North Columbia Schoolhouse Annual Autumn Shindig


The Autumn Shindig Harvest Festival is a reliable harbinger of the fall season. This fun, family-focused festival has become an increasingly popular annual event to benefit the North Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural Center on the San Juan Ridge.

The festival is a daytime affair beginning at around noon and going until dusk. It features live music, local crafts, games for kids and adults alike, and various contests. Volunteers will be serving gourmet stew with locally sourced ingredients.

Admission for the festival is free. Attendees can purchase wooden tokens to spend on the food and game booths. Local craftspeople and farmers, will also have booths with goods on sale throughout the day.

Local musicians generously sponsor the event by playing pro bono.

There is a pie-making and jack-o-lantern competition. The winners will receive a gift basket with donations from local businesses. A beard and mustache (real and fake) competition, sack races, and other lawn games will be held throughout the day.

Sweetland Garden Supply, Mother Truckers, Jernigan’s Tap House, Extasia and BriarPatch Co-op are all providing assistance as Gold Sponsors for the Autumn Shindig this year. Many other local businesses provide additional sponsorship to help this vital part of the San Juan Ridge continue to thrive.

The North Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural Center on the San Juan Ridge, 17894 Tyler Foote Road, Nevada City, CA, 95959.

Free Admission. Tokens may be purchased at the gate for food, drinks, and games.

Visit, call (530) 265-2826, or email

Bierwagen’s Farm Annual Pumpkin Patch & Harvest Festival


Pumpkin Patch

Enjoy a huge pumpkin patch with tons of pumpkins just waiting to be picked. Many pumpkins are still attached to the vine they grew on, allowing you to enjoy the full pumpkin-picking experience. There are plenty of pumpkins that have already been picked if you prefer not to walk to the patch. Also available is a large selection of specialty pumpkins, squash and gourds. And we can’t forget the mini pumpkins and colorful Indian corn.

Fresh Apples

Fresh apples are a fall must, and Bierwagen’s has plenty of apples for you to choose from. You will find many varieties that are familiar and some that you might not have tasted before. Think about taking home a half box.

Apple Cider

Bierwagen’s Farm presses cider once a week and it is available for the month of October.  Cider is fresh, unfiltered, not sweetened and not pasteurized. Don’t forget to pick up an extra gallon to put in the freezer for later in the year as well as a package of mulling spices to make hot spiced cider for chilly fall nights.

Snack Shack

In case you get hungry after picking out your pumpkin, you can enjoy anything from a grilled hamburger to a salad, with lots of options in between. There are plenty of sweet treats too: caramel apples, pumpkin cupcakes, and apple cookies just to name a few. Don’t miss their popular apple fritter nuggets – many customers come to the pumpkin patch just for a fresh order of nuggets. Or take home a fresh-baked pie to enjoy with your apples cider.

Children’s Play Area

If you are bringing kiddos to the farm, there are lots of fun activities in store for them. In the Children’s Play Area there are the straw-bale horses, the corn (think sand) box, pumpkin bowling, pumpkin ring toss and more. There is also a nature/farm scavenger hunt that will take you on an adventurous tour of the farm. Kids of all ages (adults included) will love to visit with all of the farm animals and take advantage of several beautiful photo opportunities – its the perfect time to take a picture for the family Christmas card!

For more information please visit:

**Please leave your dogs at home as they are not allowed because they worry the livestock. 

Extreme Sports – It’s All Here, or Near Here

For action sports enthusiasts and elite athletes from San Francisco and around the Bay Area, Nevada City is an ideal weekend “base camp” and gateway to Sierra adventure. Within an hour of downtown, epic challenges are available year-round, including:

  • One of the longest and most demanding mountain bike race courses in the U.S.
  • Backcountry skiing and snowboarding on steep north side of Donner Peak
  • Four significant rock climbing areas, with many 5.12a-5.14a test pieces on solid, bolted granite
  • Class 5+ whitewater in high mountain scenery

Outside Magazine named Nevada City one of the best river towns in America.

extreme skiing

Access to Adventure

Access to a full range of Sierra adventure is direct via 49 North or 20 East (toward I-80). These scenic drives start from the heart of town, at an elevation below the snow line and above the fog. Nevada City is ideally situated for starting and ending day-trips into the Sierra, or for waiting out storm closures or chain requirements on I-80 over Donner Summit on a stormy Friday night.

Backcountry Skiing

donner summit backcountry snowboarding skiing

© photo by Colin Hughes

A new generation of freeskiers and snowboarders is making Donner Pass a notable backcountry destination. With huge annual snowfalls (over 411 inches/year), ski zones are always changing and no two trips seem the same. Chutes, big airs and pointers aplenty – and great views.

Access from Nevada City is via Highway 20, which during winter is often a mellow ridge-top drive under a canopy of towering, snow-covered Ponderosas. To get stoked for your next Sierra adventure on extreme skiing or riding terrain, watch Sierroin. To put safety first, check Sierra avalanche conditions. Main attractions include:

  • the insane I-80 jump and backflips off the snowsheds above the Alpine Skills International (ASI) lodge
  • guided sidecountry tours at Sugar Bowl, offered by ASI for alpine, AT, splitboard and telemark
  • chutes, cliffs and bowls within skinning or bootpacking distance of the Old Donner Summit Road; visit for information on West Slope, Lake Run, Heart, Shoulder and Thumb routes
  • Donner Summit backcountry ski courses for advanced and expert skiers at the North American Ski Training Center

Sport Climbing


© photo by Jim Thornburg  | Mike Carville at Bowman Lake

Nevada City is a great weekend stay for San Francisco Bay Area climbers who want good accommodations and hard sport climbs at a choice of areas and elevations to match the season and weather. The nearby Emeralds, at 5,000 feet, climb like European limestone in a canyon setting. Indian Springs and Rainbow offer quiet, one-pitch climbs, smooth granite, and a more alpine feel. Donner Summit, at 7,000 feet, is big, scenic, and renowned.

