With the bubbly energy in San Luis Obispo, it is no wonder why this is one of America’s top locations to unwind and get a breath of fresh air.
For rock lovers, this is a perfect place to hunt rocks, crystals, and fossils too.
If you’re looking for those rock and mineral abundant locations in San Luis, you’ve come to the right place!
In this post, we count down to the top 8 places to hunt rocks, crystals, and fossils in San Luis, Obispo.
Rockhounding In San Luis Obispo (Let’s Go)
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.
This small coastal town located just half Highway 1, a few miles off the 101 freeway, houses the famous Avila Beach City Beach.
Here, you can be sure to hunt Arrowheads, jaspers, and Avila Rhyolites (aka Deedeeite) without bothering about entry fees.
The rocky headline south of the beach is the place you should be looking at.
To get to the City Beach, drive a few miles down the Avila Beach Drive exit off Highway 101 and you’ll be greeted by the beach’s charming view. It is free to park here.
You’ll be more likely to find a ton of rocks best on Avila Beach when the tides are low.
Nipomo Beach is the place where you find the rare milky white semi-translucent gemstone called the Nipomo Agate, with golden metallic Marcasite and Pyrite inclusions.
Located in Southern San Luis Obispo, Nipomo beach is about a 25 to 30 minute drive from the San Luis airport.
You would find a parking lot to the left and you can leave your car here for free without worrying about safety.
The best time to visit Nipomo beach is between July and October, when the tides are low and it is not so windy.
This beach is located down Cave Landing Road, a small road off the golf course, half a mile under Freeway 101, which ends directly in a large dirt parking lot.
A few miles southeast of the trail, down the dirt parking lot is where you’d find the breathtaking view of Pirate’s Cove.
This beach is free to enter and once you’re in, the abundant variety of fossils, including fauna of gastropods and bivalves, as well as echinoids, is all yours for hunting.
You’ll find them mainly near the Corallian Cliff located right of the beach, so this is the place you should be looking at.
It is, however, best if you go hunting in times when the tides are low, as this is when you’ll be able to find the best of the fossils.
A good one hour or two of hunting should get you a fine number of fossils.
Spending the day at Cayucos State Beach hunting for Agate, pretty little Jaspers, pebbles, and the famous precious Mushroom Rhyolite (Biconoid Fragments) is definitely exhilarating.
But you’ll be sure to find many more of these breathtaking rocks during winter.
Cayucos Beach lies five miles north of Morro Bay, at the foot of Cayucos Drive, right on the waterfront.
There is a parking space on Ocean Front Avenue.
Cambria is another fantastic place in San Luis to go rockhounding.
The Cambrian Moonstone Beach is just the place to be if you’re looking to hunt moonstones, arrowheads, smallish quartz geodes, jades, agate, and jasper.
Moonstone Beach is just a 30-minute drive from Cambria and is extremely easy to find your way around.
Off Highway 1 to Cambria, turn onto Windsor.
A quick turn on the right would lead you to Moonstone Beach Drive.
You can leave your cars parked in the official parking lot or the other lots to the left of the boardwalk.
Below this boardwalk is a rocky beach area where you would find moonstones, jades, and the other agates that wash up on the shore.
It is, however, important to confirm the time of low tides from the Moonstone Beach Website, before making the trip down here, as it’s typically very cold and windy on days when the tides are high.
This place isn’t called Templeton for no reason.
Templeton is the best place in San Luis to go hunting for the rare crystalline fossils called Biconoids.
You will also find Arrowheads and Shark Teeth here. And if you look just hard enough, you’ll be lucky to find Fossilized Whale Bone too.
Templeton is open to the public. This means that you can hunt and collect rocks without worries.
Las Tablas Road, to the West of Highway 101 around Templeton hospital, is the place where you would find these rocks and fossils to hunt.
Santa Cruz is more or less the home of fossils.
If you’re a micro collector, you’ll find the Kalkar quarry in Santa Cruz interesting. It requires a little bit of patience, but once you have this, you’ll be sure to leave with pabsite.
There is a trail to the north side of the Kalkar quarry where you’ll find some exposed limestone outcrops.
You would also find the Purisima Formation where Merced Avenue intersects West Cliff Drive.
The Arch at the Natural Bridges State Beach is where you’ll find Santa Cruz Mudstone, a gem to possess. You can park at the Natural Bridges Trailhead lot.
Follow the tiny footpath to the right of the parking lot, take the path on the left at the end of this tiny footpath till you finally see the Natural Bridges Cove.
The best time to visit is at sunrise or sunset.
San Simeon Cove
This has to be one of the most ethereal spots in San Luis, Obispo. Directly across Highway 1 from Hearst Castle, lies this beautiful sight called San Simeon Cove.
You would find a small driveway that leads towards the beach at the side of Hearst Warehouse.
To get to the Cove, follow the trail northwest of San Simeon Bay.
Aside from the lacy moss that you would find dangling from the eucalyptus, pines, cedars, and cypress along the trail, you’ll find lots of large natural jades, jaspers, micro quartz on the shores, around the tideline.
Be sure to pack all the tools that you’ll need, wear sturdy boots, as you may encounter steep terrain, dress according to the weather during your visit, and have fun rock 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:
Disclosure: These are links to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you.
You might also like the following articles if you are interested in Rockhounding California: