If the season is right Northern California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains will be covered in a blanket of white. Traveling from the San Francisco Bay Area winter wonders are less than a three-hour drive to the East, landing travelers in the picturesque historical mountain getaway known as Tuolumne County. With Yosemite National Park, The High Sierra Mountains, and California Gold Country there are plenty of winter activities to suffice the niche of any traveler in search of winter, from sledding to snowshoeing amongst the giants, from ice-skating lessons to sipping hot cocoa, and from hitting the slopes to soaring over granite. You’re invited to Tuolumne County where winter wonders await.
Sugar and ice and everything nice in the High Sierra. For a sweet winter treat, visit Alicia’s Sugar Shack, a local favorite set in the pines and a perfect stop on the way to snow play. Dodge Ridge Ski Resort has been serving the Sierra since 1950 with 862 skiable acres, 67 runs, and 1,600 vertical feet. They like to start ’em young on the hill, offering lessons to kids starting at age two. For those looking for a little less slope, but still snow play head on over to Leland Snowplay which serves up a lighter vertical slope with their sledding hill. For some of the easiest sledding around: Pick up a sledding tube, hop on the rope tow to the top of the hill, smile and laugh all the way down, and repeat. For less fluff travel just slightly south to find a little rustic red barn and behold an ice-skating rink inside. Long Barn Lodge has a small $11.00 entrance fee and $3.00 rentals- talk about inexpensive fun the whole family can participate in without breaking the bank.
Winter in Gold Country is like love at frost sight. While the air may be chilly, travelers can find all the necessities to bundle up while shopping in Downtown Sonora. Find food treasures to warm the soul at Emberz, El Jardin, and Yoshoku, or cozy up in a local bar like the Sonora Tap Room or the Sportsman. Take a trip back in time and experience winter in the 1850s Gold Rush town of Columbia State Historic Park, where visitors can wander the streets of this living, working town to see wonders like candle making, candy making, gold panning, and blacksmithing. Wine tasting in winter is snow much fun, so visit Inner Sanctum Cellars, Gianelli Vineyards, and Hurst Ranch tasting rooms to taste their winter varietals. Catch a glimpse of the hibernating movie-star train, Sierra No. 3™, at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park while taking a roundhouse tour. Train rides run seasonally, but tours are offered year-round.
There’s snow place like Yosemite National Park in the winter. Keep in mind when visiting Yosemite National Park in the winter that the weather can get snowy and it is advised to carry tire chains. Aside from the sheer beauty of the snow-covered park, there are fewer crowds, leaving more time for snowtivities. Snowshoe amongst giants at the Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias, find a winter hiking trail at Hetch Hetchy, or just take in the sight of snow-covered iconic granite formations from a plane high above. Yosemite Flight Tours offers guided aerial tours of Yosemite National Park with professional, experienced pilots who have spent as much time in the air as on the ground, so they can offer historical and ecological perspectives to the tour. Post-adventure, warm up with a hearty meal from the Grill at Pine Mountain Lake or a cup of tea from Mountain Sage Coffee and Nursery.
About Tuolumne County, California
Tuolumne County rhymes with “Follow Me,” located 133 miles/200 km east of San Francisco, is a pristine, scenic expanse reaching into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Gold was discovered in Tuolumne County in 1848, setting off the major gold rush of 1849. The main highways leading to the picturesque drive from the San Francisco and East Bay Area are Highways 108 and 120 from the west and Highway 49 from the north. The State Highway 120 entrance to Yosemite National Park is considered the “front door” of the park for the San Francisco Greater Bay Area. The Stanislaus National Forest, Yosemite National Park, and other surrounding areas provide natural vistas and settings for hiking, water skiing, horseback riding, rafting, camping, snowmobiling, boating, snow skiing, fishing, and other outdoor activities. Seven restored historic hotels, four golf courses, numerous and varied dining establishments, historic saloons, four wineries and hard cider distillery, train rides, casinos, seven museums, two state historic parks, two live theaters, many bed-and-breakfast inns, and a variety of Airbnb accommodations are among the many other attributes that make the county a year-round vacation destination. www.visittuolumne.com