Rockhounding Mariposa County, California: 7 Places To Hunt Rocks, Crystals, and Fossils  

Mariposa County is one of those towns in California where, regardless of the month of the year you visit, you’ll be sure to find one event or the other going on.

Being characterized by its peaceful and natural feel with its beautiful hills, Mariposa County not only attracts tourists but rock hounders too.

If you’re looking for those rock and mineral abundant locations in Mariposa County, you’ve come to the right place!

Rockhounding Mariposa 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.

Colorado Quartz Gold Mine

One of the best places to hunt rocks in Mariposa County, California is the Colorado Quartz Gold Mine.

Being a former gold mine in operation in the early 1800s, you can be sure to find pieces of gold and quartz in very large quantities in this area.

The Colorado Quartz Gold Mine is located in the West Central of Mariposa County near the SouthWest of Colorado School, Mariposa County, along Long Canyon Creek West of California Highway 140 Off Colorado Quartz Road.

There is, however, a claim on this property.

Therefore, hunting in the Colorado Quartz Gold Mine has its limits.

Tilt more to the areas surrounding this mine and you’ll be sure to leave this location with lots of rocks.


Another of the best places to hunt rocks in Mariposa County, California is Oakhurst.

Located 14 miles south of Yosemite National Park, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Oakhurst is the best place to hunt Serpentine, iron pyrite crystals, and Mariposite.

A few miles down Highway 49 between Mariposa and Sonora, you will open into a narrow path on the left.

You can leave your car parked in the open parking lot while you go rock hunting.

You will be sure to find plenty of Serpentine here.

This route, however, closes in winter due to snowfall, so the best times to visit are in spring or summer.

Merced River

Known for its swift and steep course, this river lies to the south of Yosemite Village and flows through the Yosemite Valley as Mercedes River lies within the boundaries of Yosemite National Park.

Here, you can be sure to hunt quartz, pyrite, feldspars, biotite, and hornblende.

Follow the western part of Yosemite Park and head towards the upper Basin region of the Merced River as this is where you will be sure to find these minerals in high concentration.

Don’t forget to check the southern part of the basin, as well as small outcrops of hornfels and other metavolcanic rocks, such as, amphibolite and mare, are hidden here.

The best time to visit the Merced River is in the summer when the river levels are not so high.

Hornitos Mining District

Located in the Western region of Mariposa County, Hornitos is famous for being an 1800s ghost town.

The Hornitos Mining District contains a wide belt of lode-gold mines extending into the Indian Gulch area.

About 15 miles west of Mariposa town, following the Hornitos Road Route, you will find the Sierra Nevada West Gold belt.

Here, you can hunt for quartz (including the milky quartz), pieces of gold, covellite, and todorokite.

Casa Diablo

Located near Mammoth Lakes, Casa Diablo is another fantastic place to hunt rocks in Mariposa County.

Casa Diablo is just the place to be if you’re looking to hunt Chalendony, Agate, Red, and Black Obsidian.

Surrounded on the south by the Owens Valley, the west by the Eastern Sierra, and north by the Mammoth Lakes, Casa Diablo is known to have a colorful mining history, with a prominent outcrop located in the north of the Owens Valley, north east of the Owens River Gorge.

At the junction of Highway 395 and Highway 203, turn north east and then drive for about 5.5 miles before turning left on the Benton Crossing Road.

Follow this road up and around Lake Crowley and then Watterson Canyon.

Turn left at this junction until you finally open into Casa Diablo Mountain.

You can leave your car parked here and then hike up the drainage along this mountain.

Mammoth Mountains

The scenic view of the Devil’s Postpile Monument housing the Devil’s Postpile, the 101-foot Rainbow Falls, and the San Joaquin River has attracted so many tourists.

This view came about as a result of the volcanic eruptions from the early years in this region, making Mammoth a prominent rock hunting location in Mariposa County, California.

Devil’s Postpile, a fascinating geologic formation located 8 miles down the paved, steep mountain road off Minaret Vista, is the best place to find basalt.

Driving is not allowed in the Devil’s Postpile, so park at the Mammoth Mountains and then take the shuttle, which typically runs every 20 to 30 minutes, to get to the Devil’s Postpile. This area is, however, closed for most of the winter months.


This place is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Mariposa County, particularly because of the breathtaking scenery and glaciated landscape resulting from the glacier and underlying rock interaction many years ago.

Head towards the East of Highway 120 off the southern part of Highway 99 till you’re greeted by the ethereal view of the Yosemite National Park.

Located 36 miles north of Mariposa, the Yosemite area is a well-known place to find quartz, granites, granodiorites, and tonalite.

However, please note that it is illegal to remove any rocks or other materials from the actual grounds of National Parks.

Instead of rock hunting in the National Park, continue a few miles further after this towards the Yosemite Valley, as it is free to hunt rocks here.

The rocky headline towards the waterfall is the place you should be looking at.

The best time to visit Yosemite Valley is in the summer when the waterfalls aren’t bursting full with water.

There is typically a high influx of people during summer, so expect to meet a crowd.

You can find parking spaces in the upper and lower falls parking lot in Yosemite Valley, or at Yosemite Village.

Wrapping Up

There you have it! These are the top seven places in Mariposa County, California, for you to hunt for your favorite crystals, rocks, fossils and other minerals in the area.

Be sure to pack all the tools you will need, wear sturdy boots and dress according to the weather during which you’d be visiting.

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 Mariposa County