Gold Country is a region of California that includes foothills of the western Sierra Nevada mountains and many historic towns that date to the 1849 California Gold Rush. Today highway 49 winds its way through small towns that protect the legacy of California's early settlers.
The California Gold Rush began in 1848 at Sutter's Mill (near Coloma) where the first gold nugget was discovered, touching off a massive influx of people seeking their fortune. This was arguably the largest migration of the human race in such a short time. While most of these prospectors failed in their efforts to gain riches (the ones who made the money were the shopkeepers), their legacy remains in the many towns that now cluster amongst the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains.
The Gold Country is generally considered to lie along the route of State Route 49, stretching from Mariposa County in the south, to Sierra County in the north. It includes parts of twelve California counties: Amador, Butte, Calaveras, El Dorado, Mariposa, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, Sierra, Tuolumne, Plumas and Yuba.
For the most part, the climate in this part of California resembles that of much of Italy or Spain. Winters are cool and damp, averaging around 30 inches of rainfall and occasional snowfall, especially in the higher altitudes of the eastern reaches up the slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Winter temperatures range from the upper twenties to mid fifties. Summers are dry and hot, with long streches that reach triple digits. This region has very short periods of autumn and spring.