Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park

Update (April 20, 2021): With the Regional Stay at Home Order lifted, State Parks is reopening campground sites for existing reservation holders. The department will be using a phased approach to reopen other campground sites for new reservations, starting January 28. The public is advised that not all campground sites are open to the public due to the pandemic, wildfire impacts and other issues. Additionally, group campsites remain closed. Day use outdoor areas of park units currently open to the public remain open.

As State Parks increases access to the State Park System, it is critical that Californians continue to recreate responsibly in the outdoors as the pandemic is far from over.

Please take the time to read the information contained on this webpage to find out what is open and closed, and the COVID-19 guidelines for this park unit.

What is open now?
  • Parking lots at North Beach, the Sawmill, the Monument, the Pioneer Cemetery and on Church Street are open as well as parking along the street within the park.
  • The outdoor day-use facilities, restrooms, and boat launch at North Beach are open.
  • Visitor Center and Gold Discovery Museum.
  • Mining Methods Museum.
  • Wa Hop Chinese Museum.
  • Blacksmith shop.
  • Gold Discovery Tour.
  • Gold Panning.
  • Marshall Gold Mercantile.

What is currently closed at this park and throughout the State Park System?
Statewide:
  • Some park units and campground sites continue to be temporarily closed due to the pandemic, impacts from wildfires or other issues. Please visit the webpage of your local outdoor destination to find out if it is open.
  • High public-use indoor facilities, including museums and visitor centers.
  • Special events and tours continue to be canceled until further notice.

Are there any new visitor guidelines?
State Parks has implemented the following guidelines to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the outdoors:
  • Stay Local: Stay close to home during this pandemic period. If you or anyone in your household is feeling sick, please remain at home and plan your trip for another time. 
  • Plan Ahead
    • The ongoing pandemic response continues to be dynamic and fluid. Prior to leaving home, check the webpage of your outdoor destination you plan to visit to find out if it is open, if parking is available, and what visitor guidelines are in effect.
    • Learn what safety precautions you should take when exploring the outdoors at parks.ca.gov/SafetyTips.
    • SNO-PARKS: Make sure your vehicle is snow ready. A permit is required for each vehicle parked at a SNO-PARK site. Parking is on a first come, first-serve basis at all SNO-PARK sites. The public is advised that parking lots are filling up early in the day. Illegal parking is prohibited. More information can be found at ohv.parks.ca.gov/SNOPARKS.
  • Stay Safer at Six Feet: No matter the recreational activity, maintain a physical distance of six feet or more. Your guests should only include those within your immediate household. This means no guests or friends, and no gatherings or parties. If there are too many people to maintain the required physical distance, please visit us on a different day. 
    • Boating: Do not raft up to other boaters or pull up onto a beach next to other recreators.
    • Off-highway Vehicle Recreation: Do not ride next to others or pull up next to someone else as it could put you in close proximity to others. Stage 10 feet or more from each other during unloading and loading.
  • Keep Clean: Be prepared as not all services may be available. Some restrooms will be temporarily closed to keep up with cleaning schedules. Bring soap/hand sanitizer. Please pack out all trash. Park units are experiencing heavy use and you can help alleviate the impact on park facilities.
  • Stay Covered: The state requires you to wear a face covering when you cannot maintain a physical distance of six feet or more. Individuals must have a face covering with them at all times.

Although law enforcement entities have the authority to issue citations, the expectation is that the public is responsible for adhering to the advice of public health officials, visitor guidelines and closures.

California State Parks continues to work with local and state officials on a phased and regionally driven approach to increase access to state park units where compliance with state and local public health ordinances can be achieved. However, the situation remains fluid and park operations can change at any time. For information on statewide current closures and available services, please visit parks.ca.gov/FlattenTheCurve.

Phone Number

(530) 622-3470

Park Hours

Day Use Areas: 8am - 6pm

Visitor Center and Museum: 10am to 5pm

Store Hours: 10am - 4pm

Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day

 

 

Dogs Allowed?

Yes
Dogs allowed on trails and in the river. Dogs not allowed in buildings.

Driving Directions to Marshall Gold Discovery SHP

The park is located in Coloma on Highway 49 between Placerville and Auburn.

Online reservations are not available for this park.

BOATING
Boating
TRAIL USE
Hiking Trails
DAY-USE ACTIVITIES & FACILITIES
Historical/Cultural Site
Picnic Areas
Env. Learning/Visitor Center
Exhibits and Programs
Fishing
Guided Tours
Interpretive Exhibits
Beach Area
Museums
Family Programs
OTHER FACILITIES & VISITOR INFORMATION
Food Service
Parking
Restrooms
Drinking Water Available

The World Rushed In

James W. Marshall discovered gold in 1848 on the South Fork of the American River in the valley the Nisenan Indians knew as Cullumah (beautiful valley). This event led to the greatest mass movement of people in the Western Hemisphere and was the spark that ignited the spectacular growth of the West during the ensuing decades. The gold discovery site, located in the still visible tailrace of Sutter's sawmill in present day Coloma, California, is one of the most significant historic sites in the nation.

