Rockhounding Riverside County, California: 9 Places To Hunt Rocks, Crystals, and Fossils  

If you are looking for a great rockhounding adventure, look no further than Riverside County, California!

This county is full of amazing geological sites where you can find an array of different rocks, minerals, and fossils.

In this article, we will share 9 of our favorite locations in Riverside County, California, to help you prepare for your next rockhounding trip.

Rockhounding Riverside 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.

White Tank Campground

The White Tank Campground is located in the Joshua Tree National Park and is a great place to find a variety of rocks, minerals, and fossils.

Some of the most common finds at this location include agate, jasper, petrified wood, and nopal cactus ribs.

While this campground area is popular for rockhounding, it’s important to note that the location is closed annually from May 31 to Labor Day due to the extreme heat.

There is a $15 fee per vehicle to enter the White Tank Campground, along with any fees for the Joshua Tree National Park.

There is no cellphone reception, water hookups, or firewood for sale at this location, so be sure to bring any and all supplies you may need for your rockhounding trip.

Painted Canyon Trailhead

If you are looking for an incredible geologic location with a moderate hiking trail, the Painted Canyon Trailhead is an excellent option.

This 4.5-mile hike is best for those with some hiking experience, as there are many challenging spots along the route.

While this location is open year-round, it’s recommended to visit from October to April to avoid the extreme heat.

The parking at Painted Canyon Trailhead is free, though it’s available on a first-come, first-served basis.

While any type of vehicle can access the parking area, it’s known to become extremely muddy and difficult after any significant rainfall.

Garnet Hill

Garnet Hill is another unique location for rockhounding in Riverside County that is open year-round.

This mountain has an elevation of 550 feet and just over two miles of trails to explore, making this area a great choice for beginners or those rockhounding with children.

The most common rocks and gems found in this area include jasper, agates, and volcanic materials.

It’s recommended to visit during the fall or spring months when the temperatures are cool and comfortable.

Afton Canyon

Afton Canyon is truly a one-of-a-kind location for rockhounds.

Often referred to as “The Grand Canyon of the Mojave,” this location is known for its incredible geologic formations and unique surface water.

Some of the most common finds at this location include jasper, agate, and petrified wood.

There is no fee to enter the Mojave Desert, but there is a fee per vehicle if you want to drive on unpaved roads.

The best time to visit Afton Canyon is from October to April when the temperatures are cooler, and there is less chance of flooding.

Cajon Pass

Cajon Pass is a mountain pass located between the San Gabriel Mountains and the San Bernardino Mountains just outside of San Bernardino, California.

This incredible area was created by the San Andreas Fault and provides ample opportunities for rockhounds to explore along the miles of roads and old trails.

This area can be dangerous depending on the weather and other conditions, so check before leaving on a rockhounding trip.

Big Morongo Canyon Preserve

Located close to the Little San Bernardino Mountains, the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve is excellent for finding various rocks, gems, and fossils.

The desert landscape can make it difficult to locate some types of rocks and minerals, so be sure to bring enough equipment and ample supplies to search the dusty landscape.

There are over 31,000 acres at the preserve to explore at this location, which is free to visit and open 365 days per year.

Calico Ghost Town

Calico Ghost Town is located in nearby Yermo, California, and is open year-round, except for Christmas Day.

This old West mining town was first incorporated in 1881 and is a rich historical site for rocks and desert fossils.

Some locals claim there is gold located throughout the “ghost town,” which is what attracts rockhounds from across the country.

In addition to the vast landscape to explore, there are restaurants, camping, and hiking trails for visitors to enjoy.

Pisgah Crater

Located in the Mojave Desert, Pisgah Crater is a large volcano that provides an excellent opportunity to hunt for rocks, gems, minerals, and fossils.

Several hiking trails are located in the area, with the Pisgah Crater Trail being the most popular when searching for different geological finds.

The lava plans are rich in volcanic material, with different lava flows and scoria cones at the crater to explore.

The lava tubes are one of the most popular spots to search, along with the SPJ cave.

Joshua Tree National Park

One of the largest and most expansive locations for those in Riverside County is the Joshua Tree National Park.

Spanning across two desert ecosystems, this park provides an incredible amount of hiking trails and open landscapes to explore for valuable gems and minerals.

Some of the most popular at this location include jasper, agates, plant fossils, and gems, though some travel here specifically to search for gold.

There is a fee to enter the Joshua Tree National Park, which is $55.00 per year or $30.00 per vehicle for a single day pass.

Several entrances and parking lots are available, depending on which area of the park you want to visit. Be sure to visit the park’s official website for information on weather conditions, closures, and updates before making the journey to the park.

There are some facilities available at different locations in the park, though it’s important to bring enough water with you during the summer months.

Remember, it is generally illegal to remove any materials from national parklands.

Instead, collect your materials nearby (but off) national park property.

Now that you know of these 9 unique rockhounding locations in Riverside County, you can plan your next trip to explore the landscape!

Remember to bring any necessary supplies with you and to check weather conditions before leaving for your location. Have fun and happy rock hunting.

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 Riverside County