Get Outdoors: Northern California Mines


Pedro  is hanging out outside with executive director Dyana Kelley from Camp Californiagetting the details on different mines in our area to explore.

A Get Outside adventure in the Gold Country isn’t complete without a trip to a mine.  California was born from the mining boom of the 1800’s and it is estimated that 300,000 people came to California during the Gold Rush.  The mines that made our list today offer a full day of fun and even some camping options.
Kentucky Mine – Sierra City
Twice per day the stamp mill is brought to life during tours of this once active mine.  This is a chance to see and hear the sounds of a working gold mine.  The one-hour tour takes visitors through in incredible day-to-day experience of hard rock mining in the sierra.  The Kentucky Mine and Museum is open daily from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend.  The Kentucky Mine is also home to Music at the Mine with a beautiful outdoor amphitheater and Saturday concerts every other weekend.  Plan to stay the weekend at Sierra Skies RV Park. 

Empire Mine – Nevada City
The Empire Mine is one of the oldest, deepest and richest gold mines in California.  The mine operated for more than 100 years and extracted 5.8 million ounces of gold. Hidden beneath the ground are 367 miles of abandoned mine shafts.  The grounds of the state historic park host the original buildings of the mining operation, the Empire Cottage, Clubhouse, and grounds lodging.  The blacksmith shop offers daily demonstrations and tours of estate and mine yard are held daily.  If you park at the Hardrock Trail entrance you can take the two-mile hike to the Mine Entrance.  Inn Town Campground can provide excellent lodging during your stay. 

Marshall Gold Discovery State Park – Coloma
Where it all began – the discovery of gold in the South Fork of the American River by James Marshall was the spark that ignited the gold rush.  The town of Coloma is a National Historic Landmark and visitors can pan for gold, hike, picnic explore the gold Discovery Museum or the American River Nature Center.  The park offers Gold Discovery Tours held twice daily.  A spectacular way to spend an afternoon.  Or stay the weekend and snag a campsite on the river at the Coloma Resort.

Gold Bug – Placerville
An excellent example of hard rock mining and a major historical and geological attraction.  The Gold Bug mine originally called the Hattie mine for the owner’s eldest daughter began in 1888.  The air shaft in the mine provided clean air the workers.  Today Gold Bug Park offers a daily self-guided audio tour.  Other activities include gem panning, a gift shop and museum, access to the stamp mill, blacksmith demonstrations, dog friendly hiking, and a picnic pavilion. 

Kennedy Mine – Jackson
Famous for being one of the deepest gold mines in the world, the Kennedy Mine demonstrates how gold changed an entire way of life in California.  The Kennedy Mine produced over $34 million in gold making Amador County one of the most productive in the Mother Lode.  Andrew Kennedy dug the prospecting shaft to a 100-foot depth using a bucket and a winch. The mine is open daily, and visitors can view the 125’ head frame, tour several mining buildings and learn the history of the mine


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