The following El Dorado County cities are in the Gold Country:
- 1 Coloma - The California Gold Rush began in Coloma in 1848 with the discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill, and today travelers can visit the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park to see the exact spot where gold was found. In addition, the park has a recreation of Sutter's Mill, exhibits documenting the Gold Rush, and the opportunity to pan for gold in the American River. While much of the original town is now essentially a ghost town, there are a few lodging options and restaurants. For visitors seeking adventure, the American River is a popular whitewater rafting destination, and a number of outfitters offer trips that start in Coloma.
- 2 El Dorado Hills
- 3 Placerville - Placerville is a town that played a key role in the Gold Rush, with a historic downtown that hearkens back to when it was originally incorporated as California's third largest town in 1857. Travelers looking for a place to stop on the way from Sacramento to Lake Tahoe can visit the downtown and shop in the oldest continually operated hardware store west of the Mississippi, or learn about the area's history in a museum housed in a former soda works. In addition, the town hosts the El Dorado County Fair each Father's Day weekend, an event which has been held since 1859 and attracts about 65,000 visitors over its four day run.
- 4 Pollock Pines
The following El Dorado County cities are in the Sierra Nevada mountains:
"El Dorado" translates from Spanish as "the gilded/golden", an appropriate title for the county where the California Gold Rush was kicked off after a discovery at Sutter's Mill (near Coloma) on January 24, 1848. Over the next seven years 300,000 people would come to California seeking their fortunes.
U.S. Route 50, which runs from the intersection with Interstate 80 in West Sacramento to the Nevada state line, is the main east-west route through the county. The route was historically used by the 49ers and the Pony Express, but today is most often frequented by visitors to Lake Tahoe and its ski resorts.
- 1 Placer County - El Dorado County's northern neighbor stretches from the suburbs of Sacramento to Lake Tahoe and the Nevada border. Named after the Spanish word meaning "sand or gravel deposits containing gold", the county was a hotbed of activity during the Gold Rush. Today visitors can enjoy mountain activities such as hiking and skiing, and will also be impressed by the historic courthouse in Auburn.
- Western Nevada
- 2 Alpine County - Located southeast of El Dorado County, sparsely populated Alpine County advertises itself with the slogan "two people per square mile and you", making it a good option for a quiet mountain getaway. Attractions include the hot spring pools at Grover Hot Springs State Park, amazing views of the Sierras from the Ebbetts Pass National Scenic Byway, and the excellent winter skiing at Kirkwood Mountain Resort.
- 3 Amador County - El Dorado County's neighbor to the south, Amador County was home to several mines during the Gold Rush, including the Kennedy Mine in Jackson which was the deepest gold mine of its time. Today the county is known for its Zinfandel, with the Shenandoah Valley home to over forty wineries. Visitors may also enjoy Black Chasm Cavern in Volcano, historic buildings, and outdoor activities such as skiing, camping and fishing.
- 4 Sacramento County - Bordering El Dorado County to the west , Sacramento County stretches from the wetlands at the edge of the San Francisco Bay to the rolling hills of Gold Country. The Sacramento and American Rivers played prominent roles in the county's development, and today offer outdoor opportunities ranging from boating to fishing to birdwatching. The capital city of Sacramento is located at the rivers' confluence, and visitors will appreciate its historic districts and more than 25 museums.