The Emeralds – Steep (mostly 5.11 and up) un-crowded rock-climbing about 23 miles east of Nevada City via Highway 20. Shade and elevation cool these climbs even in July-August, especially in the Wishing Well area. Prime swimming holes are close by at the South Yuba River. Access is good and the area is active, with close to three dozen newly-bolted .10-.13 lines in the Gorge section (subject to sudden flooding in spring). The well-featured rock feels like limestone. Classics include the immediately-cruxy Resurrection (11.c) and the sporty and overhanging Steel Monkey (5.12a).

Indian Springs – Three levels of short, solid, south-facing, and bolted granite climbs just above I-80, accessed by driving 45 minutes east from Nevada City on Highway 20, joining I-80 east, and taking the Eagle Lakes exit to a trail below the cliffs. Moderate slabs and faces, and swimming at the nearby South Yuba River, make this a fun mid-summer stop on the way to Donner. Zephyr provides one of the Sierra’s most inviting introductions to a pitch of solid 5.10 sport climbing.

Rainbow – About 30 short, mostly bolted routes up impeccable, smooth, dome-like granite. This quiet climbing area, about 50 minutes from Nevada City, is one of the Sierra’s easiest to access and demands ultimate respect for private property and local climbing ethics. At .12c, Monkey Business works your inverted sidepull. Dark Special is a nice, delicate .10a, though a bit runout off the deck. Go east out of Nevada City on 20, join I-80 east, and take the Big Bend exit. The 10-minute approach trail starts across from the Big Bend Ranger Station.

Donner Summit – An hour from Nevada City, Donner is the big daddy of Tahoe region climbing areas, with hundreds of 1-4 pitch routes. Scenic Donner Lake views, a historic feel, pleasant summer afternoons, and high concentrations of fierce sport routes make for a classic Sierra experience. Top climbers who didn’t overindulge in town the night before will opt for Star Walls, where overhanging granite glistens with .12a-.14a gems like Warp Factor (.13a) and A Steep Climb Named Desire (.14a). Refer to Mike Carville’s Rock Climbing Lake Tahoe. Take 20 east, then follow I-80 east to the Soda Springs exit. Go right at the exit and follow old Highway 40 past Sugar Bowl to the cliffs.

Professional Cycling


The Nevada City Classic

Each year since 1960, commonly on Father’s Day, Nevada City hosts the Nevada City Classic, a 90-minute professional cycling race billed as the largest and oldest on the West Coast and the second-oldest in the nation. It is one of the premiere sporting events in the Sierra foothills.

The twisted, hilly 1.1 mile circuit includes 300 feet of climbing and is possibly the toughest one-mile criterium in the U.S. Prior winners include Los Gatos school teacher Bob Tetzlaff, Olympian John Howard, three-time Tour de France winner and California native Greg LeMond, Olympic gold medalist Alexi Grewal, and three-time Tour de California winner Levi Leipheimer.

Visit for race and course info, categories, and registration.

Tour of California

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The Tour of California switches from February to May, and Mark Cavendish of Great Britain wins the opening stage from Nevada City to Sacramento. Seven-time Tour de France champion (and 2009 NC Classic winner) Lance Armstrong, defending Tour of California champion Levi Leipheimer and a host of top American and international cyclists compete in the event.


A freak May snowstorm in South Lake Tahoe prompts the cancellation of Stage 1 of the Tour of California. The original second stage is shortened, and its departure point changes from Squaw Valley to Nevada City. Ben Swift of Great Britain claims the stage ending in Sacramento.


Whitewater Kayaking


© photo by John Lillis

Although the whitewater season around Nevada City is brief, usually ending by late spring or early summer, the high mountain scenery makes that short window extremely sweet. The runs described here, all within an hour of town, are somewhat to very advanced.

Yuba Gap, Upper South Fork Yuba River – A wild, gripping, full-day run that begins with a 15’ boof onto a pillow, followed by 7 miles of gorges, big drops, steep boulder gardens, 10’-30’ slides, slots, and several portages (two mandatory). Consistent Class V for 5 miles. Flows around 300 are ideal (600 is too high, 200 is too low). The take-out is the Golden Quartz picnic area on Maybert Road, 2.7 miles east of the town of Washington. The put-in is Langs Crossing on Bowman Lake Road, where a marginal trail drops down to the river. As you drive east from Nevada City, Washington Road (to Washington) and Bowman Lake Road are both well-marked left-hand turns off Highway 20.

Washington to Edwards Crossing, South Fork Yuba – This scenic, 14-mile stretch is easy by South Yuba standards, but several tricky Class IV sections add danger – especially as it gets harder with flows above 1,000 cfs. The run starts with Class II-III rapids and powerful ledge drops. Just before mile 11, portage left around a 20-foot waterfall to a Class IV-V rapid with a consequential, re-circulating eddy. To reach take-out, follow 49 North in Nevada City where it splits from Highway 20, go .3 mile to a right turn onto N. Bloomfield road, and then right again after .6 mile at a T intersection. Drive downhill to Edwards Crossing. Reach the put-in by returning to Nevada City, turning east (toward Truckee) on Highway 20, and going 13 miles to a left at the sign for Washington, a quirky little town right on the river. The put-in is at a campground, with a parking fee, just before the historic district.

