Fodor's Expert Review Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park
Most of Coloma lies within the historic park along the banks of the south fork of the American River. Though crowded with tourists in summer, Coloma hardly resembles the mob scene it was in 1849, when 2,000 prospectors staked out claims along the streambed. The town's population grew to 4,000, supporting seven hotels, three banks, and many stores and businesses. But when reserves of the precious metal dwindled, prospectors left as quickly as they had come. A working reproduction of an 1840s mill lies near the spot where James Marshall first saw gold. Trails lead to the mill, remnants of buildings and mining equipment, and a statue of Marshall with sublime views. For $7 per person, rangers give gold-panning lessons on the hour, year-round.