that 95% of visitors to Yosemite National Park only see 5% of it? Be part of the 5% to see the less-visited, yet equally as stunning parts of Yosemite like Hetch Hetchy and the Merced and Tuolumne Groves of Giant Sequoias. Here’s what John Muir had to say about Hetch Hetchy: “After my first visit, in the autumn of 1871, I have always called it the Tuolumne Yosemite, for it is a wonderfully exact counterpart of the great Yosemite…”
  4. It’s Just Snow Fun! Take advantage of the incredible snow conditions by visiting the Crane Flat snow play area.  You can also opt for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing through groves of giant sequoias.
  5. Hetch Hetchy ReservoirYou’ve Heard of Powerball, How about Powerfalls? Above record rainfall equals amazing waterfalls and they are booming at Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy Reservoir!  Grab your friends and family and get ready for a selfie using Wapama Falls as your background.
  6. We’re on Wildflower Watch We are starting to see signs that we will soon be in the middle of wildflower madness! Already daffodils, poppies and other early bloomers are peaking through the earth’s surface throughout the area.
  7. It’s Easy and Affordable Fun With a variety of lodging options from bed and breakfast inns to historic hotels and top-rated lodges, Highway 120 is perfect for an affordable and fun getaway. Book your stay today!

For updated 24-hour road and weather conditions for Yosemite National Park, call 209-372-0200 and press 1.  This information is also available on the park’s website at www.nps.gov/yose.  You may also call the Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau at 800-446-1333.  Visit www.VisitTuolumne.com for more information on all there is to see and do in Tuolumne County.

6 Day California Road Trip: Sacramento To San Francisco

January 13, 2017 | Jen Lopez

Follow our jam-packed road trip through Sacramento, Folsom, El Dorado, Tuolumne County, and San Francisco. There’s so many amazing things to see and do in the gorgeous part of California, and the best way to explore is by road.

Source: 6 Day California Road Trip: Sacramento To San Francisco

Ten Winter Weather Options to Slow Down, Stay Dry and Drink-Up in Northern California’s Quaint Gold Country Towns

January 12, 2017 | Jen Lopez

The forecast for this time of year is wet weather, and while California always needs it, it’s not always a welcome sight for visitors who have planned a trip to the Gold Country area along Highway 49. The county’s main visitors center (542 Washington Street in historic Sonora) hears a familiar children’s song in visitor comments: “It’s raining, it’s pouring, I think this place is boring, what’s there to do to have some fun ‘til sun comes out in the morning.” Here are the area experts’ ten suggestions:

1. Step back in time on a museum tour. There are several museums in Tuolumne County where visitors learn about the rich Gold Rush history, view historical artifacts and discover geological sites.

  • Tuolumne County Museum is located in downtown Sonora in what was Sonora’s original Jail, which is reason alone to pop in, but the depth of their collection is astounding. Learn about the gold rush and the enterprising spirit of our county’s earliest residents. The museum is open Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Tuolumne County Veterans Museum located on Washington Street in downtown Sonora displays uniforms and weapons used in past wars. This is a must-see for history buffs.
  • Columbia State Historic Park Museum. Learn about Columbia’s contribution to the Gold Rush and what everyday life was like for its residents. The museum is open daily 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. inside Columbia State Historic Park, a free state park operating as an 1850’s mining town. Enjoy a libation to warm up at the What Cheer Saloon at the City Hotel or a spot of tea at Columbia Kate’s.
  • Groveland Yosemite Gateway Museum is located at 18990 Highway 120 (adjacent to Mary Laveroni Park heading to the Highway 120 entrance to Yosemite National Park) and has a large display of mining equipment, wildlife and geology exhibits. The museum is open Sunday to Thursday from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. While you are in Groveland, don’t miss California’s oldest drinking establishment, the Iron Door Saloon, or Charlotte Hotel’s Fork & Love Restaurant.

2. Challenge the spirits. Get in the spirit with wine and cider tastings. Many are free of charge (a welcome change from Northern California’s better-known wine regions) or charge a nominal fee for tastings.

  • Indigeny Reserve is located on Summers Lane outside of Sonora. They offer an informative distillery tour with tastings of cider, vodka and brandy, and well curated gift shop showcasing local artist works—reason alone to visit. Open Monday through Wednesday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and Thursday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Gianelli Vineyards tasting room is located on Main Street in quaint Jamestown. Everything about their foothill appellation mimics that of Italy with winemaking techniques so authentic they can easily say “our wines speak Italian.” Their hours invite a long, leisurely afternoon of day drinking.   Monday through Thursday afternoons from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 12:00 to 6:00 p.m. and Sunday from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Inner Sanctum Cellars tasting room is also located on Main Street in Jamestown. They offer Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and a just-released Peach Sparkling wine. Their tasting room shows off their mettle with and industrial feel and they have a quaint patio in the back with a fire pit to roast chestnuts and marshmallows. Open Thursday from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., and Sunday from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. www.innersanctumcellars.com. With such close proximity, we suggest tasting room crawling to both, followed by a lovely meal at the Historic National Hotel or The Jamestown Hotel.
  • Twisted Oak in the nearby town of Murphys takes a whimsical approach to wine tasting with their rubber chicken ranch. (You’ll see what we mean.) They have two tasting rooms, one on Red Hills Road in Vallecito and one on Main Street in Murphys. Both offer a good selection of both red and white varietals. Open Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and weekends from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Ironstone Vineyards – This winery is one of the largest wineries in the region and is located on Six Mile Road in Murphys. It has a large tasting room, deli, museum, banquet rooms, amphitheater and beautifully manicured grounds. It’s Heritage Museum is a tribute to the Gold Rush, displaying artifacts from the 19th century gold mining area and from the Miwoks, early Native American inhabitants who lives in this area. The focal point of the museum is the largest Crystalline Gold Leaf specimen in the world, weighing 44 pounds. Located inside the Heritage Museum, the Heritage Jewelry Shoppe offers visitors a unique opportunity to take home a piece of California’s rich history. Open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tours are offered Wednesday through Sunday at 1:00 p.m.