North Fork Yuba River – The popular Goodyear’s Bar run drops 8.5 miles through a forested canyon, beginning with 5 miles of Class II and III. The first Class IV rapid, Ramshorn, has two distinct channels to scout, and the next Class IV, Two Pair, also deserves careful scouting. Below those are Maytag and Son of Maytag, Class V- and IV, respectively. Good flows for kayaks are 700-2500 cfs. The Highway 49 Bridge take-out is about 29 miles north of Nevada City on Highway 49, passing the South Fork and Middle Fork Yuba along the way. The put-in is another 9 miles up the river, at a sign for Goodyear’s Bar and a road on the right.

Mountain Biking


© photo by Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship

The foothills around Nevada City are a new hotbed of mountain biking activity. Scenery, terrain, climate, access, new trails, supplies and services, and a local history of elite active sports competition, all contribute to the town’s MTB appeal. This is an area where advanced mountain bikers from San Francisco, Sacramento and Reno can “bring it” for the week or weekend – there’s lots to explore.

Downieville Downhill race course – About 40 miles from Nevada City on 49 North is Downieville, home of the Downieville Downhill, billed as “ the Ironman of mountain bike downhill.” The course follows four trails – Sunrise, Butcher Ranch, Third Divide and First Divide – offering flow, speed, exposure, Sierra views, waterfalls, swimming holes, creek crossings and a drop of 5,000 vertical feet over 17 miles. Singletrack 85% of the way. Check with Yuba Expeditions for trail shuttles and conditions.

Advanced MTB group rides in Nevada City – Advanced riders gather at 6pm on Thursdays for recreational group rides starting from 467 Sacramento Street outside theTour of Nevada City Bicycle Shop (TONC). Visitors welcome. These rides aren’t an official service of TONC, but the shop offers information at (530) 265-2187 or (530) 265-3822, or find them on Facebook for last minute ride updates.

Augustine Agony – A beautiful but grueling 3-hour, 12-mile ride on the way to and from the South Yuba River (with lots of shin-height poison oak along the way). Not very technical, but with nice singletrack, some steep switchbacks, and a challenging 1,800 foot climb. From Nevada City, ride up Cement Hill Road, turn right at Augustine Road and then keep left all the way down to the river. In hot weather, consider taking a swim before the ride out.

Upper Pioneer Trail – A varied roller coaster, with 10-miles of scenic, all-mountain singletrack above 5,000 feet, starting at White Cloud Campground right off Highway 20 about 11 miles east of Nevada City. The main trail, running out and back to Chalk Bluff Road, is moderately difficult and strenuous, but advanced riders can explore a slew of un-named spur trails leading to big jumps and drops.

Across from White Cloud, the easy Lower Pioneer Trail quickly reaches the Old 5 Mile House and Harmony Ridge Market – good stops for refreshment, supplies and trail info. From here, the new Scott’s Flat Trail drops 4+ miles to the reservoir, with dirt-packed berms, switchbacks, and flowy and scenic sections, while the Miner’s Trail continues west alongside Highway 20 to Nevada City. Nothing along these lower trails is especially technical, but they’re nice ways to extend rides from Upper Pioneer.

Pump Tracks – The new Truckee Pump Track is getting great reviews, with a pump park built for advanced skill progression. It’s located at 12200 Joerger Drive in Truckee, CA, an hour from Nevada City. On the way to Truckee, at the Boreal ski resort along I-80, is the Woodward Tahoe action sports training center, featuring an indoor pump track and a BMX dirt park known as “The Trenches”.


© photo by George Lamson

Women’s Triathalon


© Photo: Outside Inn, Nevada City

The annual Celebration of Life Women’s Triathlon draws over 400 athletes to Nevada City for a locally cherished event benefiting the Barbara Schmidt fund at the Breast Imaging Center of Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital.

This September event, which is geared to include every level of participant, starts with a 1/2-mile swim at Scotts Flat Lake, is followed by an 11-mile bike ride, and ends with a 3-mile run. The bike and run segments wind through the hilly streets of Cascade Shores at an elevation of 3,200 feet. Visit for further event information and registration as of June.

Nevada City is one of America’s Most Celebrated Small Towns

icon-budget-travelBudget Travel – America’s Coolest Small Towns 2014,26686/

The Lonely Planet  – Top US Destinations for 2012

icon-outside-riverOutside Magazine’s Best River Towns

icon-beautiful-townsThe Most Beautiful Towns and Villages of California (book)

icon-frommersFrommer’s Best Small Towns in California /california/0215020855.html

icon-sfgateSF Gate Reader Picks: 20 Must See Small Towns Ranks Nevada City as one of Top 15 Towns in California

First Friday Artwalks


Generally the First Friday of each month, May – October, but schedule varies.

The First Friday Art Walk is a celebration of Nevada City’s diverse mix of galleries, artisan boutiques, retail shops, wine tasting rooms, restaurants, as well as our wonderfully artistic and creative community. Participating Downtown businesses will be open from 5pm to 9pm and many will host “receptions” with local artists, trunk shows, and/or performances. Many shops are also offering snacks and beverages as well as sales and specials only valid for the event.

It really is a perfect evening event for the family or a great “date night” destination bringing a celebratory energy to Downtown Nevada City while encouraging folks to visit our wonderful businesses while enjoying the art and culture that makes Nevada City so unique.

There will be live music and theatrical performances at various locations throughout the downtown area. In addition there will be a Youth Arts Showcase featuring Artists between the ages of 4-18 with some fantastic prizes donated by local businesses, as well as a “Kids Zone” on York Street with some fun activities and art projects for kids of all ages.


Each month will have a different theme featuring different local music acts at the Boardwalk Stage and young acoustic musicians on York Street.

Join us in supporting our downtown businesses and our wonderfully creative arts community.

For additional info please contact Cynthia Levesque at 530-575-8846 or email Check it out on facebook!

