On Highway 120, just 26 miles from the Yosemite Park entrance, the
historic community of Groveland is the most convenient gateway to this
treasured national landmark for tourists coming from the San Francisco Bay
area, Sacramento, Stockton or Modesto. Groveland is also home to a great
"downtown" with a park, shops, restaurants and the famous/infamous Iron Door Saloon — said to be California's
oldest continuously-operating saloon.
Iron Door Saloon
• Groveland History
Gold brought the initial flood of citizens. Water and Yosemite are
responsible for the latest influx. Today, Groveland and nearby communities
hold more than 7,000 of Tuolumne County's 56,000 residents. The
community serves as host to tens of thousands of tourists. It's a natural
stopping-off point on Highway 120 to Yosemite and from several other
Garrotte Hanging Tree:
how it looks today.
Originally, Groveland and nearby Big Oak Flat were both called Savage's
Diggings. James Savage discovered gold there in 1848. Savage's Diggings
became Garrotte in 1850 — named so for the area's swift and harsh justice.
Soon Garrotte was a boom town, but by the 1870s, the easy pickings were
gone and Garrotte was transformed from dozens of bars and bordellos to a
quiet community catering to cattle ranches and — even back then — a trickle
of tourists taking the new Big Oak Flat Road to Yosemite.
By 1875, citizens changed the name of Garrotte to Groveland and, as luck would
have it, Groveland soon thereafter experienced a second gold rush with the
advent of deep shaft mines and milling operations.
The second gold rush was over by 1914 but, by then, a third rush was about to
begin. In 1914, San Francisco had received congressional approval to build
the Hetch Hetchy Water Project and Groveland was selected to be the
construction headquarters. It's ironic that while the headquarters, it received none of the water.
Lake Don Pedro:
one of California's largest lakes provides
fishing, waterskiing, houseboating and more!
At the end of World War II, there was yet another boom — but it was
short-lived. 22 lumber mills opened. Periodic improvements in the Hetch
Hetchy system brought new workers, but the lack of water to Groveland itself
meant that every summer, private wells and springs dried up. Lack of water
meant that this boom, too, was soon over.
Finally, Groveland citizens united and formed their own water system. That
opened the way for developer Boise Cascade, in the mid-60s, to begin
development of a brand new resort — Pine Mountain Lake: a planned community
with over 4,000 residential lots and its own golf course, country club,
airport and stables. By then, the die had been cast. Groveland had now
charted a course of steady growth that continues to this day.
Local ranchers still "run herds" right through town.
While their community is steeped in history, residents are assured
its best days are straight ahead, as visitors discover this very special
Sierra town that's also the gateway to Yosemite.
People ask us about where to stay in this wonderful community so close to
Yosemite National Park. May we suggest Yosemite Gold Vacations,
Friends of Yosemite Park Lodging, Hotel Charlotte &
Sunset Inn Yosemite Guest Cabins.
Groveland is popular because of its history and its proximity to Yosemite. Also nearby (via Highway 132) is the unique Gold Rush town of
Pine Mountain Lake Marina:
Groveland's most popular beach.