Calif. Campgrounds Try To Draw More Guests
Even though California has had one of the driest winters in history, you can still enjoy California poppies and other spring wildflowers by driving along historic Highway 49 and other roads that wind their way from the Central Valley into the oak and pine covered Sierra foothills.
“It’s really beautiful here right now,” said Debbie Sipe, executive director of the California Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (CalARVC), which hosts Camp-California.com, the popular travel-planning website. “You can see wildflowers in many areas along roadways, fields and hillsides.The poppies and lupine are my personal favorites.”
Many campgrounds throughout the Mother Lode Country also offer furnished tents, cabins and cottages for visitors seeking unique spring getaway in a scenic, natural setting while they visit the region’s gold mines and other historic sites and attractions. “You don’t have to have a tent or RV to be close to nature in the Sierra because campgrounds are increasingly providing rental accommodations,” Sipe said.
Popular Mother Lode Country attractions include:
— Cave Tours: Visitors to Black Chasm Cavern, California Cavern and Moaning Cavern in Vallecito can do everything from 45-minute walking tours to 3-hour caving trips that include opportunities to rappel down a 165-foot chasm. You can see short video of the descent by clicking this link.
— Columbia State Historic Park in Columbia: This state park offers numerous historic buildings as well as themed stores and people walking in period costumes reminiscent of the 1850s: http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=552
— Gold Panning: Several businesses and historic sites offer opportunities for children and families to pan for gold in the Mother Lode County, including Gold Prospecting Adventures in Jamestown and Roaring Camp Mining Co., which also offers a video.
— Kennedy Mine in Jackson: Surface tours are available of this 5,912-foot deep mine, which is one of the deepest mines in the world. Attractions include historic mining equipment, tailing wines and the mine office building, where gold flakes were melted into gold bars.
— Mountain Biking: There are several mountain biking trails in the Sierra foothills. For specific trail information, click here.
— Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, aka The Site Where Gold Was First Discovered in California: Located along the South Fork of the American River at Marshall Gold Discovery State Park in Coloma, this is the site where James Marshall discovered gold on Jan. 24, 1848, sparking the gold rush that would create the largest migration in history.
— Whitewater Rafting: White water rafting tours are available in many areas of the Sierra foothills, especially along the South Fork of the American River. Visit www.sierrawhitewater.com for more information on whitewater rafting tours.
— Wine Tasting: The Sierra foothills have numerous wineries, including Sobon Winery in Plymouth, which is one of California’s oldest wineries. Amador County alone has 38 wineries, with many additional wineries located in Calaveras and El Dorado counties. For more information, visit www.goldcountry.winecountry.com and amadorwine.com.
— Zip Lines: Sierra Nevada Recreation, which offers 1,500 feet of ziplines for above ground thrill-seekers at Moaning Caverns Adventure Park.