Rockhounding Kern County, California: 5 Places To Hunt Rocks, Crystals, and Fossils

Rocks, crystals, and all sorts of fossils are hidden everywhere and whether they are being used simply as decor, trophies, or for their mystical properties, for any rock hound out there, the idea of finding these nearby or slightly further away gives the sense of a brand new adventure that’s waiting to unfold!

Whether you are a newcomer to this fun activity or a veteran rock hound, you should go in with some basic knowledge of the terrain, location, and, most importantly, the equipment required to go on your next hunt.

This comprehensive guide will give any rock hound in Kern County or anyone willing to go there enough info to start their dig.

Rockhounding Kern County (Let’s Go)


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.

Kern River

The Kern River is an important place in history for prospectors of the gold rush.

It also gave way to many mining towns being started along the river.

A lot of mines also started here and as a result, a lot of gold was mined here.

Now, even though people have mined these veins quite vigorously, you can still find your fair share of gold here too!


Kernville is another place worth looking at because it is also situated along the Kern River. This settlement was established during the gold rush.

The reason that this is particularly noteworthy is that it was built near a mine, the Big Blue Gold Mine.

Gold was found here in the past. So why not see if you can make a prospect of your own?


This town, also established in tandem with the gold rush and along the Kern River, was also home to another important mine, the Mammoth Mine.

Countless miners stormed this town to find gold and the town grew immensely. Miners moved away as the amount of gold became less.

Chances are, however, that a lot of untapped potential mines could house a brand new fortune for any new willing prospector!

Keyesville Recreational Mining Area

The Keyesville Recreational Mining Area is 400 acres long and open to the public to prospect for gold.

It is important to note that as big as this place is next to the river, the opportunities to prospect properly are quite limited and suction dredging might not be allowed.

You also can’t bring a huge sluice box to the site. Motorized equipment will also be very limited.

For more information on this specific area, you can contact the “Bakersfield Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management” at this number: +1 661-391-6000.

Greenhorn Creek

This place is known as the area along the Kern River where gold was first found and it also gave birth to the gold rush on the Kern River.

As much as this was an area of great prospects, it also came to an end, and with that, mining operations did come to a halt.

They stopped mining for gold, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find any yourself, and the long absence might have even meant that some land remained untouched. Who knows, your luck might be only an inch deep!

Sadly, it is important to know that any prospectors going on this journey will do so at their discretion because these lands are still heavily claimed and could prove difficult to get access to.

However, some more skilled miners might find areas that have not yet been claimed or, better yet, mined.

The Ernst Quarries Near Shark Tooth Hill

This is one of the places in Kern County, near Bakersfield, with a particularly interesting history.

Not only is it an interesting location, but it’s a rare opportunity to explore it as the quarries are only open for a limited time per year.

This specific area is very old and is said to be over 150 million years old.

But when you have the chance to go, be sure to get there as soon as possible.

This is a unique fee-dig as it gives many fossil lovers the chance to find marine fossils and keep everything they find!

From all kinds and sizes of shark teeth to the finest and tougher vertebrae, found on both the outside and inside of this terrain.

All of these can be found and kept, provided that the dig fee was paid, of course!


The following equipment is part of the essential tools that a rock hunter or miner requires:

A Metal Detector

Metal detectors are used to find metals underneath the ground, some can detect further and deeper depending on how they are built. They also differ based on terrain.

A Gold Pan

Gold pans are used with water to separate the heavy gold pieces from the smaller lightweight pieces.

A Geologist rock pick

Geologist rock picks are used to split rocks and break them apart. This pick is especially great for geodes.

A Mini sluice box

A mini sluice box can also be used along with water to wash the inserted dirt and rocks and trap heavy pieces of gold at the bottom.

A Soil scoop

Soil scoops are perfect for digging through dirt and digging materials that can be either inserted into the sluice box or pan.

Now that you are equipped with your tools and mining equipment, it’s time to find the location of your dig!

Here are 5 locations to start digging!

Mining Permits and Any Required Documents

Trust us that the only area you want to be digging is in the dirt. Getting on the wrong side of the law will have dire consequences. So always remember to bring along any mining permits and documents that you can obtain to make sure that you are in the clear when going on a gold hunt.


Remember that these sites require fees sometimes. Sometimes you can book online, but other times you may need to pay in cash. So keep or bring some with you just in case.

In Conclusion

These and other places can be found in Kern County. Now with the right information and locations, you are ready for your dig.

Who knows what you’ll find, but you won’t know till you go!

Stay safe and have fun.

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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Rockhounding Kern County