Coloma, a town of only 529 people, is one of our nation’s secret treasures.
At the heart of Gold Country, the city is home to incredible museums and historical displays where adults and children alike can explore what it was like to be a settler traveling to California in the 1800s during the California Gold Rush. But there’s plenty to do besides panning for gold!
“Coloma,” comes from the Nisenan Native American word for beautiful, “Cullumah,” and Coloma Valley is ripe with lush areas for outdoor exploration. If you’re a hiker, mountain biker, horseback rider, or just a lover of nature, you will appreciate the year round stunning scenery. Additionally, Coloma’s rushing whitewater rapids attract over 100,000 rafters per year.
This guide will help you make the most of your time in Coloma by looking at some of your options for food, entertainment, camping (and glamping!), outdoor activities, and events.
You’ll need fuel to participate in Coloma’s many activities, and luckily, there’s no shortage of good restaurants. Regardless of whether you need a strong cup of coffee, a hearty burger, or a light salad, Coloma’s got you covered.
- Sierra Rizing Bakery, Catering & Coffee House – A great way to start your day, Sierra Rizing serves locally roasted coffee and is open for lunch, with grilled cheese, burgers, and shakes. The Bakery is off of Coloma Road and River Park Drive.
- Argonaut Farm to Fork Cafe – Located in a historical building off of Coloma Road, this cafe has pastries, handmade bagels, and drip coffee for breakfast. Stop by for lunch and try their fresh lemonade.
- Camp Lotus Deli – Find your fresh coffee, espresso, lattes, and breakfast sandwiches, here. The deli is open daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day, and on weekends in April, May, September, and October and is located slightly east of the River off of Bassi Road.
- River Shack Deli & Pub – Grab a sandwich, a beer, and listen to fantastic live music. The Deli is cash only but has an ATM out front. The Deli & Pub is located near the intersection of Marshall Road and Coloma Road.
- Gorilla Rock Tacos – Order some pub grub and one of 48 craft beers to accompany your tacos. Enjoy outside on the patio or inside in the cool dining area. It’s located across the street from Sierra Rizing off of Coloma Road.
- Lotus Pub – Homemade pretzels, mac and cheese, and fresh soup come from this family-owned bar. Order some wine or craft beer to go along with your upscale pub food and eat al fresco. Located off of Lotus Road in a building built in the 1800s.
- American River Pizza and Grill – Swing by for some BBQ ribs, burgers, pizza, or traditional pasta. The Grill caters for holiday parties, birthdays, anniversaries, and more, and is located near Lotus and Coloma.
There are fun things to do in Coloma every season, many of which are little to no cost. Learn something at a historical site, delve into facts about native fauna and wildlife, or enjoy beers with friends.
- Marshall Gold Discovery Park – Technically, 70% of Coloma is part of the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park, so it would be a shame to pass it up! The Park pays homage to the days of the California Gold Rush, with a visitor center and museum that make the experience come alive. At the Park, you can pan for gold yourself, wander around the museum, or take a guided tour for $3 or less.
- David Girard Vineyards – Wine tasting, anyone? The vineyard has been around since 1998, spanning 36 acres, and offering wines paired with spectacular scenery. Call 530-295-1833 for tasting times.
- Barmhaus Brewing Co – Founded by a couple who is passionate about beer and the South Fork of the American River, Barmhaus is a European-style brewery. The Brewery is constructed atop an old rock quarry and has an inviting tasting room that’s open from 2 – 7 pm Thursday through Sunday.
- Olde Coloma Theatre – What is life without art? Olde Coloma Theatre brings “melodrama to the heart of gold country,” inviting guests to boo and cheer during their performances. Stop by on Friday and Saturday evenings or at a Sunday matinee between May and December. General admission is $15.
Camping, Glamping, and Lodging
From luxurious hotels to “roughing it” in a traditional tent camping or experiencing the best of both worlds with glamping, you have a range of lodging options to choose from depending on your level of adventurousness.
Inns, Resorts, and Hotels
Pairing the wilderness with a lavish oasis is easy in Coloma. Here are a few places to consider when booking your getaway:
- Bella Vista Bed & Breakfast – 5 acres of grounds, complete with waterfalls, gardens, and lagoons. Views of the American River and Coloma valley. Fresh breakfast, massages, and romantic wine packages. Rooms start at $300 per night.
