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

California, the golden state, is known to receive millions of tourists each year as a result of its perfect scenery and seeming support of all forms of hobbies and expressions.

The golden state is a home for rocks, gems, and gold collectors, sporting the most delectable of sites.

Modoc county proves to be one of the best locations for rock hounding in California, with its vast geology and plethora of available rocks and minerals.

With this fully updated list of rock hounding sites in Modoc County, adding to your collection has just been made easier.

Rockhounding Modoc 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.

1. Deep Creek Prospect, Cedarville.

Rockhounding in the Deep Creek Prospect is a must-try in Modoc county.

Discovered in 1935, the Deep Creek is an ore mine located in the South West of Cedarville.

The ore mined at this site contains cinnabar, alongside waste products containing jasper, sericite, and pyrite.

This number of released gemstones provides an exciting exploration opportunity for rockhounds.

In the deep creek prospect, Andesite serves as the host for other rocks and mineral deposits.

The rocks lay flat on the surface of the mine and could be easily sighted by anyone.

There is a plethora of malachites, mercury, quartz, opalized woods, and ilmenites.

It must be noted, however, that although the samples obtained from the deep creek prospect contain a high level of mercury, there is virtually no detectable gold in them.

Rockhounding in the deep creek prospect can be done at any time of the year but has a more effective scenery during summer.

Heavy equipment is not necessary, as the collection of a large number of samples will amount to theft of private property.

2. Goose Lake, Oregon.

Goose lake is an alkaline lake located on the Oregon-California border.

The majority of the water in the lake falls in the California region.

Following the years of its discovery, some minerals and rocks have been found to exist around the area.

First off, the goose lake has been discovered to be one of the best and preferable sites for the collection of jaspers and agates.

The agates are at the beach of the lake in different patterns and colors.

They can easily be identified by their waxy surfaces.

Chalcedony, quartz, and jasper can also be found on the shores of the lake.

Recently, there have been sightings of a newly discovered precious gemstone at the shore of the south end of the lake.

There have also been found traces of cinnabar along the shore of the eastern part of the lake.

You will be pleased to find out that the goose lake meteorite is the largest meteorite found in California, with embedded minerals ranging from cohenite to troilite.

Although the land around the goose lake is owned by BLM and Modoc National Forest, no permit is needed to access it.

3. Glass Mountain

Glass Mountain is a very striking sight, with an almost treeless layout.

Its obsidian flow is one of the most intriguing volcanic eruption formations of Medicine Lake Highland, the largest volcano when talking about its cascade.

The eruption occurred about 950 years ago.

Glass mountain was named after the flow of the large boulders of black glass-like obsidian that spread across the mountainside.

There are also a handful of dirty brown boulders of obsidian present in the mountain.

The obsidian flow, contrary to the imagination of the mind, is a wall of rock that is being pushed by an invisible force.

The rock is irregular and unconnected and can be found in either piles or huge holes that can be entered into.

The glass mountain offers intrigue and mystery at the sight of the 1000-year-old undisturbed glass obsidian.

You could walk on the glass for the whole length, but pay attention to the route as there are no marked identifiers. Wear strong closed shoes to avoid cuts from the glass.

It must, however, be noted that although you could gain entry into the mountains at any time, you will have to go through a bumpy rough road, and hence a strong car will be needed.

The collection of obsidian is illegal in California. Hence, only sightseeing is possible here.

4. Modoc National Forest

The Modoc National Forest is one of the most preferred places to analyze and examine a plethora of rocks and minerals, most especially obsidian needles and a variety of gemstones.

Collection of obsidian in this location, however, requires a permit.

Moreso, rockhounders are allowed to collect up to five gallons full of minerals, only from the surface alone.

Hence, no heavy equipment is allowed.

There are four specific rock-hounding locations in Modoc National Forest.

They are the Big Valley Ranger District, Devil’s Garden Ranger District, Doublehead Ranger District, and Warner Mountain Ranger District.

a. Big Valley Ranger District: This part of the National Forest takes the shape of a crescent, occupying the east and south of the town of Adin.

The Wonderstone Rhyolite, with its colorful bands, is the most prevalent volcanic stone on the site. It is covered in lava flows containing obsidian.

The town welcomes tourists and visiting rock hounders. It is open to all, but permits must be granted before the obsidian can be collected.

b. Devil’s Garden Ranger District: It is located directly under the pacific flyway, in a pool of lava.

There is an abundance of sharp rocks, particularly slim wall rocks known as fins, a fine variety of gemstones, and assorted gemstones.

c. Doublehead Ranger District: This part of the Modoc National Forest sports a colorful sheen of rainbow obsidian and long obsidian needles.

It is advised that the most preferred time of the day to go there is when the sun is out, so as to find the obsidian easily.

d. Warner Mountain Ranger District: This is situated in the northeastern part of California, alongside the northward corner of Oregon.

The site is a unique and complex sight, with sedimentary rocks covered by Oligocene and basaltic volcanic rocks.

Gold was the first valuable mineral to be discovered and extracted on the site, marking the location as one of the best sites for minerals.

Petrified wood, opals, and rainbow obsidian were soon discovered.

It must be noted that in your surface collection, you are restricted to only one bucket per day in the Warner mountains.

The law of California is strict on the illegality of the collection of obsidian, except for the four rock hounding sites in the Modoc National Forest, where permission is needed to be granted.

Aside from that, these sites are great for your examination and collection of rocks and minerals, so hop in a ride and begin your journey.

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 Modoc County