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South Gateway to Yosemite - Fossils to Falls Trail

Bass Lake, Chowchilla, Coarsegold, Fishcamp, Itineraries, Itineraries and Guest Videos, Madera / Madera Ranchos, North Fork, Oakhurst, Oakhurst, Plan Your Trip, Regions, Yosemite, Yosemite National Park

Enjoy the best of Madera County along the Fossils to Falls Trail on this 4 Day Tour


 Start your journey at the Fossil Discovery Center of Madera County, off Hwy 99 in Chowchilla. This amazing exhibit features fossils from the Middle-Pleistocene (780,000 years ago). Columbian Mammoth, Saber-toothed Cat, Sloth, Dire Wolf, Camel and Horse are just a few of the 15,000 fossils found at this very spot. Kids can participate in a mock dig, too.



Afterward drive to the Valley Pistachio Country Store to sample the freshest of local nuts and dried fruits. Continue on to visit wineries from the Madera Wine Trail and follow that with a gourmet dinner at The Vineyard Restaurant, also in Madera, which is known for its fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. Stay in one of the local hotels in Madera or Chowchilla.



Get an early start as you head up into the foothills of Madera County for another day of adventures. Visit the Coarsegold Museum and see what life was like in the 1800’s in this thriving mining town and stagecoach route into Yosemite. Don’t miss the Coarsegold Historic Village for shopping & lunch and try your hand at gold panning.



Head into Oakhurst the largest town in the foothills where you’ll find quaint Bed & Breakfast Inns to hotel chains. Dine at South Gate Brewing after a day of exploring the area. Don’t forget to stop at the World Famous Talking Bear and see what he has to say.


Spend the day at the lake on beautiful Bass Lake! Rent a boat or water toy from one of the 3 marinas on the lake or take a fishing tour and try to spot the resident Bald Eagles. Enjoy a scrumptious lunch at one of the several restaurants around the lake. Hike or bike the trails around the lake and discover treasures at the shops at the Pines Village along the north shore.



Then head to North Fork down the road from Bass Lake which is the Exact Center of California.  Explore the region’s Native American heritage at the Sierra Mono Museum, one of the only Indian-owned-and-operated museums in the country.  



Don't miss taking a ride on an historic Steam Train at the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad.  This 4-mile excursion takes riders back in time to the lumber mining times in the Sierra National Forest.  



On your last day, visit Yosemite National Park to marvel at its wondrous sights. From Glacier Point get a bird’s-eye view of Yosemite Valley and waterfalls, depending on the time of year. Then head toward Yosemite Valley for iconic scenes such as Half Dome and Cloud’s Rest. You might even be lucky enough to see climbers ascending the face of El Capitan. There’s so much to see in Yosemite Valley that you need to reserve a full day just for this. For more information about events and activities, be sure to review the Yosemite Guide given to you by a ranger at the park entrance.


For more additional information and things to do in Madera County and the southern gateway to Yosemite, visit our Attractions page. 

VISIT YOSEMITE | MADERA COUNTY

Main Visitors Center
40343 Highway 41,
Oakhurst, CA 93644
(559) 683-4636
Email us!

Chowchilla Visitors Center
at the Fossil Discovery
Center of Madera County
19450 Avenue 21-1/2
Chowchilla, CA 93610
(Exit 164, off Highway 99)
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