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in California State

Wednesday, 03 May 2017 10:45

Tenaya Lodge: Green-Friendly Road Trips

TASTE News Service, May 1, 2017 - As road trip season gears up, Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite— a resort two miles from the southern entrance to Yosemite National Park— is now an ideal basecamp for those traveling eco-friendly thanks to the recent installation of eight Tesla Supercharging Stations.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015 15:29

Chef’s Holidays Returns to Yosemite

chefs holidays Gala Dinner Table PicmonkeyTASTE News Service December 29, 2015 – The coming months are an especially beautiful time to visit Yosemite as the valley is blanketed in fresh snow and the winter brings a solitude that you cannot match any other time of the year in this very popular destination. The view from the tall windows of the Ahwahnee’s solarium is lovely anytime. On an afternoon when deer are crossing the meadow as new snow falls, it’s just about perfect.

High Noon posterTASTE News Service, October 29, 2015 - From these classic movies --High Noon, The Great Race, Back to the Future III and Big Valley, to television series that brought the big outdoors into American living rooms such as Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie and Lassie, a small area in Northern California has played a big role: creating lifelike settings and story lines to recreate early America. For Tuolumne County, set against the backdrop of Yosemite National Park in Northern California, the job was easy.

As early as 1919, filmmakers recognized the area as a valuable and convenient source for location filming. Gold rush era buildings with wood plank sidewalks and slamming screen doors, Main Street with a Wells Fargo Express office, white picket fences and grand hotels stood ready for their close-up. The area is still rich in natural features and vintage architectural styles, big sky landscape, rushing rivers and lakes, and one key ingredient – abundant California light. Producers and directors discovered that almost any type of scenery in the United States and beyond could be replicated on film in Tuolumne County.

Sunday, 04 October 2015 15:15

Celebrate the Holiday Season at Yosemite

Vinters Holiday at Ahwahnee 2 PicmonkeyA lighter moment at Vintners Holiday tastingTASTE News Service October 5, 2015 – Winter in Yosemite and Mariposa County is an especially beautiful time to be outdoors enjoying a range of activities from horse-drawn sleigh rides, skiing at Badger Pass Ski Resort, ice skating, snow shoeing and photography.

The area is home to many holiday traditions, too. Among these are the annual Vintner's Holidays and the Bracebridge Dinner held at The Ahwahnee in Yosemite National Park. Other events, many with a family-friendly orientation, include gingerbread house decorating workshops, kids’ dinner with Santa, and Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve at the Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite, as well as many outdoor activities.

Saturday, 27 June 2015 19:08

There’s More Than Just the Outdoors

John Stewart Duskie Estes PicmonkeySonoma County chefs John Stewart and Duskie Estes have fun at Chef's Holiday

TASTE News Service June 27, 2015 - Yosemite is approaching its 125th anniversary of becoming a National Park and, while justly famed for its natural beauty, the Park and surrounding area also justify a gustatory reputation. Here are some aspects that our culinary-oriented readers might enjoy:

Chef's Holidays at The Ahwahnee

Yosemite's Chefs' Holidays at The Ahwahnee, held each year in January and February, feature some of the world's most innovative and acclaimed chefs. This Northern California cooking adventure provides a showcase for the range of styles, personalities and trends that characterize the American culinary scene. Each 3-4 four day session includes an intimate Meet the Chefs reception with wine and hors d'oeuvres, behind-the-scenes kitchen tours, cooking demonstrations with tastings, all culminating in an exquisite Chefs' Holiday Gala Dinner, prepared by the visiting chefs, in The Ahwahnee Dining Room. A range of lodging packages are available, as well as dinner only options.

Mariposa Taps Liquid Gold at Area Breweries

California is fast becoming the next brewing hotspot with more than 500 microbrews, brewpubs and craft breweries already established in the state and more opening each year. While better known for Gold Rush-era history and culture, Mariposa, a town just on the western edge of Yosemite National Park, has caught the gold fever again a big way. Local breweries are gaining a following and even setting sights on regional distribution. Mariposa's first brewery, Prospector's Brewing Company, was established in 2011 and has quickly grown to two separate tasting room locations. Visitors here will find a pub crawl can be done in Mariposa's Old Town, with full tasting flights at distinctive microbreweries and brewpubs that feature a broad range of regional Northern California microbrews – all with easy walking distance of several area hotels.

