Monday, May 18, 2015

Glory Hole Recreation Area, Angels Camp, CA



We headed out of Yosemite by 9:30 on Thursday morning with the threat of rain and/or snow looming overhead. Our new mifi device was waiting for us at the post office in the Mother Lode town of Sonora, CA, nearly eighty miles away. The most exciting part of the drive along 120 was coming down the one hundred plus curves and hairpin turns of Priest Grade, with me in the lead in the car. I was very glad we didn’t hook up. We spent that night at Marble Quarry RV Park in Columbia, just a few miles from Sonora. It’s a Passport America park and our site was actually quite nice for an RV park and the $22.50 price. It began to rain shortly after we arrived and continued all night so I failed to take any photos. We definitely timed it right getting out of Yosemite when we did.

It was only in the mid forties but after the post office we walked in the cold rain through historic downtown Sonora, a cute place with mostly antique and specialty shops, but Jim did buy a new pair of hiking pants in the outfitter store. The RV park happened to be located just a few blocks from Columbia State Historical Park so I suggested we stop on the way back. Jim stayed in the car while I donned my rain gear and wandered around the streets of the preserved California Gold Rush-era town, which looked more like a ghost town on this dreary day.






The next day we were in search of a quiet place to relax and spend the weekend, so we drove 18 miles to Glory Hole Recreation Area on New Melones Lake, where we found a great campsite overlooking what’s left of the lake at 25% capacity.


Jim had long grown tired of too many days of being parked in the forest, but I didn’t realize how much it was affecting my mood, also, until we got back in the wide open grasslands. Wild turkeys wander by frequently, there is an osprey nest with babies just at the end of our loop, and miles of trails, so we’ve hung around a couple more days.



This area used to be part of the lake.



 Houseboat owners have been asked to get them out of the water before the lake turns to mud. Most have been moved to dry storage but there were still a few left.



Yesterday we took a drive to check out nearby Angels Camp and San Andreas, two more Gold Rush towns along Highway 49. We spent a couple hours at the Calaveras County Museum in San Andreas, a nicely done historical museum if you care to learn more about this part of California’s prosperous gold days.

Glory Hole Recreation Area, Angels Camp, CA

Angels Camp’s claim to fame is that Mark Twain based his first famous short story, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, on a story he heard at Angels Hotel in 1865. They now have an annual frog jumping contest in May, which happened to be taking place over the weekend, but we didn’t attend. They like their frogs here.

Glory Hole Recreation Area, Angels Camp, CA1

Tomorrow we move north in search of a place to hide out for the upcoming holiday weekend.


  1. Years ago I stopped at the at park where Marshal discovered the gold while building Sutter's mill. A very historic place in my book & it's north of you.

  2. What a fun trip and you did it at the right time of year, just before the crowds start piling in:)

    1. You're right, the masses will start pouring in soon. Jim thought Yosemite was bad, but nothing like it will be in the summer. There were very few kids, which for me made the crowds tolerable;-)

  3. I loved our drive through that area a couple years ago. We did it in mid April which turned out to be a great time to visit.

  4. I'm glad I don't have to search for a place for next weekend, but I'm not exactly looking forward to the crowds that will be here for the holiday weekend.

  5. Like the old mining town. Seems Jim missed his chance for no people there. Your last camp is quite open but what a shame about the no lake. Good luck for finding a hideaway for the holiday. I'll gladly work it.

  6. I drove hwy 49 about 30 years ago and remember loving it. I think Hans and I need to take this route with the RV some day. It's beautiful country up there!

  7. Good luck on finding a nice little hideout for the holiday weekend. We are now in Lee Vining, where the rain continues, along with a little sleet. Hopefully not too many more days of this.

  8. It will be a long time before that is a real lake again, very sad. I don't ever remember Sonora empty any time of year - it definitely has a much different feel. Love the photos of that cute little town :-) Glad you got off the mountain when you did, it's a crazy May!

  9. I'm assuming you went the "new" Priest Grade. I don't even like the Old Priest Grade in my pickup!!! Beautiful country though. Columbia is one of my favs for photoshoots!!!