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Northern California Mineral Collector Help

Posted by Zach Ratley  
Zach Ratley May 12, 2012 09:56PM
I have been prospecting for about 6 years now, the first 4 years spent all on gold, more recently I have been spending most of my time on other local minerals. I, being born and raised in placer county, feel a special need to collect Northern California Minerals. I go to the local college working on a degree in Geology and I try to collect any chance I get. I have a website where I keep a rockhound journal you can see some of the things I have collected. There's a couple things I haven't posted on there; Jade, Serpentine, Chiastolite, Vescuvianite and Fresno County Agate. If anyone knows about any local spots you like to collect or know of areas that used to be popular in Northern California let me know. I have read Gem Trails of Northern California and Rocks and Minerals of California for a few sites but am still looking. Right now, I have spent most of my days digging for quartz crystals locally. I have already been to Peterson Mountain, Crystal Mountain, Slate Mountain, Pino Grande, and Georgetown for Quartz. I have herd about people collecting crystals in Calaveras County, but I don't have any known digging pits. Also I have herd about Rose Quartz and Tourmalinated Quartz being found in Plumas County, California but once again I don't have too much specifics. Recently I've been making weekly trips to Peterson Mountain but am looking for other areas to collect. I'm also looking for people to dig with as I do all my collecting alone. Any info helps, thanks guys.
Rock Currier May 13, 2012 05:05AM
Do you know about BAM?

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
Zach Ratley May 13, 2012 05:11AM
Yes I'm aware of the Bay area Mineral Club. I look at a lot of the field trips the California mineral clubs go on. My whole issue is most mineral clubs just do a trip once a month or so to an area for multiple days, and leave the state a lot of the time. I'm usually digging a minimum of 20 hours a week in areas much closer. Because I am in college and work part time it really doesn't allow much time for long trips. I am a member of a few rock hound clubs but I've never found anyone that digs a few days a week like me or even a few times a month. Thank you for your reply Rock Currier.
Rock Currier May 13, 2012 05:16AM
The Bay Area Mineralogists have as members some of the most experienced field collectors in California. You might get to know some of the members of the club and visit them and see their collections. You would be amazed at what some of them have managed to collect. Many of them are old guys and would probably be willing to give you information about where to dig even if they could not keep up with you in the field any more. I think it would be worth your time to do this.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
JB May 22, 2012 04:19PM
I spent my early years in Angels Camp. Before the playground at Mark Twain Elementary was paved, we (the children) would go out with forks and spoons to dig up quartz crystals from the area. It was sad to see such a rich deposit covered over by asphalt.

There were a few other areas I used to dig at, but being that it was over 40 years ago....I really couldn't tell you where those sites are. I would enlist local information from people who live there - I bet their kids know where to find them.
trains9 January 19, 2013 10:17AM
I am interested in collecting minerals and was also looking for a place to collect. I would be happy to learn or go with or try a place you suggest. Any information would be greatly helpful. I am new to this a beginner. Thank you, Ed.
Justin Zzyzx January 19, 2013 01:17PM
Hey Ed,

Join a rock club in your area, to start.
Also, read this blog entry
It should give you a good idea of the basics of locality research.

Zach, I love your blog, post more.
Grateful Rob August 20, 2013 12:19AM
I live in Plumas County , and know of many great local areas to dig for various crystals , and if your into the beauty of partially segmented rocks , areas for that as well.
You can e-mail me , and we can exchange info.
I go up to perterson alot as well , and im always looking for new areas out there to explore. So far i have found a few undiscovered areas that were a nice dig.
Get in Touch , and lets find some nice ones..
Im also involved in the rock and mineral club here locally - Its just starting up , but there are some nice plans in the works for the club
teressa August 23, 2013 04:24PM
,I was wondering if you might know of some gemstones that have been found in Northern California, I had a site and promptly lost it.
These stones came in a variety of colors, amber, green, blue, clear. They may have been sunstones? I am assuming they may have been in a volcanic area but like I say I lost the site almost immediately.
I live in the Okanagan Valley in BC and planning on going to Southern Oregon soon and would like to try and locate this or these stones.
jeb November 10, 2013 05:01AM

I am in the Nevada city area and always looking for a prospecting partner. I true my luck with gold over the summer and now have move on to crystals
Have you ever searched traverse creek for garnet?
AwakenedSpirit January 17, 2014 11:21PM
Hi there friends.