Nevada City, Healdsburg & Sausalito ranked among top 15 small cities in California

Frommer’s calls the “entire town” of Nevada City a historical landmark. They ranked the town 9th among the 15 “Best small towns and villages” in California. In 1856, however, it was actually the third largest city in the state of California.

Forests and rivers surround Nevada City’s historic downtown streets. Some of these rivers were popular spots for gold panning when, according to The Great Towns of Northern California, Nevada City was a California “mother lode” of gold.


Classic saloons, welcoming and romantic bed-and-breakfasts, and old-school movie theaters share space with specialty antique shops that display artifacts from the town’s glory days as a gold hub. You can even spend the night in the record-setting National Hotel, which the Chamber of Commerce says has been in operation since the 1850s, longer than any hotel west of the Rocky Mountains.

Read full article at

Press Release – Nevada City to Host Parade for Paralympian Gold Medalist Evan Strong

Nevada County became known as the heart of Gold Country due to the large quantities exported during the Gold Rush. But on April 1, Nevada City will honor one of its own for bringing the gold back home, as Paralympian gold medalist snowboarder Evan Strong will be celebrated with a hero’s WELCOME HOME event.

Strong, along with his family and supporters, will be welcomed home with a celebration at the Miners Foundry with live music, food and drink. Way Yum Sushi will offer organic sushi, hummus and fruit bowls, with $1 of every sale going to support the event. The will be autograph and photo opportunities with Strong and his gold medal.

Donated items, including snowboards and other athletic gear, will be raffled to benefit Nevada County’s FREED Center for Independent Living ( and Adaptive Action Sports ( based in Summit County, Colo.

Evan is a member of Team Wheaties, and Wheaties will be at the event giving out autographed copies of the Wheaties box with Evan Strong on the front. Be sure to get your box at the event!

Brought to you by Wheaties!


Donated items, including snowboards and other athletic gear, will be raffled to benefit Nevada County’s FREED Center for Independent Living ( and Adaptive Action Sports ( based in Summit County, Colo.

Strong, who resides in Nevada City, grew up in Maui, where he excelled at skateboarding. At 17, he lost his left leg as a result of a car accident. Through the Challenged Athletes Foundation in La Jolla, Calif. and Adaptive Action Sports in Summit County, Colo., Strong was introduced to and inspired by hundreds of challenged athletes. With the support of his family, he began training again and added snowboarding to his list of athletic endeavors — highlighted by his gold-medal performance at the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, Russia.

TV Broadcast

If you cannot attend, you can view the event at 7:30 p.m. on April 1st, 2014 (day of the event) here:

Disabled Access to Parade

Accessible Restrooms

  • Disabled access restrooms at the Miners Foundry and the public restrooms on Commercial Street

Accessible Parking

  • Spring Street parking lot (upper section, located behind The National Hotel)
  • Miners Foundry (rear parking lot)
  • Commercial Street (top of Commercial St. behind New Moon Cafe — some steep, uneven sections)

Hotels with Disability Accommodations

  • Northern Queen Inn – Nevada City.  Phone (530) 265-5824
  • Outside Inn – Nevada City. Phone (530) 265-2233
  • Holiday Inn Express Hotel Gold Miners Inn – Grass Valley.  Phone (530) 477-1700
  • Grass Valley Courtyard Suites – Grass Valley.  Phone (530) 272-7696

About Evan Strong


Strong, who resides in Nevada City, grew up in Maui, where he excelled at skateboarding. At 17, he lost his left leg as a result of a car accident. Through the Challenged Athletes Foundation in La Jolla, Calif. and Adaptive Action Sports in Summit County, Colo., Strong was introduced to and inspired by hundreds of challenged athletes. With the support of his family, he began training again and added snowboarding to his list of athletic endeavors — highlighted by his gold-medal performance at the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, Russia.

Visit for more information about Evan Strong.

More Information

For more information on the parade and the homecoming celebration, contact the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce (

What: Parade to celebrate Paralympian gold-medalist Evan Strong

When: 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 1 (Pre-event festivities start at 5:30 p.m.), followed by celebration at Miners Foundry, 325 Spring St., Nevada City, CA 95959

Where: Broad Street, Downtown Nevada City

A Love Story Filmed in Nevada City

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“The Christmas Card,” filmed in Nevada City, tells the story of a soldier, Cody Cullen, with no family who, while serving in Afghanistan, receives an anonymous holiday card that touches him deeply. While on leave back home, he travels to Nevada City, California, the picturesque town from which the card was sent. Once there, Cody meets and falls in love with beautiful Faith Spelman, who sent the card, and quickly becomes a cherished member of the Spelman family. Yet romance for Cody and Faith seems out of the question, because she has a boyfriend and is about to become engaged.

Screenwriter Joany Kane had never even heard of Nevada City when she wrote the screenplay for “The Christmas Card.” The story was originally set in a mill town in Vermont. Budget constraints led the production team to look for sites in California, and one of the producers, Lincoln Lageson, suggested Nevada City. He was familiar with the town because his parents grew up in Nevada City. Alice Evans (who portrayed Faith in the movie) talks about Nevada City:

“But there is one that looks even better; so perfectly preserved and warm and welcoming that you have to pinch yourself the first time you take that walk up the hill towards the church, just to make sure it’s real.

Well, this town turned out not only to be the perfect town, but to have the perfect inhabitants, who were delighted not only to welcome “The Christmas Card” to their town, but also to loan out their diner, hotel, church and of course their people, who served as the most brilliant supporting artists all through the film.”

“It was a match made in heaven,” Kane said. “The city really is a character in the movie.”

For more information about “The Christmas Card” and air times, please visit Hallmark Channel’s Website.

