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California Rockhounding Location Guide & Map

California Rockhounding Location Guide & Map

California is one of the best states in the U.S. for rockhounding due to its extraordinarily diverse geology and wide variety of minerals. The state contains many distinct geological provinces, each with its own complicated history and associated rocks and minerals. Even before the famed gold rush, California had become famous for its high-quality gem pegmatites – most notably the tourmalines of San Diego County.

The beaches all along the coast have long been favorite rockhounding destinations for their high quality specimens. California also has the significant benefit of fantastic weather nearly year-round in large portions of the state, which increases the window of opportunity for rockhounding.

The best places to rockhound in California include the areas around San Diego, Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco, Crescent City, and Eureka. The state contains thousands of rockhounding locations which include mines, quarries, ocean beaches, and stream beds.

State Symbols
State MineralGold
State RockSerpentine
State GemstoneBenitoite
State FossilSaber-toothed cat
California: Source

Serpentine

California contains a diverse array of rock and mineral specimens such as serpentine, benitoite, jade, agate, jasper, moonstone, quartz, epidote, and rhodonite. Famous for the gold rush, there remain many places in California where rockhounds can hope to find gold and native copper.

Through quite a bit of research and cross-referencing of available literature, I have compiled this list of some prospective locations in California which I would recommend to people looking to do some rockhounding. These are mostly comprised of old mining prospects, beaches, streams, and historically known rock and mineral collecting sites. For additional reading, I’d highly recommend these books you can find on Amazon:

If you’re planning on heading to the field, make sure you have all the gear you’ll need! To get started, you can check out my recommended gear page which contains my full reviews for every Geologist’s favorite rock hammer and the best hiking backpack I’ve ever owned.

Please remember that rock collecting locations are constantly changing. Specimens may become depleted from other collectors, the location may have been built on or altered, locality information in literature may be inaccurate, and property ownership may have changed hands. Though there are many locations listed here, this list is far from exhaustive. A location’s listing here is not a guarantee of accuracy. Be safe, never go underground, and make sure to get permission from the landowner to search for and collect specimens.

California Rockhounding Locations

Rockhounding Locations in Northern California

The best places to rockhound in Northern California include locations near the towns of Crescent City and Eureka, as well as Siskiyou, Trinity, Modoc, and Mendocino Counties. A wide variety of rocks and minerals can be found in local streams and rivers including agate, jasper, gold, and jade.

NOTE: All the locations listed in these tables are clickable, and will take you to the location on Google Maps.

Crescent City, CA

Crescent City and the surrounding area of Del Norte County is home to some very nice prospective rockhounding locations. Particularly of note are the beaches in Crescent City such as Pebble Beach which produce nice agates and jaspers. Old mines along nearby creeks are known to have produced copper and gold.

LocationRocks & Minerals
Multiple ocean beaches in Crescent CityAgate, Chalcedony, Jasper, Moonstone, Petrified wood
Prospects near Diamond CreekNative copper
Keystone Mine in the Rockland districtCopper nuggets
Area mines near Shelly Creek & upper Monkey CreekGold, Arsenopyrite
Area gravels of the Smith RiverDiamond (occasional)

Eureka, CA

The town of Eureka and surrounding Humboldt County have many great rockhounding locations, particularly the beaches of Patrick’s Point State Park which are famous for their agates and jaspers. Mines and riverbeds in the area also produce specimens of many minerals including diamonds, platinum, and jade.

LocationRocks & Minerals
Gravels all along the Trinity RiverDiamond, Platinum nuggets
Woods Mine, 12 mi. N of BlocksburgBementite, Neotocite, Rhodochrosite
Area exposures on Horse MtChromite
W side of Horse Mt in schistsLarge prisms of Epidote (with Calcite)
Beaches in Patrick’s Point State Park (Agate Beach)Agate, Jasper, Brecciated Jasper, Pyrite
Gravels in the Trinity River near Willow CreekJade

Siskiyou County

Siskiyou County has long been famous for its gold rush history. The thousands of old mines and the surrounding creek beds of the area produce a wide variety of minerals including gold, agate, jasper, and petrified wood. These are just a few of Siskiyou County’s many potential rockhounding destinations.