3. Lace up some history at Long Barn Lodge for Ice Skating. Families have been coming to this rink for generations, once an actual barn housing the miners’ mules during winters, on Highway 108. The ice skating rink is open daily 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Both the experience and the price is vintage:   $8.50 plus $2.50 for skate rentals. 

4. Go antique and thrift store shopping. There’s nothing better than wild weather outside for permission to stay inside poking around previously owned finds. The county has a variety of both antique stores and thrift stores. A good place to start is the Good Stuff on Pesce Way, just off Highway 49 next to ARCO AMPM in Sonora.

5. Go down under and stay dry – View beautiful geologic formations in one of several underground caverns.

  • Moaning Caverns is located in Vallecito (just 15 minutes from Sonora) on Parrotts Ferry Road, offering a trip into their cavern via a three-story spiral stair case. They also offer cave rappelling and gem mining, and in good weather, outdoor zip lining.  Open Monday through Friday from 11:00 a.m.  to 4:00 p.m. and weekends from 10:00 a.m.  to 5:00 p.m. Tours cost $17.50 and are every hour on the hour. For the month of January, they are offering a “Get Fit in a Cave” special to save 20% on cave tours.
  • California Caverns is located in Mountain Ranch (about an hour’s drive from Moaning Caverns) and offers several room/chambers in a cave system to view. They are open Monday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and weekends from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tours cost $17.50 and are every hour on the hour. For the month of January, they are offering a “Get Fit in a Cave” special to save 20% on cave tours.
  • Mercer Cavern is located in Murphys (30 minutes from Sonora) on Sheep Ranch Road and offers several rooms and chambers in a cave system to view. It is relatively flat and open for visitors with mobility needs. Open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

6. Go cosmic bowling at Black Oak Casino Resort. Their 24-lane Brunswick Bowling Center is open daily beginning at 9:00 a.m. and offers Cosmic Bowling Friday and Saturday beginning at 6:00 p.m. A full game arcade and Sports Grill completes the visit.

7. Play indoors for a while at Black Oak Casino Resort. The casino has a special penny slot area to pass the time without spending a fortune.

8. Enjoy local art – even some made by you.  There are several galleries in downtown Sonora, Jamestown, Twain Harte, Groveland and many spots along the way. At Brush and Cork, visitors can paint their own masterpiece by following the step-by-step designs of owner Judy Grossman, who refers to the experience as “Grown Up Paint By Numbers.”  (The grown-up part is the BYOB to enjoy a bottle of local wine…) Visit the website for hours and special painting class themes.

9. Visit Cover’s Apple Ranch for Mile-High Apple Pie. Along with ranch tours, a petting zoo, family-owned Cover’s best asset is a restaurant for generous portions of comfort food like biscuits and gravy, French toast, soups, salads and wonderful sandwiches. Wash it down with their hand pressed cider and save room for a piece of mile-high apple pie made in their bakery for dessert.

10. Take in a play. Sierra Repertory Theatre kicks off its 2017 season on February 18 with “Sister Act” in East Sonora and April 14 with “Noises Off” at the Historic Fallon House Theatre. Tickets are $28.00 – $35.00 with matinees making them a fun way to get out of the cold, while seeing first-rate live theatre at unheard of prices.

Tuolumne County is located just 2 ½ hours from the San Francisco Bay Area, making this area an easy day trip, but the area’s abundance of unique lodging beckons a stay overnight – or two. Book directly from the visitor website at VisitTuolumne.com for the options of hotels and motels, cabins and bed and breakfasts, casino hotels and historic inns.

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2017 Bucket List for Fun & Adventure in Tuolumne County

December 21, 2016 | Jen Lopez

The new year is here and it’s time to think about your Bucket List for 2017. The opportunities for fun and adventure in Tuolumne County are endless, but here are some ideas to get you started planning your trip(s) in the upcoming year. As you can see, any month is a good month to come visit us.

Januarylong-barn-ice-skating-2011-allison-fairfield

February

March

April

May

June

Julytwain-harte-mini-golf

August

Septemberbiking-tuolumne-county-trails

OctoberOctober 25, 2015 Indigeny Fall Festival, Indigeny Reserve, Sonora, California

November

  • Complement your great outdoor adventures with a visit to Tuolumne County’s boutique tasting rooms, where friendly ambiance is paired with unique Sierra foothill varietals.
  • Show your creative side and meet new friends at a fun painting party/class at Brush & Cork in Sonora.

Decemberchristmas-train-2011-030

Are you ready to get going? You’ll find lodging options for every taste and any budget, from river-side campgrounds to modern resorts in the High Sierra, in the heart of Gold Rush towns and near Yosemite National Park. Go to VisitTuolumne.com to start planning your getaway today.

Travel Tip: Don’t wait until the last minute to reserve lodging for June through September and winter holiday periods–those times fill up fast.

 

11 Groovy Reasons To Visit Yosemite & The Gold Country This Summer

November 14, 2016 | Jen Lopez

Okay all you 49er fans, it’s time to start planning your summer road trips, and one of the best in California is the scenic drive along highways 120 and 108 through Yosemite and the Gold Country. It’s not only the fastest route to Yosemite National Park from Sacramento and the Bay Area, it’s also the …

Source: 11 Groovy Reasons To Visit Yosemite & The Gold Country This Summer