Visit Screenwriter Joany Kane’s website, and purchase some of her other un-produced screenplays.  A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Chamber of Commerce.

For more information contact the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce at (530) 265-2692 or toll-free (800) 655-NJOY.

A Long Heritage of Creativity in Sierra Arts and Entertainment

Since it was founded, Nevada City has attracted and inspired risk-takers, offbeat thinkers and non-conformists. From the rowdy and inventive miners of the 1860s to the off-grid hippies of the 1960s, this has been a place for the unconventional – and remains so to this day. Artists sense the freedom of thought here, and the intimate connections that creativity fosters in such a delightfully removed environment as the Sierra foothills.

The Miners Foundry Cultural Center


Osborn/Woods designed the poster for the first Father’s Day Bike Race, now known as the Nevada City Classic.

Built in 1859 as a foundry and machine shop, the Miners Foundry became a performing arts venue after its sale in 1974 to San Francisco artists Charles Woods and David Osborn, who came to Nevada City when it was a burgeoning art scene. The Foundry has hosted Nevada City’s Roger Hodgson of Supertramp, Sacramento’s Cake, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, playing secretly for Nevada City friends, associates, and their guests. Check here for coming events.

The Nevada City Literary Community

Nevada City has been a home to many generations of writers. Perhaps the most renowned and enduring is Gary Snyder, who came here from the Bay Area after distinguishing himself, in Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s words, as “the Thoreau of the Beat Generation”.


Having lived in a Mill Valley cabin with Jack Kerouac, Synder was the inspiration for the main character in The Dharma Bums. In the 1970s, he was active in the Sierra foothills back-to-the-land movement, and in 1974 published Turtle Island, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize. Harmony Books, at 231 Broad Street, carries Snyder’s work in a section for local poets (and a collection of works by other local writers in other genres).

Another author influenced by the Sierra foothills is Jordan Fisher Smith, whose Nature Noir was an Audubon Editor’s Choice selection. Hailed by the New York Times as “eloquently meditative”, Nature Noir describes the author’s 14 years as a park ranger patrolling remote American River canyons east of Nevada City.

“Growgirl: How My Life After The Blair Witch Project Went to Pot,” by Heather Donahue

“Growgirl: How My Life After The Blair Witch Project Went to Pot,” by Heather Donahue

A new author with roots, of sorts, in the Nevada City area is writer and actress Heather Donahue, author of Growgirl. The book chronicles Heather’s year living in “Nuggettown”, on a marijuana farm post in the Sierra foothills – and starting a new life after a flash of fame as the girl in The Blair Witch Project. Donahue has written for Los Angeles Magazine, The Huffington Post, Bust and as a columnist for Yahoo! Shine. She teaches personal writing in Nevada City, and has been a speaker at the local discussion and workshop series offered by Sierra Writers.

A fictional look into the eccentricity of California’s hippie era is provided by Nevada City writer, Louis B. Jones, whose third novel, California’s Over, was named the LA Times’ 1997 Best Book of the Year. Each of Jones’s first three novels was named New York Times Notable Books. Described by novelist Amy Tan as “one of the best minds of our generation”, Jones co-directs the Fiction Program for the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley. (The Executive Director of the Squaw Valley Writers is Louis’s wife, Brett Hall Jones, daughter of famed novelist and Community co-founder Oakley Hall).


A Pulitzer Prize-winning novel – steeped in local controversy

The most controversial book tied to the Sierra foothills literary community is Wallace Stegner’s 1971 Pulitzer-winning novel, Angle of Repose. The story is based upon the personal correspondence of author and illustrator Mary Hallock Foote (1847-1938), who lived near Nevada City for over 30 years and gained a national reputation as a skilled observer of life in early mining towns. Stegner used the outline of Foote’s life with conditional permission from her family, but objections later emerged over passages taken directly from her letters without providing specific credit. This controversy still haunts Stegner’s reputation, and is explored by author and director Sands Hall, a part-time Nevada City resident, in her comic/drama, Fair Use.

Sierra theater since 1865 – and better with age

Opening night at the Nevada Theatre dates back to the fall of 1865, and after thousands of performances with such headliners as Mark Twain, Emma Nevada, Jack London, Motley Crue and The Second City comedy troupe gracing its stage over hundreds of years, it has earned the distinction as California’s oldest original-use theater – and California Historic Landmark No. 863.


Now in its third century, the Theatre thrives – having broadened into a venue for professional and amateur theatrical productions, variety shows, minstrels, musical acts, poetry readings, community events and films. The main stage is shared by:

For upcoming events, visit the Nevada Theater online calendar, or subscribe to the Theater mailing list.

The Nevada City Film Festival


A recent (2001) addition to the Sierra foothills art scene is the Nevada City Film Festival (NCFF). Held late summer when warm evenings easily become late nights, NCFF inspires weekend visitors to leave sensible routines behind. Fiercely independent, NCFF promises the best short and full-length film, audiences, scenery and nightlife outside of Sundance and Telluride. Check here for this year’s Festival info.

… And of course there’s more. Enjoy Nevada City’s tradition of environmental consciousness at The Wild & Scenic Film Festival, musical comedy at Off Broadstreet, and local musicians performing at Cooper’s, Crazy Horse Saloon, Haven Underground, and The Stonehouse.

A Tip Of The Hat To Our Roots


© Photo: Sierra Vintners

In Nevada County, when you start talking about the history of grapes, wines, or wineries, you need to go back to the 80s. But, you also need to clarify whether you are talking about the 1980s, or the 1880s.

Vine roots grow deep in Nevada County. Our vine history stretches back to 1848 when Nevada and Placer Counties were still part of Yuba County.

