Amador County is situated in the Mother Lode or Gold Country, in the Sierra Nevada. With a total area of 606 square miles, of which 11.4 square miles is water, it is the second-smallest county in California.
For a small county, with a permanent population of only forty thousand, Amador County has an amazing amount to offer. Visitors are always charmed by the old-world villages, the strong connection to the past, as well as the many unique attractions on offer for people of all ages.
What Is Amador County California Known For?
Known as “The Heart of the Motherload,” Amador County has a rich history reflected in the towns and villages. Being situated in the Sierra Nevada, it is also very picturesque and with an active tourist industry that offers a great deal to those who visit.
- Amador produces some of California’s finest wines.
- Gold mining has stopped, but the romance of those years is a part of Amador County.
- Rivers. lakes and mountains provide perfect places for outdoor recreation
Amador’s Viticulture Industry Is Growing
Amador County is designated as an AVA or American Viticultural Area, allowing local winemakers to identify their product as specific to that region and, therefore, more prestigious.
Over forty wine estates, covering nearly four thousand acres, are responsible for fifty percent of the county’s agricultural output. Some date back to 1849, and many of the famed Zinfandel vines of Amador date back to this period and are still producing strongly.
Gold Was The Key To Amador’s Wealth
Amador County had the richest veins of gold ore in Mother Lode and produced over $ 160 million in gold between 1851 and 1942 when production officially ended. There was some gold produced until 1958.
Today the days of the Gold Rush provide a rich history and the material for a thriving tourist industry in Amador County. In this way, the precious metal still provides a source of wealth to the community.
The Great Outdoors Has Never Been Better
With elevation ranging from 250 feet in the west to over 9000 feet at Thunder Mountain in the eastern part of Amador County, outdoor activities are many and varied. There are thirty lakes and reservoirs for fishing, canoeing, and kayaking, and magnificent hiking trails of every difficulty grade.
What’s In Amador County?
With a rich history, natural beauty combined with a moderate Mediterranean climate, and wines amongst the world’s finest, Amador County is a destination that should be high on your list of places to visit.
Eldorado National Forest
Spread over five counties, of which Amador is one, this forest is easily accessible from Sacramento or San Francisco Bay on Highway 50 or Highway 88. Lakes, rivers, and streams with abundant trout, salmon, and bass, four hundred miles of trails, alpine and Nordic skiing in winter, forests, and meadows for camping – in a word, spectacular!
Shenandoah Valley AVA
Shenandoah Valley Is where viticulture began in Amador County, with the early settlers producing their first wines in the 1860’s. Today, some of those early vines still produce world-class Zinfandel, Barbera, Syrah, and Viognier.
Black Chasm Cavern
Black Chasm Cavern is to be found in the historic town of Volcano. It has been designated a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service. It is a fascinating series of caves with unique displays of helictites, stalagmites, draperies, and other limestone formations.
Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort
Owned since 1985 by the Jackson Rancheria Band of Miwuk Indians, the resort is a must-see at Christmas, when the grounds are stunningly decorated with ornaments and thousands of lights.
Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park
A registered Californian Historic Landmark, the park has been fully restored by the Jackson Band of Miwuk Indians and is situated eight miles from Jackson in the Sierra Nevada foothills.
Amongst other historical features, it has the most extensive collection of bedrock mortars, 1185 in total, which were used by local Indians to grind acorns and seeds into meal.
Things To Do In Amador County
Given that it’s the second-smallest county in California, with a population of only forty thousand, Amador County offers visitors an exceptional variety of outdoor, cultural, and fun activities.
- Wine-tasting, with a group or on your own
- Self-guided walking Tour Of Sutter Creek, Amador City, Or Volcano
- Attend An outdoor concert
- Tour Kennedy gold mine
- Spend a night at Roaring Camp
- Ride a railcar
Wine Tasting Is Essential In Amador County
That’s because the wines are amongst the finest California produces. Most estates are in Shenandoah Valley. You can visit the estates on your own or join a wine-tasting tour, which usually lasts four hours and is accompanied by a knowledgeable guide.
