Faux leather cover of Tenaya Lodge's guide to 101 Things To Do in the Sierra RegionWe've created this guide so you can discover the quietly thriving Southern Sierra region. It's a landscape where nature and history remain well preserved — alive in pristine condition — offering guests a chance to embrace the energy of the Old West. For example, you can come face-to-face with a talking grizzly bear, soar like an eagle on a zip line, pan for gold, relive headlines of bygone eras in a cabin insulated with turn-of-the-century newspapers and go behind the scenes of a classic California cheese factory. Excursions for the brave exist here, too, in mountain reservoirs, along thundering waterfalls, or atop hefty pack mules.

The options are all here, clearly detailed within these pages that also include contact information, driving times and helpful hints — making your journey equally easy and fun. So turn back the clock and prepare to take lessons from history's greatest and oldest teacher around — the Southern Sierra Region.

Download a printable PDF (923KB) of the signature guide for ready reference. We hope you have as much fun reading it as we did researching it!


SHADOW OF THE GIANTS TRAIL: Nelder Grove is the perfect place to wander among giant sequoias. This peaceful and soothing grove is also relatively undiscovered. Visit any time of year to see some of earth's largest living things. Located above Oakhurst, off Sky Ranch Road.

ERNA'S ELDERBERRY HOUSE RESTAURANT: Dine in an enchanting, authentic European setting over six-course epicurean delights with French-California flair. This five-star restaurant turns dinner into an unforgettable experience.

THE TALKING BEAR: He's a world-famous bear with something to say. This larger-than-life replica of a California Grizzly promotes forest and wildlife ecology.

LITTLE CHURCH ON THE HILL: A California Point of Historical Interest, the church was built in 1892 of sugar pine boards and battens from local mills. Carefully restored, the church now presides at Oakhill Cemetery. For more information, call 559.683.6832.

FRESNO FLATS HISTORICAL PARK: Relive the nineteenth century in this historic village and go back in time with a visit to one-room schoolhouses or the jail, and experience the history of Eastern Madera County.

TAKE A RIVER STROLL: Bring your camera to this spot where a leisurely walk along the Oakhurst River Parkway affords views of flowers, beaver dams, small waterfalls and waterfowl.

VALLEY OAK TOUR: Named for the mighty oak trees that grace the foothills, Oakhurst is home to some unforgettable California icons. Take the two-and-a-half-hour driving tour among the trees and see for yourself.

APPLE TRAILS: With four distinct growing seasons, Madera County is ideal for growing apples. Take a guided walk through a 1,000-tree orchard to see nature at work.

CHILDREN'S MUSEUM OF THE SIERRA: Known as the "fascination station," this 4,000-square-foot fun and interactive museum has something to grab the attention of kids of all ages. Explore, imagine and create at this hands-on discovery center.

GOLDEN CHAIN THEATRE: Come boo and hiss at the villain or cheer and sigh for the heroine at this old-fashioned theater where you're part of the show.

FARMERS MARKET: Stroll through an open-air farmers market with fresh fruits and veggies direct from California's produce capital, the San Joaquin Valley. Markets are open May through October, Thursdays in Oakhurst and Wednesdays in Bass Lake.

RIVER CREEK GOLF COURSE: River Creek is truly a natural oasis. Plan a visit and discover why so many nature lovers and area golfers return to this verdant course.

YOSEMITE GATEWAY GALLERY ROW: Home to five outstanding galleries, there is plenty of art and creativity here to appreciate (and acquire). A perfect spot for visitors interested in seeing authentic local art inspired by the grandeur of Yosemite National Park.

LEWIS CREEK NATIONAL RECREATIONAL TRAIL: Located outside of Oakhurst off Highway 41, here you can hike to Red Rock Falls and 80-foot-high Corlieu Falls on the historical Madera Sugar Pine Lumber flume route. Great place for spring wildflowers.

ZIP YOSEMITE: Looking for that perfect daring escape? Zip Yosemite Tours offers an unforgettable experience as you zipline 150 feet off the ground.

