State Historic Park
Location - Directions
Columbia State Historic Park is three miles north of Sonora, off Highway 49.
The town's old Gold Rush-era business district has been preserved with shops, restaurants and two hotels. Visitors have the chance to time-travel to the 1850s, imagining life when gold miners rubbed shoulders with businessmen and the other residents in Columbia. Visitors can experience a bygone era watching proprietors in period clothing conduct business in the style of yesterday. There are opportunities to ride a 100 year-old stagecoach, pan for gold, and explore the real working businesses of Columbia.
At an elevation of 2,100 feet in the Sierra Nevada, summer days can be hot and evenings can cool down quickly. Winters are rainy, with snow at times.
Average Annual Rainfall: 40 inches
Average Daily High Temperatures:
Winter: 59 F
Regularly Scheduled Programs
Free Town Tours:
June 15th - Labor Day: Daily @ 11:00 AM Monday-Friday based on staff and docent availability. Please check with museum upon arrival.
Year-round: Saturday & Sunday @ 11:00 AM
Led by staff and docents. Meet at the museum.
Approximately 1 hour.
For groups over ten people, special tours must be arranged in advance by calling 209-588-9128.
Digging Deeper Into Columbia
June 15th-Labor Day: Daily @ 1:00 PM. Learn more about Columbia by listening to a short presentation by park staff or volunteers. Hands-on demonstrations and interpretation. Please check with museum upon arrival to see location and topic of the day.
Our Museum is currently open from 9-5:00pm through Labor Day. Fall/Winter hours 10-4pm. Closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
Gold Rush Days occur the second Saturday of each month from 1 to 4pm. Many special exhibits are open and hands-on activities are led by volunteers in period attire throughout the afternoon. Call 209-588-9128 for details.
Special School programs designed to meet state curriculum standards for 4th graders are offered from September-June. $40 per class. Students enjoy an hour-long history program at the museum led by park staff, including a bucket brigade. Then students walk to the original brick schoolhouse for an hour-long 1860s living history school program. Registration forms for the program are available by clicking the School Programs link on the right side of the page. Programs are popular and fill quickly.
PORTS for Columbia
Parks Online Resource for Teachers and Students
Three downloadable lesson plans focused on 4th grade curriculum culminating with a ranger from Columbia interacting with the class via video conference.
Special Events & Programs
Novice and Intermediate classes in travel photography with a focus on Columbia.
Check back soon for more information including time and cost.
Diggins Tent Town 1852
May 29-June 1
Living history event with more than 150 volunteers in period costume. Learn how to bake bread in an outdoor oven, take in a theater performance, watch the blacksmith, wash laundry the old-fashioned way and more! $5/adult, $1/child.
Big Band Street Dance
July 19, evening
Put on your dancing shoes and join us as we celebrate the year Columbia became a California State Park, 1945! Wear your best '40s and 50's clothes and dance under the stars on Main Street. Free event sponsored by Friends of Columbia.
July 26, Aug 2, Aug 16, Aug 30; 10:00am
Follow along and solve a real historical crime! Interview witnesses and participate in a trial to find out the "truth". $5/person, reservations highly recommended. (209) 588-9128.
31st Annual Lamplight Tours
December 5 & 6, beginning around 6:00 pm and running every 15 minutes
Take a walk through Columbia on a lamplight-led tour by our costumed volunteers! Follow your guide from venue to venue and watch the play all come together in the end. It's sure to be a night to remember! Reservations are recommended and can be made after September 1st. Please call (209) 588-9128 for more information.
For special event information please call
Additional event information may be available at www.columbiacalifornia.com.
Facilities and Activities
The park was once known as the "Gem of the Southern Mines." Between the 1850s and 1870s over one billion dollars in gold (at today's value) was mined in the area. For a time, Columbia was the second largest city in California.
Unlike many other settlements that disappeared due to fire, vandalism and time, Columbia survived. It was never completely deserted. In 1945 the State Legislature made the site a State Historic Park in order to preserve a typical Gold Rush town, an example of one of the most colorful eras in American history.
Visitors can taste hand-dipped chocolates, a superior cup of coffee, savor fine dining, family fare or purchase picnic provisions. Stagecoach rides are available, season and weather permitting.
There's also the chance to relax at one of two comfortable hotels, listen to music in historic saloons, or take in a performances at the Fallon Theatre.
Visitors can make a candle or purchase Columbia soap, wooden toys, old fashion clothes, or dress-up for a photograph.
Other highlights include taking a walk to the two-story brick school house and cemetery overlooking town, or hiking the one-mile nature trail where mule deer and wild flowers may be seen.
- Hours of Operation:
- Park Office Telephone:
- Purchase Annual Passes
Columbia is a real town, it never actually closes. Most businesses are open from 10:00am to 5:00pm. Many restaurants, hotels, saloons and other establishments have longer hours. With the exception of the City Hotel, almost all businesses are closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
11255 Jackson St.
Columbia, CA 95310
Visitor Services Address
11255 Jackson St.
Columbia, CA 95310
Information line: 209-588-9128
Museum phone: 209-532-3184
Lost and Found: 209-532-3184
Museum open every day in Spring/Summer from 9-4:30PM.
Musuem open every day in Fall/Winter from 10-4 PM.
Closed on Thanksgiving & Christmas.
Special Event Permits
Columbia is the setting of many special events. Fun runs, special meetings, reserved picnic areas, weddings, car shows and other types of special use fall under the special event permit process, and additional fees may apply.
For more information on the special event permit process, call the park office at 209-588-9128.