I'm a Geologist, Jeweler and a rockhond. I just moved to California 4 months ago. Just moved into the Bay Area a few months ago and have been working alot. So I have not had a chance to dig anywhere on the west coast yet, but have found random chunks of Quartz while living down in Joshua Tree. I'm from the Midwest so have been down to Mt. Ida, Arkansas to collect minerals several times. Just last July a few friends and I took a trip down to Mt. Ida for a week and managed to speak to a local who happen to be a Geologist herself and showed up where we could find Quartz, Smoky Quartz, Opitical Clear Calcite, Iron Pyrite, Wavelite, Magnetite, Brookite, Varasite, Fossils and a few others. If anyone's interested in helping me locate some spots before my Midwest friends get here this summer, talk Geology or want to go dig together feel free to hit me up.

415-375-2088. ~ Jeremiah.

Pace e amore.
Rock Currier January 17, 2014 11:54PM
Have you joined BAM yet? (Bay Area Mineralogists)?

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
Zachary MacPhearson January 24, 2014 05:42AM
Hey all, good to meet you.

I'm headed up to Mineral Bar (Colfax) and to poke around Iowa Hill area tomorrow and over the weekend.
I'll be leaving Petaluma at 5pm and will be pulling into camp after dark.
If anyone is in the area, it would be great to meet up and share some stories and maybe a cold one.
Feel free to reach me and let's connect!

Zach M.
Terri Metcalf February 19, 2014 07:36PM
I grew up on Chandler Rd in Quincy. Moved to Alaska with the family many years ago but our roots seem to be coming back down here. I am visiting for a spell thinking about coming "back home". Dad was a rock hound and as a kid I accompanied him on many journeys. Would love to reconnect with the geology around here again. Maybe you would be interested in giving me some hints....Thankyou!
Tasia February 28, 2014 01:26AM
Hi Zach,
I was wondering how your trip to mineral bar went? My mom lives in colfax and I am looking for a place to take my kids to look for goodies. I what can you find in that area? Thanks Tasia
JayWalker March 01, 2014 06:33PM
So I live in calaveras county ca. I have been a avid gem hunter all my life and even helped run a garnet, kyanite, ruby and sapphire mine in NC for six years. Recently I have been taking advantage of the low water levels at the melones reservoir. Just a few days ago I was hiking the water line and amazed at the amount of a unite specimens exposed. After a very long day I was returning to the car when I tripped and fell face first into the mud. Just inches from my nose I saw the tip of a crystal. I began clearing away the mud and pulled out a crystal over 8 inches in length and 6 inches around. The crystal is complete. It has a large phantom within that has a two inch section of green on one of its faces. Then I noticed another and another! I harvested what I could carry. Then the rain came. As soon as it is gone I'll be going back for the rest! :) happy days at melones!
JayWalker March 01, 2014 06:44PM
Not unite, typo, foloaxinite
Ken Doxsee March 02, 2014 09:07PM
So I guess I'd be wearing a raincoat and be back there in about two minutes if I were you, Jay! Post a photo when you get the chance! --Ken
j! March 13, 2014 02:52AM
Were you down by the dam, JW? Right side as you look at it from the water? Took a boat out there years ago and brought back buckets we picked up between water and cliff.
Erock March 14, 2014 05:22AM
This site is pretty cool. I have also been digging California for the last 10 years. I am nuts about quartz and unusual inclusions, colors, phantoms, etc... Very cool Jay! New Melones is one of my favorite spots for chlorite phantoms. I have hit many pockets up there. Not only is it killer for water clear chlorite phantoms, but it also has other cool minerals in some matrix cluster like epidote, albite, and axinite. The only debbie downer about this spot is that it is closed to public collecting. I was harrassed by a fish and game ranger out there and talked myself out of a ticket. I have heard stories of the sherriff arresting people up in the spillway. Be careful!! I have a ton of rediculous spots to trade with peeps that also have some special spots.
j! March 17, 2014 07:59PM
Good to know, Erock. Had no idea it was closed to collecting. Have you hit the old crystal mine in Dog Valley, out of Verdi, yet? Also have a couple of good sites I just hit in AZ based on some tips from this forum, if you're interested! Otherwise, I think I may just get up to Melones next weekend. I'm down to about a quarter tn of tumbling rough, time to restock! :::laughinglaughing:::
caleb nuggless newb June 28, 2014 04:31PM
I found many quarts crystals in placervilca also a few geodes.. I find smokey quarts and rhyolite thunder eggs in Manton ca....also I found these strange iron stones that have an amazing shine or glimmer that looks 3 dimensional the people of gaumers cannot ID this rock... I don't find very many but I find them in clear creek outside of redding.
cable nuggless newb June 28, 2014 04:47PM
Also I found some chunks of what the poeple of gaumers thinks is obsidian but the chunks are magnetic every single one.... and obsidian is not magnetic from what I researched. It baffled them they even took obsidian off their shelf and theirs was not magnetic ..
sararocks2 July 01, 2014 06:03AM
I was just wondering if you could give the location of the quartz rhyolite thunder eggs from Manton if possible. Also, there is a local mineral society The Shasta Gem and Mineral Society if you are interested they meet on the 2nd Friday of the month at 6:00 at the Anderson Grange Hall.
ken burwell July 28, 2014 07:54PM
just got back from peterson down to meet up and go anytime email or message me on facebook .
sarahmarie September 09, 2014 06:40PM
where abouts at new melones reservior did you find the quartz? My friend lives out there and I want to go this weekend to find some crystals
j! September 11, 2014 03:33PM

