Rockhounding Santa Cruz County, California: 8 Places To Hunt Rocks, Crystals, and Fossils  

If you’re a rockhound, Santa Cruz County in California is a great place to visit.

There are a variety of rocks, minerals, and crystals that can be found in the area, and it’s easy to get started.

Here are eight great places to go rockhounding in Santa Cruz County.

Rockhounding Santa Cruz County, California

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.

1. Bonny Doon Beach

At the Bonny Doon Beach, you can find a variety of rocks, minerals, and crystals.

The most common ones are quartz, agate, and jasper. You can also find some rarer ones like amethyst and petrified wood.

To get to the reserve, take Highway 1 north from Santa Cruz.

Turn left onto Bonny Doon Road and follow it for about 3 miles.

When looking for good spots to hunt for rocks, avoid taking material from the official ecological reserve, as you can end up with a ticket.

2. Panther Beach

Panther Beach is a great place to find agates.

There are also some jasper and quartz to be found in the area.

To get to Panther Beach, take Highway 1 north from Santa Cruz.

After about 10 miles, you will see a sign for Panther Beach on your left. Park in the small lot and walk down the stairs to the beach.

Be sure to wear sturdy shoes as the rocks can be sharp.

It is also a good idea to bring a bucket or bag to carry your treasures home in.

There is no fee to visit Panther Beach, but please remember to pack out whatever you bring.

This includes all trash, including cigarette butts.

The best time to visit Panther Beach is during the week when it is less crowded.

The beach can get very busy on weekends and holidays.

3. Greyhound Rock

Wading in the creek near Greyhound Rock is a great way to find pretty agates and other rocks.

You can also find some crystals if you look carefully.

If you want to find fossils, head to the old quarry near Greyhound Rock.

It’s now filled with water, but you can sometimes find fossils along the edge.

This location is well known for its agates and jasper.

You can also find a variety of other rocks, minerals, and crystals here as well.

From Santa Cruz, take Highway 1 south for about 3.5 miles.

Turn left on Grayhound Rock Road and follow it for about a mile to the parking area.

The trail to the top of the rock is steep and not very well defined, so use caution when hiking up.

Once you’re at the top, be careful of the cliffs.

Again, this is a good spot for finding agates, jasper, and other quartz-based rocks and minerals.

The best time to visit is after a rainstorm when the water has washed away some of the dirt and debris.

4. Limekiln State Park

This state park is full of rocks, minerals, and crystals.

You can find everything from quartz to jade here.

The best time to visit Limekiln State Park is in the spring or fall when the weather is milder.

Limekiln State Park is known for its oceanfront camps and dramatic coastline, but it’s also a great place to find rocks, minerals, and crystals.

The cliffs at Limekiln are made up of marine sedimentary rocks dating back to the Miocene epoch.

These rocks are rich in fossils of marine creatures like clams, oysters, and crabs.

They also contain minerals like quartz, calcite, and pyrite.

The best time to look for rocks, minerals, and fossils at Limekiln State Park is during low tide.

This is when the waves have receded and the rocks are exposed.

To get to Limekiln State Park, take Highway 1 south from Santa Cruz.

Turn left on Limekiln Creek Road and follow it for about 7 miles to the park entrance.

There is a fee to enter the park.

5. Wilder Ranch State Park

Wilder Ranch State Park is a great place to find a variety of rocks, minerals, and crystals.

The most common ones are quartz, agate, and jasper.

You can also find some rarer ones like amethyst and petrified wood.

The best time to look for rocks, minerals, and crystals at Wilder Ranch State Park is after a rainstorm.

This is when the water has washed away some of the dirt and debris.

This state park is a great place to find fossils, especially if you visit during the winter.

As previously mentioned, you can also find some great agates and jaspers in the area.

To get to Wilder Ranch State Park, take Highway 1 north from Santa Cruz.

Turn left on Coast Road and follow it for about 3 miles.

The park entrance will be on your right. There is a fee to enter the park.

6. Joseph Dunes Natural Preserve

The Joseph Dunes Natural Preserve is a great place to find fossils and minerals.

You can find everything from sharks’ teeth to petrified wood here.

The best time to look for fossils and minerals at the Joseph Dunes Natural Preserve is during the winter months.

This is when the sand is more likely to be exposed and the weather is cooler.

The Joseph Dunes Natural Preserve is home to a variety of rocks, minerals, and crystals, including quartz, agate, jasper, petrified wood, and obsidian.

This area is also known for its fossils, and a variety of prehistoric plant and animal remains have been found here.

To get to the Joseph Dunes Natural Preserve, take Highway 1 north from Santa Cruz. Turn left on Dunes Road and follow it for about 3 miles.

The preserve will be on your right. There is no fee to enter the preserve.

7. Sand Dollar Beach

Sand Dollar Beach is a great place to find a variety of rocks, minerals, and crystals.

The most common ones are quartz, agate, and jasper.

You can also find some rarer ones like amethyst and petrified wood.

The best time to look for rocks, minerals, and crystals at Sand Dollar Beach is after a rainstorm.

This is when the water has washed away some of the dirt and debris.

Another condition to be aware of before rockhounding at Sand Dollar Beach is to make sure to go during low tide.

This is when the waves have receded and the rocks are exposed.

To get to Sand Dollar Beach, take Highway 1 south from Santa Cruz.

Turn left on West Cliff Drive and follow it for about 1 mile.

The beach will be on your right. There is no fee to go to the beach.

8. Seacliff State Beach

Seacliff State Beach in Santa Cruz County is a great place to find rocks, minerals, and crystals.

The most common type of rock found in this area is shale.

Other rocks that can be found here include sandstone, limestone, and granite.

There are also a variety of fossils that can be found at Seacliff State Beach.

These include marine fossils such as shells and coral.

There are also a variety of minerals and crystals that can be found in this area, including quartz, amethyst, and agate.

To get to Seacliff Beach from Highway 1, take the State Park Drive exit.

After the stop sign, turn right onto East Cliff Drive.

Follow East Cliff Drive for 1.5 miles until you reach a fork in the road.

Take the left fork onto Seacliff Drive.

Follow Seacliff Drive for 0.5 miles until you see the entrance to Seacliff beach.

There are a variety of great places to go rockhounding in Santa Cruz County.

Whether you’re looking for fossils, minerals, or crystals, there’s sure to be a spot that’s perfect for you.

So get out there and start exploring!

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

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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 Santa Cruz County