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Historic Downieville, CA in the Sierra Nevada Mountains

In 1848, gold nuggets found in the American River near what is now known as Placerville, CA sparked the California Gold Rush of the late 1840s and early 1850s. As an influx of people traveled to the western portion of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in hopes of striking it rich, the town of Downieville was founded on Highway 49 just north of the original gold discovery. The area, originally known as The Forks because of its location at the fork of the Downie and Yuba Rivers, was soon dubbed Downieville after the town’s founder William Downie. Downie himself was a 49er who successfully led an expedition and made a fortune discovering gold on the site of the town. At the height of the gold rush, Downieville’s population skyrocketed to over 5,000, with an active downtown area with 15 hotels, four bakeries, and a variety of butcher shops and saloons.

smokey mountains and river

As Times Change, Much of Downieville Remains the Same

Since those days of the Gold Rush in the mid-1800s, things have changed in Downieville. The population has settled to about 200 year-round residents, and modern amenities and conveniences have replaced the old technology the town was initially built upon. What hasn’t changed is the historic western attraction and appeal for which the area is known. If you’ve ever been interested in experiencing authentic western, small-town enchantment, Downieville, CA is about as original as you can get.

Dirt Magic: Downieville’s Journey From Mining Town to Mountain Bike Meca

Dirt Magic is a short film documenting Downieville, CA’s transformation from an old mining town to mountain-bike mecca. A group of locals, inspired by a desire to save their hometown trails, shaped a stewardship and the nation’s rowdiest mountain biking festival. Today the Downieville Classic attracts racers and spectators from across the globe and has created a model for struggling mountain towns around the world

newly married couple celebrating in the streets

Downtown Downieville

Downieville, CA’s downtown area is small and quaint but has everything you need at businesses like Empire Creek Provisions, eateries, coffee shops, and more. There are various lodging options right in town on the river that offer balconies for spectacular views of the river and mountains. No matter what time of year you plan to visit, you’ll have a fabulous experience exploring the mountains, meeting the locals, and creating lasting memories.

Downieville Weather & Climate

The Sierra Nevada Mountains are known for giant sequoia trees that grow as tall as 300 feet and are home to three national parks: Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia. Beyond the parks, the mountains and Downieville area are filled with incredible opportunities for outdoor activities no matter what time of year you visit. Weather changes with each season, offering diverse experiences throughout the year.


Temperature during winter ranges from the high 20s to mid 40s. January sees about 30" of snow, while March averages about 37”. Our area doesn't see too much wind, so even on days the temperature is below freezing, it's still perfect for outdoor activities.


Early spring still has some residual snow on the ground, and April averages about 11" of snow each year. Temperatures rise to the mid 50s with lows in the mid 30s. Late spring is a beautiful time of year as May temperatures average in the low 60s, and we're in the mid 70s by June. This is an excellent time of year to visit without the hustle and bustle of the summer crowds.


Summer in Downieville is gorgeous, with temperatures in the high 80s and low 50s on cooler evenings. The area gets almost no rain in the summer, so you can expect every day to be sun-filled. There's so much to do in the Sierra, and with 14 hours of daylight, there's plenty of time to do it!


Early fall resembles weather closer to summer, with temperatures averaging in the mid 70s and then mid 60s as the months go on. We don't see much rain until about mid-November to December, so there are still many opportunities to enjoy outdoor activities in the fall.

Schedule a Visit to Downieville, CA