Welcome! The California Gold Country is located in Northern California, a few hours driving time east of San Francisco.

If you're arriving via commercial jetliner, plan on landing at Sacramento International Airport or Fresno Airport. From these cities, the communities of the Sierra Nevada foothills are no more than a couple of hours distant and usually much closer.

Mass transit, such as rail and bus service, is scarce in the region. We feature a few resources on our transportation page. If you don't drive, we suggest that you book one of the bus tours that feature the region.

Several well-maintained highways lead auto travelers through the foothills. At higher elevations, snow can clog the roads in winter, so watch weather reports before venturing into the high country.

The Sierra Nevada foothills sprawl for a couple of hundred miles in the heart of California. This peaceful land changed radically on January 24, 1848, when James Marshall discovered gold in the tailrace of the sawmill he was building for John Sutter. The rush for gold was on, and California's population swelled from 15,000 to 265,000 within three years.The name Mother Lode originally denoted a 120-mile-long vein of gold-bearing quartz between Mariposa to the south and Auburn to the north. Eventually, miners discovered this rich gold-bearing area to be hundreds of miles in length.The rush for gold was all but over in 20 years. Of the 500 or so towns that sometimes literally sprouted up overnight, only a couple of hundred remain.Today much of the area is again booming, as families looking for quality life move here to enjoy the climate, excellent schools and other amenities.
Chambers of Commerce offer travel advice, maps and brochures to visitors. Here's a list of chambers in the Sierra Nevada foothills.
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