If you’re seeking diversity when it comes to rock collecting, you need to go rockhounding near San Diego, California, where after a century, he’s are still in abundance.
From Tourmaline to Pegmatites and a myriad of other gemstones, southern California has it all.
Whether you want to go San Diego beach rock hunting so you can splash while searching or free rockhounding San Diego, you’ll be in for a treat.
Here are some ideal sites to go on a rockhounding San Diego expedition with friends, family, groups, or a solo mission.
Where To Go Rockhounding Near San Diego
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.
The OceanView Mine- Garnet, Morganites, Tourmalines & more
This is a paid reservation-only rockhounding adventure, but it will be well worth your time, as it is only available three days a week.
Oceanview Mine is one of California’s few remaining and productive gemstone mines. It is located in the county of San Diego.
For rock hunting near San Diego, this intriguing mine has yielded Quartz, Garnet, Topaz, Tourmaline, and many other minerals for decades.
Among other minerals. OceanView mine has a solid prominence in the gemstone mining industry, especially because it has been in operation for a long period.
They include a covered pavilion section with dining areas and air conditioning.
Guests can use the gas grill based on who gets there first, and there are water faucets.
On-site, there are also some perfect modern restrooms. An unpaved road leads to the dig site.
While a 4WD vehicle is not required, you should avoid using a low car.
An average family automobile will suffice, but be prepared for it to become dirty!
What They Offer
They supply everything you’ll need for a worthwhile and pleasurable gem hunt.
You’ll have all the tools needed to carry, wash and sort your find, and, of course, abundant mine mud!
You’ll get a tour of Chief mountain in some awesome four-wheel-drive buggies and won’t require anything for the ride; all you have to do is be ready when your turn comes.
You’ll enjoy the excellent scenery of the San Luis Rey Valley plus neighboring mines, including the Stewart and Tourmaline Queen Mines, as well as many mine tunnels.
What Should You Bring
Each participant attending the dig should carry a responsibility release form copy, as well as precise cash for the charge. No cards or checks are accepted.
Please bring lots of water as well as any food you may require.
If it’s going to be hot, they recommend bringing some with something to die it down as it does get windy at times.
To store your treasures, carry storage bags or containers and a bucket if you intend to bring home some rocks.
Opening Hours: 10 AM (SHARP) -3PM, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays Only | Address: 37304 Magee Rd
Visit http://www.oceanviewmine.com/ for more information.
Tourmalines, kunzites, morganites, and other gemstones have been discovered. | Adults pay $75 each, and children under 11 pay $60 each.
Make a reservation for a day at the OceanView Mine.
Adults ($75 per person)
Children from 5 to 11 years old are charged $60 apiece ($4 and under are free).
They also have a family plan for $240 that includes two parents and two children aged 5 to 11.
School/Scouts/Clubs – Organized Groups For groups of 20 or more, each ticket is $45 (on Thursdays only).
IMPORTANT: (This is for children under 12).
All other groups should get in touch with them for pricing!
Pala Chief Mines – Aquamarine, Garnet, Tourmaline & More
Quartz, tourmaline, morganite, kunzite, garnets, kunzite, moganite, garnets are what you’ll get on this gem hunting San Diego experience.
Throughout the fall and winter months, the mine is open.
The owners of OceanView Mine run it, and the experience is similar.
However, there are no group packages available.
The experience, though, is still incredible.
THEY ARE ONLY OPEN ON THE OTHER SUNDAYS.
Look up certain dates on the calendar.
In an actual working mine, you can dig for a variety of stones ranging from Garnet to Tourmaline.
The time to get there is 8 a.m. – no exceptions.
You might miss the dig opportunity since the gate is usually closed a few minutes later.
Please phone the facility ahead of time to confirm that you will be late.
A covered pavilion section with picnic chairs and tables plus water mist for cool air is included.
The gas grill is available to guests based on a first-come basis, and there are water taps.
There are also some excellent new toilets on site. The dig site is accessible through an unpaved road.
While a 4WD vehicle is not essential, a low automobile should be avoided.
What Should You Bring
Water, sunscreen, Gardening gloves, sunscreen, water, and ziplock bags or containers for your jewels and lunch are all recommended.
Take two five-gallon buckets with you as well, as you’re permitted to take two home with gravel.
The rest is up to us. Before you go to the dig, be sure to bring along the liability release forms and VIP packet.
