Does Yosemite feel like the perfect way to get away with the family, but the thought of cold weather and knee-deep snow send shivers down your spine?
Yosemite Mariposa County’s Gold Country is the place for you! The elevations of foothill towns like Mariposa, Catheys Valley and Coulterville means the family can have a safe, relaxed and easy holiday experience without the snowpack of the High Sierra. No need to worry, that fresh mountain foothill air will still be everywhere you walk. Plus, Yosemite Valley is just a short drive away on the low-elevation Highway 140, historically referred to as the “All-Weather Highway”.
In Mariposa County, there are great lodging options, delicious restaurants and plenty of holiday-themed activities to fill your time.
For generations, families have been making their holiday treks to Mariposa County, and it’s easy to see why. Yosemite Valley takes on a snow-dusted appearance that makes it one of the best and quietest seasons of the year. Lower elevation towns like Mariposa stay mostly snow-free, but still have all of the trimmings of the season on display.
The generally snow-free environment makes navigation a breeze. Getting to and from your lodging is stress-free on dry roads. Keep chains in your vehicle with you though. Conditions in the mountains can change quickly.
Mariposa County’s gold country is an expansive region. Sprawling from low-country areas like Coulterville and Catheys Valley up to Mariposa and Midpines and all the way to the western gates of Yosemite National Park in El Portal, you’re guaranteed to find lodging that fits your needs.
Despite that El Portal is the nearest town to Yosemite’s western entrance, it is actually at one of the lowest points of elevation in the county meaning that you can leave the worries of icy and snowy roads behind.
Yosemite View Lodge
Some properties that stand out in El Portal are Yosemite View Lodge and Cedar Lodge, which both sit right on the All-Weather Highway and the Wild and Scenic Merced River. Yosemite View Lodge is the nearest to Yosemite – less than a mile from Yosemite’s western boundary. Another great option is the Yosemite Blue Butterfly Inn, a bed & breakfast that is just 12 miles from Yosemite Valley and boasts beautiful views of the Merced River.
There are also cabin rentals, RV campsites and campgrounds in the El Portal region. Click here to explore all of the options.
While these are among the two highest regions in the Gold Country (between 1,500 and 3,000 feet above sea level) the chances of running into some of that wet white stuff are still pretty slim. And better yet, there is no shortage of things to do in the areas.
In Midpines, Autocamp Yosemite is among the newest and most unique places to stay in Yosemite Mariposa. Autocamp includes custom-built Airstreams dotting the property as well as cabins and tent cabins. Bring your camera; you’ll be wanting to share your stay on Instagram with friends.
Another unique option is Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort. Offering options from hostel bunks all the way to private rooms and cabins, each space is carefully and eclectically curated with décor selected from travels around the world by the owners. This down-to-earth mountain retreat offers great on-site dining as well as a full-service spa.
Want to learn more about “The Bug”? Take a look at our video on the owners below.
There are numerous hotels and cabins available for the whole family including River Rock Inn, the oldest hotel in Mariposa, which offers adorable guest rooms as well as an on-site coffee shop – Sticks Coffee, which is also Mariposa’s newest roaster. It’s also conveniently located within a short walk to great dining options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In the heart of Old Town Mariposa is the Mariposa Hotel Inn, a hotel that looks like it came straight out of a John Wayne western.
For all of the places to stay in Midpines and Mariposa, click here.
A photo opportunity, with “Whistling Billy”, the little train engine that serviced the Coulterville gold mines, is a can’t miss!
The historic town of Coulterville is one of Yosemite Mariposa’s true hidden gems. The whole town – originally based around the booming mining industry – is listed on the National Historic Register. It’s easy to see why. A walk through town feels a lot like a walk back in time.
Coulterville and Greeley Hill is also home to quaint and quiet cabin rentals set in the rolling foothills of the Southern Sierra Gold Country that will allow for full family holiday activities. If you’re traveling in a smaller party, the Penon Blanco Bed and Breakfast is a great option for a full-service experience. Another great option is the Yosemite Coulterville Inn, which sits on the town’s main street in the heart of the historic town.
For more lodging options in Coulterville, click here.
Visiting the Gold Country for the holidays? It has a lot of big perks, but maybe none bigger than you’re just a short drive from Mariposa which is the heart of the holiday’s festive fun.
Shopping for the holidays might be a little different this year with online shopping being the likely avenue for most people. But in Mariposa, Coulterville and Hornitos there are countless local creators that make handcrafted gifts ranging from works of art to photography to handmade jewelry. A Made In Mariposa gift is both thoughtful and unique!
There are also generations worth of fascinating history to explore in Mariposa. The entire region is steeped in Gold Rush history and museums like the Mariposa Museum and History Center, the California State Mining and Mineral Museum and the Northern Mariposa County History Center masterfully tell the stories of the events and people that helped pioneer life in Yosemite and Mariposa County.
Discover the ‘other’ domes in Yosemite Mariposa County. From Sentinel Dome to Lembert Dome, there is plenty to explore and love beyond the famous Half Dome.
Discover a multitude of fun family events and festivals in Mariposa County. These county celebrations provide extra interest and entertainment in a county filled with things to see and do. Whether you enter the howling competition at the Coyote Festival or help clean up trash at Yosemite’s Facelift, you’ll be glad you did.
Discover the history of the Yosemite Valley Railroad. Between 1905 and 1945 these locomotives allowed many people to visit Yosemite National Park in relative comfort, and their history is preserved in many places throughout Yosemite Mariposa County. Learn more about the history of the railroads and where you can see (and ride) trains today in Yosemite Mariposa County