Where the California Gold Rush Began

This is where it all began. It was here, on January 24, 1848, that James Marshall discovered gold, touching off the largest gold rush in history.  This singular event not only changed the fate of California but the entire nation. Today visitors continue to discover gold along Historic Highway 49 as the Coloma Valley and Georgetown Divide area has become a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.  The South Fork of the American River provides action-packed whitewater experiences, miles of trails, off-road excursions, and wine tasting amidst breathtaking scenery.  The rich history provides a colorful backdrop for this world-class destination.  And if it is true that history repeats itself, you’ve come to the right place!

Trip Picks

Whitewater Rafting

Cascading down from the Sierra Nevada runs the West Coast’s most popular whitewater resource – the South Fork of the American River. An intermediate (Class III) river, the South Fork American River is suitable for kids 7 to 75! An El Dorado County white water rafting trip combines the river’s natural beauty, rich historical background, and exciting rapids into one great whitewater vacation experience.  Contact an expert offering half day, full day and two-day trips and an array of river experiences. Whether you prefer fine wines and gourmet meals or brown bags and sleeping under the stars, you are guaranteed, fun, relaxing, and memorable trip.

Marshall Gold State Historic Park

Located in Coloma, the park’s Gold Discovery Museum and Sutter’s Mill mark the spot where gold was discovered in 1848, triggering the California Gold Rush. Enjoy exhibits, buildings, and artifacts relating to the Gold Rush. Learn more.

Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Colony

This historic site near Coloma was first settled by Japanese colonists from Aizu Wakamatsu (Fukushima Prefecture) in July 1869. It is the first Japanese colony in North America, and it contains the gravesite of Okei Ito, the first Japanese woman buried on American soil. It’s the birthplace of the first naturalized Japanese-American and is the only settlement established by samurai outside of Japan. Learn more.

Explore the Adventure Loop

Here is where the past and present merge into a tailor-made road trip. Bike, hike, river raft, or just stop off at one of our award-winning wineries while driving through the beautiful countryside.  Visit towns dating back to the Gold Rush era, including local favorites, family-owned farms, and awe-inspiring views. Learn more.

Plan Your Trip to Coloma & The Divide

Use the map directories below to help plan your visit.

Lodging in Coloma & The Divide

Things To Do in Coloma & The Divide

Dog-Friendly Lodging in El Dorado County

Dog-Friendly Activities in El Dorado County

Upcoming Events in Coloma & The Divide