YOSEMITE TRAILS: Hit the trail with the Yosemite Cowboys for horseback rides, an authentic western barbecue or a magical winter sleigh ride.

YOSEMITE MOUNTAIN SUGAR PINE RAILROAD: These powerful locomotives once hauled massive log trains through the Sierra. Today, they haul visitors on an exciting narrow-gauge journey through the forest and back in time.

GOLD PANNING: Become a part of the rush and pan for real gold at Gold Rush City. Learn the right technique and find the yellow treasure just like the ol' forty-niners. ymsprr.com/events.html

YOSEMITE SIERRA WINE ROAD: Take the highways or the scenic byways to experience the artisan wineries of eastern Madera County's Yosemite Sierra Wine Road. Taste authentic craft wines of quality and diversity as you meet the winemakers.

Bass Lake

A DAY AT BASS LAKE: Take a day to spend time in nature at this pretty mountain reservoir with fishing, boating, water skiing, barbecuing and many other activities available.

VISIT AN OLD MOVIE FILMING SITE: Hollywood has long loved Bass Lake for its "star" qualities. Come see where movies like Leave Her to Heaven and The Great Outdoors were filmed.

BOAT RENTAL AND WATER SPORTS: Located at Ducey's on the Lake in Pines Village, Bass Lake Water Sports and Boat Rentals offers multiple ways to get around on the water from tubing to waterboarding and more.

A CRUISE ON THE BASS LAKE QUEEN: Bass Lake's very own paddle wheeler cruises the lake all summer long, re-creating those lazy days from a bygone era. Private charter cruises are available the rest of the year also.

DINE ON THE WATERFRONT: Savor exceptional cuisine while overlooking beautiful Bass Lake at Ducey's on the Lake, a AAA Five Diamond restaurant.

EAT A FAMOUS FORKS BURGER: Sit down to a meal and experience old-fashioned, friendly hospitality at family-owned Forks Resort on Bass Lake, and indulge in their famous hamburgers.

ENJOY MILLER'S LANDING: Take a day to visit this lakefront resort on Bass Lake and have fun on the water with boat rentals, Jet Ski rentals and banana boat rides.

HIKE BASS LAKE: The Bass Lake area is filled with wonderful trails leading to such scenic points as Angel Falls, beautiful cascades and deep pools, and picnic-perfect summits that look out on grand Sierra views.

SIERRA ART TRAILS: Held every October, Sierra Art Trails includes over 100 artists and open studios where visitors can view demonstrations and see the creative process at work.


COARSEGOLD HISTORIC MUSEUM: Full of artifacts from the 1880s, this museum is a history lover's must-see. Authentic and inviting museum buildings are as old as the furniture in them.

COARSEGOLD RODEO: Since 1952, this annual May event has entertained all with the thrills and spills of professional rodeo.

CHUKCHANSI GOLD RESORT & CASINO: With an incredible 56,000-square-foot gaming floor, 1,800 slot machines and 42 table games, Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino is one of the most exciting gaming destinations in California.

North Fork/Sierra Vista Scenic Byway

SIERRA VISTA SCENIC BYWAY: Drive through 100 miles of scenic beauty on this six-hour looped road. See unparalleled views of the Sierra and San Joaquin River Valley as well as historic sights and picnic spots.

READ THE WALLS OF ROSS CABIN: Located on the Scenic Byway, pioneering rancher Jesse Ross's cabin was insulated with newspapers, giving visual meaning to "if walls could talk!" The oldest-known residence still standing in Madera County, the Ross Cabin exemplifies the Sierra's legacy of logging, ranching and gold exploration.

THE FRENCH TRAIL: Start your journey at Ross Cabin where you'll follow a Native American trade route from 1879 that's now part of the Ansel Adams Wilderness area.

MOUNTAIN BIKING: From easy to challenging, these trails are full of thrills. A vast network of trails, fire roads and old railroad grades afford cyclists wide-open spaces far from concrete and urban noise.   PACK IT IN: The Minarets Pack Station offers extended trips into Ansel Adams Wilderness, where trusty mules pack in your gear. Have a fun and engaging experience with these gentle, sure-footed animals.

