Places to Play: Copperopolis, California

Sunrise over a pond at Copper Valley Golf Course in Copperopolis, Calaveras County, California
The Golf Club at Copper Valley in Copperopolis, California

In the serene Sierra foothills of Calaveras County is Copperopolis, a small town with a lot of stories to tell. Visitors come for the beautiful scenery, the lakes and rivers prime for fishing, hiking trails across rolling hills, top-notch golf courses and a burgeoning wine scene. Local attractions include Calaveras Big Trees State Park with its giant sequoia groves, and Moaning Cavern, the largest single cave chamber in California. Copperopolis is under a 2-hour drive from the Bay Area, and within easy driving distance of Yosemite National Park. Numerous state parks and old Gold Rush towns are nearby as well.

The Boomtown History of Copperopolis

Copperopolis is in the heart of Gold Country, but it stands out from its neighbors as its boomtown years were built upon copper, not gold. This peculiarity got Copperopolis entangled, albeit from afar, in the Civil War. The town’s mine became the principal source of copper for the Union Army, sending it to the East Coast via San Francisco and Cape Horn. Copperopolis experienced similarly short-lived copper booms during both world wars, but its mines closed for good in 1946.

A handful of buildings from the mid-19th century still stand in Copperopolis, today listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In fact, the whole town of Copperopolis is registered as California Historical Landmark #296.

Copperopolis and Mark Twain

There’s one storied structure in Copperopolis that didn’t last, but which lives on in literary heritage. A long-gone shack on Jack Ass Hill is famous for being the place where Mark Twain wrote “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” the short story that launched his career. While staying in the area, Twain heard the story of a gambler and his trained frog from a bartender at the Angel Hotel. After writing it up with his signature wit, Mark Twain gained his first taste of national acclaim. Calaveras County has celebrated its connection to Twain with the annual Jumping Frog Jubilee, complete with a jumping frog contest, (almost) every year since 1928.

Sunrise over a river at Copper Valley Golf Course in Copperopolis, Calaveras County, California

Where to Stay in Copperopolis

We recommend that overnight visitors to Copperopolis book one of the Lodge Bungalows at The Golf Club at Copper Valley. For golfers it’s a clear winner as the highest rated public course in Northern California, but you don’t need to play 18 holes to appreciate the stunning views. The course features natural lakes and streams, oak-strewn hills and views of the Sierras. Every bungalow has a private patio ideal for taking in the scenery. They feature a master suite, second bedroom and bathroom, fully equipped kitchen and fireplace. Various configurations are available to guests.

The resort also features a swimming pool, sports club and the Copper Grille Restaurant overlooking the 18th green. The restaurant offers contemporary American cuisine, and has a full bar featuring local wines. Other restaurants, along with boutiques, coffee shops and more, are nearby at The Square at Copper Valley. This charming complex has a walkable design built around an old-fashioned town square.

For more about exploring Calaveras County, check out the Calaveras Visitors Bureau.

Looking for somewhere to stay closer to Yosemite? Click here to read our review of Yosemite Dreams in Oakhurst, California.

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