Farm-to-Table: Experience the Real Food Movement

Grass-fed and sustainable isn't a new trend, our ranchers have been doing it that way for generations. While in Yosemite National Park you can enjoy Open Space Meats, grown within the same county, at both The Ahwahnee and Yosemite Lodge at the Falls. Restaurants such as 1850 and the Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort offer diners a chance to enjoy a steak that was produced just a few miles away on native grasses with plenty of sunshine. Local nonprofits such as the Sierra Foothill Conservancy work to preserve large tracts of land for traditional farming and sell the produce to support their conservation efforts. These types of programs support traditional ranching, preserve lands from development, and provide a healthy alternative to industrially-produced beef.

Bracebridge Dinner at The AhwahneeBracedbridge Dinner Picmonkey

You can celebrate the yuletide season in elegance at The Ahwahnee. Celebrated annually since 1927, the Bracebridge Dinner transforms The Ahwahnee into an 18th century English manor for a feast of food, song and mirth. The most time-honored Yosemite tradition, the Bracebridge Dinner, brings together more than 100 players to delight diners as they enjoy a meticulously prepared seven course feast. Multiple performances throughout December with lodging and dining packages available.

Editor’s Note: In the High Sierra sections of Taste California Travel’s Resource Directory, you will fill find links to the websites of many Lodging and Dining options, including the Ahwahnee.

Kids pan for gold at Columbia State Park PicmonkeyKids pan for gold at Columbia State Park. Photo by Rich E. Mann

TASTE News Service June 8, 2015 - Winners of the 10Best Readers' Choice Awards for Best Kid-Friendly Destinations are in. Nominees in the contest, sponsored by USA Today and 10Best.com, were chosen by a panel of experts and voted on by the public. Yosemite National Park secured the No. 10 spot, the only national park on the list. Other picks were the theme park homes of Anaheim (No. 4), Orlando (No.6) and San Diego (No.7). Niagara Falls, New York took the No. 1 spot.

Yosemite National Park's gateway communities, such as Yosemite Gold Country are also kid-friendly. Miles of mountain bike trails, swimming and fishing spots appeal to kids, as well as the kid in everyone. Historic gold rush era towns like Jamestown and hands-on parks like 1897 Railtown, with real steam locomotive train rides, and Columbia Historic State Park and its stage coach rides encourage real hands-on experiences. The Sonora Fire Department Museum and Groveland Yosemite Gateway Museum are also options that are likely to hold children’s interest.   In 1848 gold was discovered along the American River at Coloma. Later that same year gold was also found in Tuolumne County and soon all of this Sierra Foothill region was the scene of the gold rush of 1849. A favorite activity, even in these modern times, is to try your luck at panning. Three gold panning locations and mines keeps history alive in the area; Hidden Treasure Gold Mine Tours & Matelot Gulch Mine Supply Store in Columbia, Gold Prospecting Adventures in Jamestown, and 49er Mining Supplies in Columbia.

YARTS, the public transportation system for Yosemite National Park is also kid-friendly, offering free rides for children under 12 who are traveling with their parents.

About Yosemite Gold Country/Tuolumne County:

Tuolumne (rhymes with “follow me”) County, located 133 miles east of San Francisco, is a pristine, scenic expanse reaching into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The main highways leading to the picturesque drive from the San Francisco and East Bay Area are Highways 108 and 120 from the west and Highway 49 from the north. The State Highway 120 entrance to Yosemite National Park is considered the “front door” of the park for the San Francisco Greater Bay Area. The Stanislaus National Forest, Yosemite National Park, and other surrounding areas provide natural vistas and settings for hiking, water skiing, horseback riding, rafting, camping, snowmobiling, boating, snow skiing, fishing and other outdoor activities. Seven restored historic hotels, four golf courses, numerous and varied dining establishments, historic saloons, five wineries and hard cider distillery, train rides, casino, seven museums, two state historic parks, five live theaters and many bed-and-breakfast inns are among the many other attributes that make the county a year-round vacation destination. More info can be had at www.YosemiteGoldCountry.com.