How to Dress
Please don’t wear sandals—regular shoes are required!
Prepare to get dirty, so carry a change of clothing; you may change in the toilets once you’ve finished digging.
We strongly advise you to use plenty of sunscreens and don’t forget your glasses and cap.
To keep your hands safe from shards of rocks and the water, you might want to bring gardening gloves.
At the mine, they only accept CASH. There are no credit cards accepted. There were no “onlookers.” PAYMENT IS REQUIRED FOR ALL RESERVATIONS.
*You must pay to dig if you pass through the gate.
* FOR INSURANCE REASONS, NO PETS ARE ALLOWED. Anyone over the age of 12 is considered an adult. Children under the age of 12 are welcome, but please keep an eye on them and follow all guidelines.
* Infants (1-4 years old) are free, but adults must supervise other children (ages 12 and up). Children age 5 to 11 are $50.
They are only open on the days specified, depending on the weather. PRINT the VIP Packet and bring it with you for each participant. Bring appropriate outdoor clothing.
Himalaya Mine – Tourmaline
The Himalaya Mine, located near San Ysabel near Lake Henshaw, is another well-known gemstone mine in San Diego County.
The mine has a long history of generating more Tourmaline than any other mine, dating back nearly a century.
The mine is still said to have beautiful Topaz, Crystals, Calcite, and more precious minerals produced.
The Himalaya Tourmaline Mine is a five-mile underground maze of steep passageways that have been excavated and blasted over the previous century.
San Diego County has multiple gem-quality tourmaline mines, but this Mine is the world’s most famous.
The Himalaya Tourmaline Mine, which opened in 1898, is noted for producing tons of stunning pink and green gem-grade tourmalines.
The mine has yielded Tourmaline and other specimens weighing approximately 250 thousand pounds.
For 15 years, the Himalaya Mine had more tourmaline excavated than all mines across the globe, including an incredible 5.5 tons in 1904 (the most significant amount of tourmaline generated in a year).
However, given that some of the more prominent spots have yielded approximately a ton of tourmaline, that’s not hard to believe.
Over in Mesa Grande, Pegmatite veins, which run at a 45-degree slope down into the soil, contain tourmaline, which can be found in various Pegmatite dykes.
This mine is situated atop one of the world’s largest pegmatite tourmaline dykes.
Here you’ll find watermelon, multi-colored, green, and pink, green tourmalines.
Only about five percent of the tourmalines generated are considered quality gems.
The mine has also yielded several tourmaline specimens, many of which you can view at the Smithsonian Museum.
What city are they in? Lake Henshaw is located at 26439 Highway 76 in Santa Ysabel, California 92070. A map can be found by clicking there!
Open Thursday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Reservations aren’t required.
Mondays are also available by reservation by calling Denise at 775-225-4245.
Adult dig costs $75, adolescents 13 to 15 years old are 50% less ($37.50), and children 12 and under are free when accompanied by a paid adult. Additional children will be charged $20 each.
Seniors and active military personnel receive a $60 discount. If it rains for more than 75% of the day, you will receive a $10 discount.
Adult Group Rates: Groups of 20 or more $50 per person, with a $5 discount for groups of ten or more.
Children’s Group Rates: $20 per child under the age of 12
What to Bring
Sun hat or rain gear, muddy shoes, possibly rubber gloves, toothbrush, crystal baggie, and small bucket or container for specimens.
Wrap your crystals and specimens in tissue paper.
Near the excavation site, there are toilets.
There are picnic tables accessible, as well as several large oak trees to sit under.
We also have a display of our crystals on show and sell some of them.
Check road conditions to discover the best route if it’s pouring.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are also available at the Henshaw Grill. There’s also a general store with snacks and treats.
For nature lovers, Lake Henshaw provides fishing, boat rentals, camping, and hiking. At Warner Springs, the Pacific Crest Trail is 8 miles away.
Mount Palomar is also nearby, providing an enjoyable and elevated journey! We’ll see you around! Many accommodations, including RV parking close by.
Stewart Mine- Elbaite, Morganite, and Kunzite
The Stewart Mine, located in southern California, is a famous mine for rockhounding San Diego. It is close to Pala.
Digging for your treasure costs $10, with no fee for children under the age of ten. It is entirely at your own risk to participate in the four-hour visit. 9:30 is the ideal time to arrive.
The reddish-pink elbaite from this mine is well-known. Kunzite and Granite are two other gemstones found here.
