Day Use Areas: 8am - 6pm
Visitor Center and Museum: 10am to 5pm
Store Hours: 10am - 4pm
Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day
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.
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.
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.
Visit the park virtually by following us on social media.
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.
You'll learn about
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.
Seasons & Recommended Clothing
Summer and spring are warm; fall and winter can be cool. Layered clothing is advised.
For current river flow, please click on the link to be redirected.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.
Check school and group information page for change in reservation dates and procedures.
School and Group Information
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.