Surrounded by Yosemite National Park and Stanislaus National Forest, and situated within the two highest passes (Sonora Pass and Tioga Pass) through the Sierra Nevadas, Tuolumne and Calaveras Counties are filled with thriving historic gold rush towns that are reminiscent of the bygone days of the Old West. Gold was first discovered here in 1848 and yielded $600 million in mined gold. With scenic trails and natural vistas, the area is an outdoor playground for adults and kids alike with activities including hiking, horseback riding, water skiing, rafting, camping, boating, snowmobiling, and more. For those wanting a more leisurely experience, there’s plenty to choose from. Stay at one of the many restored historic hotels or charming bed-and-breakfasts. Enjoy golf courses, wine tasting, arts, shopping, museums, restaurants, and historic parks. Local industries include tourism, recreation, lumber, mining, cattle, turkeys, agriculture, and research.