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As far as California regions go, Tuolumne County deserves a big gold star. Her international notoriety comes from her glorious Yosemite and the small gold mining communities of Jamestown, Columbia and Sonora, which draw thousands of tourists annually. But this former stomping ground for Miwok Native Americans (and later the deluge of gold prospectors) also boasts lesser known (though no less divine) destinations sure to impress the entire clan. Those hunting for a quiet alpine getaway will find plenty to adore along Highway 108. The tiny hamlet of Twain Harte draws back the curtains inviting tourists to swim in Pinecrest Lake, horseback ride ...

As far as California regions go, Tuolumne County deserves a big gold star. Her international notoriety comes from her glorious Yosemite and the small gold mining communities of Jamestown, Columbia and Sonora, which draw thousands of tourists annually. But this former stomping ground for Miwok Native Americans (and later the deluge of gold prospectors) also boasts lesser known (though no less divine) destinations sure to impress the entire clan. Those hunting for a quiet alpine getaway will find plenty to adore along Highway 108. The tiny hamlet of Twain Harte draws back the curtains inviting tourists to swim in Pinecrest Lake, horseback ride in Dardanelle, hike through Kennedy Meadows, or backpack deep into the Emigrant Wilderness. Snake along the country roads to find rarely charted swimming holes, mountains dotted with wildflowers and waterfalls. When you need a break from all that fresh air, head to Tuolumne's famed Gold Rush towns to get a glimpse of this region in the mid-1800s. These days there may be few lawless renegades roaming the streets, but you can still pan for gold. False front buildings house plenty of historical sites to introduce you to the area that brought the largest migration of folks to California.

Michele Bigley
About the Expert

Michele Bigley is the author of Northern California: An Explorer's Guide and Great Destinations Kauai from Countryman Press.

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Michele Bigley for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Tuolumne County, officially the County of Tuolumne, is a county in the Sierra Nevada region of the U.S. state of California. The northern half of Yosemite National Park is located in the eastern part of the county.
  • Research: Tuolumne County | Sierra Nevada | Wikitravel | Wikipedia
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight
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Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Summer, early fall, late spring