Rockhounding Amador County, California: 10 Places To Hunt Rocks, Crystals, and Fossils

If you’re a rockhound, Amador County in California’s Mother Lode country is a great place to visit.

There are plenty of interesting rocks, minerals, and fossils to be found in the area.

Here are 10 of the best spots to go rockhounding in Amador County.

Rockhounding Amador County, California


The information provided in this article by is for informational purposes and is subject to change. Laws are updated. Accessibility guidelines and restrictions change. Be sure to confirm the land status and collection rules before you travel to an unfamiliar location or collect any material.

Plunkett Creek

Plunkett Creek is a small stream located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, about 45 minutes away from Jackson.

The creek is lined with volcanic rock formations that have eroded to reveal interesting minerals and crystals over time.

Plunkett Creek offers something for both beginning and advanced rockhounds – many of the rocks and minerals can be found right at the creek’s edge, while others require a little more searching.

Chinese Camp

Chinese Camp is a ghost town located about an hour away from Jackson.

The town was once home to a large community of Chinese immigrants who worked in the local mines.

Today, the town is a popular spot for rockhounding, and several mine tailings piles offer a good chance of finding interesting specimens.

There are numerous locations within the small town to find ultramafic rocks, serpentine, gemstone, and more.

Due to its proximity to the Tuolumne River, there is ample opportunity to find metavolcanic rock in the area.

Bald Point

Bald Point is located in Mokelumne Wilderness, a historic gold mining area located about an hour away from Jackson.

The town has several old mines and tailings piles that are good places to look for large crystals and Epidote.

The area around Mokelumne Hill is also home to several interesting geological formations, making it a great spot for hiking and exploring as well.

There are over 100 hiking trails to explore, though visitors will need a permit for overnight trips.

Sutter Creek

Sutter Creek is a small town located in the heart of Amador County’s gold country.

The town is home to several old mines and tailings piles and many interesting geological formations.

Visitors can explore the historical sites in the small town to search for rocks, minerals, and even gold.

While some of the deep historical mines are not available for visitors to explore, the city is now known for its numerous wineries rockhounds can enjoy after a long day of searching.

Bear River

The Bear River is a large river that flows through the Sierra Nevada mountains.

The river is lined with cliffs and boulders that offer a good chance of finding interesting rocks, minerals, and fossils.

Numerous hiking trails connect to the Bear River Park Campground, which is open from April to October.

There is no charge to park or visit the area with a day pass, though there are fees for overnight visits.

Some trails have difficult terrain and vast wildlife, so use caution when exploring.


Ione is a small town located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

The town is home to several old mines and tailings piles that are good places to look for rocks, minerals, and fossils.

One of the most popular spots for rockhounding in the small village is Charles Howard Park, which has hiking trails for rockhounds.

It’s a good location for those rockhounding with children, as there is a disc golf course and dog park.

The town has a few food, gas, and facilities options, though it’s recommended to research and plan your route before departing on your rockhounding trip.

Kennedy Tailing Wheels Park

Kennedy Tailing Wheels Park is a small park located in the town of Jackson.

The park is home to several large tailing wheels that were used in the gold mining process.

The tailing wheels are a good spot to look for rocks, minerals, and fossils.

Many rockhounds travel to this location in search of gold and gems like quartzite and serpentine.

The entire park is handicap accessible and has restroom facilities for guests.

Parking and admittance to the park are free, though it’s important to check the official website for hours and closures before leaving on your trip.

Argonaut Mine

The Argonaut Mine is a large gold mine located in the town of Jackson.

The mine is open to the public for tours, and visitors can also search for rocks, minerals, and fossils in the tailings piles.

This mine is cited as one of the deepest mines in the entire country, with a depth of over 5,500 feet.

Though this location is home to one of the worst mining accidents in history, many rockhounds travel here to explore the grounds and pay respects to the historic landmark.

Lake Tabeaud

Lake Tabeaud is a small lake located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

The lake has numerous locations to search for rocks and gems, with the Lake Tabeaud Loop being the most popular among rockhounds.

The trail features 2.5 miles of land to explore and is open year-round for visitors.

The trail and most of the surrounding areas on the lake are easy to navigate, making this a great stop for beginner rockhounds or those exploring with small children.

There are two parking lots available and a beautiful wildflower field during certain seasons.

Mount Zion State Forest

Mount Zion State Forest is one of the most popular locations for rockhounds, as many people travel from across the country to visit this breathtaking spot.

Located conveniently off California State Route 88, the forest is the highest peak elevation in the entire area.

The Mount Zion trail is the most popular among rockhounds thanks to the easy terrain and manageable 1.2-mile length.

The old fire lookout location is the most frequented spot for searching, though the entire trail has ample opportunity to find gems.

Once you know where to look, rockhounding in Amador County can be a great way to spend an afternoon.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced collector, the many opportunities for hunting rocks, crystals, and fossils make this one of the best spots for rockhounding in California.

Enjoy your time exploring the county, and happy hunting!

California Rockhounding Resources

If you like to have a physical book in hand (like when there’s no cell service), here’s a few popular options:

Rockhounding California: A Guide To The State’s Best Rockhounding Sites

Gem Trails of Southern California

Gem Trails of Northern California

Smithsonian Rocks and Minerals Identification Guide

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Wrap Up

We are getting ready to go rockhounding near Palm Springs, we’ll let you know how it goes! Where are you headed next?

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Rockhounding Amador County