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Columbia State Historic Park
Driving Directions to Columbia SHP
Camping and Lodging
Online reservations are not available for this park.
Brochures and Campground Maps
Upcoming Park Events
Location - Directions
Columbia State Historic Park is three miles north of Sonora, off Highway 49.
The town's old Gold Rush-era business district has been preserved with shops, restaurants and two hotels. Visitors have the chance to time-travel to the 1850s, imagining life when gold miners rubbed shoulders with businessmen and the other residents in Columbia. Visitors can experience a bygone era watching proprietors in period clothing conduct business in the style of yesterday. There are opportunities to ride a 100 year-old stagecoach, pan for gold, and explore the real working businesses of Columbia.
At an elevation of 2,100 feet in the Sierra Nevada, summer days can be hot and evenings can cool down quickly. Winters are rainy, with snow at times.
Average Annual Rainfall: 40 inches
Average Daily High Temperatures:
Winter: 59 F
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 10:00-5:00pm through Labor Day. Fall/Winter hours 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 School programs designed to meet state curriculum standards for 4th graders are offered from September-June. $40 per class. Students enjoy an hour-long history program at the museum led by park staff, including a bucket brigade. Then students walk to the original brick schoolhouse for an hour-long 1860s living history school program. Registration forms for the program are available by clicking the School Programs link on the right side of the page. Programs are popular and fill quickly.
PORTS for Columbia
Parks Online Resource for Teachers and Students
Three downloadable lesson plans focused on 4th grade curriculum culminating with a ranger from Columbia interacting with the class via video conference.
Special Events & Programs
Photography Tour-More dates coming soon! A Miner's Christmas
Novice class in travel photography with a focus on Columbia. Learn how to get that perfect shot!
$20/person or $30/two people. Call (209) 588-9128 to make a reservation.
Additional classes and levels to be posted soon. Check back!
Aug 30; 10:00am
Follow along and solve a real historical crime! Interview witnesses and participate in a trial to find out the "truth". $5/person, reservations highly recommended. (209) 588-9128.
California Admission Day Celebration
September 6; all day
The Native Sons of the Golden West, Columbia Parlor #258, sponsors a California Admissions Day Parade in Historic Columbia. The Native Sons have a tradition of preserving California History--the parade is one of those that started in 1876, and revived in 2008. Parade entry form can be found here. Other activities include a BBQ at noon, free cemetery tour at 1:30pm, additional exhibits open and a period costume display.
Back to School Night 1861
Saturday, September 20, 4:00-7:00pm
Join us up at the historic school on the hill for an evening of music, school lessons and delicious, hand-cranked ice cream! Old-fashioned toys and games and costume dress-up are all part of the fun. Free event
Stories in Stone Cemetery Tour
September 26 and 27, October 3 and 4; 7:00 pm
Lamplight-led evening tour of the Columbia Cemetery by our costumed docents. Guests will stop at specific gravesites where stories of those who have lived and died in Columbia will be told by some very convincing characters! Reservations required. Tickets $25 per person.
31st Annual Lamplight Tours
December 5 & 6, beginning around 6:00 pm and running every 15 minutes
Take a walk through Columbia on a lamplight-led tour by our costumed volunteers! Follow your guide from venue to venue and watch the play all come together in the end. It's sure to be a night to remember! Reservations are recommended and can be made after October 1st. Please call (209) 588-9128 for more information.
December 13, 14, 20, 21 - 12-3pm
Sit around a campfire drinking hot cider or coffee and join in conversations with miners as they roast chestnuts. Children can make some favorite crafts of the 1850s and keep an eye out for Father Christmas as he wanders the streets looking for good boys and girls! Contact Columbia State Historic Park at 209-588-9128.
For special event information please call
Additional event information may be available at www.columbiacalifornia.com.
Photography Tour-More dates coming soon!
A Miner's Christmas
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.