I am beyond excited for this trip. I have lived in California basically my entire life. During those forty years, I have seen the overwhelming majority of the state. But next week, I get to spend some time exploring a part of the state I’ve never before been able to visit: gold country.
At the western base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains runs California Highway 49 (named for the 49ers, those who came for the gold rush in 1849), from Oakhurst in the south to north of Lake Tahoe, a long winding highway that encompasses most of California’s gold history. On this trip, I will get to drive most of the southern half of that, exploring natural beauty and golden history along the way, as a guest of two of California’s gold country counties: Madera and Calaveras. So armed with my proof of vaccination and my negative Covid test (I couldn’t justify any risk of bringing Covid into a rural area), I am headed north!
Before we get into the specific itinerary, I want to express my gratitude to both Brooke at Visit Madera and Martin at Visit Calaveras for believing in me, my writing, and what we are trying to do here at The Royal Tour. Hosted trips like this are a ton of fun, a ton of work, and a ton of responsibility to live up to the faith and money being invested in me. I will do my best to show some unique perspectives on your regions.
Ok, so what is planned for the week? Here is my basic itinerary for you to follow along.
Day One – Los Angeles to Oakhurst
Madera County gets me first, and my opening act sees a long drive up California’s Central Valley to Oakhurst, sitting at the junction of California 49 and 41. On my way into town, I’ll spend the afternoon at Coarsegold, a historic town along Highway 41.
Day Two – Oakhurst
This is my day to explore Madera County’s foothills. Gold panning (a must in any gold country county), the famous Sugar Pine Railroad, some Native American culture, and a nice hike. Sounds like a solid day, no?
Day Three – Oakhurst
Day three is for Yosemite. Madera County is known for being the southern gateway to Yosemite National Park, and I get to spend the day there in my favorite national park. I won’t be going all the way into the valley. Rather, I’ll be exploring what the southern part of the park has to offer, based in Wawona.
Day Four – Oakhurst to Murphys
After a morning stroll around the Wassama Round House, I will bid adieu to Madera and head north up Highway 49 to Calaveras County. A quick stop at Mark Twain’s cottage and then I’ll meet Martin in Angels Camp for some more gold panning (Angels Camp sits directly atop the mother lode so here’s hoping I strike it rich), and then up Highway 4 to Murphys.
Day Five – Murphys
Day five celebrates the outdoor beauty of Calaveras: big trees, pretty lakes, and scenic mountains along Highway 4. The highway just reopened after being closed by the nearby Tamarack Fire, just another reminder of the yearly wildfire season California sees.
Day Six – Murphys
The highlight of the day will be a visit to Copperopolis, another historic town. Like so many of the towns and landmarks in this area, it was mentioned by Mark Twain in his diaries, this being his stopoff point before heading back to San Francisco.
Day Seven – Murphys to Los Angeles
Mostly just a driving day, it’s time to say farewell to gold country and return home.
Here is a small map of the area, with Oakhurst and Murphys marked. You can see Highway 49 snaking its way between them.
As with all of my trips, I will be posting daily photos and highlights on my Instagram account, so make sure to follow me there. And stay tuned here on The Royal Tour for some exciting gold country stories!