After parking, proceed to the visitor’s center where you can pay your fee, browse the small museum, and head out back to explore the area.
From there, walk along the tree-lined pathway that takes you up to Empire Cottage.
After exploring the buildings used in the day to day operation of the gold mine, be sure to explore the other half of the property as well. On the way over there, note where the stamp mill used to sit, but little is left of it now.
The mine shaft area has a small window that lets you look down into it. I thought the view would be a little better here, but I was just excited to see anything since I went when the tours were canceled during the pandemic.
I didn’t get to go inside (just look through the windows), but it was cool to see from the outside.
This area is vast and has a lot to see, so be sure to give yourself at least a few hours. I started by heading over towards the mine building first.
The garden has many different rose bushes and other plants that were grown in the attached greenhouse. While it was not in the best condition when I went, it was still a beautiful spot to stroll with lots of flowering plants.
There are also dozens of old mining tools outside the buildings if you want to see what the miners used.
This immaculate house was built in the late 1800s and was one of the Bourn family’s residences.
The first building you will see as you walk is the Empire Clubhouse, which was built to entertain guests. It is a huge building, and I was told it is still used for some events.
After soaking it all in, I started the drive back to Sacramento. This state park was worth the wait to visit, and I truly enjoyed my time there. I hope to go back in the future when the tours are happening so I can see the mine itself. Let me know what you think in the comments.
As you walk over, you will pass by a small row of buildings, which include the refinery building and the mine manager’s office. Each of the buildings has things you can see inside as well (if it is open, or you can just peek through the windows).
Be sure to walk down to the reflecting pool as well, which has many great angles for photos of Empire Cottage and another tree-lined walkway.
The last thing to see before leaving is the garden on the other side of the cottage.
Empire Mine State Historic Park is located northeast of Sacramento in Grass Valley. It takes about an hour to drive there, and you will take Highway 80 north to Highway 174. This road winds around for about 14 miles before arriving at the park. There is a lot of parking right next to where you enter.
Across from these buildings is the machine shop and the mine shaft viewing area.