LocationRocks & Minerals
Agate Flat areaAgate, Bloodstone, Jasper, Petrified wood
Area Jade mines N of Happy CampJade, Gold, Serpentine, Gold-laced jade
Along Jenny CreekAgate, Carnelian, Petrified wood, Fossils
Jones Beach, Fort JonesOlivine crystals on diabase boulders
Area gravels of Hungry CreekCassiterite crystals, Native copper in slate

Trinity County

The best place to rockhound in Trinity county is in the gravels of the Trinity River, which contain spectacular specimens of chalcedony, jasper, jade, petrified wood, and even gold and platinum. The area is also well known for its rhodonite which can be found in select stream beds.

LocationRocks & Minerals
Gravels all along the Trinity RiverChalcedony, Gold, Jasper, Jade, Petrified Wood, Platinum nuggets, Serpentine
Golden Jubilee Mine, NW of CarrvilleLimonite, Quartz, Pyrite
Coffee Creek area 1 mi. N of CarrvilleAnthophyllite, in veins in serpentine
Area stream beds near DedrickRhodonite nodules
Indian Creek gravels, N of HelenaRhodonite

Modoc County

Modoc County, particularly the area around Goose Lake, is one of the best places in Northern California to collect agate and jasper. The area surrounding Glass Mountain in the eastern part of the county is also well known for its obsidian which comes in an assortment of colors.

LocationRocks & Minerals
12 mi S of Adin, 4 mi. E of Hwy 139Wonderstone rhyolite
Deep Creek area SW of CedarvilleAgate, Opalized wood
Fandango Pass between Fort Bidwell and Pine CreekAgate, Chalcedony, Jasper, Quartzite
Area around Goose LakeAgate, Chalcedony, Jasper
Glass MountainObsidian (many colors)

Mendocino County

Mendocino county contains quite a few prospective rockhounding locations. The Eel river and its tributaries are known to contain several variations of jade, jadeite, and nephrite. Leech Lake and the surrounding area has historically produced specimens of nephrite, calcite, and jadeite.

LocationRocks & Minerals
Gravels along the Eel RiverJadeite, Nephrite
Area around Leech LakePectolite, Nephrite, Calcite, Jadeite
Impassable RockRhodochrosite, Inesite, Bemetite, Neotocite
Boulders in N Fork Eel RiverNephrite jade, Crocidolite, Jadeite
Road Cut 3 mi. NW of PietaActinolite prisms

Rockhounding Locations in Central California & the Bay Area

The best places to rockhound in Central California and the Bay Area include locations in Fresno, San Francisco, Mariposa, Placer, San Jose, and Monterey Counties. Local streams, mines, and beaches contain many varieties of rocks and minerals including jade, nephrite, serpentine, jasper, and agate.

San Francisco, CA

San Francisco isn’t commonly thought of as a rockhounding destination, but if you live in the area you don’t have to go far to find some decent rocks and minerals. In the areas surrounding San Francisco and even in the heart of the city you can find specimens of chert, jasper, and chromite.

LocationRocks & Minerals
Coyote Point, N of yacht harborChert, Jasper
Outcrop 1 mi. NE of Cliff HouseSpherulitic Chert
Area around Fort Point, in veins in SerpentineDiabase, Datolite, Basalt, Apophyllite, Aragonite, Barite, Calcite
US Mint on Duboce Ave, as veins in SerpentineChalcedony, Curtisite
Western Slope of Crystal Springs ReservoirChromite, as scattered masses

Fresno County

The best place to go rockhounding in Fresno County is the Clark Valley area, where large crystals of apatite, andalusite, and epidote have historically been found. In creek beds in the western portion of the county, you can find specimens of jasper, petrified wood, and even fossilized coral.

LocationRocks & Minerals
Jacolitos Canyon, in creek bedJasper, Petrified Wood, Fossilized Coral
Aurora MineSerpentine (high quality, get permission from store in Idria)
Clark Valley in area pegmatitesApatite and Andalusite crystals
N end of Clark ValleyEpidote (large crystals)
1.5 mi. S of Hawkins School, Watts ValleyGrossular garnet, Vesuvianite

Mariposa County

There are several good places to rockhound in Mariposa County, most of them at old mines or historical claims. The area around Coulterville is a particularly good area to look for rocks and minerals. You can find a variety of specimens including jade, chromite, mariposite, and spessartine.