The discovery of gold brought the influx of gold-seeking Argonauts, who arrived with mining pans, pickaxes, and grapevines hanging from their saddlebags. As soon as towns like Nevada City sprung up, grapevines were planted to supply wine for the thirsty miners.

As early as1862, a saloon on Broad Street was serving their customers wine that was grown and produced in Nevada City. In 1869, Francis Seibert won one of the first awards in California for his pure Zinfandel wine grown on Piety Hill in Nevada City.

By 1870, there were 450,000 vines in the county representing several hundred acres of grapes. Wines were selling for as much as $2.00 a gallon, a very respectable price. E. G. Waite produced a wine thought to be comparable to the Clarets of France. It was heady times for wine in Nevada County.

After the economic downturn of the post civil war years, the 1880s issued in another decade of vineyard growth. The demand for wine was strong and it became fashionable, as a gentleman farmer, to plant a vineyard. Grapes were even sold to Napa where they were prized for their robust color and flavor.

By 1887, there were at least 17 recognized grape growers, 10 of whom produced their own wine. In 1889, Nevada City Winery produced 8,000 gallons of wine.

A 100 years later, in the 1980s, a modern version of Nevada City Winery was again producing wine and it was once again fashionable for gentlemen farmers to plant vineyards. The renaissance of the modern era was led by the likes of Bob Wilder, Dick Angel, Peter Arnold and Doctors Smith, Cobden and Jewett all who were among the first to plant vineyards.

The very first modern era vineyard can be traced back to 1974 when John Callendar planted the “Little Wolf Vineyard” on Perimeter Road in the south county. It was a seven-acre vineyard planted to seven different red varietals.

100 years separated these two golden eras with more than a few bumpy patches in between.

While the Cornish miners who came over from England to work in the hard rock gold mines preferred beer, an influx of German and Italian settlers at the end of the 19th century brought a wine tradition with them. Bierwagon, Personeni, and Locatelli are just a few of the names associated with vineyards or wineries in the early years of the 20th century.

While it is commonly thought that Prohibition put an end to Nevada County’s wine industry that is not the case at all. While commercially produced wine was illegal (although that did not mean production ceased entirely), interest in home winemaking increased dramatically. Halfway through this remarkable experiment in social engineering there were more grapes growing in Nevada County than had existed before the start of Prohibition.

The grape and wine business is famous for its boom and bust cycles. In 1927, the planting spree collided with the onset of the depression and prices fell through the floor.

Finally, with the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, half a dozen wineries opened for business in Nevada County. However, by then the wine market had shifted. Volume and value were all that mattered and mega producers like Italian Swiss Colony and Gallo dominated the market while California’s central valley was an endless source of cheap grapes. Nevada County wineries could not compete with that. WW II was the final straw and the last of the wineries of that era finally closed in the early 1950’s.

Things remained like that until John Callender planted his Little Wolf Vineyard in 1974 and the modern era was born.

Now, once again, there are hundreds of acres of vineyards dotting the county’s rolling hills and 20 wineries are producing world-class wines.

For a list of wineries and tasting rooms in Nevada City go to Nevada City Wineries & Tasting Rooms. For a list of member wineries in the Nevada County Winery Association visit Sierra Vintners.


Rod Byers, CWE, is a Certified Wine Educator and wine writer as well as a California State Certified Wine Judge. You can find information about his upcoming Sierra College Kaleidoscope Wine Classes at and he can be reached at 530-273-2856.


Nevada City Summer Events

South Yuba River, Photo by Erin Thiem

South Yuba River, Photo by Outside Inn

Summer is coming to the Gold Country and we are excited about the upcoming season.  So whether you’re coming to town for one of the many summer activities or just planning on sitting on a rock in the middle of the South Yuba River, it’s not too early to start organizing your summer adventure.

A few events to mark your calendar for:

Nevada City Summer Events, photos by Erin Thiem

Nevada City Summer Events, photos by Erin Thiem

Erin Thiem is the owner of Outside Inn, a small hotel in a quiet neighborhood in downtown Nevada City.  Erin is a passionate supporter of everything Nevada City.  She publishes articles on many local sites in town, including her own blog Innside Nevada City.

There’s Always Something Going on in Nevada City!

Nevada City is a lively little town.  Throughout the year you’ll always find something interesting going on in town.  There are two film festivals that take place in downtown Nevada City.  Summer is full of events from a world-class cycling event, to a quirky soapbox derby, and a summer street festival.  Don’t miss Victorian Christmas where downtown Nevada City is transformed into a Christmas of the past.


Wild & Scenic Film Festival

The Wild and Scenic Film Festival features environmental and adventure films about conservation, energy and climate change, wildlife, environmental justice, nature, community activism, water, and more. The films show the challenges facing our world, and the work communities are doing to protect the environment. Considered the largest film festival of its kind, the films combine stellar filmmaking, beautiful cinematography and first-rate storytelling. Festival-goers can expect to see Award-winning films that will inspire and ignite them to find solutions to restore the earth and human communities. Now known as “the next Sundance” the Wild and Scenic experience proves the power of film and passion.


Mardi Gras

Every year around February or March, Nevada City hosts a Downtown Parade, Masquerade Ball and Carnevale for Mardi Gras. Weekend activities open Saturday night with a Mardi Gras Masquerade Ball at the historic Miners Foundry in downtown Nevada City. Then, on Sunday, the Mardi Gras Street Faire is held on North Pine Street, in Historic Downtown Nevada City. There will be food, drink, crafts, and clothing. The Mardi Gras Parade begins at 2 p.m. on Sunday and moves down Broad Street through the center of town. After the parade, the whole family is invited to a festive after-the-parade Carnevale at the Miners Foundry. Enjoy New Orleans style food, hot dogs, ice cream & desserts, soft drinks & specialty coffees.  Delight in Cajun music, street performers, drummers, belly dancers, a bounce house, and more!


