California Gold Country Road Trip from Sacramento to Yosemite

Follow the golden loop to and from Yosemite on this 449-mile adventure.
Publish date:
The Three Brothers in Yosemite National Park

The Three Brothers in Yosemite National Park


From golden-colored giant Buddhas to historic Gold Rush towns, this amazing adventure starts in Sacramento. Drive to Stockton where fine art, incredible ethnic food and a Buddhist temple complex await. From there, head to the charming towns of Angels Camp and Murphys and nearby Calaveras Big Trees State Park. 

Then, travel to Tuolumne County where you can go river rafting or explore historic Sonora with a lively theater scene and a downtown filled with great boutiques and coffee shops. Don't miss Columbia State Historic Park where 1850s-era shops harken back to the golden days. From there, it's a 20-minute drive to Jamestown, home of Railtown 1897 State Historic Park. 

Then head through Yosemite's Big Oak Flat Entrance where granite domes, sparkling waterfalls and incredible hikes await. After visiting the majestic Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, drive out the South Entrance, stopping to ride a train at the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad. Continue on to Mariposa where artisan shops line the historic downtown and wine tasting, fun restaurants and activities await. 


Start: Sacramento

Explore lavishly restored luxury train cars and have dinner on a restored riverboat before embarking on your road trip.

Giant Buddhas, World-Class Art and Ethnic Food in Stockton

Giant Buddha in Stockton's Cambodian Buddhist Temple

Giant Buddha in Stockton's Cambodian Buddhist Temple

Walk among 90 giant statues, gorge on Thai and American farm-to-table cusine, or gaze at a painting that used to hang at the White House.

Jumping for Calaveras County

Walking tour at Moaning Caverns Adventure Park in Calaveras County

Walking tour at Moaning Caverns Adventure Park

Mark Twain became famous with his story about the frogs of Calaveras County. Here are five reasons why you should stop in this gorgeous corner of California.

Tuolumne's Top 7

Rafting with OARS on the Tuolumne River

Rafting with O.A.R.S. on the Tuolumne River

Half of Tuolumne County lies in Yosemite. Discover the top seven things to do in its quaint towns from boating to Gold Rush-era experiences.

OARS Wet and Wild Adventures
Go on a 1-day rafting trip on the Merced River, or experience a 1- to 3-day rafting adventure on the Tuolumne River near the west edge of Yosemite National Park.

Starstruck by Railtown 1897's Hollywood Darling
Meet the famous movie-star locomotive Sierra No. 3, take a guided tour of the historic shops and roundhouse, or jump aboard a steam-powered excursion train.

Backstage Passes to Yosemite at Evergreen Lodge and Rush Creek Lodge
Looking to take a deep breath and disconnect? Stay at Evergreen Lodge, established in 1921 just a mile from the park's Hetch Hetchy Entrance. Or head to Rush Creek Lodge, its sister property, located less than a mile from the Big Oak Flat Entrance. 

Try Something New in Yosemite National Park

The Bachelor and 3 Graces in the Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park. Photo by Grant Ordelheide

The Bachelor and 3 Graces in the Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park. 

Enter the park from the Highway 120 Entrance and Exit out the South Entrance. In the park, visit Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point, and tour the Mariposa Grove of sequoia trees which reopened the summer of 2018 after a three-year renovation.

Year-round Fun in Yosemite National Park
Take a leap and try new activities to explore the park. Which ones have you tried?

Tour Yosemite Like a Local with Gypsy Guide
On your Yosemite adventure, listen to an entertaining guide in your car.

Where Should I Camp in Yosemite National Park?
Use this personalized guide to help you decide where to spend the night, from car camping paradise and remote backcountry sites to RV heaven.
Read more.

Home in the Park with Yosemite's Scenic Wonders
Who knew you could retreat to a house, cabin or condo in the heart of Yosemite National Park? Choose from over 100 properties in three locations at Yosemite's Scenic Wonders Vacation Rentals.

All Aboard the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad

Yosemite Sugar Pine Railroad 10 Curve

Go on an exciting four-mile scenic excursion through the Sierra National Forest on the restored railroad used for the Madera Sugar Pine’s logging trains.

13 Gems in Mariposa County

Airplane tour over Yosemite with Airbornn Aviation

Airplane tour over Yosemite with Airbornn Aviation

Find the largest alpaca farm in the state, stay in a classic Airstream trailer, take a scenic flight over the park plus ten more things to do in this charming historic county.

End: Sacramento