Columbia State Historic Park

UPDATE (March 31, 2020): This park is temporarily closed to vehicular access. The park remains open for locals who wish to walk, hike and bike (in parks with bike trails) in the park, provided they practice social/physical distancing of 6 feet or more. This is not the time for a road trip to a destination park or beach.

In an effort to prevent visitation surges and help stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), State Parks has implemented the following safety measures to date:
  • Closed some parks, meaning all trails and restrooms within these parks are closed.
  • Closed vehicular access at remaining parks, including for off-highway vehicle riding.
  • Closed all campgrounds, museums and visitor centers.
  • Cancelled all events.

A list of closures is available online at The list is dynamic and updated on a regular basis.

Phone Number

(209) 588-9128

Park Hours

Columbia is a real town, it never actually closes.

Park Exhibits open daily 10:00am - 4:00pm

Most businesses are open from 10:00am to- 5:00pm.

Driving Directions to Columbia SHP

Columbia State Historic Park is three miles north of Sonora, off Highway 49.

Camping and Lodging

Online reservations are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Reservations can be made 6 months in advance via the ReserveCalifornia website, or by calling the toll free telephone number at 1-800-444-7275. Click on the Online Reservations link or the banner below that to go directly to our ReserveCalifornia page. If your stay will be in the next 48 hours please call the hotel directly at (209) 532-1479 for availability.

RV Access
Hiking Trails
Historical/Cultural Site
Picnic Areas
Env. Learning/Visitor Center
Exhibits and Programs
Guided Tours
Interpretive Exhibits
Family Programs
Food Service
Drinking Water Available

Welcome to Columbia State Historic Park!

Columbia was once known as the "Gem of the Southern Mines." The town's Gold Rush-era business district was designated as a State Park by Governor Earl Warren in July 1945. Today we can take a step back in time to experience life in 1850s California. 

Parking and entrance to Columbia State Historic Park are free. Additional fees may apply for special events in the park. 

Stay at Columbia SHP

Agents of Discovery Virtual Scavenger Hunt

Enhanced Field AgentFourth Grade in park virtual scavenger hunt. This activity will help students learn about the impacts the gold rush had on the culture, environment and economy of California.  They will explore town and learn about Columbia by playing a game that highlight learning through multiple choice questions, historic photos and artifacts.

To play Agents of Discovery:

Download the Agents of Discovery App using the free parks WI-FI or your own data plan. Search for the Columbia State Historic Park mission and download the mission. Start the mission at the Columbia Museum. Once the app is downloaded you can turn off Wi-Fi if you choose.

Good Luck Agents!


School Programs

Special School programs designed to meet state curriculum standards for 4th graders are offered September-June. Programs include Town and Schoolhouse Tours, Gold Trek, and Diggins Tent Town Education Days.  Programs are popular and fill quickly. To sign up or learn more information, click HERE.

2019/2020 School Tour Reservation Information

Reservations for 2019/2020 School Tours and Programs open August 1 at 3:30 P.M. at  Programs will continue to take reservations until full.

Columbia Virtual Curriculum 

Westward Expansion & Routes of Travel

Gold Mining Methods & Environmental Effects

  •  Also check out our Smithsonian learning lab collections about the changes the Gold Rush brought to California. These stories are told through a collection of qoutes and artifacts from the park and are created for you to download and make them relevant to your class visit.

Free PORTS for Columbia Parks Online Resource for Teachers and Students

Three downloadable lesson plans focused on 4th grade curriculum culminating with a staff member from Columbia interacting with the class via video conference providing a tour of our gold rush town.

We can also create content for any grade level about the Gold Rush, diverse cultures, building a community, geology, westward expansion and other science concepts.

  • Let us help your class prepare to explore the park or wrap up your field trip through a virtual program.

This virtual tour gives students and adults a chance to interact with a ranger in the park and see the artifacts and buildings of the Gold Rush.

To book your Gold Rush virtual program click the link below.


Regularly Scheduled Programs

Free Town Tours:
June 15th - Labor Day: Daily @ 11:00 AM Monday-Friday based on staff and docent availability. Please check with museum upon arrival.
Year-round: Saturday & Sunday @ 11:00 AM
Led by staff and docents. Meet at the museum.
Approximately 1 hour.

For groups over ten people, special tours must be arranged in advance by calling 209-588-9128.

Our Museum is currently open from 10:00-4:00pm. Closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Gold Rush Days  occur the second Saturday of each month from 1 to 4pm. Many special exhibits are open and hands-on activities are led by volunteers in period attire throughout the afternoon. Call 209-588-9128 for details.

Special Events & Programs

Gold Panning

Gold Rush Days - Temporarily Suspended

2nd Saturday each month from 1:00pm to 4:00pm

Town Tours - Temporarily Suspended

Saturdays & Sundays from 11:00am to 12:00pm

Columbia’s Birthday - Canceled

March 27 from 11am to 4pm

Diggins Tent Town

May 16 to 19 from 10 am to 4pm

Paranormal Tours

May 30 and October 24 from 8pm to 12am * purchase tickets online at

Big Band

July 18 from 5pm-10pm

History's Mysteries

July 25, August 1, 15 and 22 purchase tickets online at 

Back to School 1861

September 19 from 3pm to 7pm

Stories in Stone

September 25, 26 and October 2, 3 from 6 pm to 8:30 pm * purchase tickets online at

Boo Boulevard

October 31 from 3pm to 6pm 


December 4, 5 from 5pm to 10pm * purchase tickets online at

Miners Christmas

December 12, 13, 19, 20 from 12 to 3 


Additional event information may be available at and

Host your event in Columbia SHP! Weddings, birthdays, family reunions, retreats, and more have all been hosted in the park. Click here.

Facilities and Activities

The park was once known as the "Gem of the Southern Mines." Between the 1850s and 1870s over one billion dollars in gold (at today's value) was mined in the area. For a time, Columbia was the second largest city in California.

Unlike many other settlements that disappeared due to fire, vandalism and time, Columbia survived. It was never completely deserted. In 1945 the State Legislature made the site a State Historic Park in order to preserve a typical Gold Rush town, an example of one of the most colorful eras in American history.

Visitors can taste hand-dipped chocolates, a superior cup of coffee, savor fine dining, family fare or purchase picnic provisions.  Stagecoach rides are available, season and weather permitting.

There's also the chance to relax at one of two comfortable hotels, listen to music in historic saloons, or take in a performances at the Fallon Theatre.

Visitors can make a candle or purchase Columbia soap, wooden toys, old fashion clothes, or dress-up for a photograph.

Other highlights include taking a walk to the two-story brick school house and cemetery overlooking town, or hiking the one-mile nature trail where mule deer and wild flowers may be seen.

Social Feed