Rockhounding Near Los Angeles, California: 10 Places to Hunt Rocks, Crystals and Fossils

Los Angeles is an ideal location for rock, crystal and fossil hunting.

Why?

Well, you are near the desert, beach coastal line and forest, which offer a perfect environment for rockhounding near Los Angeles County border.

All sites are a short drive from the downtown area.

And each location will bring you a variety of treasures.

Rockhounding Near Los Angeles, California (A Guide)

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.

Here are 10 rockhounding locations in Southern California:

1) Palos Verdes Peninsula

One of the top rockhounding locations inside the city of Los Angeles lies along the Pacific Ocean shoreline.

It is the Palos Verdes Peninsula as most collectors will gather near the cliffs above the ocean.

Do not be alarmed by the number of collectors you may encounter as the popular rock formation is filled with plenty of barite minerals for all.

Digging could be an easy process as you may unearth a cluster of breccia inside the cliffs’ plates.

However, two different types of barite can be found.

On the western side, you will find darker barite crystals and some older fossils will look to be beige in nature.

To the eastern side of the cliffs, smaller, clearer barite crystals can be found. 

The Palos Verdes Peninsula’s cliffs are easy to find as you will travel along the main road to Pelican Cove near the water.

Pelican Cove stretches from the lighthouse to the local resort property on the far side of the peninsula. 

An adjacent parking lot is free of charge, but space is limited.

Just follow the walking path to the cliffs.

2) Santa Monica Mountains

One of the rich mineral communities located in Los Angeles is off Kanan Road near the foot of the Santa Monica Mountains.

Collectors gather at several digging sites just outside the city of Agoura.

All come away with a wide variety of rocks such as agate, pyrite, quartz and natrolite.

Some will bypass the opportunity to chip away at the rock formation.

Instead, they will collect mineral specimens and rocks found on the ground. 

The potential of your discovery is well worth the time and effort.

The best course to travel to the Santa Monica Mountains is driving on Pacific Coast Highway 101 out of Los Angeles, then exit off the Kanan Road.

Head south until you reach the foot of the Santa Monica Mountains.

There is ample parking off the main road as the main path to the digging site is well identified with signage.

3) Cascade Canyon

Cascade Canyon offers a wide variety of rocks, minerals and crystals to all collectors.

The area was home to the Bighorn Mine, which began operation in the early 1900s.

Many prospectors begin their day by chipping away at the sedimentary rock formation found on the south side of the canyon.

You many unearth corundum crystals, quartz minerals, fuchsite and other fossils.

Corundum crystals will look pink or purple to the human eye.

Inexperienced collectors will believe they have found a ruby at first glance, but do not be fooled. 

Others try their luck at the digging sites located on the north side of the canyon.

You may bring the ever-allusive lapis lazuli back home as a treasure.

The exit to Cascade Canyon is Barrett-Stoddard Truck Route and Mount Baldy Road.

You can park your vehicle in the parking area adjacent to the entrance of Cascade Canyon.

Every collector will need a Los Angeles National Forest Adventure Pass (price unknown) to enter the canyon.

The hiking trail is very (unstable terrain) treacherous, so it might be wise to wear hiking boots to avoid injury.

4) Tick Canyon

If you travel approximately one hour outside of Los Angeles, you can spend a day surveying an old mine on the grounds of Tick Canyon.

The mine was called Stearling Borax which hauled borate out of the canyon since the 1900s. Be respectful of the signs posted on the grounds as the mine is fenced off to the public. 

Today, collectors can still garner hoplite for their efforts.

Clusters of howlite, priceite and veatchite are littered throughout Tick Canyon.

Remember, the digging site is located on private property, so you will need to gain permission to rockhound before entering the site.

Local collectors feel you can get a quick response to your request.

The entrance to the mine is located on Davenport Road off Interstate 5 North Highway. 

5) Adelanto Mine

It is an hour’s ride from Los Angeles to Victorville on Highway 395, but Adelanto Mine is one of the most visited digging sites in the high desert of Southern California.

Do not be alarmed at the size of the crowd, the site attracts a large gathering.

Hopefully, everyone goes home with a worthy possession. 

The mine opened in 1915 and still generates an impressive yearly output.

There is an infinite amount of saibec, quartz, epidote, garnet and other rocks lodged inside the mine’s large boulder formation. 

You will turn west off the 395 and travel a quarter of a mile on an unmarked road until you arrive at the property.

Upon entrance, you will find yourself facing several large boulder formations that are the Adelanto Mine. 