I was just up there this weekend to do some scouting and was able to pull quartz formations out f just about every clay road cut on the back roads before the turn off to the Glory Hole area. It's all private land up there, but I was able to get to some rarely traveled, very rough roads (I have a high clearance, but never needed the 4 wheel drive) and park in the middle of the road while I sifted the road cuts. Didn't do any digging, but sure found some places I'd *like* to do some digging! Try looking for any hill that has fairly solid rock with a fair amount of reddish clay/dirt.
Matt Cochrane October 23, 2014 06:43PM
I do alot of prospecting at Traverse Creek. I have found very little vesuvianite. Largest I've found was just under 1 carat and was a yellow/green. hard workings out there as its all clay hardpack
Josh Knoettgen November 02, 2014 09:16PM
Terri M,

I grew up in Plumas County too. Go up LaPorte road and explore around Little Volcano and on the other side of the Middle Fork of the Feather River. I have heard rumors of amethyst crystals up there off some no name dirt road
Anonymous User February 21, 2015 12:07AM
I've got a conference to attend in Oakland the week of June 21st. My current plan is to drive out from West Texas where I live the week before and return the week after. At this point, I have only plans to spend a few days at Topaz Mountain in Utah on my way out. Does anyone have any recommendations about where I could hunt? I would also be open to accompany someone on one of their trips.



Bruce Cammack
(806) 392-5000
amy April 30, 2015 04:08PM
I live in Vacaville, would love to go crystal hunting with you
Amy April 30, 2015 04:29PM
I live in Solano County. Would like your help finding a place to dig this weekend. Hope to hear from you soon. ..
Sir Gabe June 02, 2015 07:05PM
Hi all,

I'm new to the whole Gem world.
I live in Oakdale, CA and really close to all the places you guys are talking about. I try to go out and look around every other weekend. I would like some help on finding my birthstone which is a
Garnet. The reasons I'm looking for a nice one is because my girlfriend would like her engagement ring to be my birthstone. We talked about how nice I would be if we found it together .
So there you have my story on how I got it in to this world. Now the more I look in to it the more I like it. I never knew how much beautiful the ground under us could be..
Well how someone can help with a place or more info.

The care and thanks for your time!
Jason Ferguson June 23, 2015 04:06PM
Not sure where to find good gem quality garnets up here though i hear southern CA has some nice ones and my buddy mines them on the regular in Idaho. He pulls out these beauties and has them but and polished by a professional. I live in Vallejo CA and know of other places to rockhound for other minerals if you ever want to go out and explore.
Digger chic July 12, 2015 05:24PM
I dig at least 3 times a week in the foothills. There's many precious minerals around any main river, ie, American and Bear rivers.
open | download - 0613151632~2.jpg (331.9 KB)
Jason Ferguson August 14, 2015 04:51PM
nice! I need to get back up there. Seems like its cooling off enough to go.
jt September 04, 2015 03:17AM
Zach, I am not even new to this. I have never done digging before. I would like to watch and learn tho. You can contactme via email.
Beatrice morgan January 03, 2016 03:18AM

