State Historic Park
Location - Directions
Columbia State Historic Park is three miles north of Sonora, off Highway 49.
Take the Trolley!
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 9-4:30pm and 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
Diggins Tent Town 1852
May 30-June 2
Get ready to step back in time to the early days of Columbia! Mining demonstrations, theater performances, bakery and laundry "businesses", boarding house and lots more. Experience the Gold Rush hands on by talking with over 100 costumed volunteers and reenactors from all over. More information here. Admission from 10-4pm daily, with event open until 5pm, Thursday-Sunday.
June 15, July 14, August 8, September 9, October 26; 3:00pm
Walk through town with a costumed guide as you hear stories of people from the past. Stop in at the hotels and other buildings thoughout the park while listening for some residents who may still remain! Sign up at the museum, 209-532-3184. $10/person.
Big Band Street Dance
July 20; 7:00pm
Come enjoy the sounds of the Columbia Kicks Big Band right in downtown Columbia! Bring your dancing shoes and a chair while we celebrate the year Columbia became a State Historic Park-1945! Sponsored by Friends of Columbia SHP.
July 27, August 3, 17, 31
Solve a real crime from the Gold Rush! Witness the event and then get to the bottom of the "mystery" as you uncover what happened in history. $5/person, call to make reservations.
Back to School Night 1861
September 21, 4-7pm
Visit the historic school on the hill and sit in the old desks while class is taught by a park docent! Tours of the second story, games and toys of the past and of course, hand-cranked ice cream! Free event.
Stories in Stone Cemetery Tour
September 27, 28 and October 4, 5; 7:00pm
Hear the stories of tradgedy, family and daily life in the town portrayed by costumed volunteers throughout the cemetery. This guided walking tour is sure to leave you thinking! $25/person, reservations required. Call 209-682-5754 beginning August 1st to make your reservations.
For special event information please call
Diggins Tent Town 1852
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.
- Hours of Operation:
- Park Office Telephone:
Columbia is a real town, it never actually closes. Most businesses are open from 10:00am to 5:00pm. Many restaurants, hotels, saloons and other establishments have longer hours. With the exception of the City Hotel, almost all businesses are closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
11255 Jackson St.
Columbia, CA 95310
Visitor Services Address
11255 Jackson St.
Columbia, CA 95310
Information line: 209-588-9128
Museum phone: 209-532-3184
Lost and Found: 209-532-3184
Museum open every day in Spring/Summer from 9-4:30pm.
Musuem open every day in Fall/Winter from 10-4 PM. Closed on Thanksgiving & Christmas.
Special Event Permits
Columbia is the setting of many special events. Fun runs, special meetings, reserved picnic areas, weddings, car shows and other types of special use fall under the special event permit process, and additional fees may apply.
For more information on the special event permit process, call the park ranger office at 209-532-7532.