Susan George: Destination: Western Nevada County |

Susan George: Destination: Western Nevada County

Visitors taking place in Highway 49 familiarization trips will spend time exploring Empire Mine in Grass Valley.
Elias Funez/

Visit California develops and maintains marketing programs that keep California in the forefront as a premier travel destination. Working in partnership with regional marketing programs, a new road trips initiative focusing on uniquely California experiences and itineraries has been launched.  “The Gold Rush Rally” media familiarization trip set for early May will highlight points of interest and activities along Highway 49 and in the Gold Country region.

The road trip will begin in Sacramento and from there travel the stretch of Highway 49. Approximately 28 media will be split between the northern and southern areas of the Gold Country region, which extends as far south as Mariposa County and as far north as Sierra County. Media from both traditional press outlets and digital influencers from each of Visit California’s 14 markets, including domestic, will participate. Seven distinct itineraries drawing on themes such as outdoor adventure, relaxed outdoor, art and culture, history and craft culinary were designed to feature the best of Gold Country offerings. Under the leadership of Valerie Costa, the Nevada County Economic Resource Council Marketing Committee is working with Visit California and the Gold Country Visitors Association to coordinate two familiarization trips in western Nevada County.

The first media group whose theme is “History and Culture North: Highway 49 Road Trip” will arrive from Sacramento on Monday, May 6, to explore Empire Mine State Historic Park. Upon their arrival Mayor Lisa Swarthout will be at the park to deliver an official welcome. The History and Culture activities will begin with a private tour of the park. The mine was California’s most profitable gold mine and today is a prominent icon of Gold Rush era history. Local art and cultural leaders will join the writers for dinner in historic downtown Grass Valley. The evening conversation will present an opportunity to learn more about the writers’ interests and offer content for the stories that will emerge from their road trip experiences.

On Tuesday, May 7, media will arrive in Nevada City. The theme for this second media group’s trip is “Outdoor Adventure North: Highway 49 Road Trip.” The day will begin at Independence Trail with an exhilarating trek led by the Bear Yuba Land Trust. The trail was transformed from a historic gold mining ditch into the nation’s first identified handicapped-accessible wilderness trail. After the hike the group will return to Nevada City for lunch with a fly fishing expert to learn more about the best local fishing holes. In the afternoon they’re scheduled to tour a working farm for a preview of agritourism, a form of niche tourism that is considered an up and coming growth industry. Dinner in historic downtown Nevada City with local community representatives ends a full day of outdoor adventure experiences.

In support of the road trip initiative and as a warm expression of hospitality to the traveling media, the lodging establishments in both Grass Valley and Nevada City have generously provided discounted rates to help defray costs.

“The Gold Rush Rally” familiarization trip is a great opportunity to get international and domestic exposure for the Gold Country and to showcase the accessibility and beauty of cruising down Highway 49. The Economic Resource Council Marketing Committee wishes to convey sincere appreciation to the lodging establishments, restaurants, experience locations and volunteers who came together to shine a spotlight on Nevada County.

Susan George is a co-founder of The Nevada County Regional Chambers of Commerce. She can be reached at

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