Your first stop is Chowchilla, a town with deep roots in the Old West on Highway 99. Fun events like the annual Chowchilla Stampede celebrate the town's heritage, featuring a cattle drive down Robertson Blvd. Chowchilla also has great golf and is the site for the annual County Fair, boasting well known acts and a lot of fun.
The Fossils part of our trip takes place at the Fossil Discovery Center. See the preserved remains of animals like Colombian Mammoths, Sabre-toothed cats and the largest bear to ever walk the Earth, the 12-foot tall Shortfaced Bear. These creatures and many more were all found right here in Chowchilla, making it the largest Pleistocene era fossil bed in the western United States. More than 20,000 fossils have been unearthed so far, and paleontologists think many more are waiting to be found.
Madera is a community with a rich and diverse history. Named for the lumber that was felled in the Sierra and brought to the city, Madera is also home to fertile fields, giving ample opportunity for agritourism exploration.
To see firsthand the versatility of the pomegranate, then you'll want to stop at Home Grown Cellars. You can see an actual pomegranate farm in action, take a trolley ride through the operation and shop in the country store featuring numerous pomegranate items like pomegranate honey, jelly and of course, pomegranate juice. You'll see that Madera is the heart of pomegranate country.
Once the county's courthouse, the Madera County Courthouse Museum is now a museum showcasing the rich history of the region. Learn about the loggers who tamed the forests, the farmers who cultivated the valley floor and the gold miners looking to strike it rich.
Taste your way throughout Madera and beyond with the wineries along the Madera Wine Trail. Enjoy full bodied reds, refreshing whites and sumptuous desert wines at the wineries and tasting rooms along the trail. Come during the Wine Trail Weekends during throughout the year, or any other time for a one on one experience with the winery staff.
Just as true today as it was over a century ago, there's gold in them thar hills. You can find it in Coarsegold at Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino, the largest casino in central California. Enjoy delicious restaurants, top-flight entertainment with big name acts, spas, shops and more.
Find more history at the Coarsegold Historic Museum. The museum features artifacts from the 1800's, as well as buildings from the same era. Afterwards, shop at the Coarsegold Historic Village for unique gift items, food and more. It's also home to great events, like the annual Coarsegold Tarantula Festival and Peddler's Fair.
The reason why everyone loves Raymond, this historic town used to be the last stop on the only way to Yosemite. Explore the Charles Miller Museum or the Raymond General Store, or take the same route that Teddy Roosevelt did on his trip to Yosemite. Or, take a side trip to Eastman Lake for some excellent fishing.
Once called Fresno Flats, Oakhurst is the largest community in the foothills of Madera County. Oakhurst is home to numerous museums known as the Museums and Historic Sites of Southern Yosemite which explore the area's past, dating back to 1873. There are numerous grocery stores and ample shopping opportunities, a variety of restaurants and lodging and more
Oakhurst is home to central California's only five-diamond lodging choice and five-star Restaurant: Erna's Elderberry House and Chateau du Sureau. This elegant inn and restaurant is truly a unique experience.
The region is home to more artists than anywhere else. See the beauty of Yosemite and Madera County and you'll know where they draw inspiration from. Visit the Timberline Art Gallery, or Gallery Yosemite, just two of several galleries on Gallery Row and meet the artists in person on the Sierra Art Trails, an annual open house. Find the best spots for Yosemite photography with Photo Safari Yosemite.
For a fun evening of melodrama, visit the Golden Chain Theatre. The Golden Chain Theatre has been running for over 40 years. Boo the villain and cheer for the hero, while enjoying a cocktail from their new saloon. You're guaranteed an entertaining evening.
Many of the hotels and attractions throughout Madera County are pet friendly. Grab any supplies you'll need for your dog or cat at Oakhurst Feed and Pet Supply. They have everything you'll need to keep your pet happy during your travels. But please remember, despite what the picture says, don't feed the wild animals!
Looking for golf? Then hit the links at Sierra Meadows Country Club or River Creek Golf Course. Located in a beautiful valley surrounded by mature oaks and towering pines, both courses are a treat to play.
