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Autumnal Activities in Yosemite’s Tuolumne County

01 Oct Autumnal Activities in Yosemite’s Tuolumne County

Autumn is a special time to visit Yosemite’s Tuolumne County. With the leaves turning red, gold and copper, the county is not only perfect for experiencing the changing of the seasons, but full of fun events for the whole family. From ghost tours and haunted hotels to cider tasting and leaf peeing, discover the best of autumn with this seasonal guide to Tuolumne County.

Halloween Activities

One of the country’s most beloved holidays, there’s no better place to be during Halloween than the US. Time your trip right to spend the day in Tuolumne County for a festive time.

Head to Columbia State Historic Park on the 8th or 9h of October for Harvest Festifall, a celebration of crafts, food, music and dancing on the decorated streets of the park. Nearly fifty vendors, dressed in 1850s attire, will display their handmade arts and crafts for sale, including pottery, jewellery, apparel, home decor, wood furniture, baked goods and others. Attractions include demonstrations of spinning and weaving by the Mother Lode Weavers & Spinners, face painting, a petting zoo and entertainment by various local groups of musicians and dancers.

Trick-or-treating is arguably the best part of Halloween, and visitors can take a stroll down Columbia’s Boo Boulevard on the 29th of October for a truly memorable experience. Travellers can win fancy dress prizes in categories such as scariest, funniest, best homemade, couple, historical, fantasy or family. Take a ghoulish selfie in the haunted photo booth, spin a web at arts and crafts and brave your way through the Spooky Trail.

For a real spook with a side of railroad history, travellers should book a ticket on the Skeleton Starlight at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park. Taking place on the last four Saturdays in October, this ride will see guests joined by the resident Skeleton crew. Journey to a deserted Western ghost town, where guides will be joined by local witches who hand out delicious Halloween treats to friendly passengers.

These haunted excursions on the old Sierra Railway

Where to eat and drink

Harvest time means seasonal food and drink in spades. Celebrate the 10th anniversary of Indigeny Reserve on the last four Saturdays of October with music, food, a pumpkin patch, and of course their renowned and award-winning ciders and spirits.

Another local favourite is Covers Apple Ranch, where visitors can expect fresh pressed apple cider, pick out a pumpkin and feed barnyard animals. The ranch offers tours on a miniature train and visits to the tree houses, while the main house is the place for homemade food from the deli and delicious baked goods from the bakery.

Where to stay

From woodland resorts to cosy bed and breakfasts, Tuolumne has plenty of overnight accommodation to choose from. One option is The Groveland Hotel, considered the oldest hotel in Northern California. Originally built as a trading post in 1849, The Groveland Hotel has been a gambling house, saloon, ranger station, business offices and a bus station. Some locals claim the hotel is haunted by one of the previous guests, Lyle, who worked in the Spring Gulch Mine.

Another historic hotel is The National in the gold rush town of Jamestown. Nine elegantly restored rooms, a historic original bar in the saloon and a three star restaurant, the National Hotel is a journey into the past. The resident friendly ghost is called Flo, and has graced the hotel for much of its history. Each room has a notebook for guests to share experiences, such as doors slamming and lghts going on and off without explanation.

What to do

Autumn in Tuolumne County means leaf-peeping is a must. Every autumn, Highway 108’s aspen groves put on a dazzling colour show. Start your trip in Sonora with a hike on the Dragon Gulch Trail, taking in views of Gold Country’s colourful hills. Then head east on Highway 108, cruising up toward Pinecrest Lake. Pause at Donnell Vista to admire volcanic ridges dressed in fiery yellows and oranges.

Autumn is also the perfect time to visit Yosemite National Park. The leaves change, the air is crisp and the summer crowds melt away. The summer reservation system is now at an end, meaning it’s easy to enter the park.

Beloved local establishment Amala Detox Lounge offers guests refreshing seasonal beverages like pumpkin spice teas. Enjoy a cup while unwinding with one of their legendary foot soaks.