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All-Season Wellness in Northern California: Here’s to a Revived You this Year in Yosemite’s Tuolumne County

Photo by Mackenzie Rodgers

January owns the biggest day of the year for making resolutions, but there are 364 other days for keeping them. Might we humbly suggest a new proclamation? Choose wellness any day, week or weekend of the year. Choose Tuolumne County in the Gold Country region near Yosemite, (pronounced “To-All-O-Me”) where for every season there is a reason, a place and an activity that promotes physical, emotional or spiritual health. Heed John Muir’s words: “The mountains are calling, and I must go.”


Horseback Riding in the High Sierra

Experience the region the way Gold Country’s first settlers did: on horseback. Outfitters at Kennedy Meadows Resort & Pack Station (kennedymeadows.com) saddle riders up for mountain treks and alpine meadow excursion from May through September. Teddy Roosevelt said, “Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground” but he also knew what it was like to keep feet in stirrups and become one with the horse.

Hike to Your Heart’s Content

Hiking with others enhances social connectedness, the number one predictor of happiness. Go with YExplore Yosemite Adventures (yexplore.com), which offers hard and soft adventure, backpacking, nature walks and photography tours, all personalized and specific to each month. There is a positive physiological response by the body to the natural environment – including lower blood pressure, reduced anxiety and improved mood and self-esteem.

Feel the Rush of Whitewater

Tuolumne County is blessed with crystal clear lakes and rushing rivers. O.A.R.S.(oars.com/tuolumne-river-itineraries), is just one of many rafting operators in the area. There’s something for everyone, from float boats to Class V rafting on real wilderness rivers, and from half day to weeklong adventures complete with winemaker dinners on the river. As Mark Twain said, “Twenty years from now you’ll be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did.”


Heavy Metals and Fatigue Be Gone

Order a cup of “Feel Better” tea at Amala Detox & Tea Lounge (amaladetox.com) in downtown historic Sonora, and settle into an ionic foot bath to let the lymphatic system and joints release their toxins. The staff even “reads” the waters, like gypsies reading tea leaves. Or use the science of color and take an infrared sauna to relieve stress and flush toxins.

Channel Your Inner Picasso

Creativity roams freely at Sonora’s Brush & Cork (brushandcork.com), where friends bolstered by wine (BYOB) can paint outside the lines. Ansel Adams’ mastery of light and clarity of vision brought throngs of attention to Yosemite. Take the painting home and continue to be inspired.

Whatever Your Body Needs

Therapeutic massage at Body Kneads (bkneads.com), whether of the Swedish or hot stone variety, is often just what the doctor ordered. And for those who think the soles of the feet are the second heart, a paraffin wax treatment to soften and soothe them might just make a heart grow three sizes that day.


Some adages stand the test of time for a reason: there’s truth in them thar words. Since an apple a day keeps the doctor away, head to Cover’s Apple Ranch(coversappleranch.com) for eating, baking, and cider apples – along with apple pancakes, apple turnovers, and mile-high hot apple pie.

The health benefits of red wine are well documented. Gianelli Vineyards Tasting Room (gianellivineyards.com), in Jamestown, is the place to sip Gold Country’s liquid gold. Wine lovers of every ilk can work through their award-winning uncommon Italian varietals, paying particular attention to their Vermentino and Barbera.


A good night’s sleep is the single best restorative choice to be made. The still new Rush Creek Lodge (rushcreeklodge.com), at the Highway 120 West entrance to Yosemite, offers 143 rooms, suites and villas set over 20 wooded acres; indoor and outdoor lodge-style dining; and a gigantic saltwater pool. It’s sister property, Evergreen Lodge (evergreenlodge.com), sits one mile west of the Yosemite National Park boundary, and is renowned for its deluxe cabins and cottages, and multi-generational return visits over the same week every year.

Off the main streets bed and breakfasts can be found throughout the County, where the air is so fresh it awakens your lungs and the night sky displays a billion stars. Two recommended are McCaffrey House Bed & Breakfast Inn(mccaffreyhouse.com), overseen by Stephanie and Michael McCaffrey, and Barretta Gardens Inn (barrettagardens.com), operated under the keen eye of Astrid Wasserman. Tuck into a deep sleep. Studies show that exercise in a natural environment provides twice the mental benefits as an indoor spot. In this world, there is a place closer than you think to spark the five senses and feel more alive. Lean into wellness at Yosemite’s front door, Tuolumne County, where it’s easy to make and keep promises to yourself. (After all, it’s pronounced “To-All-O-Me”, the perfect chant for tip to toe wellness).

About Yosemite’s Tuolumne County

Tuolumne (rhymes with “follow me”) County, located 133 miles/200 km east of San Francisco, is a pristine, scenic expanse reaching into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Gold was discovered in Tuolumne County in 1848, setting off the major gold rush of 1849.  The main highways leading to the picturesque drive from the San Francisco and East Bay Area are Highways 108 and 120 from the west and Highway 49 from the north. The State Highway 120 entrance to Yosemite National Park is considered the “front door” of the park for the San Francisco Greater Bay Area. The Stanislaus National Forest, Yosemite National Park, and other surrounding areas provide natural vistas and settings for hiking, water skiing, horseback riding, rafting, camping, snowmobiling, boating, snow skiing, fishing and other outdoor activities. Seven restored historic hotels, four golf courses, numerous and varied dining establishments, historic saloons, five wineries and hard cider distillery, train rides, casino, seven museums, two state historic parks, five live theaters, and many bed-and-breakfast inns are among the many other attributes that make the county a year-round vacation destination.  www.visittuolumne.com 


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