BE A ROCK HOUND: The study and hobby of collecting rocks is known as "rockhounding," and the rich geological history of the scenic Sierra Vista Scenic Byway is a haven for this activity.

MANZANITA LAKE: Stocked with rainbow trout in the summer months, this small and scenic lake is a comfortable, secluded spot for picnicking as well as family fishing.

SIERRA MONO MUSEUM: The museum offers a fascinating look at North Fork Mono tribal history. See basketwork, artifacts, wildlife exhibits and more.

HIKE THE MONO TRAIL: Explore the culture of the Mono Indians on a self-guided half-mile trail detailing the lives of the Western Mono Indians. Find several prehistoric bedrock mortars and enjoy splendid views of Bass Lake.

REDINGER LAKE: Boating, hiking, fishing and horseback riding are just a few of the outdoor adventures available at this man-made lake that is part of the Big Creek Hydroelectric project.

LOGGERS JAMBOREE WEEKEND: Check in at this late June weekend event that celebrates the local industry with free concerts, parades, games and logging skills competitions.

EXACT CENTER OF CALIFORNIA: In picturesque North Fork, a genuine logging town with an early-1900s feel, you can stand at the exact geographic center of the Golden State.

BEASHORE ROAD: For an experience straight out of a fairytale, start with these enchanted forests ideal for hiking, fishing and four-wheeling. Maps and guides are available at area Ranger Stations.

MADERA WINE TRAIL: Madera County is known for world-class wine that reflects the region's splendid weather and terroir. Swirl and sip for yourself!

TAKE A TRIP TO MAMMOTH POOL: Beautiful and remote, this reservoir offers breathtaking views of the Sierra National Forest and its jagged rock outcropping as well as unique boat-in campsites.

EAGLE'S EYE VIEW: Take a 40-minute hike to the top of Fresno Dome for a mesmerizing view filled with purple mountain majesties and golden fields of grain. 

LOCAL NUTS: Valley Pistachio Country Farm in Madera is a great energy stop for local and organic nuts, dried fruits and more.

YOSEMITE ART HISTORY: Passing through on a cattle-crossing excursion, famed Yosemite artist and rancher Jane Judd Gyer etched a map of this area right on the wall of the Minarets Pack Station.

SEE JACKASS DOME AT SUNSET: A natural wonder any time of day, the view gets even better towards sunset at this dramatic outcropping near the summit of the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway.

HISTORIC MILLERTON COURTHOUSE: Fresno County's first hall of justice is here and open for tours that offer a fascinating look at local history and culture.

MILLERTON LAKE LEGACY: Step into the past and explore the historic buildings of Millerton, a bustling gold rush town that once sat along the banks of the San Joaquin River.

LUCKY TABLE: There's always a hand or two to play (and 2,000 slot machines!) at Table Mountain Casino in Friant.

KERCKHOFF RESERVOIR: The lake welcomes visitors year-round for outdoor recreation, including fishing and picnicking.

MILE HIGH VISTA OBSERVATION SITE: For spectacular views along the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway, this is the stop to make. From here, you can see almost 20 named peaks over 10,000 ft. elevation that make up the "Heart of the Sierra Nevada."

Ahwahnee & Raymond

GRUB GULCH: Famous for the rough-and-tumble legacy of its Gold Rush days. Ol' timers wink and say that whiskey was once more plentiful here than water, so that's what the local fire department used.

KNOWLES GRANITE QUARRY: With walkways, walls and chimneys still standing, history is rock-solid at this old granite quarry.

WASSAMA ROUNDHOUSE: One of only two authentic ceremonial roundhouses still standing, this historical site was where spiritual traditions were celebrated. Visit the gathering area, cemetery, early housing and roundhouse of the Miwok Indians.

