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Great Outdoors
Whitewater Rafting Tours Are Already Underway In The Sierram As Weather Creates An Early Spring With Daffodils And Wildflowers In Bloom

Campgrounds throughout the Mother Lode Country offer furnished cabins, cottages and tents for unique spring getaways in scenic, natural settings. Local attractions include gold mines, museums and historic buildings as well as wine tasting, mountain biking and whitewater tours.

White water rafting tours have already begun in the historic Mother Lode Country as warm weather prompts an early Sierra snowmelt.  The warm weather has also accelerated the bloom times for the 300,000 plus daffodils at Daffodil Hill.

Indeed, even though California has had one of the driest winters in history, you can still enjoy California poppies and other spring wildflowers by driving along historic Highway 49 and other roads that wind their way from the Central Valley into the oak and pine covered Sierra foothills.

"It's really beautiful here right now," said Debbie Sipe, executive director of the California Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds, which hosts , the popular travel planning website.  "You can see wildflowers in many areas along roadways, fields and hillsides.  The poppies and lupine are my personal favorites."

Many campgrounds throughout the Mother Lode Country also offer furnished tents, cabins and cottages for visitors seeking unique spring getaway in a scenic, natural setting while they visit the region's gold mines and other historic sites and attractions. "You don't have to have a tent or RV to be close to nature in the Sierra because campgrounds are increasingly providing rental accommodations," Sipe said.

Popular Mother Lode Country attractions include:

  • Cave Tours: Visitors to Black Chasm Cavern, California Cavern and Moaning Cavern in Vallecito can do everything from 45-minute walking tours to 3-hour caving trips that include opportunities to rappel down a 165-foot chasm. You can see short video of the descent by clicking this link: 
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  • Columbia State Historic Park in Columbia: This state park offers numerous historic buildings as well as themed stores and people walking in period costumes reminiscent of the 1850s:
  • Gold Panning: Several businesses and historic sites offer opportunities for children and families to pan for gold in the Mother Lode County, including Gold Prospecting Adventures ( in Jamestown and Roaring Camp Mining Co. ( ), which also offers a video at .
  • Kennedy Mine ( ) in Jackson: Surface tours are available of this 5,912-ft. deep mine, which is one of the deepest mines in the world. Attractions include historic mining equipment, tailing wines and the mine office building, where gold flakes were melted into gold bars.
  • Mountain Biking: There are several mountain biking trails in the Sierra foothills. For specific trail information, visit: .
  • Sutter's Mill in Coloma, aka The Site Where Gold Was First Discovered in California: Located along the South Fork of the American River at Marshall Gold Discovery State Park ( ) in Coloma, this is the site where James Marshall discovered gold on Jan. 24, 1848, sparking the gold rush that would create the largest migration in history.
  • Whitewater Rafting: White water rafting tours are available in many areas of the Sierra foothills, especially along the South Fork of the American River. Visit for more information on whitewater rafting tours.
  • Wine Tasting: The Sierra foothills have numerous wineries, including Sobon Winery in Plymouth, which is one of California's oldest wineries. Amador County alone has 38 wineries, with many additional wineries located in Calaveras and El Dorado counties. For more information, visit and .
  • Zip Lines: Sierra Nevada Recreation, which offers 1,500 ft. of ziplines for above ground thrill-seekers at Moaning Caverns Adventure Park: .

You can find extensive listings of historic sites and attractions by visiting . Additional travel planning resources are available at , which includes listings of campgrounds that provide unique rental accommodations. These include:

  • 49er Village RV Park ( ) in Plymouth, which has 15 vacation cottages, which are available with a bed and breakfast plan, as well as 300 RV sites. 
  • Angels Camp RV & Camping Resort ( ) in Angels Camp, which has 65 RV and tent sites as well as two country lodges and five cabins.
  • Auburn Gold Country RV Park ( ) in Auburn, which features 66 sites, plus three rental cabins and a small tent section.
  • Coloma Resort ( ) in Coloma, which features furnished tent cabins, miner's cabins, park model cottages, bunkhouses and a country cottage. The resort, which is located along the South Fork of the American River, also has an on-site ropes course.
  • Marble Quarry RV Park ( ) in Columbia, which offers five cabins, 10 tent sites and 68 RV sites. The campground is just a quarter of a mile away from Columbia State Historic Park.
  • Ponderosa RV Resort ( ) in Lotus, which offers cabins, park model and trailer rentals in addition to RV and tent sites.
For more information on things to see and do in the Sierra Nevada Mother Lode Country, including food and spirit, music and sporting events, please visit .