6) Shadow Mountain

Experienced collectors have a passion to find a variety of rocks and minerals.

Many locals will trek to Shadow Mountain as it has become the ideal location in Los Angeles.

The area was part of California’s mining boom. 

The mountain’s peak is composed of metasedimentary rocks, which makes it one of the oldest rock formations in Southern California.

Inside those rocks are argillite, quartz and limestone.

Other rock formations have undergone long periods of erosion, so you may come across a number of fracturing and faults along your path to find an ideal digging site.

The best route to Shadow Mountain is driving on 210 Highway until the Foothills Blvd exit.

Follow the signs until you see the entrance to the region. 

7) Boron Flats

One of the top rockhounding locations in the desert is Boron Flats.

It has been well-documented that the Mojave Desert has been a mining haven since the mid-1800s. 

Local collectors feel the Boron flats still hold an abundance of geological treasures.

Their favorite digging sites are located on the southern side of the flats. 

Those adjacent hills have a considerable amount of rocks such as jasper, chalcedony and opal.

At first, you see several abandoned digging sites.

All were used in a geological study conducted by the Federal government. 

Most of the most desired specimens are easily spotted near the earth’s surface.

Still, it may take a little effort and good chipping skills to unearth a precious gemstone from the formation. 

If you’re traveling from Los Angeles, drive on Highway 58 East towards Mojave, then head north on Gephardt Road until you see multiple digging sites that comprised the Boron Flats.

You can park your vehicle in the south parking lot past the hills. A path will lead you to the digging sites.

8) Palo Verde Mountains 

One of the top rockhound locations in Southern California is a short drive from downtown Los Angeles.

The Palo Verde Mountains offer several types of minerals, rocks and other specimens to eager collectors. 

Some of the more popular items collected include barite, manganese and agate.

You can travel to Palo Verde Mountains by taking Highway 78 West, then exiting at Milpitas Wash Road.

It is approximately 18 miles away from Los Angeles.

There are several parking lots available off the exit and all are suitable to house an RV for those individuals who are planning to stay a few days.

The Palo Verde Mountains offer multiple (hiking or fishing) outdoor activities besides rockhounding, which is ideal for a family weekend getaway.

Keep in mind the region has several river beds and high vegetation that attracts a large mosquitoes population.

It is wise to pack bug repellent for your trip. Be careful on the path to the mountain range as you may encounter several wild (coyotes and mountain lions) animals along your way.

Remember, digging and chipping away for gemstones is a strenuous process.

Due to the extreme outdoor temperature conditions in the summer months, it might be wise to rockhound in the Palo Verde Mountains region during the fall, winter or spring months.

9) Turtle Mountains

The majestic terrain of the Turtle Mountains is the perfect environment for rockhounding purposes.

The region covers approximately 700 acres, so be wise when choosing the best location for your rockhounding purposes.

Turtle Mountains has three popular locations: Mohawk Spring, Mopah Peak and Negro Peak.

Mopah Peak is a four-mile hike from Mohawk Spring as its rock formation dominates the western horizon.

The rock formations vary in color, but the majority of your collecting (chalcedony crystals and turquoise minerals) effort will be closer to the earth’s surface.

Still, local collectors believe the mountain range is filled with chalcedony, agate, opalite and jasper.

The Turtle Mountains is located south of Needles in San Bernardino County.

The best route is driving on US Highway 95 and exiting west at Vidal Junction. 

Off-road vehicles are not permitted beyond a certain point on the private road.

So, every guest should expect to hike a portion of their journey to the digging sites.

If you’re planning to stay for more than a few days, you will have to lodge elsewhere as there are no campground sites on the property.

10) Chief Mountain

In the summer months, Chief Mountain has become a popular location in the rockhounding community.

The scenery found on the pathway to the digging sites is quite breathtaking.

It might be wise to return to the area to take a longer hike in your free time. 

Some minerals found in the region include quartz crystals, feldspar, lepidolite and other rocks.

Keep in mind that Chief Mountain is a fee-pay ($75) site.

It is important to make a reservation in advance or risk being denied access to the region.

After paying the fee, you will be given all the necessary tools (bucket, shovel, sifter and other digging items) to begin collecting specimens and ground samples.

Plus, you will have access to set up an overnight on-site camp. 

No question, Los Angeles is rich in mineral diversity.

It will guarantee to garner several different rocks, crystals and fossils to add to your growing collection.

rockhounding near los angeles