LocationRocks & Minerals
2.5 mi. NE of BagbyJade
Purcell-Griffin MineChromite
N side of road, 1 mi. W of CoultervilleMariposite
Surprise Claim, N of MariposaRhodochrosite, Rhodonite, Spessartine garnet

Placer County

The best places to rockhound in Placer County are the gravels of stream beds where you can find specimens of garnet, rock crystal, serpentine, rhodonite, and more. The area also contains several old mines that have historically produced many minerals including asbestos and galena.

LocationRocks & Minerals
Gravels of Shady RunGarnet, Rock Crystal (with Chlorite), Serpentine
Wolf Creek, 12 mi. N of AuburnPyrolusite, Rhodonite
7 mi. SE of NewcastleChromite coated in Uvarovite
Alabama MineArgentite, Gold quartz, Galena

San Jose, CA

San Jose and Santa Clara County contain several fantastic rockhounding locations. Particularly of note is the Morgan Hill area which is famous for its beautiful ‘poppy jasper’. Other minerals to be found in the area include siderite, chert, cinnabar, and agate.

LocationRocks & Minerals
Coyote Creek, E of MadroneSiderite
Alum Rock Park, in bouldersAlbandite, Hausmannite, Tephoroite
Creeks NW of Morgan HillPoppy Jasper, known as Morgan Hill Chert
Area mines near New AlmadenChert, Cinnabar, Apophyllite, Gyrolite
Guadeloupe Creek, Guadeloupe MineDendritic Agate

Monterey County

The best places to rockhound in Monterey County are in the beach gravels near the mouths of area streams. This area is home to some of the best rockhounding in all of California. Dedicated rockhounds can hope to find quality specimens of minerals including Jade, Nephrite, Serpentine, and Rhodonite.

LocationRocks & Minerals
Big Sur area, in stream gravelsJade, Nephrite, Serpentine
Ocean beach gravels near San Simeon CreekJade
Just S of mouth of Willow CreekGem quality Nephrite Jade, Serpentine
Beaches near mouth of Limekiln CreekRhodonite boulders, Axinite crystals (with Epidote and Quartz), Nephrite Jade

Rockhounding Locations in Southern California

The best places to rockhound in Southern California include locations in San Diego, Los Angeles, Riverside County, San Bernardina County, and Kern County. Local streams, mines, and beaches contain many varieties of rocks and minerals including tourmaline, quartz crystals, agate, jasper, and chalcedony.

NOTE: All the GPS coordinates listed in these tables are clickable, and will take you to the location on Google Maps.

San Diego, CA

The area surrounding San Diego is world-famous for its excellent rockhounding, particularly for its tourmaline and other pegmatite minerals. The best places to rockhound near San Diego are established mines, most of which are privately owned. As always, make sure to get permission before collecting.

LocationRocks & Minerals
Mine dumps W of Lake Henshaw near HwyAquamarine, Beryl, Lepidolite, Quartz crystals, Smoky Quartz, Tourmaline
On hill 2 mi. NW of PalaAllanite, as black masses in quartz veins
Many area mines NE of Pala, Tourmaline Queen Mt.Apatite, Aquamarine, Beryl, Quartz crystals, Rose Quartz, Tourmaline, and more
Stewart MineBismuth, sometimes capping Tourmaline
Ware MineBeryl, Lepidolite, Quartz crystals, Schorl, Topaz, Tourmaline
Victor MineCookeite, Albite, Bismuth, Lepidolite, Orthoclase

Los Angeles, CA

The Los Angeles area is home to many fantastic rockhounding destinations, particularly some local ocean beaches and streambeds. Among others, high quality specimens of agate, bloodstone, moonstone, and even amethyst geodes can be found. Catalina island is home to two locations for albite specimens.

LocationRocks & Minerals
SW of Acton, area streams & hillsidesAgate, Chalcedony, Jasper, Quartz
In Escondido Canyon, W of ActonAmethyst Geodes, Agate (banded, green moss, etc), Bloodstone, Jasper
Area deposits near Portal RidgeRhodonite (massive, deep pink)
Area near Malibu LakeAnalcite, in basalt seams
N of Redondo Beach, low-tide gravelsGem-quality Moonstone
Howlands Landing, in nearby pegmatite outcrop. Also W tip of islandAlbite crystals (clear, up to 1″)
Tick Canyon, on area hillsidesChalcedony, Banded Agate, Bloodstone

Riverside County

The best places to rockhound in Riverside County are pegmatite outcrops, old quarries, hillsides, and streambeds. Joshua Tree National Park contains many great rocks and minerals but is off-limits for collecting. Minerals found in Riverside County include fire agate, chalcedony, and rose quartz.