GENERAL STORE IN RAYMOND: Once known as the transfer point from the Southern Pacific Railroad to the Wildcat Stagecoach Station in Yosemite, Raymond also became a major freight distribution center for the Southern San Joaquin.

RAYMOND MUSEUM: The first agent for the Southern Pacific Railroad, Charles Miller, called this place home. Come recall a slower time and learn why "all roads lead to Raymond."

Mariposa City and County

BRICEBURG CANYON: Once home to gold mines, it's still possible to dip a pan in the river and try your luck. Take time to get to this cool river and dip your toes in, too.

VISIT HISTORIC TOWN OF MARIPOSA: With its historic architecture, and wonderful arts, crafts and antique shopping, California's first capital is still authentic and always original.

TAKE A SCENIC FLIGHT: Flightseeing charter tours offer a unique perspective on the gorgeous peaks and valleys of the Sierra Nevada range. Contact the Mariposa-Yosemite Airport for more information.

TAKE THE HISTORIC WALKING TOUR: Be your own guide when you visit many of the structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

OLDEST COURTHOUSE WEST OF THE ROCKIES: Tour Mariposa Courthouse, the oldest courthouse still in operation west of the Rockies.

ONE OF THE OLDEST JAILS IN CALIFORNIA: Locals guarantee that one night in this granite-block jail built in 1860 would set anybody straight. Don't believe them? Pay a visit and discover what they're talking about.

YOSEMITE SIERRA FLY-FISHING: The best place for top-quality and fully guided, instructional fly-fishing can be found here on some of the world's most beautiful waters.

WILDFLOWER WALKS: Wildflowers virtually carpet the rolling hills of Mariposa County every spring. Come enjoy Columbine, Indian Paint Brush, Dogwood and more. Maps available at the Mariposa County Visitors Center.

HITE'S COVE TRAIL: The 70 different wildflowers you'll see on your three-and-a-half-mile hike lead up to an exciting discovery — historic Gold Rush-era ruins.

MARIPOSA MUSEUM AND HISTORY CENTER: The historic relics and buildings of the past make this museum one of the best small museums in America, according to the esteemed Smithsonian Institute.

CYCLE COUNTRY ROADS: Rolling country roads dotted with stately oaks and ranchland scenery help create a memorable fat-tire tour of Mariposa County. Maps available at the Mariposa County Visitors Center.

MARIPOSA ARTS COUNCIL: Beautiful paintings, unique sculptures and an array of pottery are displayed and sold at the Treetop Gallery in this vibrant arts community.

SILVER FOX VINEYARDS: Proudly producing award-winning red wines, this family-operated vineyard in the Mariposa foothills offers tastings and tours by appointment.

CALIFORNIA STATE MINING AND MINERAL MUSEUM: Those in search of the historic 49er Trail will enjoy this museum of dazzling exhibits and displays, including an authentic 1860s-era operational gold-processing stamp mill.

MARIPOSA CREEK PROJECT: After lunch or anytime, take a relaxing stroll along a paved pathway that runs the length of Mariposa Creek in downtown Mariposa.

MUSIC ON THE GREEN: Jazz, blues, folk, Mexican and Native American music fills the air every Friday and Saturday night in downtown Mariposa. 

MARIPOSA AGRI-NATURE TRAIL: Enjoy guided walks, art exhibits and workshops on a wide range of topics from photography to firescaping at these agritourism locations, including wineries, farms, orchards, gardens and livestock ranches.

MERCED RIVER TRAIL: A rough-hewn and unshaded 18-mile trek for hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders follows the old Yosemite railroad grade from the Briceburg Visitor Center to the Highway 49 Bridge at Bagby.

WILDFLOWERS AND WILD WATERS: Witness a bursting celebration of blossoms and waterfalls during the late spring and early summer in and around Yosemite National Park.  BUTTERFLY CREEK WINERY: You're invited to enjoy a picnic lunch on the banks of Butterfly Creek, accompanied by a bottle of the vintner's best. 

