Oakhurst and Bass Lake California
On Bass Lake, the popular Jazz on the Lake
Giant sequoia trees in Yosemite National Park's Mariposa Grove
Leisurely paddle in Bass Lake
A winter day view of the Half Dome at Yosemite National Park
A celebration of culture at the North Fork Indian Fair Days Pow Wow
In awe of a towering Mammoth at the Fossil Discovery Center
All aboard for a train ride at Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad
Sipping wine at one of the wineries on the Madera Wine Trail
Yosemite Falls and the Swinging Bridge over the Merced River
Globe Rock, a must-see along the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway
- Major Airports:
- Fresno Yosemite (FAT)
Explore the great outdoors and learn about Madera County, California's southern gateway to Yosemite.
In the Scenic Outdoors
Beyond Yosemite, an ideal place to explore is the Sierra National Forest, go to Bass Lake to reel in trout, bass or crappie, or rent one of several types of watercraft for a thrilling time in the emerald-green water. Explore this 527,000-hectare national forest and see more lakes, the Nelder Grove of Giant sequoia trees, granite monoliths and hot springs. Take a trip along the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway; you’ll be on forest roads with a variety of surfaces, sometimes driving only 24 kilometers per hour.
Near the south entrance of Yosemite National Park, board a vintage train powered by a steam locomotive and go on the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad excursion. You will learn how lumberjacks felled trees and floated them down the mountain via a flume.
Wine Heritage Abounds
Plot a route of family-owned wineries that comprise the Madera Wine Trail. See firsthand how the varied soil types, temperature and proximity to the San Joaquin River and mountain ranges make this grape-growing region unique.
Meet award-winning winemakers, make yourself at home in one of their tasting rooms and learn about Madera County’s wine heritage that began in the late 1800s. For generations, the winery families have lived on farms, growing grapes to produce internationally recognized dessert wines, ports and other vintages.
Make the most of a wine trip by booking a nearby hotel and arranging for one of the area’s professional charters to take you to stops along the trail.
Attractions of Note
The Fossil Discovery Center of Madera County is a family attraction that includes a museum and mock dig pit with fossils from the Pleistocene epoch about 700,000 years ago. Since the tusk of a Columbian Mammoth was found 17 years ago, more than 15,000 fossils have been discovered there.
Learn about more recent history at the Sierra Mono Museum, where you’ll find displays of Indian baskets, weapons, ceremonial artifacts, beaded crafts and dioramas.
Visit in October, when Sierra Art Trails brings thousands of visitors from all over the world to an annual open studio tour. It features more than 100 artists who open their studios and homes to show and sell their work, which often draws inspiration from the incredible local scenery.
For an evening out, check the schedule at the Golden Chain Theatre, which stages live theater throughout the year.
Highway 41 in Madera County is the most traveled gateway to Yosemite National Park and features Tunnel View, one of the most photographed vistas in the world.
Madera is the Spanish term for “lumber” and was named because of a V-shaped wooden flume that was built in 1874 to float milled lumber from Sugar Pine for about 80 kilometers to the railroad head in Madera.
Culture and artifacts are abundant: The Chukchansi and Mono Indian tribes still call Madera County their home after thousands of years.