Hiking at Wapama Falls in Hetch Hetchy

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October 4, 2016
Hiking at Wapama Falls in Hetch Hetchy

Year-round Action Abounds In Tuolumne County

Stretched out along the road to Yosemite National Park, Tuolumne County offers a gold mine of outdoor activities year-round. Whether you're looking for skiing or snowshoeing in the winter, boating and hiking in the summer, or hiking and camping in between, the Tuolumne region has your outdoor adventure needs covered.

Winter Fun

Tuolumne County is the most accessible way to Yosemite along Route 120 to the park's north entrance at Big Oak Flat, which is open year-round. While Yosemite can be snowy and cold during the winter months (November to April), it can be a stunningly serene location for wildlife viewing and hiking without crowds.

For winter sports activities, the greater Tuolumne region outside of the park offers a variety of options. Dodge Ridge Ski Area in Pinecrest and the Stanislaus National Forest is the closest snow to the Bay Area, at 8,200 feet of elevation and offering downhill skiing and snowboarding across 832 acres and 61 runs. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing paths are also available, crossing wide-open meadows and the snow-covered landscape.

Also in Pinecrest, Leland High Sierra Snow Play offers 12 acres of family snow fun at 6,300 feet, including tubing and sledding with tow rides up the hill. Open throughout the winter season, Long Barn Lodge in Long Barn offers a popular ice rink for all levels of skaters. Multiple Christmas and winter-themed festivals and events can be found, including Sonora's annual Christmas Craft Faire and Downtown Christmas Parade, Columbia's candy-cane makers offering window views of peppermint wonders, a Victorian Feast melodrama, and Railtown 1897 State Historic Park's "Polar Express" train rides, all of which incorporate the region's noted Gold Rush history.

And Fun in the Sun

In the warmer months, Tuolumne County's outdoor activity and sports options are just as numerous. In addition to the numerous camping, hiking, and backpacking options throughout Tuolumne's Yosemite and Stanislaus regions, the county's extended area also has destinations for rafting on the Tuolumne and Merced Rivers, from float boats to Class 5 whitewater runs. Mountain biking trails can be found throughout the county, for both experienced and casual riders. Golfers of all stripes can play rounds on six courses in Tuolumne County, as well as on an ever-popular 18-hole miniature golf course in Twain Harte. The town of Twain Harte is also a popular destination for its many antique shops, restaurants and expert fly-fishing outfitters. Tuolumne County is also a prime destination for wine tasting, with an array of welcoming and no-charge tasting rooms, including Gianelli Vineyards and Inner Sanctum in Jamestown, Ironstone Vineyards in Murphys, and Yosemite Cellars in Groveland. Not to be missed is Indigeny Reserve, a hard cider distillery and tasting room, with tours offered daily and areas for picnic and hikes within the organic apple groves. And finally, don’t forget to look up! While the region boasts excellent star-gazing year-round, many dedicated tours are available in the warmer months.

Indoor Gaming Action

Tuolumne County also boasts a number of casinos for year-round gambling entertainment. Black Oak Casino in the city of Tuolumne offers 164,000 square-feet of slot machines and table games, as well as four restaurants, five bars, and a family-friendly floor with a 24-lane bowling alley and arcade. Jamestown's Chicken Ranch Casino is noted for its generous bingo payouts, while Jackson's Rancheria Casino Resort offers a 24-hour poker room.

For more detail on these and on additional activities throughout the Tuolumne County region, please visit the Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau online

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