Groveland Photos, California’s Gateway to Yosemite

It’s hard to not love this charming mountain community. Ever since I was a boy watching “Northern Exposure”, I’ve been fascinated by the idea of small town living. While it may be tiny, these Groveland photos show why this “Small Town USA” has a lot of heart…

Iron Door Saloon on Main Street – Downtown

Groveland is located at about 3,000ft in elevation, and gets occasional winter snow. The population here is a mere 600 residents. What I love best about this community is that it’s at once both isolated and super worldly. I mean, it’s kind of “in the middle of nowhere”, but tourists literally pass through here from all over the world!

Iron Door Saloon – Groveland Photos

Groveland Town Main Street, You Can't Miss It
SR120, running right through town

The Iron Door Saloon is said to be the “oldest continuously operated saloon in the state of California”, though many bars make such a claim. However, judging by the interiors, in this case I believe it.

Of course this is a local watering hole, but residents seems to understand the importance of outside income. In other words, they’re quite friendly. Boy, do they have stories to tell, too. Apparently this was a wild and rowdy biker bar as late as the 1980’s – there are bullet holes in the walls to prove it.

There are famous music connections to this bar as well. The Grateful Dead are said to be connected to this place, as well as country bad boy Hank William’s Jr.

Although you’ll probably notice the stuffed wild animals adorning the walls at first, don’t forget to look up, either. The ceiling is famous for having cash stuck to it. It’s a tradition for patrons to fold a dollar bill around a quarter…and leave a little pin sticking out. Then they throw it up to the ceiling, hoping it will stick.

If all goes well, the bill will be pinned and the quarter will fall back to the floor. This technique is clearly successful; the ceiling is literally covered in money!

Groveland Hotel

Groveland Hotel in Summer - Groveland photos
Historic Groveland Hotel

Once again, this hotel claims to be the oldest all around the Yosemite area – and once again, I believe it. This quaint establishment offers a wrap-around patio with seating, a decent taproom, and live music occasionally as well.

Groveland Yosemite Gateway Museum

Though not too many passersby know to stop at this roadside gem, it really is incredible! I honestly never knew how great it was, but one day found I had some time to kill, and I checked it out. Wow. What a wealth of local information.

There are taxidermied animals to use as a reference for Sierra wildlife. Overall, the museum is organized quite well, and the staff was super friendly. Don’t miss it.

Other Groveland, CA Attractions

Of course this is a popular tourist destination along the Yosemite route, so there’s plenty of shopping. Those looking for gifts, trinkets and souvenirs won’t be disappointed. The “Trading Post” is a popular shop, but there are many others.

You’ll also find an art gallery, boutiques, and even a charming thrift store. Speaking of which, the first Saturday of each month hosts a community flea market as well.

A (somewhat pricey) hot dog stand recently opened up next to Iron Door Saloon, and there is a fantastic Mexican restaurant across the street. My go-to pizza restaurant is “Two Guys Pizza Pies”, right off SR120 on Ferretti Road.

Abandoned gas station in Groveland town
Abandoned old gas station

Even a visit to the local post office can be a memorable experience. I love watching customers walk through the front door and be greeted (with first name) by the employees. I know – it’s a small thing, but it really does make feel like I’m in an episode of Northern Exposure. Just like I always dreamed of.

Anyhow, I hope you enjoyed a few of my Groveland photos. I’m thankful that such a charming California town is directly on the way to Yosemite. It gives me a great excuse to visit often!

For other attractions around the park, check my nearby Yosemite album…

Looking for lodging? Check out my Yosemite Hotels page.

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About My Photos

The images on this website are available for licensing and/or sale as framed prints. If you’d like to purchase them for a blog, news article, or gift, feel free to contact me with the specifics. This way you’re supporting photographers such as me directly (as opposed to buying from a faceless stock photo corporation).

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– Nathan Allen

About Me

Photographer Nathan Allen

I’m Nathan Allen, photographer / creator of (Yosemite Photos) and international travel site I Dreamed Of This. In truth, I lived in San Francisco, New York, & Singapore…but nothing compares to life in the mountains. I share my experiences HERE.