You might be searching for your next treasure or maybe a day of rockhounding fun is what you seek.
Whatever experiences you’re seeking, San Benito County has just the thing for you.
Here are 5 places to hunt rocks, crystals, and fossils in central California.
Rockhounding San Benito County (Let’s Go)
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.
For many rockhounds, the county of San Benito is a wild frontier.
Hydra Springs is the first place to visit if you’re seeking out this same sense of adventure.
A complete array of fluorescent minerals presents itself at the Hydra Springs complex.
With colors like blue, white, pink, yellow, orange, red, purple, and many other shades, this location offers rocks that are unmatched in brilliance and brightness.
Deviating away from the main sites at Hydra, heading to the hill has yielded sizeable calcite crystals and assures rockhounds of a fantastic find.
Night exploration could be a treat, but if it lies outside your comfort zone, carrying a tarp could also provide the shade necessary to pick up these wonderful stones.
If you head to the Springs seeking out this specific kind of fluorescent stone, make sure to bring the necessary basic equipment.
A UV light, goggles, and flagging tape would enhance the rockhound’s hunt exponentially.
With no entry fees, the wilds of Hydra Springs are wide open for exploration.
This location lies between the freeways of California, so be ready to go off-road.
Benitoite Gem Mine
The finds from this location bear a compelling deep blue hue.
They also share a name with the county.
After more than 100 years of being closed to the public, the Benitoite Gem Mine has now opened its doors to people who love to hunt rocks.
Much assistance is given to people who are just starting out with rockhounding and looking for fun outdoors.
In this literal trove of treasure, some people find good stones.
But if you’re lucky, you might even unearth a stone of gem-level quality.
The mining policy stipulates that you can keep anything that can fit in your bag, but if you find something huge, they will value it for you.
Of course, as its name vaunts, this location is known for its signature blue bentoite gems, but other kinds of rock like neptunite can also be found.
For the rockhound who enjoys connecting with the history of a location, the story of the mine is a treasure in and of itself.
Unlike the Springs, entrance into the famous mine is charged, starting at $100 for an adult ticket.
Accessing the mine must be done through reservation and reservations go from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Driving up to the mine is simple, but once there, the trek begins.
If the chance of finding a precious gem excites you, the ticket is well worth the cost.
This location has tours and gem hunting events open all year round.
If relics of the past fascinate you, these hills are singing with the sound of fossils.
While these hills stretch into other counties in California, San Benito sits on the past civilizations of Native Americans, preserving a unique part of history, as well as historical artifacts.
With the warm breeze and the promise of an exhilarating hike, this location lures rockhounds seeking the remains of a time long past.
While findings of fossils have been gazetted for this area, the hour-long drive to get to the hills should be accounted for.
This final frontier has been the site of a colorful environmental history with minerals adversely affecting the environment in the past.
But once you’re there, keep your eyes open for prehistoric treasure, rocks, and the bare bones of California.
Explorers here can approach in many ways, but anyone with a 4×4 drive would benefit from the added mobility.
Among the possible rock findings, a variety of sedimentary options rise to the top.
Serpentite, shale and other rocks of this kind are the most possible finds available.
Diatomite has also been reported in this location.
You can’t talk about rockhounding in San Benito without discussing Clear Creek.
At this simply named location, the possibilities are endless.
For beginners and first-time hounds, serpentine, jadeite, cinnabar, tremolite, topazite, neptunite, and benitoite are just a few of the stones that could be named.
While a health warning has been released concerning the soil which contains asbestos, the area continues to be a favorite spot for rockhounds seeking a sure find.
However, caution must guide the adventure as the BLM has marked areas of Clear Creek as unsafe.
Agate, quartz, jasper and even garnet make a trip to Clear Creek unlike any other.
Getting to Clear Creek physically is easy with a car, but visits may only be done with a permit both for the people and the cars.
These permits are issued by the Bureau of Land Management.
These permits are accessible online, but there are limits to how many one person can request every year.
Once there, the hills and valleys, alongside the San Benito River, hold a world of rockhounding fun and excitement.
There are campsites on the land, available for rockhounds who like fresh air and birdsong in the morning.
Pinnacles National Park
NOTE: It is generally illegal to take rocks out of national parks. This is still a worthwhile stop for rockhounds, but check and then double check the current law for this National Park before removing any material.
Right on the edge of San Benito County, this location offers all the goodness of benitoite hunting. Pinnacles National Park is one of the smallest and newest locations for rockhounding.
March and April are the most beautiful months to trek along the arduous paths, but beware of the feral pigs which also call the park home.
Getting to the park is an easy 20-minute drive from Soledad. But the joy of arriving is taking the rough road and walking to exhaustion.
Here, the rocks you can spot include many of the same kinds mentioned in other locations above, especially sedimentary rocks.
Navigation in the park is varied, with bike trails and hiking paths, and for the adventurous, even rock climbing paths.
San Benito County offers unique and varied rockhounding experiences for the hunter who wishes to deviate from the beaten path.
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:
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