Northern California's Tuolumne County is an overlooked gem despite its proximity to the hiker's mecca that is Yosemite National Park. The county spans throughout three distinct parts of the region, which are also home to Gold Country and the picturesque High Sierra. Any type of traveler or entire family deciding on their next vacation spot can find a world of adventure in Tuolumne County and do so with fewer crowds than in other areas that are accessible to Yosemite National Park. Here is a list of reasons why Tuolumne County should be on everyone's bucket list.

10 Dodge Ridge Mountain Resort

Dodge Ridge Mountain Resort is an unbeatable place to plan a vacation near Stanislaus National Forest, with a wide array of outdoor activities to dive into. Newly opened mountain biking trails and increasingly popular disc golf are two highlights. Travelers looking for a less strenuous hiking experience without missing out on anything have a chair ride up into the mountains waiting for them, from which they can take a leisurely hike back down from the mountain and see the best of nature with half of the energy expense.

9 Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is certainly the most famous name in this region of the country. The bulk of visitors to Yosemite flock to the Yosemite Valley Floor, but Tuolumne offers some less crowded alternative entrances to Yosemite with treasures like the Tuolomne Grove of Giant Sequoias.

Related: How You Can Visit The Giant Sequoias Of Yosemite National Park

8 Twain Harte

The small quaint town of Twain Harte transports visitors to a High Sierra storybook setting in the forest. There is a wide variety of accommodation options of B&Bs, vacation rentals, and hotels to serve as a home base for boating, hiking, fishing, and any other outdoor fun imaginable, including bocce ball and miniature golf.

7 Horseback Riding In The High Sierra

Hiking is obviously one of the biggest attractions in this area, but sometimes the experience can feel even better from horseback. Luckily, there are many options for horseback riding operating from May to December, which bring you to different attractions like waterfalls or the giant sequoia trees the area is famous for. Outings widely vary from quick rides under an hour long to week-long pack trips in the Emigrant Wilderness.

6 Black Chasm Cavern

Black Chasm Cavern is a National Natural Landmark where visitors can feel like they are on another planet among the fascinating rock formations, including marble monoliths and helictite crystals. Despite the intense views, this is a very family-friendly adventure, and tours of the cavern can be completed in under an hour. Activities like gemstone mining are also an option.

Related: The 10 Most Magical Caverns Hidden In The United States

5 Railtown 1897 State Historic Park

The tiny town of Jamestown is home to the Railtown 1897 State Park. The park is not only a historical site but also a fully functioning train rehabilitation operation. Visitors can explore the grounds full of trains, including garages and blacksmith shops, before taking a 45-minute train excursion into Gold Country.

4 Visit The Llamas Of Circle Home

The Llamas of Circle Home is much more than just a petting zoo. Owner George Caldwell began working with llamas in the 1980s and has successfully made his llamas a valued part of the local community. Aside from being a fun addition to local events, these llamas have been well-trained to be utilized for therapeutic purposes in humans, and mental health is one of the major pillars of the business.

3 Columns Of The Giants In Stanislaus National Forest

The natural wonders here are not limited to Yosemite National Park, and Stanislaus National Forest is a popular alternative for travelers. A particularly captivating feature of the forest is the Columns of the Giants, which is a colossal formation of volcanic rock standing at 6,329 feet. While this destination appeals to rock climbers the most, there are also spots for fishing and camping nearby.

2 Whitewater Rafting In The Tuolumne River

The Tuolumne River has miles upon miles of rapids for whitewater rafting and plenty of companies ready to guide you along like this one that offers outings ranging from 1 to 3 days. The rapids in this river are typically Class IV, so beginners should be sure to check in with tour companies about safety concerns.

1 Go Panning for Gold

Jump back in time to the Gold Rush era with a guided gold planning adventure! Gold Prospecting Adventures is a highly professional company in the area that offers a range of activities from casual gold panning tours for the family to more technical 3-day prospecting courses under the guidance of a professional prospector.