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Tuolumne bucket list: 12 unique and unusual things to do

Tuolumne bucket list: 12 unique and unusual things to do

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Home to over a half of Yosemite, Tuolumne (rhymes with ‘follow me’) is a county with a huge bucket list for all types of travelers. Here are some of the most exciting activities in Tuolumne, California, from which you can pick the best for your personal bucket list.

#1 Go stargazing. With no city light bleed, this dark Northern California sky showcases millions of stars—a rarity in most cities. Outfitters provide guided stargazing hikes and tours with high-powered telescopes for planet tours.

Stargazing in Tuolumne. Photo Credit: Kyle McLaurin

#2 Walk in California’s largest underground cavern. Enjoy a 45-minute Family Walking Tour or a 3-hour Wild Cavern Adventure Trip including the historic 100′ spiral staircase.

#3 Go gold panning. Although the Fandango Halls and gun fights are but an eerie presence found in the ghost towns the miners abandoned, the boom of the 1849 Gold Rush left nuggets and frontier adventures behind. In Tuolumne County, several mines are still open that allow visitors to pan for gold, and there are several gold panning adventure companies that teach prospecting courses for adventurous miners who seek a true Gold Country experience.

#4 Travel back to the 1850’s at Columbia State Historic Park. Today the town still has the atmosphere, shops and activities of the olden times. Gold was discovered in Columbia in 1850. By 1870, the “Gem of the Southern Mines” produced more than $1 billion (in today’s figures).

Columbia State Historic Park. Photo credit: Michael Sharps

#5 Go cider tasting. Wine tasting is cool but cider tasting is even better. Indigeny Reserve is located in the hills of historic Sonora. Hard ciders and spirits produced in small batches are produced from the organic apple orchards here. Enjoy the shaded picnic areas for a lazy afternoon.

#6 Go whitewater rafting. Trips range from 1/2 to 3-day on the Merced, Tuolumne, Kings, Stanislaus and American Rivers and offer everything from float boats to Class 5 runs.

#7 Ride a steam train at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park. Hundreds of movies and TV shows have been shot here. Join 45-minute a ride from the backyards of Jamestown to the rugged hillsides of California’s Mother Lode country.

Railtown 1897 State Historic Park. Photo Credit: Tuolumne County, CA

#8 Discover your wild self at Stanislaus National Forest. Here you can fish in over 800 miles of rivers and streams, stay in a campground, or hike into the backcountry in search of pristine solitude. You can swim near a sandy beach or wade into cold clear streams.

#9 Make your own candy canes. Get your fingers sticky and join a candy cane making lesson at Nelson’s Candy Kitchen

Candy cane making. Photo Credit: 2018 Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau

#10 Head on a road trip (giant sequoias included). Venture along Highway 120 for the “front door” entrance to Yosemite National Park from the San Francisco Bay Area. The Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias is one of three groves to walk among these giants that can live to more than 3000 years old! You will have to hike just about 1.5 miles to reach the Tuolumne Grove but it will be well worth the work to enjoy these massively beautiful trees with a lot less crowds than the Mariposa Grove at the south end of the park.

#11 Escape the crowds of Yosemite Valley. Far from the crowds of Yosemite Valley, you can experience the abundance of waterfalls up-close and personal in the Hetch Hetchy section of the national park, easily accessible from Rush Creek Lodge’s location on Highway 120.

Escape the crowds, Yosemite. Photo Credit: Kim Carroll

#12 Get in shape to see the iconic Half Dome in Yosemite. You can hike the 16-mile round trip to the top of the dome, but it is only recommended if you are in a shape for an extremely rigorous hike, and you need a permit. You will gain nearly 5000 feet during the climb, most hikers take 10-12 hours to complete the trip. Do you accept the challenge?

Read more: 9 unusual things to do in Southern California

Feature image: Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau 

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