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Bass Lake is a must-see location. Sparkling blue waters surrounded by the Sierra National Forest make for a beautiful vacation spot year round. Bass Lake is popular with anglers for its healthy population of rainbow trout, kokanee, largemouth bass, crappie and more. It's also a great lake for wakeboarding, or to take your PWC. If you don't have a boat, no problem as Bass Lake Watersports, Miller's Landing and The Forks Resort all rent various watercraft.
You're never far away from your room on Bass Lake as you can stay one of the three full service resorts or rent a private cabin moments from shore.
Enjoy shopping in Pines Village, or hop aboard the Bass Lake Queen during the summer season, or speed off for adventuring aboard a snowmobile during the winter.
Camping is also available at Bass Lake or in the nearby Sierra National Forest.
Located "in the middle of it all," North Fork is the exact geographic center of California. More than being the center of the great state, it's a beautiful community rich in history and tribal culture. Explore the Sierra Mono Indian Museum, one of the few Native American owned and operated museums in the country. The town's logging heritage also comes in to play at the annual Logger's Jamboree.
North Fork is a great jumping-off point for the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway. Known by many as a secret Yosemite, the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway boasts granite peaks and beautiful forests with breathtaking views of blue lakes, panoramic mountain vistas and unusual rock formations. Favorite stops along the byway include the more than 100 year old Jesse Ross Cabin, Mammoth Pool, Mile High Overlook and the Eagle Beaks. Make sure you have all the gas you need, as there are no services along the byway.
Just before the entrance to Yosemite is Fish Camp, a small community with beautiful bed and breakfasts, a world renowned full-service resort and a historic railroad. One of the most popular attractions in the region is the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Rail Road, Two Shay Locomotives, one built in 1927 and the other 1913, take you on a journey through the Sierra National forest and history. Ride the Logger back in time to when men harvested lumber from these forests to fuel the industrial revolution in the country. While there, see the very tools used by loggers more than 100 years ago along the mountain, or pan for gold to see how the '49ers tried to eke out a living. On the weekends, take the Moonlight Special as you enjoy a delicious BBQ dinner and ride the train through the cool evening air, and enjoy live entertainment throughout the evening.
One of the best ways to see Yosemite is with a little help from a knowledgeable tour guide. You get the best Yosemite information, without someone having to miss out on the beauty because they're driving. Tour companies like Discover Yosemite, Tour de Yosemite and Yosemite Private Tours specialize in making your Yosemite Trip memorable.
Right at the southern entrance to Yosemite is the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. These awe inspiring giants are among the largest living things on our planet, and truly a sight to behold. It's an easy hike to see some of the most famous Sequoias, such as the Grizzly Giant and the California Tunnel Tree.Trams run during the summer months that will take you on a full tour of Mariposa Grove if you prefer the ride to the walk.
The Pioneer History Center, in Wawona, takes you back in time to the 19th Century to see first-hand what life in Yosemite and the surrounding area was like. Your hosts, dressed in period costume, take you on guided tours, show you how the residents performed their day to day tasks. Tours take place from July 4 through the summer until Labor Day. The Pioneer History Center is open year-round as a self-guided tour. While in Wawona, a must see is Chilnualna Fall, an easy walk from The Redwoods in Yosemite.
For some of the most dramatic views of Yosemite, visit Glacier Point. As you look across Yosemite Valley from thousands of feet above, you'll gain perspective on more than just the park.
Tunnel View is one of the most photographed spots of Yosemite. Half Dome, El Capitan, Bridal Veil Fall, Cathedral Rock and Sentinel Dome are all on display before you. Photographers' tip: For the best photos, come back in the afternoon. The sun will be at your back, giving you the best lighting for breathtaking shots.
One of the few year-round waterfalls in Yosemite is Bridalveil Fall. While the spring thaw brings this beautiful cascade to its full potential, water flows year round, dropping 62 stories to the floor of Yosemite Valley. You can take a short walk to the base of the fall to get an up close look. You may want to bring an umbrella, however, as you may get wet.
