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Visit the Volunteer Programs page for detailed information.
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Visit Empire Mine!
Empire Mine State Historic Park is the site of one of the oldest, deepest, and richest gold mines in California. The park is in Grass Valley at 10791 East Empire Street. In operation for more than 100 years, the mine extracted 5.8 million ounces of gold before it closed in 1956. The park contains many of the mine’s buildings, the owner’s home and restored gardens, as well as the entrance to 367 miles of abandoned and flooded mine shafts. The park encompasses 856 acres of forested backcountry and fourteen miles of trails - including easy hikes (for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding) - in the park.
The "Secret Room"
To keep track of the mine's 367 underground workings, a place called "The Secret Room" (named for its blacked-out windows) was built. In it, the entire room was filled with a scale model of the mine's below the surface workings. Few people knew the room existed while the mine was in operation. Today, visitors to the park can see it in the Visitor Center. The model represents five square miles of underground workings. When the visitors go down the actual shaft in the park, they have journeyed only "one inch" on the model. Anything past "two inches" on the model is underwater in the actual mine.
Join a Guided Tour!
Join a tour of our a Park!
Come on a 1-hour guided tour to see highlights of our historic park. Tours start at the green benches inside the park, and are first come first served, no reservations. Weather can be unpredicable in any season, so please wear weather-appropriate clothing, and be aware that inclement weather may cancel. Tours are lead by our knowledgeable volunteers; some tour shifts may not be filled due to staffing vacancy, please call the vistor center to confirm that your tour of interest is scheduled.
Estate Tours: Daily at 11 a.m.
This tour allows you to get a special peek inside the life and home of the owner of the mine. Step into the historic cottage and learn about the beautiful estate within the hardrock mine property.
Mineyard Tours: Daily at 12:00
This tour takes you through the equipment and hard work needed for the profitable Empire mine to run. Afterwards is a great time to stop by the blacksmith shop and see our craftsmen at work. Hot weather may cancel; if temperatures are over 90 degrees, this tour will become a second Estate Tour and the blacksmith shop may close early.
Garden Tours: Wednesday and Saturdays @ 10:10 | May 3rd - October 28
Come on a 50 minute guided tour to see highlights of the beautifully landscaped historic gardens. Tour guides will enlighten you to the unique vintage varieties of roses and other botanicals.
*Tours may cancel due to weather; call the Visitor Center for details to plan your visit.
California State Parks acknowledges the Nisenan People were here in this State Park since time immemorial. The Nisenan People are still here today, though they are nearly invisible.
The Sierra District of California State Parks includes their story in our interpretation and education here at the Empire Mine State Historic Park. We understand we are on Nisenan Land and that the original Tribal Families have yet to recover from the near genocide of their people during the California Gold Rush.
California State Parks supports the Nevada City Rancheria Tribe in efforts to stabilize their people as well as the campaign to restore Tribal sovereignty through Federal Recognition.
Drive 24 miles north of Auburn on Highway 49 to Empire Street exit in Grass Valley. The park is located in Grass Valley at 10791 East Empire Street.
Filming Videos and Still Photography in State Parks
California State Parks thanks you for choosing our beautiful parks for your photographic activities and sharing the wonders of our park units with the world. However, in order to maintain the beauty of our parks and its natural and cultural resources, we require that all commercial, still and motion picture photographers obtain a film permit from the California Film Commission
California State Parks requires an approved film permit for:
- All commercial still photography and videography
- Professional photographers offering services
- Student photo/film
- Professional development projects
Drones are not permitted unless a special permit is granted. Use film and photography permits link below for further contact information.
To learn more, please visit our blog here
For specific film permit information at Empire Mine State Historic Park, Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park or South Yuba River State Park, please review Sierra Gold Sector Film Permit information