History, Culture and Character


44-pound crystalline gold leaf nugget, in the Ironstone Vineyards Heritage Museum.

Calaveras County is nestled in the central Sierra of California between Yosemite National Park and Lake Tahoe. Its oak-covered foothills are brilliant with wildflowers and lush grasses in the spring that turn a golden hue in the summer. The higher elevations have some of the most spectacular scenery found anywhere. Historic Gold Rush towns dot the hillsides offering a window into old-fashioned hospitality and charm.

The County covers 1,040 square miles1, with the population density of its 45,578 residents being quite low at about 40 people per square mile. The population tends to center around quaint and defined townships in the lower foothills and the high Sierra Nevada.

The climate, like the elevation is equally variable, and offers something for just about everyone. The lower elevations enjoy a Continental Mediterranean climate of mild winters and warm springs with plenty of rain, and transitions to hot summer days with cool nights. The higher elevations experience cooler summers and frequent snowy winter days perfect for winter sports.

Calaveras offers an abundance of things to do and see. Calaveras Big Trees State Park, home to two extraordinary groves of giant Sequoia, is located along the Ebbetts Pass National Scenic Byway. Along this same beautiful road, the vast Stanislaus National Forest and the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness Area can be accessed; the scenic byway is the sole winter approach to Bear Valley downhill and cross-country ski resort. At the lower elevations, more than 20 wineries grace the area around Murphys and vary from boutique wineries in historic settings to the stunning Ironstone Winery, gardens and amphitheatre.

The lovely roadways wind through the spectacular foothills and mountains to carry adventurers to treasures including lakes and rivers, caverns, zip lining, golfing, biking, hiking, boating, camping and fishing. The townships offer unique and charming shopping and glimpses into the history of the region.

The County’s charm and hospitality hasn’t been lost on the entertainment industry. As early as 1916, films were shot here and include The Gambler II, Honkytonk Man, and Ishi: The Last of His Tribe. Many television series and specials also found homes in the County and include such well-known shows as Bonanza: The Return, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and Little House on the Prairie.