Editor’s note: Links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options in and around Yosemite Park can be found in Taste California Travel’s Resource Directory.

Yosemite FallsYosemite Falls

TASTE News Service, April 8, 2015 – Yosemite/Mariposa County, home to Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove, is blooming for the springtime. The waterfalls are flowing and the wildflowers are blossoming.

Wildflowers in the area appear according to elevation, with earliest blooms starting in April at the lowest elevations and gradually emerging at the highest elevations as late as July. The first displays at low elevations are dramatic bursts of tufted poppies, spider lupines, and redbud, bursting out along the Highway 140 corridor of the Merced River. While plenty of sightseeing can be done by the roadside, hikers at Hite Cove can stroll through whole fields of wildflowers. This is also the perfect time to cycle or drive from the Gold Rush-era town of Hornitos via Highway 49N and Old Toll Road to Bear Valley, just outside the town of Mariposa. This drive in the country presents grassy, rolling foothills and lovely arrays of wildflowers. By May, Yosemite National Park has scores of delicate white dogwoods blooming all over the valley floor. Climbing out of the valley floor, visitors will find snowplants emerging from a frosty slumber and later corn lilies and monkey flowers begin to pop along the trails.

In the springtime, the snow starts melting and the waterfalls are flowing at full force. Early season visitors can see the ephemeral falls that are typically dry by the time summer arrives. Among these brief, but stunning attractions, are Horsetail Fall and Ribbon Fall. The multiple cascades of Yosemite's most iconic waterfall, Yosemite Falls, can be seen from numerous places in the valley. The Yosemite Falls “moonbow,” or lunar rainbow, is visible on a clear spring night with a full moon.

Yosemite/Mariposa County offers plenty of family-friendly activities that kick off in the spring and continue throughout summer season and into the fall. The Ahwahnee Hotel features fireside storytelling in the hotel's Great Lounge and families can also explore Yosemite under the starry sky on the Night Prowl guided adventure, taking place April through November, with permitting weather conditions.

Editor’s note: More information on can be had by visiting YosemiteExperience.com. The Resource Directory of Taste California Travel is also worth visiting before you go. It contains links to the websites of hundreds of nearby Lodging and Dining options in the area, as well as links to wineries and craft beer purveyors. 

Wednesday, 27 August 2014 10:23

Five Natural Wonders of Tuolumne County

Yosemite Falls from Glacier Point PiicmonkeyYosemite Falls from Glacier Point. Photo: DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc.

TASTE News Service 26 Aug 2014 - Tuolumne County is two and a half hours east of San Francisco and is home to the the northern half of Yosemite National Park.  In addition to Yosemite, Tuolumne County is home to Gold Rush towns, two state parks, eclectic shopping, wine tasting, fun dining, four-season recreation, a variety of excellent lodging opportunities and some incredible scenery including many unique geologic formations.

The County's Historical Society's Landmark Committee set out to identify the seven wonders of the area. What they ended up with was 21 wonders – 10 natural and 11 man-made. Five of these natural wonders include:

Yosemite National Park is considered one of the most beautiful locations in the world.   John Muir called it one of nature's most majestic cathedrals and devoted his life to protecting it.  This year Yosemite celebrates the 150th Anniversary of the signing of the Yosemite Grant Act by Abraham Lincoln.  This Act placed federal protection around this special place so that it would be an inspiration for generations.  Yosemite remains one of the most inspiration places on earth with iconic features like Half Dome, El Capitan, Tuolumne Meadows and Yosemite Falls.  Lesser known but just as spectacular locations within the park include The Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias and Hetch Hetchy Valley.

Donnell Vista is located in Tuolumne County High Country just off of Highway 108.  The short walk to the scenic overlook is well worth the stop.  Visitors will see sweeping views of the Dardanelles, Donnell Lake and Niagara Creek Falls. Basalt formations which are part of the Carson Iceberg Wilderness can also be seen at this vantage point.  These formations are made up of volcanic remains of the lava flows that started at the top of Sonora Pass and flowed down the river canyon prior to the start of the Ice Age.

