One of the best sources for rocks, crystals and fossils is the Mojave Desert in Southern California.
It is a great location for rockhounding near Palm Springs.
Most of the local digging sites are a short distance away via hiking or driving in an off-road vehicle.
Rockhounding Near Palm Springs California
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.
1) Maynard Mine Trail
Maynard Mine Trail attracts those who are eager for a rockhounding challenge.
It is a six-mile roundtrip on a narrow, rocky terrain from downtown Palm Springs.
If you are hiking to the site, you can expect to encounter plenty of elevation (approximately 1000 feet per mile) during your walk on the trail.
However, the scenery is amazing as you near the desired rockhounding location.
Think of it as plenty of land to explore.
Local excavators have found tungsten in the mine’s rock formation.
Hard work and good tools are required to unearth new, colorful specimens from the site.
You may have to keep a strict schedule to avoid hiking back during nightfall.
Maynard Mine Trail is open daily from October 1-July 4, then Friday, Saturday and Sunday from July 5-September 30.
It will cost $9.00 per adult for entry onto the site.
2) Cinnamon Geode Beds
If you love to explore old mining sites, then head north (approximately 15 miles on Interstate 10) past Joshua Tree National Park to the Cinnamon Geode Beds.
Newcomers to the Palm Springs area may use a four-wheel vehicle to travel to the Cinnamon Geode Beds, but it is not necessary.
The turnoff for a passenger vehicle is Wiley’s Well Road, but it will turn into Milpitas Wash Road without notice.
Do not be alarmed as the Cinnamon Geode Beds will be to the west.
Once you arrive, there are plenty of acres to excavate adjacent to the abandoned mine.
Locals feel the best location to dig is on the west side of the hills.
You may need a little patience and hard work to open up most of the odd-shaped rocks with a hammer.
However, the cavities inside the rocks will produce precious gemstones, cinnamon-brown quartz and glistening black crystals.
The ideal time to visit the site is from late October to late March as the average temperature in the summer is 115 degrees Fahrenheit.
3) Wiley Well
Wiley Well is one of the more popular rockhounding sites in the Palm Springs area.
The location was discovered in the 1930s and it is still rich with quartz, jasper and other rich crystals today.
Do not be alarmed as you will see plenty of digging holes upon entering the site.
However, locals have confirmed new locations with untapped mineral deposits are available each calendar year.
Some excavators in this group will re-work the existing holes, which will yield gemstones, rocks and other fossils.
The rock’s surface is very powdery as it does not require a saw to create an opening.
Many excavators believe a hammer will suffice.
Once you crack the surface, it is wise to use a chisel.
This will lessen the chances of damaging an unearthed crystal inside the slate.
Be smart and patient when chipping away at the rock formation.
4) Samuelson’s Rocks at Twenty-Nine Palms
Another ideal location for rockhounding near Palm Springs is Samuelson’s Rocks in the Twenty-Nine Palms area.
The site offers the possibility of finding quality collectibles that will be the highlight of your excavating day.
You will need to travel on Interstate 10 out of town that skirts along the eastern side of the Marines military base before turning west on Route 66 towards Samuelson’s Rocks.
The digging site is a series of several large rocks that are embedded into the landscape.
The older formations contain interbeds of quartz, feldspar and other igneous rocks.
Not much of a hiking trail to Samuelson’s Rocks as it is more of a three-mile path to the digging site.
You may want to bring a GPS tracker to make your return to the parking area a much easier experience.
5) Chiriaco Summit
Another popular rockhounding location outside of Palm Springs is Chiriaco Summit, which is located on an open terrain found inside the Joshua Tree National Park.
A 4×4 vehicle (the elevation is 500 feet) will get you to the Fluorite Mine as it is approximately 2.5 miles inward from the park’s entrance.
The various elevation levels of the rocks suggest a unique style of formation over time.
You can chip away at the rounded stones and hammer away at the flat slabs.
Your hard work could be rewarded with a crystal-lined interior that unearths a reddish-golden piece of quartz crystal.
If you head north on the road, you will be able to park at an overnight camping site.
A fee is required to enter Joshua Tree National Park.
Remember, you are in a desert environment, so be prepared for extreme weather conditions.
A violent rainstorm can be seen heading over the Sierra Mountains, while the summer months offer dry, humid temperatures.
6) Marble Mountain
Located in the Mojave Trails, Marble Mountain offers one of the best fossil beds in the Western United States.
Access to the site is limited as the entrance is off Route 66 near the town of Chambless.
The quarry found in Marble Mountain averages 50 feet in thickness, but it becomes fragmented upon initial impact.