El Capitan becomes to climbers and sightseers alike, as this single sheet of granite climbs 4000 feet in to the sky from Yosemite Valley below. In fact, El Capitan is the largest single piece of exposed granite on Earth. If you are in to rock climbing, El Capitan is the place to test your mettle, as thousands of people each year pit themselves against this famous precipice.For photographers, El Capitan framed by a blue sky behind makes a beautiful photo.
Perhaps the most recognizable image of Yosemite is Half Dome. Visible from many points around Yosemite, Half Dome's sheer face was carved by the same glaciers that created the magnificent Yosemite Valley. While any view of Half Dome is beautiful, perhaps the best is from it's top. See www.nps.gov/yose for more information.
While Yosemite boasts many beautiful sights, it also lays claim to North America's highest waterfall: Yosemite Falls. The beautiful cascade is also among the world's top 10 highest. To get an up close look at Yosemite Fall, a short path takes you right to the bottom for an amazing look at this stunning formation.
For more information on Yosemite, visit their website.
If you're looking for adventure, then head out on a Merced River rafting trip with O.A.R.S. or Zephyr Whitewater Rafting. With trips that can be tailored for skill level and time, you're guaranteed an amazing experience that is the definition of unforgettable.
The Merced River is one of the defining landmarks of Yosemite National Park and the surrounding region. Rafting the river will give you a whole new appreciation for the beauty of this river, and the power of it as it shapes the landscape and feeds diverse ecosystems.
Head over the Sierra Nevada and you'll find a whole other world of wonders waiting for you in the far eastern half of Madera County. From hidden waterfalls to a natural formation that seems almost supernatural, there are many treasures on the other side of the mountains.
|The Devil's Postpile is a truly stunning formation, proof that the natural processes of geology are capable of creating their own artistic masterpieces. These granite spires seem almost arranged, and are truly mesmerizing to see. The adventurous can hike here over the Sierra Nevada, although most prefer the drive. Head up through Yosemite, over the Tioga Pass and back down US 395 to 203 through the town of Mammoth Lakes. It will be a beautiful trip, and one worth taking. The National Park Service has more thorough directions.|
Rainbow Falls is a beautiful cascade a short distance from Devil's Postpile. Many people enjoy hiking from one to the other, taking in the scenery along the way. Rainbow Falls is just over 100 feet tall, making it just as impressive as it is beautiful. Bring your lunch and enjoy a picnic with this gorgeous landmark as your backdrop.
Of course you'll be needing somewhere to stay, and Red's Meadow Resort and Pack Station is the perfect please. Enjoy the tranquil beauty of pristine woods, cool streams and the scenery of areas few other people get to see. Red's Meadow will set you up on amazing excursions through the area, letting you see sights that make memories that last a lifetime.
Are you interested in experiencing the best of the National Park System? Then the Majestic Mountain Loop is for you. We've partnered with the Visalia Convention and Visitors Bureau to create an itinerary that features three national parks in three days - or longer if you have more time. Visit www.MajesticMountainLoop.com to learn more.
|From Visalia, the first stop along the Majestic Mountain Loop is Sequoia National Park. Explore groves of the largest trees on the planet as you gaze in awe at these giants. Sequoia National Park has much more to offer as well, including the Giant Forest Museum, Moro Rock and much more. Stay the night, dine and explore around the impressive Wuksachi Lodge in Sequoia.|
|On day two, explore Kings Canyon National Park. With beautiful sites such as Roaring River Falls, (pictured at left) Boyden Cavern and Zumwalt Meadow, the diversity of scenery and plant life leaves one amazed at the wonder of this National Park.|
|Finish your trek at Yosemite National Park. You are surrounded by scenic wonder at every turn, from Glacier Point to Tunnel View, from the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia to the Wawona Pioneer Village, Yosemite makes for the perfect cap to your Majestic Mountain Loop Adventure.|
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at the Fossil • 19450 Avenue 21-1/2 Chowchilla 93610 • (Exit 164, off Highway 99)Discovery Center
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