Yosemite National Park is open, including the valley, Highway 41 through Madera County, Fish Camp, Mariposa Grove and Glacier Point. The weather is cooling off for crisp fall evenings, and Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite
, just minutes from the newly re-opened Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, has tons of great fall activities to get you and your favorite four-legged friend outside.
Fall is a great time for a scenic drive, and California’s National Scenic Byways
and Scenic Highways
provide guaranteed enjoyment for the eyes plus limitless opportunities for hiking with your dog in gorgeous country. Study maps and guides
before you go—and, as wildfire season continues, be sure to check out air quality predictions, as well. Here are three scenic routes that are sure to rearrange your senses and set tails a-waggin'.
Cabin resorts—some rustic, some luxurious—have been hosting High Sierra
vacationers for a century, and many are so popular in summer they can only be booked in blocks of a week or more. Come September, however, reservations open up, minimum-stay requirements are reduced and opportunity beckons. We’re partial to those in the uncrowded Lakes Basin Recreation Area
counties about 50 miles northwest of Truckee.
The Ferguson fire in Yosemite National Park
that shut off the scenic Yosemite Valley for three weeks was fully contained on Aug. 19, and all entry roads through Tuolumne County
(Highway 120), Mariposa County
(Highway 140) and Madera County
(Highway 41) are now open. Early fall is a great time to visit this iconic California attraction—and yes, there’s plenty for you and your dog to do together. #yosemitenow
became known in 1800s for its rich gold deposits—and for a certain jumping frog memorialized in a short story by Mark Twain. Today, it’s a destination for Gold Rush tourists, campers, skiers, hikers and adventure seekers, many of whom wouldn’t think of heading into “them ‘thar hills” without their dogs. Angel’s Camp on Highway 49 and Murphys ?on nearby Highway 4 are the principal destinations in these parts.
Follow Highway 49 south through Amador County
for yet another take on Gold Country. You’ll find lodging at historic, dog-friendly establishments like Hanford House
in Sutter Creek, the Imperial Hotel
in Amador City and the St. George Hotel
in the historic hamlet of Volcano, as well as contemporary Days Inn
and Best Western
properties. You’ll want to make a weekend of it, as the No. 1 attractions, wine and food, demand lingering.
Named for the mythical city of gold, El Dorado County
epitomizes California Gold Country. Its county seat, Placerville
, is named for the alluvial deposits in the American River where many a miner struck it rich. The town of Placerville also makes for an interesting visit with its dog-welcoming restaurants, shops and a historic and dog-friendly hotel, Cary House
, right in the middle of the action. Read more about El Dorado County in last week’s Highway 50 Gold Country
Historic Highway 49 in the north starts in the Sierra County
town of Vinton and winds south through a mountainous region where the rivers still run free. Even during the summer high season, this county of fewer than 4,000 souls is off the beaten track for most visitors. In fall, it can feel like your own private realm. Set up basecamp in Downieville
, a Gold-Rush town on the Yuba River, and prepare to be charmed.
Once you reach Pollock Pines on Highway 50, you’re deep into Gold Country
. And on a hot summer day, nothing could be more appealing than a dip in a turquoise-blue lake and a hike around it with your four-legged friend. Jenkinson Lake
is the centerpiece of 650-acre Sly Park Recreation Area
, and it’s gorgeous.
September and October in El Dorado County
means apples—lots and lots of apples and all the good things, from cider to pie, that go with them. But any time is a good time to visit some of the 50-plus family-owned farms, ranches and wineries operated by Apple Hill Growers
The El Dorado County
seat was named for the alluvial deposits that drew prospectors here during the Gold Rush. It’s nickname, “Hangtown,” relates to the lawlessness of the times. Today, however, it’s one of the most picturesque, bustling and dog-friendly of Gold Country
History, a vibrant dining scene and outdoor recreation options galore beckon in this gateway to California Gold Country
nucleus is its handsomely revitalized Old Town
district, centered on Sutter Street and great for an anytime stroll or sit-down with your four-legged friend.
Highway 50 buzzes right through Rancho Cordova
between Sacramento and Folsom, so unless you pull off to explore, you won’t know what you’re missing. Start, perhaps with an overnight stay at a dog-friendly hotel and get a complimentary Sierra Foothills Wine Tasting Passport
good for two people at eight regional wineries that welcome dogs.
is hot, hot, hot—and we’re not talking summer weather. The restaurant and craft brewery scene here has exploded of late, and thanks to a (usually) mild climate, outdoor dining is ubiquitous, and almost every restaurant and brewery patio in town is dog-friendly.
Like other parts of Gold Country
, Tuolumne County
is rich in history, rugged scenery and recreational opportunities. You can get some of both and soak up some local color too at First Friday Jamestown Art Walk-Wine-Dine & Music events, continuing through October, or 2nd Saturday Art Nights
held year-round in historic downtown Sonora. Either town makes a great base for jumping off into a weekend of hiking, history and off-the-beaten path exploring.