The formations look rusty red to greenish shale that weathers into recessive slope ridges.
Often, they’re overlapped by younger rock formations.
Strict guidelines that have been set by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) require only hand tools to be used at this digging site.
All collected specimens cannot be sold for personal gain.
You will need to be quite careful with your chipping and hammering to gain a perfect fossil sample. Roughly, 21 different types of fossils exist inside the beds.
Some of the more popular rocks include Cambrian and Ordovician.
The newer formations offer limestone and trilobites.
The on-site campground offers enough of a flat surface to pitch a tent and park your vehicle safely.
Those who spend the night will have to bring food, water and wood.
It can get quite windy on most days at Marble Mountain.
7) Bristol Mountain
If you move along the Mojave Trails region, an excellent rockhounding and invertebrate fossil collecting location is the rock formation along Bristol Mountain.
Locals feel the region is ideal to unearth strawberry onyx, agate and jasper on most days.
The main digging location has a vast amount of boulders as a commercial mine was once housed on this site.
Keep in mind, no motor vehicles are allowed past certain points on the property.
This information will come in handy when planning your rockhounding process.
You may have to be selective in what rocks make the two-mile trek back to your parked vehicle.
On your hike to the digging site, you see multiple tire tracks along the route, but it is not worth the $500 fine if caught.
Under BLM guidelines, all visitors have the right to collect rocks, minerals, fossils and other geological specimens for personal and educational use.
This is accomplished by digging small holes into the ground or chipping away at the rock formations with hand tools.
8) Camel Mine
The Camel Mine is a perfect location for rockhounding near Palm Springs.
It has a complicated history that dates back to the California Gold Rush days.
Some wooden stamp mill structures are still in place and standing strong.
The property surrounding the mine contains geological gemstones and small agate nodules. Individuals have unearthed calcite on the trail to the Camel Mine.
No excavator should be surprised if they dig up a cluster of quartz as it has been found in the region recently by other collectors.
Often in the prime collecting locations, you can break open a rock filled with calcite crystals inside.
No question, Camel Mine is a rich area filled with precious geological specimens.
It is located on a small corner of the Chocolate Mountains in Coachella Valley.
Locals feel it is a fast, easy five-mile round trip hike from the downtown area.
9) High-Desert Region
The High-Desert region is a mineral-rich location.
Locals feel the area serves as a great starting point for all levels of rockhounding.
All the local mountains provide an endless source of rocks and fossils for true excavators of the land.
With a little hard work, you can gain rich treasures from your digging efforts.
The best digging sites are to the north of Interstate 15.
Quickly, you will see rock formations that have barite crystals, calcite and brick-red jasper inside.
On the opposite side of Interstate 15, the mountains have plenty of borate, colemanite and gypsum if you’re willing to work for your fortunes.
Another reason why the High-Desert region is ideal for rockhounding is the actual distance between Los Angeles and Palm Springs.
On the map, High-Desert is the halfway point between those two cities.
It gives you more options for gas, food, lodging and emergency services with very little traveling needed.
You can travel to most digging sites in a passenger vehicle.
There are multiple parking lots located on either side of Interstate 15.
On the trail to most digging sites, you will encounter rocky terrain.
10) South Cady Mountain
One of the best-digging sites to excavate fluorite deposits is the area near the South Cady Mountain.
It is a wonderful location that has been ideal in unearthing agate, jasper and other mineral specimens.
The hillside is filled with fluorite crystals.
It is green and purple, but it will require some hard work to unearth.
Use hand tools to avoid any damage to the crystals.
The above-ground fluorite crystals will turn to a bleach-white color from the sunlight.
To get to South Cady Mountain, you travel along Interstate 15 out of Palm Springs.
After exiting off the Afton Road mark, you can park at the campground site near the foot of the mountain.
You can proceed to the location by foot as it is approximately 1.6 miles in length.
For those who are traveling inside a 4×4 off-road vehicle, the desired digging sites are located over the side of the mountain at Spanish Trail East.
Palm Springs is a treasure for excavators as they’re guaranteed to find a location that has the type of minerals that suits their interests.
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.
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!
You might also like:
- Guide To Rockhounding Sonoma County, California
- Monterey County Rock Hunting
- Rockhounding Southern California
- Rockhounding Santa Clara County
- Rockhounding Fresno County
- Rockhounding Calaveras County, CA
- Rockhounding Lake County, CA
- Rockhounding Merced County, CA
- Rockhounding Ventura County, CA
- Rockhounding Santa Cruz County
- Rockhounding San Bernadino County, CA