Most wineries welcome visitors, but some of the best include Iron Hub Winery, Helwig Vineyards, Renwood Winery, and Prospect Cellars.
Four major wine festivals take place each year In Amador County, which are well worth attending and publicized by the Amador Vintners Association on their website.
Walking Tours Of Old Gold Mining Towns
It’s possible to download a walking guide to some of Amador County’s hamlets and towns, which will give you an authentic look into their Gold Rush past.
Sutter Creek is described (by their publicity association) as the most walkable town in Amador County, but you can also have a fascinating hour walking through Amador City, Volcano, and several others.
Outdoor Concerts Throughout The County
From mid-April through mid-August, when the weather is predictably fine, concerts are held by many wineries, including the already-recommended Helwig Vineyards.
Amador Arts puts on an outdoor concert every Friday throughout summer, choosing different venues throughout the county. Picnic hampers and, of course, wine are welcomed at most of the venues.
Take A Tour Of Kennedy Mine
Registered as a California Historical Interest Landmark, Kennedy Mine in Jackson closed its operation in 1942 but reopened in 1981 as a tourist site.
Surface tours last about ninety minutes and give an in-depth look at the day-to-day workings of the mine, and include a fascinating display of all the artifacts of the mine used in its operation.
Enjoy A Roaring Camp Cookout
Roaring Camp is situated in Pine Grove at the confluence of three branches of the Mokelumne River. It’s an old mining camp, but it’s a lot more than that and offers a perfect family vacation.
Visitors can pan for gold, swim in crystal clear water, rent a cabin, take a guided tour of the mine, and join in their famous Roaring Camp Cookout with great food and live entertainment on a Saturday night.
Take A Ride On A Vintage Rail Car
Amador Central Railroad has restored the cars that were used from 1910 as maintenance vehicles on the line. Once a month, visitors are invited to take a six-mile round trip from Lanes Station into Gold Country, which lasts about an hour.
Famous People From Amador County
Not surprisingly, seeing that the total population of Amador County is just over 40,000, there are not many famous people from the county.
Jazz pianist and composer Dave Brubeck, together with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, is most famous for the album “Time Out,” the first jazz album to sell over one million copies, and “Take Five,” which became the highest-selling jazz single ever.
Beery is a famous artist and photographer with a career spanning more than fifty years. He is known for combining text and images in his works. Described as a Pop Artist and Expressionist, he lives and works in Sutter Creek.
Justin Grant is well known in the US as a racing driver, having won National Sprint Car Series Rookie Of The Year in 2010, his first year in the sport. From Ione, Amador County, he won the 2020 USAC Silver Crown Championship.
Amador County FAQ
Interesting Facts About Amador County?
Amador County is the only Californian county to be named in honor of a native of the state. Jose Maria Amador was a very wealthy rancher who owned most of the land in presently- named Amador Valley.
Amador City is the smallest city in California in terms of area and only has a permanent population of 200.
Amador County was born in June 1854 by consolidating sections of Eldorado and Calaveras counties. In 1864, part of
Amador was given to Alpine County, leaving it the second-smallest county in the state.
Is Amador County A Good Place To Live?
It’s an exceptional place to visit, and the residents of Amador County believe it’s a perfect place to live and bring up a family. Because the county is small, and the towns more like villages, inhabitants are more friendly and neighbors more neighborly.
Many retirees also choose the small-town atmosphere of Amador County, which is why the average age is around fifty.
The violent crime rate of 16.8 is below the national average of 22.7, as is the rate for property crime. In general terms, the overall crime rate is slightly lower than for the state as a whole
Is It Expensive In Amador County?
While the cost of living index is 14% higher than the national average, it is considerably lower at 114 than the state average of 149.9. This is mainly due to the cost of housing being almost half that of the rest of California.
In general, Amador is not as expensive as most other counties in California, and day-to-day expenses are in the same range or even slightly lower.