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Amador County: The Heart of the Mother Lode

Amador County: The Heart of the Mother Lode

Here's your guide to Amador County, a region known for its rolling hills, Gold Rush history, outdoor recreation, and agriculture.


4 min read

November 04, 2022

Rolling hills, Gold Rush history, and majestic bodies of water that wrap across the region are only a few of the things Amador County is famed for. Known as the Heart of the Mother Lode because that’s when they struck gold - struck the mother lode - during the great California Gold Rush! Expanding from a broad viticultural industry, what creates the county’s unique taste is its contrasting geographical locale. A compound variety of elevations ranging from 250 feet to nearly 9,000 feet forge the region into an ideal setting for both skiing and growing wine grapes.

There are a number of things to draw you to the exquisite lands of Amador County, so here’s your official run down on all things Amador and what you can expect.

Where is Amador County, California?

Among many explicit fortes, the county was primarily known for its prime location in the heart of Gold Country. Situated in the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, the county is bordered by the Cosumnes and Mokelumne Rivers. Spanning 40 miles southeast of Sacramento County, and only 25 from San Francisco and Napa Valley, Amador County, CA is the ultimate Gold Country road trip destination.

What Cities Are in Amador County?

Aside from being the only county in the state to be named after a California native, Amador County’s Drytown was the first established city that succeeded during the Gold Rush. José María Amador was a wealthy ranchero owning hundreds of acres, as well as a gold mining camp, near Amador City. Grown away from its Gold Rush roots, the county now offers some of the best experiences in all of California. Today the county is home to some famous cities - including Jackson, Sutter Creek, Plymouth, Volcano, and of course, Amador City.

The Black Chasm Cavern is a NorCal hidden gem with historical significance. It's quite a rare phenomenon for California.

Things to Do in Amador County

Explore the Black Chasm Cavern

Enriched with history and fascinating formations, the Black Chasm of Volcano town is one of the coolest California caverns to marvel at. For its recognition of being the only limestone grotto in Amador County, the cavern was accorded its National Natural Landmark status in 1976.

You’ll find the cave open year-round and accessible no matter when you decide to visit. But with its reputation for being ‘the best in the west’, it’s no surprise that the tickets might sell out very quickly. We recommend checking the tour times and availability prior to hitting the road.

Stroll through the majestic color palette of the flower farms and breathe in the tantalizing aromas that are sure to transport you.

Tour a Flower Farm

Enclosed by wineries and vineyards, a 14-acre flower farm sits in the City of Plymouth in Amador County. Spanning from pumpkin patches to daylilies, the field is a full display of a colorful palette. Sulk in the vision of the 1,200 various daylilies smiling at you during the blooming season as you pass by them on the golf-cart tour. To top off the picturesque vistas of their potted plant area and the surrounding growing grounds, Amador Flower Farm grounds are occasional hosts to significant annual events–including the Fall Pumpkin Patch and Santa on Christmas.

Spend time in the Vineyards

With the unforgettable gold rush in the 1850s, towns sprouted up throughout the foothills, giving birth to affluent vineyards. While Amador County only produces about 1% of California's wine grapes, it has won 30% of the gold medals in the state wine competitions. A plethora of 40-plus wineries spread along the county marks the official members of the Amador Vintners Association. With such a firm wine-growing industry, a trip to Amador County, California is not complete before a visit to its vineyards. Get a taste of the rich history, as you embark on a memorable west-coast drive through The Heart of the Mother Lode.

Historical Landmark N. 786, the Kennedy Gold Mine is a tourist attraction you can visit in Jackson - it's the deepest in the county!

Visit Jackson Town

Aside from holding the county seat, Jackson town is home to the Kennedy Gold Mine - otherwise known as one of the deepest gold mines in the world. Book a guided tour to check out one of the tallest head frames in existence today. Embrace the history of the Gold Rush as you learn about its rank-altering impact on agrarian California and how it became a vital part of the United States. 

While you’re there, be sure to check out the Amador County Library, the historic Main Street, and the unique Amador County Museum with its Greek-revival dwelling. 

Enjoy Trail Hiking and Rafting

While you can spend time wandering around town, rafting in the rivers and hiking trails in Amador County will be the perfect way to level up this wonderful visit. In Addition to being the Heart of The Mother Lode and an esteemed winner of the state wine competitions, Amador County harbors majestic lakes and rivers, making it the hub of the Golden Country. Hiking from Electra Road, enjoy the relaxing view of the wildflowers as you make your way to the rafting spot in the Mokelumne River. This fun experience is a six-mile stretch, suitable for all ages, and only a few minutes from Jackson town. 

If you're interested in seeing one of the tiniest towns in Cali, make a stop in Amador, the least populous but full of Gold Country charm.

Check Out Amador City

Small in size, but big in personality. That’s how the Amador City residents depict this precious town. Considered to be the smallest city in California in regards to its size, the town is proudly a part of the Gold Country. Lining the streets of Main street - formerly known as Historic Highway 49 - are a variety of artisan shops. Enjoy the rich commerce as you experience the culture through the handcrafted art, the exquisite baked goods, the farm-to-table cuisine, and the top-notch wine finds. Bask in this city brimming with treasures as you plan a stay at a historic hotel.

Where Is the Amador County Fair?

With enthralling themes like “Around The World in Four Days”, the Amador County fair is one place you don’t want to skip on your Amador County trip. Located on Sherwood street in the city of Plymouth, the fairgrounds held their first event, Amador and Sacramento County Annual Fair, in 1887. Hosting action-packed events including Horse Shows, a Top-Cop Challenge Banquet, and the earth-shattering Monster Truck Madness up to this day makes the town an exciting place worth visiting.

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