Historic Jamestown has a lot of "firsts" to its credit. It's the first town you come to when you drive into Tuolumne County on Highways 108 and 49. It was also where gold was first discovered in Tuolumne County.
From rich history to outdoor adventure, we've compiled a list of five things you must do when visiting Jamestown.
Why not get a little wet and dirty and try panning for gold. Gold--the reason why the town of Jamestown came into existence with the discovery of the most sough-out mineral there in 1848. Embrace your true 49er persona when you venture creekside with knowledgeable, professional mining guides to learn how to pan for gold and give it a try. There is gold out there, and with a little hard work, patience, and determination, you just may find some.
There is something magical about the allure of an old-fashioned steam locomotive. Who hasn't wanted to pull the chain to hear that iconic whistle echo through time? Railtown 1897 State Historic Park is a trip through history featuring "movie star locomotive" Sierra No. 3®. The iconic engine has at least 80 movie and television credits from 1919 all the way to the mid 1990's. Perhaps the most famous appearance was as he ill-fated train used by Doc Brown and Marty McFly in "Back to the Future III."
Weekend excursions on the historic trains run April through October and on some holidays throughout the year! The trains take guests on a 6-mile, 45-minute journey through time and California's Gold Country. Go on a docent-lead tour or a self-lead tour and bring a picnic lunch to enjoy on the grounds. Also, stop in the Depot Store for a souvenir. Railtown was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2021.
The aforementioned locomotive isn't the only Jamestown resident to have film credits to its name, many a location scout has chosen a Jamestown attraction as a backdrop for their film or show. Some of the more than 200 locations are highlighted along the Walk of Fame stretching from downtown's Rocca Park all the way to Railtown 1897 State Historic Park. You'll see iconic locations from "Petticoat Junction," "Little House on the Prairie," "Bonanza," and of course, "Back to the Future III."
While in Rocca Park, take a look inside the Jamestown Museum with a replica blacksmith shop and other great memorabilia.
You would be hard pressed to find a bad time to hike in the back country around here, but the best time is in spring when you can see countless wildflowers blooming in an endless sea of color. The nearby trails at The Red Hills Recreation Management Area and Table Mountain Trail are both ideal areas to capture the beauty.
The Red Hills are a bit of a standout in the area, as the geology is different resulting in a diverse array of plant life growing in the rare type of soil found here. In addition to the abundant plant life, the area is home to all sorts of animals like deer, fox, bobcats, and nearly 90 different bird species. Bald eagles call the reserve home during the winter months as well.
The Table Mountain Trail is another hike where you can trek trails bordered by lupine, poppies, and other wildflowers during the spring. In addition to the flowers, the top of Table Mountain provides stunning, panoramic views of New Melones Reservoir in one direction and Jamestown in the other. Bring a camera, and be sure to keep an eye on weather conditions before you go. The top of the mountain has little shade, so it's important to properly prepare.
The varietals of Tuolumne County and the surrounding region fit tastefully into the ranks of California wines. A visit to Jamestown isn't complete until you taste the locally-made wines and beer. Three wineries with tasting rooms and one micro brewery have the right stuff to wet your whistle.
Like so many other places, Gianelli Vineyards is tied to the history of Jamestown. The Gianelli family has farmed land outside of town since the late 1800's. The family's strong ties to their Italian heritage are evident in both their wine varieties and wine-making methods. The tasting room and patio are located a short way outside of town, overlooking the surrounding foothills
The Depot at Hurst Ranch is a wine tasting location with its own unique history. The building was actually the train depot set in "Unforgiven," starring Clint Eastwood, and the Hurst property, where the family grows the grapes for their classic wines, was also where Grizzly Adams once lived.
The downtown wine tasting room of Arthur Michael Vineyards, the newest of Jamestown's tasting rooms is a must-stop while exploring. Step inside to taste classic wines of the family-owned boutique winery.
On to beer, Bear Tent Brewing Company, a local favorite, is a small batch brewery named after a tavern from 1853 located on the same property where the brewery stands today.