Rob Woodside January 03, 2016 04:22PM
Welcome to Mindat Beatrice!!!
Celeste Sandbank January 09, 2016 05:02PM
Zach I find jade every time I go the beach in Pacifica. Didn't even know it was there...just happened to find some. Talked to a local guy and he says there is a huge vein right off the coast and jade just washes up on the beach. This place isn't well know...I couldn't find a reference on the internet but all the locals seem to know about it...good luck! I also have a great serpentine and quartz CRYSTAL me or find me on face book...I will give u the location. I have read your blog as I'm obsessed with crystals right now. Good luck and thanks for the inspiration your eldorado pocket gave me! ;)
Jason Ferguson January 17, 2016 06:41PM
Hey Guys, I finally have all the tools needed to practice my knapping. I am hoping to become good enough to make knives and arrow heads while winter takes away my ability to dig for crystals. That being said, I figured i would try to go up and look for some rainbow obsidian. I think it is Davis creek up in Northern California but not sure. Any details to make a seamless trip from HWY 80 in the bay area would be appreciated.
JayWalker January 25, 2016 12:21AM
My Finace and I want to go crystal hunting for our first time and I was interested in checking out the area you described and wonder if you could tell us how to get there and maybe any tips? We live in the Bay Area so if you know of any good places around here to check out we would be so grateful!!


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/25/2016 02:58AM by Wayne Corwin.
Ranger Dave January 29, 2016 06:31AM
If you want obsidian, there is a bunch near Mammoth. Don't go to Obsidian Dome, the stuff there is full of pumice. I found some silver sheen obsidian nearby. Nice stuff.

Also, check out Kind of pricy, but when the weather dries out a bit, they open up for "pay to dig."
Kellychee February 29, 2016 04:02PM
I'm new too collecting, mostly thriving up in Tahoe!
I'm writing in response to your post stating you knew of some collecting areas for Quartz?
Thanks in advance, maybe we can swap a spot or two :)
Best of love and luck to you!
Doug Matteo March 28, 2016 01:22AM
I checked with the staff at the main office for New Melones Lake and she said no collecting is allowed. Too bad, there is quartz all over the place. I met people out past Placerville near Georgetown and they allow collecting at their property. They were featured in Rock ans Gem magazine.
highwayone01 March 30, 2016 11:11PM
If you are looking for some excellent Obsidian in Bay area, drive up Silverado Trail in Napa county. North of St. Helena, just past Lodi Lane, is a great road cut. I have been told the obsidian is jewelers quality, though I don't know for sure. It is beautiful pure black. Many pieces are whole rocks that people seem to leave behind since they don't have a shiny black break. I have been collecting regularly here for years and make a point to visit anytime I am in the area. Right after it rains is a great time to visit because the dust, which is like cement when dry, turns to loose mud and everything comes down. Many, many pieces that would be an excellent start for arrowheads and the like. I have, several years ago, picked up a beautiful big chunk of grey obsidian.
Don't spread the word too much. I would hate to have them put up no parking signs, like they seem to do.
Hope this helps.
I am looking for information on a rock type that I see and like. It can be a forest green, maybe blue green, split pea, or a jade color, light or dark, sometimes almost translucent. Often it is with other colors.
Ranger Dave March 31, 2016 12:06AM
If you're in the East Bay Area, and want something interesting, not pretty but interesting, go here:
Latitude: 37.685735°
Longitude: -121.630965°

It's on Patterson Pass Road east of Livermore.

What you will find there are fossil oyster shells; Ostera Bourgoisii from the Upper Miocene, about 20 million years ago.
STwRangler April 08, 2016 08:55PM
Hawdy there,
I know this post is old, and this may not even get to you, but I thought it was worth a shot anyway.
My name is Sonja, I live in Loomis but just moved here from Plumas Co. About 2 years ago a friend of mine too me out to the side of a mountain that changed my life forever! Heintroduced me to crystals. I had always been a rockhound, but only to the extent of collecting any rock I saw shaped as a heart. Well, I got my big gurl panties on now and I'm having a blast learning and searching and discovering more than just minerals;)
I return back to that origional side of the mountain he took me to still often, not many people know of it and theirs sooooooooo many crystals I couldn't find em' all in my lifetime even if I wanted to, I would love to take you, if you'd be interested.....
Please email me back, or send me a text on my business line (Im a horse trainer/wrangler) (530)403-8875
Jason Ferguson April 08, 2016 09:07PM
Hey Sonja!

