MADERA COUNTY — Enjoy the best of Madera County on the Fossils to Falls Trail, a four-day road trip! On your trip, collect the Welcoming Committee’s trading cards at ten destinations and discover the best attractions in Yosemite’s Southern Gateway. Participants can use their trading cards to enter the Yosemite Adventure Contest grand prize drawing.
Start your journey at the Fossil Discovery Center of Madera County, off Highway 99 in Chowchilla. This amazing exhibit features fossils from the Middle-Pleistocene (780,000 years ago). Columbian Mammoths, Saber-toothed Cats, Sloths, Dire Wolfs, Camels, and Horses are just a few of the 15,000 fossils found at this very spot. Kids can participate in a mock dig, too.
Find the trading card for MR. MEAD at the Fossil Discovery Center. Mr. Mead is a Saber-toothed Cat and part of the Welcoming Committee for Madera County. Visitors who collect cards on the Fossils to Falls Road trip can enter to win the Yosemite Adventure Contest! It is exciting to discovering fresh experiences in an ancient landscape.
Afterward, drive to the Valley Pistachio Country Store to sample the freshest of local nuts and dried fruits. Continue on to visit wineries from the Madera Wine Trail then enjoy a locally sourced, farm-fresh dinner at The Vineyard Restaurant, also in Madera. Stay local, too, there are many comfortable hotels in Madera and Chowchilla.
Traveler Tip: Honey bees pollinate the fertile farms of Madera County. Pick up HONEY’s trading card at wineries these participating wineries:
Birdstone Winery, Fäsi Estate Winery, Ficklin Vineyards, Idle Hour Winery and Kitchen, Papagni Wines, San Joaquin Winery, Toca Madera Winery, and Westbrook Wine Farm. Dive into the history and diversity of the Madera Viticulture area.
Get an early start as you head up into the foothills of Madera County for another day of adventures. Visit the Coarsegold Museum to see what life was like in the 1800s in this thriving mining town and stagecoach route into Yosemite. Don’t miss the Coarsegold Historic Village for shopping and lunch. While you’re there, try your hand at gold panning, too.
Head into Oakhurst the largest town in the foothills where you’ll find quaint bed and breakfast inns, hotels, and vacation rentals. Dine at South Gate Brewing Company after a day of exploring the area.
In the center of town meet SIERRA, from the Welcoming Committee. Sierra is a local black bear that loves to shop, play and explore all there is to see and do in Oakhurst, the largest gateway town outside Yosemite. Stop by the Visitor Center in Oakhurst to pick up your Sierra trading card for the Yosemite Adventure Contest.
While you’re there ask how to find the World Famous Talking Bear. Press the button and hear what he has to say.
Meet a colorful addition to the Welcoming Committee, ART E. FOX. The Sierra Nevada red fox is one of the most endangered species in North America. Discover powerful works of art and learn about this incredible creature at the Yosemite Gateway Art Center, in Oakhurst.
Spend the day at the lake on beautiful Bass Lake! Rent a boat or water toy from one of the three marinas on the lake. There are a number of ways to spend a day at the lake. You can, take a fishing tour, try to spot the resident Bald Eagles, enjoy a scrumptious meal at a restaurant, hike or bike the trails around the lake, then discover treasures at the shops at the Pines Village.
While at the lake, look out for BLAKE trading cards at the front desks of The Pines Resort and Conference Center, Miller’s Landing Resort and Marina, and the Forks Resort and Marina. BLake is a Bass Lake bald eagle who likes fishing, watching tourists, and getting his photo taken.
Then head to North Fork down the road from Bass Lake which is the Exact Center of California. Explore the region’s Native American heritage at the Sierra Mono Museum, one of only a handful of Indian-owned-and-operated museums in the state.
Don’t miss taking a ride on a historic Steam Train at the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad. This four-mile excursion takes riders back in time to the logging and gold mining times in the Sierra National Forest.
RICKY is the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad‘s resident bandit, raccoon. Ride the antique steam train around the mountain and pick up your Ricky trading card.
On your last day, visit Yosemite National Park to marvel at its wondrous sights.
The first stop at the South Gate Entrance of the park is the largest grove of Giant Sequoia Trees in Yosemite, Mariposa Grove. These beautiful trees are some of the largest on the planet. Learn about this outdoor cathedral and the importance of preserving the health of the grove for future generations.
GALEN is the great horned owl that is the protector of the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. After exploring the giants, snap a picture, then pick up GALEN’s trading card at the Mariposa Grove Welcome Center.
Next, explore Glacier Point (open seasonally) get a bird’s-eye view of Yosemite Valley and many of the astounding waterfalls.
In Yosemite Valley to take in iconic scenes of well-known landmarks such as Half Dome, Sentinel Rock, the Three Brothers, and Cloud’s Rest. You might even be lucky enough to see climbers ascending the 3000′ tall face of El Capitan. There’s so much to see in Yosemite Valley, a lifetime of adventure is possible.
SANDY the squirrel hangs out at Tunnel View and all-around Yosemite Valley, gathering nuts and chatting. You can pick up your Sandy trading card at the Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite Valley. If the gallery is not open during your time in the park, ask for your card at the Oakhurst Visitor Center.
For current information regarding access to Yosemite, events, and outdoor programs, be sure to review Yosemite National Park Service official website.