Visiting Santa Barbara

The Real


California Gold Country Destinations

Equipment Yard at the Empire Mine State Historic Park

Highway 49 crossing the Tuolumne River from Calaveras County

Half Dome at Yosemite Nal't Park

Follow the Golden Path of State Highway 49 into the Sierra Nevada Gold Country and surrounding foothills and back to nature to discover the treasure of California history spanning over decades.



Sierra Nevada


Fall in the Yuba River Canyons

Discover the history of a vibrant era during the 1849 Gold Rush from early January of 1848 at John Sutter's Sawmill on the American River and how it changed California forever. Turn back the clock and take 14 classic tours on circuitous Sierra Nevada backroads. Visit the first California gold discovery site and museum-quality mining towns from The Gilded Age. Start from destination points in Sacramento, Lake Tahoe, and Yosemite National Park and find today's treasures beginning from a single Eureka moment of great fortune.

Explore the Sierra Nevada as never before from its key destinations once leading to settlements inhabited by the 1849 Gold Rush miners along lakes, rivers, and streams, meandering along the Western Slope watershed of vibrant foothill landscapes. Enjoy the 300 miles of Golden State Highway 49 and regions of rich history both remote and those of modern convenience for once-in-a-lifetime adventure and unique travel excursions.  

Step back into history to the vibrant era of the 1849 Gold Rush where a single Eureka! event changed California forever in early January of 1848, and where John Sutter's Sawmill on the American River became California’s first gold discovery site. Turn back the clock traveling on circuitous Gold Country backroads to visit the museum-quality mining towns of ‘California's Golden Age'. Take 14 tours on a journey from Sacramento, Lake Tahoe, and Yosemite National Park. Whether exploring the first gold strike along the American River South Fork, or visiting the Golden Chain of legendary gold mines, pristine lakes, rivers and streams on State Highway 49… follow your Path of History extending 300-miles through the goldfields and the magnetic luring of the frantic quest for the precious mineral and generating the single largest mass migration ever made by man. Today, California Gold Country offers legendary lodging, handcrafted goods, delicious farm to fork foods, craft beer, wine, and spirits with unlimited choices of vacation and recreational opportunities. Travel the Sierra Scenic Byway to Donner Pass, Narrow Gauge Railroads and explorations to Lake Tahoe and Yosemite, and turn back the hands of time with a new ecologically-mindful and memorable book. A region once covered by tent camps, ghost towns and gold mines spread throughout the Sierra Nevada Foothills leaving behind the Golden Chain of mining towns covering one-fifth of the Golden State's most scenic geography. Travelers explore highlights planning the destination Gold Country Tours depicted from an insider’s view traveling over moderate foothill to mountain elevations. 

Become acquainted with the details exploring James W. Marshall’s first gold strike on the American River South Fork and take a peak at antique mining towns, the lasting memories of Mark Twain’s wit, Lola Montez’s Spider Dance and countless efforts of 49er Argonauts making a path into the legendary centers of wealth. One enters a unique portal of Sierra Nevada Foothill towns complemented by 49er hospitality with a sense of commitment. A pocket-sized travel guide, California Gold Country Explorer present scores of original photography with local commentary about the once-in-a-lifetime adventures gleaned by a 50-year career traveling to hundreds of California mining towns, Golden State landmarks, historical lodges, parks, saloons, gift shops, and local events. The author portrays within one volume, the California Gold Country Explorer to experience present-day towns, the impact, historical sites and parks in the seventh travel book edition designed for California touring and camping from the author.

AUTHOR STORYBOARD: During his career as Excecutive Publisher of California Tour and Travel Magazine, Robert A. Bellezza implemented publications based on California travel with current media creative content, graphic design and branding identity emerging into social cultural issues and influences. His flagship publications from 1994-2024 were introduced to Robert Mondavi and later memorialized as a life's work of the world’s greatest American marketing entrepreneur in the Woodbridge Harvest Video tracing the Mondavi family history of Acampo, California, within the famous winery Lodi wine appellation. The winery video is viewed each day at the tasting room, also led to the global implementation marketing of Constellation Brands in a roll-out campaign of Woodbridge labels in China. 

In a collaboration with Arcadia Publishing in 2011, a serendipitous discovery of 150-rare lost glass photo negatives made in the 1920s led to designing and publishing the five-book series on California tours depicting the original 18th-19th Century Spanish missions of California. Featuring the very first buildings of California inside The Spanish Missions Collection, the 5-book series features a narratives on early stories from the mission settlement era with over 1000 photographs, and a distinguished part of Arcadia Publishing’s "Images of America Series". 

A sixth California touring book released in 2017, San Diego Untapped! features direct interviews of the owners and brewers in San Diego's craft beer industry and lends insight into many award-winning small batch brewing businesses. The book opens to lifestyle and the seaside ambiance enhanced by mystic locations in and around warehouses and getaways over San Diego County. As quality tasteful beers are hand-made with knowledge of dedicated brewers, the book further explains the varietals and complexities of brewing artisan recipes of hops, yeast, and water, with all the elements elevated to the miraculous transformation into beer. 

CALIFORNIA GOLD COUNTRY FACTS: The California Gold Rush inspired a long list of impressive innovations and new technologies of the 19th Century including massive mining equipment, long-line electrical transmission, water and steam power generation, long-distance telephones, clothing styles, expansive agriculture; by 1869, the crowning achievement of the transcontinental railroad. Gold-seekers traveled from distant corners of the globe and made remarkable journeys overland on horse, mule, oxen, or by foot following their rush for gold. Constant gold strikes had reported river nuggets…there for the taking. Hitting Gold Rush paydirt, California Gold Country Explorer also describes hunting antiques, as well as tips on the art of gold panning along the river’s edge. There are all the regulations, explanations of filing claims, with tips on finding the right locations. Abundant and often hilarious personalities are the contemporaries of the Gilded Age adding to the colorful understanding of Sierra settlements at the time. Many arrived from the 'Henness Pass' beginning in Marysville on the Yuba River, using the country's longest old covered wooden bridge, crossing the South Fork at Bridgeport into Sierra County on a path traveled by thousands of horse and wagons on the fastest way to the gold and silver mines of California and Nevada. The Golden State’s history reminds us how we still stand miles above the hidden treasures of those precious minerals just beneath our feet. However, the story is much larger than gold mines or a quest for Gold Rush nuggets but unfolds into individual pioneering accounts of determination, successes, and sorrows. A new generation of 49ers live in the towns interconnected by a core American spirit of discovery and exploration. The Gold Rush defines the beginning of California’s serendipitous history from a ‘mythical’ time of the Gilded Age and represents one of the most evolutionary times of modern America. The golden era is a time capsule of adventure and exploration over an immense region, a land from the Sierra to the Sea. I am hopeful this new travel edition will enable insight into a far better sense of the Golden State’s pivotal role in American history and offer an enjoyable trip into the countryside.


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