In 1848, James W. Marshall found shining flecks of gold in the tailrace of the sawmill he was building in partnership with John Sutter. This discovery changed the course of California's and the nation's history. See a replica of the original sawmill and over 20 historic buildings including a mining exhibit, Chinese store exhibits and schoolhouse exhibit.

Visitors have the opportunity to pan for gold in the American River and enjoy hikes and picnics under the riparian oak woodlands. Overlooking the beautiful river canyon is the Marshall Monument, California's first historic monument and the final resting place of James Marshall. The statue looks down on the river and points to the site of the gold discovery. 



goldpanning

Park Information

The best place to start your tour of Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park is at the visitor center and museum. Interpretive exhibits and programs tell the story of the gold discovery and make it come alive. Information about and a map of the park can be found in the visitor center.

About seventy percent of the town of Coloma is included in Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park and therefore subject to use fees. Since there are only about two hundred year-round residents in the town, the tree-lined streets of the park are memorably quiet and serene throughout much of the year.

The park features buildings that have survived from the gold rush, as well as many other reminders of that tumultuous period. The Gold Discovery Museum features gold-rush-era exhibits as well as exhibits on the Native Americans, the people of many cultures who came to California during the gold rush, and the agricultural history of the area. A number of films about the gold discovery and early mining techniques are also available upon request.

Click here to see our volunteer opportunities

 

Gold Discovery Tour / Gold Panning

Gold Discovery Tour

Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park is pleased to offer visitors guided walking tours! Tours will be conducted for individual family groups from the same household only with proper physical distancing. Please check in at the Visitor Center.

Our Gold Discovery Tour tells the story and visits the sites of the Coloma Valley before the discovery of gold by James Marshall. Learn about the events leading up to the discovery, the history of the California Gold Rush and the town of Coloma.

Tours are offered at least twice a day, weather permitting (tours will NOT be given when the temperature is above 92 degrees). Tour cost is $3.00 per adult and $2.00 per child. We do not give tours on our event days including Coloma Gold Rush Live and Christmas in Coloma. Please come enjoy those events.

Gold Panning Lessons

Learn how to pan for gold by taking a 15 minute lesson with us, then spend the next half hour panning the troughs looking for garnets, fools gold, and real gold flakes!

Gold Panning lessons are being offered at 10 am, 11 am, 1 pm, 2 pm, and 3 pm with proper physical distancing and increased cleaning protocols between panning lessons. Space is limited and slots are given on a first come first serve basis. NO ADVANCE RESERVATIONS WILL BE TAKEN OVER THE PHONE. YOU MUST REGISTER IN PERSON THE DAY OF.

Gold panning lessons will NOT be available when the temperature is above 92 degrees.

To learn more about our procedures to comply with state mandates please call the museum at (530) 622-3470.

 

Get Social with Marshall Gold Discovery SHP

Visit the park virtually by following us on social media.

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Junior Ranger Program

All youngsters are encouraged to become Junior Rangers at Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park. We recently released a new and improved Junior Ranger Program with additional activities and challenges for an improved Junior Ranger experience.

Jr Ranger ProgramYou'll learn about

  • James Marshall and the Gold Discovery
  • Different methods for mining gold
  • Plants and animals found in the area
  • The Native Americans who lived in this valley
  • The people of Coloma
  • The historic buildings in the park

Stop by our visitor center to pick up a copy of the Junior Ranger booklet and start exploring! Or, you can download the booklet here.

For more information, call (530) 622-3470.

Additional Information

Seasons & Recommended Clothing
Summer and spring are warm; fall and winter can be cool. Layered clothing is advised.

River Flow
For current river flow, please click on the link to be redirected.

Disclaimer
Gold panning, tours, the blacksmith shop, and other scheduled activities may be closed/cancelled due to extreme weather, poor air quality conditions, inclement weather, or emergencies. For the latest information, please call the Gold Discovery Museum at (530) 622-3470;  You can also email marshallgoldshp@gmail.com for additional information.

 

Group Reservations 2020-21

Check school and group information page for change in reservation dates and procedures.
School and Group Information

Sutters MillSutter's Mill

Location & Directions

The park is located in Coloma, California on Highway 49 between Placerville and Auburn.

From US Highway 50 traveling East: Take the Ponderosa exit, turn left on South Shingle, take a right on North Shingle. Continue on North Shingle for 10 miles (North Shingle will turn into Green Valley Road, then Lotus Road). Lotus Road ends at CA HWY 49. Turn right on Highway 49 and go 1 mile to Coloma.

From US HWY 80 traveling East: Take the Elm Ave. exit and turn left. Take a left on CA HWY 49/CA HWY 193/South El Dorado Street. Continue on Highway 49 for approximately 13 miles. Highway 49 runs through the middle of Coloma.

Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park
Although small amounts of gold had been found in other parts of California, it was the gold discovery at Sutter’s mill that received world-wide attention in 1848. The discovery caused one of the largest mass-migrations in history, bringing people to California from all over the world. Most prospectors who came did not strike it rich in the gold fields and returned home, but about ten percent stayed in California. Those who stayed contributed to California’s unprecedented rapid commercial, agricultural and industrial development and statehood in 1850.

Marshall Gold Discovery SHP(Photograph by Mike Fuller)

The full Geo Gems report  |  Geological Gems of State Parks

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