Of all the things I’ve done so far in Gold Country, one of my favorites is the Roaring Camp Saturday Night Cookout. It is an evening full of adventure, food, fun, entertainment, education and history.
Descent into the Mokelumne River Canyon
Your adventure begins at the Roaring Camp office on Tabeaud across from the Gold Country Campground in Pine Grove, CA. Everyone caravans from there at 5pm sharp to the Roaring Camp Mining Company staging area and entrance just a little farther down Tabeaud.
There, trucks are waiting to take you down the very steep descent into the Mokelumne River Canyon.
The trip down in the trucks is one of the best parts of the evening for me. The scenery is breathtaking and your guide tells you about the history of Roaring Camp and the canyon. It was fascinating learning about this area that is practically in my backyard. The guides are family members or long-time employees, so the stories are detailed and personal.
The steep trip down, descending from around 3,000 feet to 1,200 feet, takes about 45 minutes. Part way down, the trucks stop to give the brakes a chance to cool off. There is a cute outhouse there and you can visit the Fountain of Youth, country style.
Until this road was built, the camp was only accessible by horseback down an even steeper trail. This made it difficult for gold miners of the 1850s into the 1900s to get enough supplies, so the camp and canyon were left relatively intact. There’s still lots of gold there!
The Mokelumne River
As we were driving down, we were able to catch a glimpse of the Mokelumne River. At the bottom of the canyon, the camp is right on the river. It was an amazing setting. It was beautiful and somehow serene, even with all the noise and commotion of the event.
When you arrive at the cookout area, you are greeted by friendly staff bearing fried bread. Oh, the famous fried bread. This stuff is so good, even on my keto diet I couldn’t resist having several pieces of it. I’m not sure anyone can.
After you’ve had a chance to get a refreshment at the bar and have some fried bread to munch on, you can take a guided tour. If it is your first visit, I definitely recommend the tour. You’ll see the museum, lots of artifacts, the rest of the camp and cabins, and their operating placer mine.
After the tour, your guide will show you how to pan for gold. You get to keep anything you find!
Click play on the video to see how gold panning is done.
If you don’t go on the tour or pan for gold, you can visit with friends and enjoy the live band. Get up and dance if the mood strikes you. Everyone is here to have fun!
While all this is going on, the staff is hard at work cooking up an awesome New York steak dinner over a roaring campfire.Enjoy a New York steak dinner with all the fixings prepared over a roaring campfire. @roaringcampgold Click To Tweet
Play the video to get a feel for the whole experience.
I have been to the Roaring Camp Saturday night cookout twice now – once last year in May and just a couple of weeks ago in July. In May, it was a little cool and we had been having a ton of rain. The skies were cloudy and threatening, but we ended up having an evening of perfect weather. We bundled up a little and I was never cold, even on the ride up the hill at the end of the evening in the open trucks. When I went earlier this month, it had been very warm during the day, OK hot, but it was cool and pleasant by the river.
Roaring Camp is open May through September and has a cookout every Saturday night. The evening is a bargain at $50 per person but if you are a local, ask about the special price for locals on the first Saturday of every month.
I love the Roaring Camp Saturday night cookout experience and will probably make it an annual tradition (at least). Have you been to the Roaring Camp Saturday night cookout or any other cowboy cookout? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
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Until next time…