- Everhart Cellars & Hart 2 Hart Vineyards – This newly renovated, 5-bedroom, 4-bathroom home sits on just a small part of the 120 acres of the vineyard. Enjoy premium wine from their tasting rooms, listen to live music on the weekend and enjoy scrumptious eats from local food trucks. Renting the estate starts at $470 per night.
- American River Resort – Premier riverfront cabins, with a pool, fishing pond, and swimming hole on the grounds. American River Resort is just a short walk away from Marshall Gold Discovery Park and Coloma’s fantastic hiking trails. Deluxe cabins start at $250 per night.
- Coloma Resort – The Resort has several cabins and bunkhouses for rent, with a playground, ropes course, and swimming pool to keep kids occupied on site. Small bunkhouses start at $145 and more upscale country cottages start at $385.
Camping and Glamping
If you’ve been bitten by the camping bug, there are a slew of camping and glamping spots in Coloma. Below, find a few private and public campgrounds for rent:
- American River Resort – The Resort has campsites along the Troublemaker Rapid, complete with private fire pits, picnic tables, restroom and shower facilities, and potable water spigots. Riverfront tent rentals start at $25 per person per night.
- Ponderosa RV Resort – Located on 22 acres of river frontage with 146 RV and tent camping sites available year-round, the resort sits at the foothills of the Sierras at the South Fork of the American River. The campgrounds have bocce ball courts, horseshoes, restroom facilities, WiFi, and a swimming pool.
- Camp Lotus – The grassy, irrigated tent camping sites come with fire rings, picnic tables, and access to public bathrooms and showers. Campsites start at $15 per person per night with a $45 minimum.
Now we’re getting to the most thrilling part of Coloma一outdoor activities. Rafting, hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding aren’t can’t miss opportunities to connect with nature.
You haven’t lived until you go whitewater rafting on the South Fork of the American River. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, South Fork has wild, wet fun for everyone. Most people don’t come to Coloma with rafting gear in hand or much rafting experience, so there are plenty of outfitters who can book you an all-inclusive adventure. Day trips come with rafts, life jackets, paddles, and professional rafters who will navigate your group through Class II and III rapids. All you need to bring are old clothes and shoes, a hat, sunscreen, and energy! American Whitewater Expeditions, EarthTrek Expeditions, and All-Outdoors California Whitewater Rafting all provide wonderful guidance and equipment.
Coloma has miles and miles of trails for running, hiking, bicycling, and horseback riding. The South Fork American River Trail has 11 miles of rolling hills for intermediate and advanced hikers to test their limits. This longer trail is also good for mountain bikers and horseback riders wanting to experience the trail from another perspective. Similarly, the 12-mile Cronan Ranch Trail System has wide and well-kept trails appropriate for biking, bird watching, horseback riding, and hiking. To make the most of your trail experience, pack a picnic lunch. There are a number of picturesque spots to rest, refuel, and appreciate the view. Most trails are open from sunrise to sunset, and cost only a few dollars to park, if that.
Maybe you’re coming to Coloma to celebrate a special occasion. If that’s the case, you’ll find Coloma has an assortment of venues that can help you host a fun and entertaining event.
- American River Resort – If you are envisioning a natural setting with rustic yet elegant details, American River Resort is the venue for you. Call the resort at 530-622-6700 to get all your questions answered and set up an appointment to plan your event.
- Camp Lotus – Whether you are organizing a wedding, retreat, or conference, Camp Lotus can accommodate a broad spectrum of events. Contact Camp Lotus’s Event Coordinator, LuAnne Finn at 530-391-3208 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to start planning.
- Gold Trail Grange – Built in 1926, the Hall has a charming, historic atmosphere. Contact their rental coordinator at 530-622-2578 or send an email to email@example.com.
Settle into your Coloma stay
There are countless reasons to head to the mountains一fresh air, exhilarating activities, and awe-inspiring views. But choosing where to stay can make or break your trip. That’s where the American River resort comes into play. With riverfront cabins, mountain view campgrounds, and RV sites for rent, the Resort takes great lengths to make your stay fun, comfortable, and memorable. Adventure is a quick walk or drive away, with whitewater rafting, wine tasting, gold rush museums, fishing, and mountain biking next door.
Find out more about what Coloma has to offer by booking your stay at The American River Resort.