Nevada City Foreign Car Show & Wine Stroll

Every June, Nevada City hosts a Foreign Car Show and Wine Stroll.  Foreign Car and motorcycle enthusiasts may enter their vehicles.  The entry will be limited to 1982 and older vehicles, including vintage motorcycles. There will be a special class to allow cars of special interest to enter, such as race cars and exotics. The cars are parked on Broad Street and it’s a great opportunity to see many of the vintage cars up close and talk to the owners of these beautiful and rare cars. There will be live music, and in addition to a thrilling day of gazing at  cars, the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce will hold a Wine Stroll.  Visit local businesses, chat with merchants, and experience the local flavor of this charming town while enjoying a sampling of local Foothill wines and beers.

Nevada City Bicycle Classic

The Annual Nevada City Bicycle Classic is held every Father’s Day in historic downtown Nevada City. The Nevada City Classic is one of the premiere sporting events in the Sierra foothills, the largest and oldest bike race on the West Coast, and the second-oldest race in the nation. Senior and professional riders representing top U.S. cycling teams are expected to race in the men’s 90-minute main event. Women’s, Junior’s and Master’s races also are planned. Action begins at 1 p.m. and is usually complete by about 6:30 p.m. Historic Nevada City is draped with flags and bunting and provides a colorful backdrop as cyclists whiz through the downtown area, spokes flashing and crowds cheering. Several thousand spectators attend the traditional Father’s Day event.

Soapbox Derby

Nevada City is filled with hills, and amazingly talented, and creative individuals. A soapbox derby is a fun event that is green! It is a gravity powered event, fueled only by the creativity and imagination of the participants! This mission of the Soapbox Derby is to provide a fun event for the entire community that is family friendly and enjoyable for all ages. The secondary goal is to raise money to benefit improvements at Pioneer Park. Pioneer Park in Nevada City is a beautiful park. Children and adults alike enjoy the recreation opportunities it offers. The Soapbox Derby hopes to raise money for Bocce Ball courts, a sand volleyball court, additional seating areas around the pool, and a multi-use pathway within the park boundaries.


Fourth of July

Every year is a colorful Fourth of July parade through either historic downtown Nevada City or Grass Valley, alternating towns each year. Following the parade is a traditional family celebration under the pines at the Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley. Live music and entertainment, food and refreshments are offered. The Sierra foothills’ largest aerial fireworks display blasts off at 9:30 p.m. at the fairgrounds.

Summer Nights

The Annual Summer Nights in Nevada City celebration is an outdoor festival of art and music, held on three Wednesday evenings in July in downtown Nevada City.  During Summer Nights, Nevada City’s landmark historic district is closed to motorized traffic and filled with arts, crafts, classic cars, food, drink and music.  Summer Nights visitors can enjoy a meal at one of Nevada City’s many and varied restaurants, unwind with some live music or just relax with a leisurely stroll around our stores and the top class craftsmen selling their wares on the street.


Nevada County Fair

August is the annual Nevada County Fair!  Five days of excitement and fun for Fair-goers of all ages. Enjoy live entertainment, delicious food, carnival rides, animals, and exhibits, in a community-friendly environment and at affordable family prices!


Nevada City Film Festival

Every August you can find top independent cinema in the foothills of Northern California. Stellar programming of short and full length films, great audiences and a truly festive environment makes Nevada City Film Festival one of the most innovative, exciting, and fun events on the west coast.

Constitution Day

Nevada City’s Constitution Day Celebration every September has been a local tradition since 1967.  It is reported to be the oldest and largest Constitution observance in western America.  Members of the American Civil War Association offer living history and battle reenactments  in Pioneer Park. More than 200 military and settler reenactors are expected to take part.  The Sunday parade features more than 100 entries and culminates other activities including the Gold Country Duck Race on Deer Creek and a free outdoor big band concert in the downtown historic district.

Nevada City Uncorked

Nearly 20 wineries and restaurants participate in this annual event. Locations will be set up all within walking distance on Spring, Pine, Broad and Commercial Streets. Wander through downtown Nevada City, learn the history of our charming town, and enjoy a sampling of local Foothill wines and food. From vintage cabs and buttery chardonnays to delicious crepes and creative California cuisine, there is something for everyone.


Fall Colors

The Nevada City-Grass Valley area, with outstanding Gold Rush history and good choices in lodging and dining, has become known as one of California’s best areas to view autumn foliage. The best fall colors in Nevada City and Grass Valley are located in the old-fashioned Victorian neighborhoods surrounding the downtown historic districts. The most spectacular displays are in century-old Red Maple trees planted by early settlers.


Trick or treating in the historic downtown, Fright Night at Miners Foundry, and local Ghost Tours, makes Nevada City one spooky place to celebrate Halloween.

Thanksgiving Weekend

A perfect weekend to experience living history in Nevada County, and to start some Christmas shopping at local craft fairs, festivals and celebrations.


Victorian Christmas

Welcome the holiday season in style in historic Nevada City, where each year the town’s picturesque downtown transforms into a genuine Christmas card come to life. It’s a magical setting of hilly streets outlined with twinkling white lights and authentic gas lamps, wandering minstrels and carolers dressed in Victorian attire, and a myriad of visitors sharing holiday cheer and good tidings.


Wild & Scenic Film Festival

WildScenicEvery January, SYRCL’s (South Yuba River Citizens League) Wild & Scenic® Film Festival in historic downtown Nevada City hosts an incredible selection of environmental films to change your world. Each year, the Wild & Scenic® Film Festival draws top filmmakers, leading activists, social innovators celebrities, and well-known world adventurers for a weekend of environmental activism.