I am always looking for new people to dig with. If you want to partner up ever let me know! I dig for anything and everything.
Jaiodyssea April 22, 2016 10:01PM
Where about in Tahoe are you. I live up in incline village. Once the snow melts we should get out and dig!!
Irish Grl May 14, 2016 04:13PM
Hello, I live in Butte County in Northern CA and have been an avid rock and gem and fossil lover all my life. I'd like to go out and actually find something, but don't really know where to go. I have been to forks of the butte and got a lovely river tumbled Quartz but that's about it. I'm really really new at this and would appreciate any pointers. I'm also looking into joining the Paradise Gem and Mineral club (I live in Magalia). Thanks in advance for any help.
Jason Ferguson May 20, 2016 10:31PM
Do not know to much up towards that area sorry! I am going out on Sunday, you can join me if you would like but it is a 4 hour drive from where you live. It takes me 3.5 hours from where I live but I usually don't care about driving long distances when it comes to finding minerals!

I will PM you just in case.

Irish Grl Wrote:
> Hello, I live in Butte County in Northern CA and
> have been an avid rock and gem and fossil lover
> all my life. I'd like to go out and actually find
> something, but don't really know where to go. I
> have been to forks of the butte and got a lovely
> river tumbled Quartz but that's about it. I'm
> really really new at this and would appreciate any
> pointers. I'm also looking into joining the
> Paradise Gem and Mineral club (I live in Magalia).
> Thanks in advance for any help.
Keith A. Peregrine May 25, 2016 02:29AM
Joining a local club is the top of the list things to do. You will learn far more than anything published or even documented online. That being said, I would recommend the book Rock Hounding California by Gail Butler. She has a few collecting spots in and around Butte County. The big question for you, is what are your interests. Given the geology of Butte County, you will be swamped with serpentine and other ophiolite minerals. One spot which interested me is near Pulga. At one time there was Californite deposit along Camp Creek Road, but it was cleaned out years ago. At least I have not spotted any in the times I visited this local.

Along HW 70 you can find very glossy serpentine. The Roadside Geology of Northern and Central California provides a great geologic description for HW 70 (Alt & Hyndman, 2000). Believe it or not you can find an outcrop of dk grey banded marble at one outcrop. The book is a great source for exploring ideas.

Still, it all comes down to what interests you. Exploring Mindat for Butte County and surrounding areas should provide you with additional inspiration. I had always wanted to explore areas in the Sierras but was limited due to only visiting late in the year (summer is a better time rather than the deep winter snow pack). If gold interests you, check out the Feather River. Much of the gold territory is tied up, but there is supposed to be one stretch of the Feather River where you can pan. Again, the rock club should answer any questions you have.

Hope this works for you.
JEM CRAZY September 28, 2016 03:47AM
:-) Hi All ! Wow..I'm on a lucky streak already! Just stumbled onto this site while digging for basic info on Opals- my gemstone, which I ILOVE + anything that's colorful, bright, or shiny!
I'm a total NewBie- but I learn fast, work hard, + I like to laff ! Hope to make new friends+ find some GEMS!!
I live in Napa, got an old beater P/up + a Blu-Eyed Pup .
Ready 2 Rock-n-Roll.
Let's txt + talk- I'm JAN !
Jason Ferguson July 13, 2017 05:08PM
> :-) Hi All ! Wow..I'm on a lucky streak already!
> Just stumbled onto this site while digging for
> basic info on Opals- my gemstone, which I ILOVE +
> anything that's colorful, bright, or shiny!
> I'm a total NewBie- but I learn fast, work hard, +
> I like to laff ! Hope to make new friends+ find
> some GEMS!!
> I live in Napa, got an old beater P/up + a
> Blu-Eyed Pup .
> Ready 2 Rock-n-Roll.
> Let's txt + talk- I'm JAN !

I live in Vallejo, I am very experienced and might be in the market for a new digging partner. All of mine keep moving out of state! lol
Donald B Peck July 15, 2017 09:00PM
Welcome to Mindat, Jason. You will find a wealth of information here, plus congenial people who are ready and willing to help others with their mineralogical problems. Mindat is a friendly place and the "membership" ranges from professional mineralogists and geologists to long experienced amateurs and neophytes. Come back, explore, join in, and ask questions.
Sean Maus October 04, 2017 11:35PM
So to kick some life back in to this thread yet again, is there anyone in or around the Del Norte county area? My limited rockhounding experience is all down in socal and it's lovely pegmatites- but im currently getting ready to go exploring the old chromite and copper mines around these parts though and would love an experienced hand to explore with or get advice from.
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