Tuolumne County Profile - Community Indicators Project 2008
Tuolumne County Profile Introduction Health and Safety Education and the Arts Natural Resources and Recreation Economy and Infrastructure Appendices Conclusion Acknowledgements

What is an indicator?

An indicator is a slice of information that focuses on a small, manageable, and significant piece of a system or process to give people a sense of the bigger picture. In other words, indicators are statistics and trends that display the direction in which a particular condition is heading. The Indicator Project Committee members spent considerable time using guidance from the phone survey to identify and present indicators that are important, available, understandable, valid, and clear.


Where are we and what do we look like?

Tuolumne County’s spectacular landscapes, open spaces, cultural amenities, rich history, and recreational and educational opportunities, make this region a unique and exciting place to live. We were one of California’s original 27 counties created upon statehood in 1850. Prior to statehood, the county was referred to as Oro County, and parts of that land were given to Stanislaus County in 1854 and to Alpine County in 1864. Sonora is the eleventh incorporated city in California. It is the original and current county seat, and is the only incorporated city in the county.

We are located in the central Sierra Nevada, with major rivers to the north and south. The Sierra Nevada range forms the border on the east, with our county flowing into the great central valley in the west. Our diverse terrain includes the Columbia and Railtown 1897 State Historic Parks, Bureau of Land Management lands, American Indian Rancherias and much of the Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park. Calaveras Big Trees State Park, with its world-renowned Giant Sequoia, is found mainly within Tuolumne County’s borders.

The county is also home to the two highest mountain passes through the Sierra Nevada, Tioga Pass (9,945 feet) and Sonora Pass (9,628 feet). Plant and animal life abound, and Tuolumne County’s wildflowers begin their show in February, continuing in the high country until the first snows.

How large is the county?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 2,274 square miles (5,891 km²), of which 2,235 square miles (5,790 km²) is land and 39 square miles (101 km²), or 1.71%, is water. The elevation ranges from 300 feet to more than 12,000 feet. Federal, state, and local governments own most of the land (77%) in Tuolumne County. That leaves

less than one quarter (23%) of the land for private ownership. When viewing the county as a whole, we have a population density of 22.4 people per square mile. However, it is probably more accurate to state the density on the private land, which is 104 people per square mile.

What are our communities like?

Our rural population is dedicated to the heritage of the Sierra foothills region. The Tuolumne County General Plan protects open areas between towns to allow distinct and individually-identified communities. Thus, we are dispersed throughout small-town communities of mixed-use surrounded by large areas of open expanses consisting of agriculture, native vegetation, and low-density development.

Historic roads, highways and trails traverse areas of great scenic beauty within the county, offering enjoyable experiences for motorists, cyclists, and hikers. The relatively low population density and scenic routes between communities and at entrances to the county give it much of its rural and natural character. Native vegetation and tree cover, geological wonders such as Table Mountain and volcanic "gargoyles," along with agricultural landscapes add value to our distinct communities.

Twain Harte

Community Indicators Project
Tuolumne County - Central Sierra Mountains