Trail of the Gargoyles provides visitors with a look at evidence of glaciations, with erratic boulders of granite rock that glaciers left perched on top of younger volcanic rocks.  There are two trails – the North Rim Trail and the South Rim Trail.  Both are 1 ½ miles long.  Easy to get to, the Trail of the Gargoyles is located off Herring Creek Road, nine miles east of Strawberry (above Sonora) on Highway 108.Ken Brunges Caretaker of the Bennett Juniper PicmonkeyKen Brunges Caretaker of the Bennett Juniper. Photo: Lisa Mayo

Columns of the Giants are a rare example of columnar hexagonal basalt rock finely polished by previous glacial ages.  Basalt, a hard, black volcanic rock with less than 52 percent silica, is the most common rock type in the Earth's crust.  The low silica content allows for flow over long distances.  Crystals can form because the lava cools slowly after erupting out of a volcano, sometimes taking months or years to cool all the way through.  The Columns of the Giants are located next to Pigeon Flat Campground, 24 miles east of Pinecrest on Highway 108.

The Bennett Juniper is an 86-foot high unrivaled specimen of a Western Juniper, America's largest.  Located near Eagle Meadows, it is estimated to be between 3,000 and 6,000 years old.  At last measurement it had a circumference of 480 inches and had a 58-foot crown spread.  On windswept meadows in the Stanislaus National Forest at 8,500 feet, the gnarled and knotted tree has withstood centuries of drought, hard winters and lightning strikes.   Visitors to the Bennett Juniper often meet up with Ken Brunges, who since 1988 has been the caretaker of the Bennett Juniper and surrounding acreage.  To get there:  There is no official signage.  Head up Highway 108, about one hour east of Sonora halfway between Strawberry and Dardanelle Resort.  Take Forest Road 5NO1 most of the way; the road is informally know as Eagle Meadow Road, although it goes far beyond Eagle Meadow.  A 4-wheel drive vehicle is recommended and a full tank of gas.  Take water and a camera and note that there are no public facilities.

Editor's Note: If you're thinking of visiting Tuolumne or any of the counties in the Yosemite area, check out the High Sierra listings at Taste California Travel's Resource Directory. There you will find links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining opportunities, as well as links to craft beer purveyors and wineries that aren't too far away.

High Noon poster

TASTE News Service July 16, 2014 - It's Lights, Camera, Action for Yosemite Gold Country/Tuolumne County, California. Over half of Yosemite National Park is located in Tuolumne County, which is located two and a half hours east of San Francisco and two hours south of Sacramento. In addition to Yosemite, Tuolumne County is home to Gold Rush towns, two state parks, eclectic shopping, wine tasting, fun dining, four-season recreation, scenic vistas and a variety of excellent lodging opportunities. All these amenities have helped shape Tuolumne County's rich film history and make it a great destination for current film projects.

Tuolumne County is a magnet for film enthusiasts. Over 300 feature films, television show and commercials have been made here. As early as 1919, filmmakers recognized the area as a valuable and convenient source of locations rich in diverse natural features and vintage architectural styles. They discovered that almost any type of scenery in the United States and beyond could be duplicated in Tuolumne County.

Movies and TV shows filmed here include: High Noon (Grace Kelly and Gary Cooper), Little House on the Prairie, Bonanza and Highway to Heaven (Michael Landon), The Red Pony (Henry Fonda and Maureen O'Hara), The Great Race (Jack Lemmon), Big Valley (Barbara Stanwyck), Lassie (June Lockhart), Rawhide and Unforgiven (Clint Eastwood) and Back to the Future III (Michael J. Fox).

Railtown 1897 PicmonkeyRailtown 1897, "The Movie Railroad" Photo by Kevin ZimmermanOne of the most popular filming locations, especially for westerns, is Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, which is also known as “The Movie Railroad.” The State Park is home to one of the most photographed locomotives in the world, Sierra #3. Perhaps the most famous scene was pushing a DeLorean time machine down the tracks in Back to the Future III. Visitors to the park can view movie memorabilia and photos and see Sierra #3 up close and personal.