MARIPOSA HOTEL INN: Once a primary stop-over for visitors during the 1900s known as the LeGrand Stage Stop, today this B&B inn welcomes visitors with historic accommodations.

MARIPOSA COUNTY FAIR & HOMECOMING: Become a kid again and take in the down-home charm found here. Cotton candy, a Ferris wheel, prize livestock and cultural displays create the perfect atmosphere for the young at heart.

ZIPLINING: A thrill for ages 3 to 93, Yosemite Ziplines and Adventure Ranch is Mariposa's latest attraction and your ticket to thrilling zipline adventures.

RIVER RAFTING: Head out on a Merced River rafting trip with O.A.R.S. or Zephyr Whitewater Rafting on trips that can be tailored for first-time rafters or advanced thrill-seekers.


VISIT THE GOLD RUSH TOWN OF COULTERVILLE: Stroll through this town's rich Gold Rush heritage, and you'll quickly discover why the entire town has been named a California State Historical Site.

NORTHERN MARIPOSA COUNTY HISTORY CENTER: Put yourself in the shoes of a real-life forty-niner with this complete collection of memorabilia, models and exhibits.

THE ORIGINAL GHIRARDELLI CHOCOLATE FACTORY: Not much more than a ghost town now, Hornitos was once the site of a Ghirardelli warehouse long before the name became synonymous with San Francisco and chocolate.

THE HISTORIC JEFFREY HOTEL: Follow in the footsteps of John Muir and President Theodore Roosevelt, both past guests of this historic property.  Visit the still-operational and well-appointed rooms and stop in at the great old-fashioned saloon.

GOLDFEST AT IRONSTONE VINEYARDS: This vineyard festival is a mother lode of encampments, fine art exhibits, demonstrations, storytelling, fiddling and more, all of which serve to commemorate the Gold Rush era.

SPEND THE DAY AT LAKE MCCLURE: Watersports of all kinds are available at Lake McClure, making the opportunities for fun endless. Camping and RV accommodations are also available to complete the experience.

SWIM, SURF AND SUN ON LAKE MCSWAIN: The sister lake to McClure, Lake McSwain is a water enthusiast's dream, with house boating, waterskiing, sailing and Jet Skiing. Regular stocking of trout keeps the fishing poles bending all year long.

On Your Way to and from Tenaya Lodge

Hit the road ready for an adventure that begins the second you start your car. On the roads to and from Tenaya Lodge, there's so much to see and take in that even car rides are fun and exciting. No matter your age, there is something to "wow" you — from historic landmarks to fill you with insight and scenic panoramas to fill your windshield to roadside fruit stands and family dairies that will fill your mouth with delicious snacks. So sit back, relax and buckle up — your journey is about to begin!

HETCH-HETCHY RESERVOIR: This treasure is worth visiting in all seasons. Its lower elevation provides one of the longest hiking seasons in Yosemite, with varied trails and expansive vistas for all. Highway 120, Groveland.

BODIE GHOST TOWN: This town looks the same as it did more than 50 years ago. In fact, it's rich with perfectly preserved history. Oh, and the occasional ghost. Highway 395, Bodie. parks.ca.gov

CASTLE AIR MUSEUM: Stand beneath the wings of one of the museum's warbirds and let your imagination take flight back to the days when the skies were filled with these planes as well as enemy fighters. Highway 99, Atwater.

HILMAR CHEESE COMPANY: Cheese is more than party tray fodder — it's basically a food group! Learn how this edible gold is made, watch Daisy's "moooovie" and see employees package the "big cheese" — 640 pounds of it. Highway 99, Hilmar.

FORESTIERE UNDERGROUND GARDENS: Take a subterranean journey to the Mediterranean in the middle of California! This hand-built network of underground rooms, courtyards and passageways is reminiscent of the ancient catacombs. Highway 99, Fresno.

THE FOSSIL DISCOVERY CENTER: At the site of the largest middle-Pleistocene fossil excavations in North America, there is a lot the earth can teach us about the past and what the future has in store for us. Highway 99, Chowchilla.