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Snuggled into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range in the heart of California’s Gold Country is the historic town of Columbia. It was founded in 1850 when a bedraggled party of miners made camp and discovered gold in the nearby valley. Before long the camp had developed into a lively mining town which grew and prospered with each passing year. Although the gold rush has passed, Columbia still maintains its mining heritage for visitors to see.
Columbia is an excellent place to book an RV in Tuolumne County and discover the surrounding area. It’s conveniently located just off Highway 49, between Highway 4 and Highway 108, and only a short drive from Sacramento and Modesto. Columbia is only a step away from some of the USA’s most incredible national parks and forests, including Stanislaus National Forest, El Dorado National Forest, and the world-famous Yosemite National Park.
After you collect the best camper rental in Columbia you can make a visit to the nearby Tuttletown Recreation Area on the eastern banks of New Melones Lake. With a surface area of 12,000 acres, this is one of the largest reservoirs in the state. Naturally, it offers a whole host of water activities including kayaking, swimming, and wakeboarding. The surrounding woodland is threaded with multi-use trails, such as the Table Mountain Trail which takes you to a nine-million-year-old lava flow. The shoreline is inhabited by a variety of wildlife and vegetation ranges from buckbrush shrubs to thick oak trees.
When you’re ready to leave town, pick up supplies for your camper rental in Columbia and follow Highway 108 into the heart of Stanislaus National Forest. This nationally protected area extends for nearly 900,000 acres and offers excellent opportunities for water sports. You and your travel companions can choose to swim from the forest-clad beaches, canoe on still freshwater lakes, or get your adrenaline level up on a river rafting excursion. Stanislaus National Forest also hosts two designated wilderness areas which provide adventurous backpackers with access to remote trails and primitive campsites. You can start your adventure by parking your vehicle in Pinecrest or Cold Springs and exploring the Emigrants Wilderness Area on foot or horseback.
From Stanislaus National Forest, you can take your Columbia RV rental a little farther south into Yosemite National Park. You can follow the Tiago Road Scenic Byway from Crane Flat, a hotspot for winter sports, to Tioga Pass via the Tuolumne Meadows. These glacial meadows sit alongside the Tuolumne River and, aside from river rafting and summer camping, they host a range of outdoor activities. Visitors can hike to alpine lakes, rock climb, and watch for birds during the summer and fall, or disappear into Yosemite’s extensive wilderness.
On your return journey, you can make a stop at the Red Hills Recreational Management Area in Chinese Camp. The 7,000-acre public area hosts a unique range of plant species and wildlife including bobcats, coyotes, and approximately 88 types of bird. Late spring is the best time of year to admire the vibrant wildflowers but you can rent a motorhome in Columbia and visit at any time of the year. Red Hills is suitable for hiking, cycling, and horseback riding. There are even designated areas for wildlife viewing and picnicking.
You won’t have to drive far to find a place to park your travel trailer rental in Columbia, there are at least two RV parks located in the town itself. The most centrally located is Marble Quarry RV Park on Yankee Hill Road, a short walk from Columbia’s historic downtown. This family-friendly campground is open all year round and offers RV sites with full hookups and Wi-Fi. Guests also have access to a shared lounge, swimming pool, playground, and a lawn area with outdoor games.
49er RV Ranch is located north of town on Italian Bar Road and within walking distance of the historic center. The site provides a tranquil mountain setting with opportunities to socialize with other guests at organized campfires and panning for gold lessons. 49er RV Ranch also provides full RV hookups, cable TV, and Wi-Fi.
If you want to take your Columbia RV rental by owner to a more remote setting, then stock up on food, water, and gas and drive into Stanislaus National Forest. There are a number of campsites suitable for RVs accessible via Highways 4, Highway 108, and Highway 120. Pinecrest Campground is one of the closest to Columbia. It offers RV camping from April to October for RVs of up to 40 feet. Services include drinking water and flush toilets.
Nowadays, Columbia is known as the "Gem of Southern Mines" and its rich heritage is captured in the historic downtown. Even today you can stroll the downtown and see locals in period costumes selling regional goods and souvenirs from traditional wooden storefronts. Horse-drawn stagecoaches occupy the streets and you’ll probably catch sight of a professional blacksmith forging horseshoes. You can see history performed in annual events and competitions. The Annual Firemen’s Muster, Memorial Day, and Columbia’s Birthday Celebrations are events you shouldn’t miss when you rent an RV in Columbia, CA.
To learn a little more about Columbia’s past you can visit the Columbia Museum on State Street or stop by the Historic Schoolhouse. The schoolhouse was constructed in 1860 from sun-dried bricks and remained in use until 1937 when an earthquake struck the town. It was restored in 1960 and visitors can see the school, complete with wooden desks and blackboards, as it was in the 1800s.
After a full day of sightseeing, you’ll probably be ready to eat. Fortunately, there are many options in Columbia including Mexican restaurants, classic American diners, tea houses, and bakeries. There is also a local winery and a number of traditional gold rush saloons where you share a drink with friends and family. What a splendid way to end a vacation with an RV rental in Columbia, California.