Rockhounding Butte County, California: X Places To Hunt Rocks, Crystals, and Fossils

Rockhounding is a hobby that’s as old as the Old American West itself.

Over 150 years ago, people began migrating to the Golden State in search of what else? Gold!

Now, we’ll tell you about some of the best places in and around Butte County to hunt for rocks, crystals, and fossils.

Rockhounding Butte County, California

Disclaimer

The information provided in this article by YesDirt.com 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.

Lake Oroville

Lake Oroville is undoubtedly one of the best places in Butte County to go rockhounding and crystal hunting.

The shores of the lake have been eroded to reveal quartz veins running the length of the shoreline.

Where there’s quartz, there may also be gold. It’s a good place to go gold panning, and you can find crystal quartz and garnet stones there as well.

Big Chico Creek

While you’re in Butte County, it’s a must that you head to Big Chico Creek, part of the Chico Formation.

Big Chico Creek is a great location for fossil hunting.

The Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve sits on the ancestral lands of the Native American Mechoopda Tribe, meaning you might also find some Native American artifacts around the creek and other parts of the reserve.

However, such artifacts should be left in place so archeologists can study them where they’re found.

Feather River Canyon

While in Butte County, it’s a good idea to hop on State Route 70 and journey to Feather River Canyon.

The canyon has been a tourist attraction for years, and it’s also a great place to find some semi-precious gemstones.

It’s vital that you check for weather and road conditions before hitting SR-70 as the area is prone to land and mudslides.

However, now the roadways are clear and ready for travelers.

Pulga

Pulga, a small town that sits on the western slope of the Feather River Canyon, is another prime location for crystal hunting and rockhounding.

The Pulga edge of the canyon is a great place to find Pulga Jade.

In certain spots in the canyon, you can see Pulga Jade veins lining the rocks of the canyon.

It’s a great place to do some light mining, but it’s vital that you make sure you’re not on anyone’s private property and that you receive permission if you do happen to be on someone’s land.

Marysville Limestone Deposit

The Marysville Limestone Deposit in Messila is another place in Butte County worth checking out.

The limestone-rich area lies northeast of Sausage Mountain. All you have to do is look at the name to get an idea of what you’ll find there.

It’s also a great place for fossil hunting.

Lake Concow

If you want to turn your rockhounding expedition into a camping trip, then there’s no better place to go than Lake Concow in Concow, Butte Co., Ca.

The campsite charges $15 a night for camping and $5 for day use.

One of the great things about Concow is that it’s a short drive from Magalia, where you can find the Little Frog Quartz mine.

Of course, you can find quartz there, and where there’s quartz, there may also be gold!

Black Butte Lake

If you’re in Butte County and are down for a short expedition, you should take a trip an hour west to Black Butte Lake, which sits at the western edge of Tehama County.

According to experienced crystal hunters and rockhounds, it’s a great place to find obsidian and Black Butte Jasper.

Black Butte Lake is also home to the Buckhorn Recreation Area, which is currently closed due to the Bobcat Wildfire.

The Butte Creek Canyon, which is located in a town by the same name, is a great rockhounding spot if you want to see rather than collect.

The canyon is an ecological reserve, so you’re not allowed to collect rocks, fossils, crystals, and gems, but it’s a great place to see rainbow obsidian, crystal quartz, and California Garnet.

You might not get to take any rocks, but you can take some amazing photos!

Kelly Ridge Point

Kelly Ridge Point is a great destination for both hiking and rockhounding.

While crystals and semi-precious stones may be sparse in the area, you might still find Californite and garnet.

There are also plenty of hiking trails on which you might be lucky enough to spot a Native American artifact.

Of course, if you are so lucky, the right thing to do is leave the artifact and notify the local department of parks and rec or game and wildlife so they can share the information with archaeologists.

Burris Creek

While in Tehama County, be sure to stop by Burris Creek to do some exploring.

Burris Creek is the best place in the area to find Jasper, and you might also find chalcedony there.

Burris Creek is also an excellent place to hunt for the colorful agate crystal, which is plentiful in the area.

Furthermore, the Burris Creek Recreation area is open to the public and free to all!

General Rockhounding Details

It’s important to note that different states have varying laws about rockhounding and mining.

In the state of California, when rockhounding in a state park, the only tools you’re allowed to use are gold pans.

There’s no digging allowed on state grounds, and you’re only allowed to take 15 pounds of surface crystals, rocks, or fossils in a single outing.

It’s also important to note that you’re not supposed to remove any archaeological finds, which constitute anything used by humans that appears to be at least 100 years old.

That protection especially extends to Native American artifacts, such as warheads, that you might find while rockhounding.

Most of the good rockhounding sites in Butte and the surrounding counties now lie on private land, and most public locations in the area prohibit collecting rocks.

There are a couple of gem and mineral societies in the county that arrange field trips for rockhounds, those being the Paradise Gem and Mineral Club and Feather River Lapidary and Mineral Society Inc., respectively.

Wrap Up

As you can see, there are plenty of places in Butte County and the surrounding areas to do some great rockhounding.

With so much natural beauty to experience, you’re sure to have a great time no matter what you find!

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

Disclosure: These are links to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you.

Wrap Up

The desert and mountain region is one of the best places to rockhounding. 

We have a trip to go rockhounding near Sacramento planned soon, we’ll let you know how it goes!

Let’s start digging!

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Rockhounding Butte County