The Largest Film Festival Of Its Kind

Considered the largest film festival of its kind, the films combine stellar filmmaking, beautiful cinematography and first-rate storytelling to inform, inspire and ignite solutions and possibilities to restore the earth and human communities while creating a positive future for the next generation. Wild & Scenic Film Festival-goers can expect to see Award-winning films about adventure, conservation, nature, community activism, water, energy and climate change, wildlife, environmental justice, agriculture, Native American and indigenous cultures.

Environmental and Adventure Films

The festival features environmental and adventure films that illustrate the planet’s beauty, the challenges facing our world, and the work communities are doing to protect the environment. Through these films, Wild & Scenic informs people about the state of the world and inspires them to take environmental action.  Filmgoers are transformed into a group of environmental activists, committed to saving our increasingly threatened planet. Wild and Scenic Film Festival informs, inspires and ignites solutions, and creates positive probabilities to restore the earth and human communities. Now known as “the next Sundance” the Wild and Scenic experience proves the power of film and passion.

For more information about the film festival visit:

The History Behind The Festival

The organization behind the Wild & Scenic Film Festival is the South Yuba River Citizen’s League (SYRCL).  SYRCL came into existence in 1983, when a group of concerned local citizens sought to prevent the destruction of the South Yuba River by commercial interests.  The ultimate goal was the preservation of 39 miles of the South Yuba River recognized by the US Department of Interior, in an inventory of the nation’s waterways, as one of California’s best remaining free-flowing streams.  Finally, in 1999, after a 16 year battle, Governor Gray Davis signed a bill, officially adding the 39-mile stretch of the South Yuba River to California’s Wild and Scenic River System. The 16-year grassroots campaign to stop new dams on the river, paved the way for SYRCL’s current focus on other issues affecting the environmental health of the watershed.

To read the full story visit:

The Wild & Scenic Film Festival On Tour


The Wild & Scenic Film Festival (WSFF) in Nevada City is a kick-off for the nationwide tour traveling to 115 communities in 2013. The tour allows the South Yuba River Citizens League to share their success with other environmental groups and is building a network of grassroots organizations connected by a common goal – to use film to inspire activism. The festival’s national partners, Clif Bar, Mother Jones, Patagonia, and Sierra Nevada Brewery, have joined together to support this campaign. By showing the WSFF to diverse audiences across the country, we collectively want to inspire more individuals to take environmental action. Check out our website tour calendar to see if the WSFF On Tour is hosted in your area  or learn how to bring the event to your community.

Painting in Nevada City

Nevada City is a painter’s paradise – with historic architecture, natural beauty, four seasons, and wonderful light from dawn to dusk.

nevada city chamber of commerce

Nevada City’s entire downtown historic district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and looks much the same as it did in the 19th century. The wood, tin and brick buildings are rich in architectural detail – with wood and iron shutters, Victorian turrets, iron railings, and stained glass. Authentic gas lamps light the streets and mining equipment from the Gold Rush – monitors, Pelton wheels and stampers – can be found in the parks and plazas throughout the town.

city hall nevada city

There are grand Victorian houses and tiny miners’ cabins, the National Hotel, the Nevada Theatre and several beautiful churches in a setting of unparalleled natural beauty – everywhere you look is a painting just waiting to be painted.

nevada city victorians

Natural beauty also abounds, both in town and nearby – with Deer Creek, the Yuba River, Scotts Flat Lake, Malakoff Diggins and numerous vineyards and farms. Deer Creek rolls through town and the Yuba River can be accessed at a number of locations including the South Yuba River at Bridgeport, Edwards Crossing, Purdon Crossing and the 49er Bridge. Serene Scotts Flat Lake, surrounded by majestic pine, fir and cedar trees and with snow-capped mountains in the distance makes a wonderful subject all year round – as does Malakoff Diggins, a “mini Grand Canyon” created by hydraulic mining. There are many vineyards and farms throughout the area, and all summer long our local farmers’ markets also make wonderful painting subjects.

hirschmans pond nevada city

The nearby town of Grass Valley also boasts wonderful architecture – from the Gold Rush era Holbrooke Hotel to the Art Deco Del Oro Theatre. Grass Valley is also home to the Empire Mine – the most profitable hard rock gold mine in California. The Empire Mine is now a state park, with beautiful gardens and grounds and the picturesque Bourn Cottage.

empire mine grass valley

We are blessed with four seasons, and the fall in Nevada City is a riot of color – often referred to as the “New England of the West”. The trees turn rich shades of red and orange and are particularly striking along Nevada Street. In the winter, the town is especially beautiful with a light dusting of snow, and in the spring, nothing compares to the cherry tree in full bloom at Ike’s Quarter Café. All summer long, the sky is a rich cloudless blue, with the sun casting amazing shadows of lampposts and other Victoriana.

ikes quarter cafe nevada city

If you enjoy looking at art, visit us the first two weekends in October for the Fall Colors Open Studio Tour – when visitors are invited into artists’ studios throughout Western Nevada County. Art can be enjoyed all year round in our local art galleries: Mowen Solinsky and Lilly Vigil in Nevada City; and Art Discovered, Artworks and ASiF Studios in Grass Valley. Local artists also display their work at cafes, coffee shops and wine tasting rooms throughout both towns.

nevada city fall colors

Whether you are here to paint, or just to enjoy and buy art, you will be amazed by the wealth of subject material and talent in Nevada City!

broad street nevada city

Painting in Nevada City satisfies local artist Roseanne Burke’s passions for history, architecture, nature and the four seasons and she can often be seen around town painting en plein air. She also enjoys traveling to paint other beautiful places around the world.  You can find cards with her images at J.J. Jackson’s in Nevada City, or view her paintings on-line at