In this small village in northern San Diego County, rock hunters will have a wild time seeking gems.
Old and young gem hunting San Diego fanatics are welcome to the mine, situated in the Pala Indian Reservation to the east of Fallbrook, each weekend.
What You’ll Discover
Two and a half acres of tailings surround the entrances to a Tourmaline mine, which you can sift through for multicolored crystals.
A 2,500 dollars Tourmaline was discovered by one of the searchers.
The value of semi-precious minerals, on the other hand, usually varies from 50 to 150 dollars, assuming any of them are of gemstone quality.
Search for lepidolite, a purple rock encrusted with Tourmaline needles.
It’s also known as the sleeping rock because it contains Lithium, which has long been employed as a relaxing agent in medicine.
The maximum amount you can take is ten pounds.
But don’t worry if you don’t come home with a valuable tourmaline; you’ll still have a great time on this uncommon outdoor trip.
Saturday and Sunday tours to the tailings are available, with participants gathering at the mine corporation’s Gems of Pala store.
What You’ll Require
A shovel and box for sifting out the small stones and soil are the most helpful tools.
For $2, you can rent a sifter or create one at home using a quarter-inch mesh screen.
Shovels and squirt bottles loaded with water can also be rented ($1-$2) to wipe away the soil that may be hiding a gemstone.
Remember to bring a container to transport your loot. Bring food and plenty of water with you.
How to Get There
From Los Angeles, take the Pomona Freeway eastward to Riverside, where you’ll join Interstate 215 south.
Take the east exit on California 76/Pala Road to Pala when the freeway joins Interstate 15 and enters San Diego County.
Drive roughly six miles through the hills, which are scattered with boulders.
Look for the Gems of Pala sign and Magee Road on the left shortly after crossing a wayside historical plaque.
Follow it for a short way to the rendezvous point, which is a gem shop.
Make reservations at: (714) 742-1356 or (714) 742-1359.
Gems of Pala – Quartz, Lepidolite, Kunzite
Gems of Pala provides you with the knowledge as well as the thrill of prospecting for beautiful gems in a genuine mine and is also where to find Geodes in San Diego.
Relish the delight of rockhounding San Diego like the miners of old to uncover Kunzite, Quart, and a range of other precious rocks.
You will be given all of the gem hunter’s tools plus a showcase. Except for large groups, no reservations are required!
On Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., go to Gems of Pala. See the map and directions for further information.
Gems of Pala offers all essential equipment, including screens, bins, water, and tables, as well as on-site training.
Dress in clothes you don’t mind getting filthy.
Arrive by 1:30 p.m. to give yourself enough time to sift your gravel before the closing hour at 3:00.
Buckets of gems dug from their pile cost $30.00 apiece, while already prepared bags cost $50.00. Only cash!
Their authentic stockpile is scraped straight from the Stewart Lithia Mine’s 2 miles of tunnel.
Gems of Pala has rock piles, mineral bins, vintage machinery, and a top-class Gem shop.
Food, refreshments, and accommodation are close by.
No pets are allowed. Portable bathroom facilities are accessible.
Although the gravel parking area is frequently full, additional parking is available immediately outside the main gate.
You dry-sift little portions of gravel and then wash it to uncover the colors and crystal structures of select expensive gems and minerals as they screen their Gem Buckets.
South Carlsbad State Beach – Gold, Quartz, Garnet & More
A beach approximately a mile south of Carlsbad’s Encina Power Plant is perfect for San Diego beach rockhounding. Yes! The shore is the best place to search for rocks.
At least six semi-precious rock types, from moonstone to quartz, can be found on the beaches.
Occasionally, small gems can be found among the glitter.
The rocks will seem dull on the exterior because they have been naturally tumbled in streams and by the waves.
See if you can find them along the water’s edge.
Wet rocks have a beautiful sheen to them, and the nice ones are easy to spot.
The rocks will look damp with a little spray lacquer.
All cobbled beaches are suitable hunting areas.
Beacon’s Beach, at the foot of Leucadia Boulevard, is another lovely cobbled beach for free rockhounding San Diego.
You’ll need a magnifying glass, a geologist’s pick, water to wash the rocks, and refreshments.
Finally, whether you are looking for a full day rockhounding San Diego expedition or a quick panning experience, dress appropriately, carry food and water and have fun!
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:
Disclosure: These are links to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you.