Another very popular location for filming is Columbia State Historic Park. Add a little dirt to the streets of this authentic gold rush town and it is suddenly transformed back to the 1800's. Meticulously preserved buildings have led Columbia to doubling as many cities of the 1800s era including New York and Chicago. In the television series, Little House on the Prairie, the town became Sleepy Eye, Minnesota and in the classic western, High Noon, it was known as Hadleyville. The Wilson-McConneell House in Columbia is where Marshall Will Kane (Gary Cooper) tries to recruit Sam Fuller (Henry Morgan, aka Colonel Sherman Potter in M*A*S*H*).

There are additional filming locations throughout the County and the Tuolumne County Film Map helps visitors to find those locations and take a step with the stars. The Movie Map is available at both Visitor Center locations: Sonora and Chinese Camp.

Tuolumne County also boasts two film festivals: The ITSA Film Festival which takes place in November and is one of the hottest short film festivals in central California. Festival goers can attend panels and workshops, watch films and meet industry professionals in historic downtown Sonora venues. Film Fest Twain Harte takes place over Labor Day Weekend and focuses on western-inspired productions.

Doris Tea Cottage Pet-Friendly Patio Picmonkey Welcome to Dori's Tea Cottage

TASTE News Service June 24, 2014 - Dogs and their humans will have a great time experiencing Tuolumne County, also known as Yosemite Gold Country. Whether hiking an urban trail or taking a ride on a stagecoach, dogs definitely dig it here. Yosemite Gold Country embraces the northern half of Yosemite National Park and some of the best preserved old west towns in the US from the 1849 California Gold Rush. Located 2 ½ hours east of the San Francisco Bay Area and 2 hours southeast of Sacramento, the area offers visitors a fun variety of things to see and do with your dog.

To make it easy to plan travel with pets, the Yosemite Gold Country Vacation Planner in print and online indicates every pet-friendly establishment in the area including venues that allow pets. Look for the picture of the “paw” in the listing description to find pet-friendly establishments.

Dogs can ride on the stagecoach in Columbia State Historic Park. Columbia is the best preserved gold-rush era town in California as the entire town is a state park. Dogs on a leash are welcome throughout the Park. At Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown, well-behaved dogs can ride the train. Known as “The Movie Railroad”, Railtown and its trains have been in nearly 300 films, commercials and television productions.

Hotels throughout the region that welcome pets range from historic inns such as the Hotel Charlotte and the Groveland Hotel just outside Yosemite National Park in the quaint town of Groveland. Additionally, Dori's Tea Cottage in downtown Groveland offers a special spot for pooches on their patio. From the beautiful McCaffrey House Bed and Breakfast Inn to traditional hotels such as the Best Western Sonora Oaks or the iconic Long Barn Lodge with its ice skating rink, most lodgings offer pet-friendly options.

Sabrina on the Dragoon Gulch Train PicmonkeySabrina heads up the Dragoon Gulch Trail Most of the restaurants with outdoor dining areas also welcome pets on a leash including Cover's Apple Ranch, the El Jardin restaurants in Sonora and Columbia and the historic 1859 National Hotel in Jamestown. Area wineries also allow them in outdoor areas and Twisted Oak Winery even allows well-behaved dogs inside.

Hiking areas throughout the region welcome leashed dogs on public trails including beautiful Pinecrest Lake and the wonderful urban trail, Dragoon Gulch, which is located right in the heart of Sonora, the largest city in the area. In many areas dogs can enjoy the water whether taking a swim or riding across a pristine alpine lake in a canoe.

The list of pet-friendly businesses and locations continues to expand as two-legged and four-legged visitors are welcome throughout the area.

Tuolumne County is located in California's Gold Country and High Sierra regions. 58% of Yosemite National Park lies within the borders of Tuolumne County. Two State Historic Parks – Columbia and Railtown 1897 greet visitors year-round. Just a two hour drive south of Sacramento, east of San Francisco and north of Yosemite Valley, Tuolumne County is easily accessible from all points on the compass. More information can be had at www.yosemitegoldcountry.com.

Editor's note: If you're planning on visiting this beautiful part of California, you may want to check out the Gold Country and High Sierra sections of Taste California Travel's Resource Directory. There you will find links to the websites of many Lodging and Dining options.

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