LocationRocks & Minerals
Rouse Hill pegmatite outcropsAmazonite, Idocrase, Rose Quartz, Tourmaline
Area, Mule Mountains W of RipleyChalcedony, Fire Agate
Just W of Jensen QuarryHornblende (dark green crystals)
Old quarry in North HillAxinite (large purple crystals)

San Bernardino County

San Bernardino has some of the best places for rockhounding in the entire state of California. The area around Amboy is especially notable. The canyons and dry lakes of the area contain myriad rocks and minerals including agate, opal, thundereggs, and calcite.

LocationRocks & Minerals
Wingate Pass areaSagenite Agate
Amboy CraterBoltwoodite (fluorescent), Jasper, Obsidian
Bristol Dry LakeCelestite concretions
Afton CanyonOpalite, Jasper
Area of Eagle CragsBlue Agate, Bentonite, Calcite, Chalcedony, Jasper, Opal, Siderite, Wonderstone
N side of hill near Lead Pipe SpringBlue Agate, Chalcedony, Jasper, Opal, Thundereggs
Mesas and gullies around MidwayLavic Jasper (gem-quality)
Searles LakeBorax, Aphthitalite, Halite, Hanksite, and more

Kern County

Kern County is a very popular rockhounding destination. The hills and canyons in the eastern portion of the county are especially notable, with many locations that produce specimens of agate, jasper, opal, and quartz. The Gem Hill location and the El Paso mountains look particularly prospective.

LocationRocks & Minerals
SE foothills of Castle ButteAgate, Chalcedony, Chert, Jasper, Petrified Wood
Little Acorn Mine (also Huckabay Mine)Epidote, Quartz crystals, Smoky Quartz, Scheelite
Pine Tree CanyonBarite crystals
Horse Canyon Agate BedsAgate (‘Horse Canyon agate’), Fossilized horse bones
El Paso Mts, surrounding areaAgate, Opal, Jasper, Gold, Petrified wood. Surface float or minor digging
Gem HillAgate, Chalcedony, Jasper, Uraninite, Obsidian

San Luis Obispo County

The best places to rockhound in San Luis Obispo County are ocean beaches and their associated gravels. Dedicated searchers can hope to find specimens of several minerals including jadeite, moonstone, and agate. The farm fields in the county are also known to turn up agate and jasper when plowed.

LocationRocks & Minerals
Fields E of NipomoAgate (moss, sagenite), Jasper, Petrified wood, Stibnite
Paso Robles area creek gravelsJadeite
Ocean beaches, in gravels‘California’ Jade
San Simeon beaches above high tide markMoonstone

Fee-to-Dig Sites

California is home to many fee-to-dig rockhounding sites where enthusiasts can go and hope to find almost any mineral they can think of. Here is a brief list of some of the more popular fee-to-dig sites in California and where you can find more information about them.

Site NameTownBest Contact
Himalaya MineSan YsabelWebsite
Oceanview & Pala Chief MinesPalaWebsite
Beniitoite Mining CompanyCoalingaWebsite
Modoc National ForestAmbroseWebsite
Roaring Camp Mining CompanyPine GroveWebsite

Tip: Check out my Complete Rock Tumbling Guide to make your rocks and gemstones really shine!

California Rockhounding Laws & Regulations

One of the most common questions rockhounds have is whether or not they are allowed to collect at a certain location. It is the responsibility of each rockhound to obtain permission from a landowner to search and/or collect on a piece of property.

The ownership and status of land can and does change frequently, making it impossible to document accurate information on this page. However, I have compiled a list of resources here so that you may investigate and obtain permission for any locations (found here or elsewhere) for yourself.

Public Land Resources

I have written entire articles which cover the rockhounding laws and regulations for nearly every type of public land you can think of. I encourage you to check them out if you are curious about the legalities of rock and mineral collecting.

To determine what type of public land a particular location is on, I would recommend the California State Geoportal which keeps accurate maps of every kind of public land in the state.

Private Land Resources

As with most states, each county in California will have records of who owns each piece of property. Unfortunately for rockhounds, the law prohibits them from publishing their names or contact information online. You can get the landowner’s name and address by visiting the county records office. This site contains a detailed process for accessing as much information as possible through these means.