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Field CollectingCollecting in California

24th May 2019 17:15 UTCSean

I'm aware that there's a post called "Northern California Mineral Collector Help" on this website, but I don't think the collecting spots count as NORTHERN locations (but a few may count as one).

Anyway, I recently made a post about me going to Vancouver, but for now you can just ignore it since I am, recently, slightly more interested in going to California. I already know a few (good) locations, but it would be nice to know more. Not only that, it would be nice if I could have some guidance on some of the locations that I have and/or haven't hear heard of before. If you would like to guide me to whatever locations or provide suggestions like other recommended locations, please let me know.


24th May 2019 19:33 UTCWayne Corwin


It would be good to start with... What are the mines you plan on going to? (we might have suggustions for those areas too) (and help with those mines)

What is the general area you want to stay within? It's a big State, ya know?

Will you have a small car, or a big 4 X 4 to get into the mines?

Are you limited to free sites only, or plan on going to pat sites?

And,,,,, What do you want to find???

24th May 2019 20:51 UTCSean

My intentions are to find Garnets (like Andradites) along with other colourful minerals. I don't intend to only go to free sites; I plan to go to sites where I have to ask permission and/or pay some fee to enter. The "general" areas are between Tehachapi and Sacramento. I don't have a driver's license yet. Even if I get one this year or got one last year, I don't think I would be able to drive in USA.

Now for the locations, I can tell you one by PMing you, but for the rest, I'll explain them here. The locations that I'm looking at are the ones in New Idria, Garnet Hill, that Grossular location in Bishop, and/or other other locations near the ones that I've already mentioned.

24th May 2019 22:15 UTCJon Aurich

Sean. Garnets, Crystals and placer Gold have always been a favorite of mine when I lived in Lake Isabella, just Northwest of Tehachapi on Hwy 178. The mining district of Keysville in Lake Isabella is an older district, (1870s). I used to pan Gold nuggets the size of Ohio blue tip match heads up there!!

24th May 2019 22:22 UTCSean

Thanks for the suggestion, but I'm not really into panning (nor Gold believe it or not).

24th May 2019 22:46 UTCJon Aurich

That’s fine, as I said, there are also Crystals and Garnets up there too.. Good luck in your endeavors......

25th May 2019 06:10 UTCIan Nicastro

My understanding is that you need some sort of permit to enter the New Idria District in San Benito county because of the asbestos risk or because it's an environmentally sensitive area, I am unsure who grants the permits, I am also under the impression that the andradite garnets in that area are found on private property (Yellow Cat Mine, etc...) and active private claims there that would not be open to the public. I believe that area also requires 4x4 and is not open in the winter. I heard that the Coyote Front Range Grossular spot near Bishop was recently claimed, as of last month, that trip would require a 4x4. You might want to get ahold of the Sierra Nevada Rockhounds Group on Facebook, they have been leading trips to Garnet Hill in Calaveras County lately.

25th May 2019 08:03 UTCSean

How long would it take me to walk to some locations (like that Grossular spot)? And does anyone know someone who can help me get to these locations by using a 4x4? And couldn't any other type of vehicles work (like some average car)?

25th May 2019 15:24 UTCKyle Bayliff

Dont risk going in a normal car. It won't end well, and there's no cell service to call for help anywhere that would require a 4x4 vehicle. Best bet is to rent one for a weekend if you really want to go up in the Sierra backcountry, but that would require a driver's license. I think you're probably limited to tagging along on field trips with your local gem and mineral club in the mean time.

25th May 2019 15:44 UTCSean

I don't have a driver's license yet. That's why I currently prefer to have someone with me who has a vehicle. One of the options that I can think of right now is walking to one of these locations.

25th May 2019 16:00 UTCWayne Corwin

Or a strictly off-road dirt bike.

25th May 2019 16:11 UTCSean

I could rent a dirt-bike, but the problem is returning the darn thing. It sounds good on paper, but it may not work well in real life. One (other) idea that I have right now is contacting some mineral clubs in California.

25th May 2019 18:04 UTCWayne Corwin


Scroll down to CA clubs>

25th May 2019 22:32 UTCSean

Thanks guys,

If I can’t find a companion, with a vehicle, for the localities that I want to go to. I can just walk to one (or a few) of them.

Now if you guys know a few people who live near the locations that I’ve mentioned so far, please let me know if they would be glad to help me.

4th Jun 2019 20:31 UTCSean

Well, I'm kinda on a roll for the two localities that I have in mind for California, but for the ones in the Clear Creek Management Area, it would absolutely be great if I got a ride to the localities at that place. So if you know anyone who can hopefully help me out, let me know.


I have gas money.

4th Jun 2019 22:15 UTCIan Nicastro

Sean, I hate to rain on your parade, but what you are trying to do does not seem very feasible to me unless you manage to first establish a friendship with a local collector who has visited this area before, this trip is a lot more involved than just 'getting a ride somewhere,' and needs to be planned out well in advance. I've previously informed you that Clear Creek is extremely remote and requires permits to enter, you can't just show up and hope for the best or have someone just drop you off there and you will figure out a way back. The surface water there is also contaminated and you have to bring all your own supplies, and I am pretty sure the roads are closed in winter. Permit information is here: and although you may think 'those permits seem cheap to me,' they have to be reserved well in advance, and the rangers likely dictate what times of year folks are even allowed in that area. Secondly, just because locations are listed on mindat... doesn't mean you can just show up and dig. I would argue that a lot of the deposits that interest you listed on mindat in that area are going to have active claims on them or be on private property, you're going to need to check the land status. Conveniently that blm website has a nice link to a map showing where the large private land in-holdings are, as well as the contaminated superfund sites you can't enter and the state lands that are closed to collecting. The only thing lacking from that map is all the active claims. The The Green Fire Mine and Yellow Cat Mine I almost certainly guarantee are on private property or under active claim.

4th Jun 2019 22:54 UTCSean

I've done my research well advanced, believe it or not. I know that I need a permit for that locality and I've spoke to the people (or perhaps one person) who have been there before. I even tried to look up info about which spots have a claim and which ones don't, etc. I know I can't just go to any locality that's listed on Mindat just like that which is why I always "do my homework" before going to wherever.

But thanks for the info though.

5th Jun 2019 00:55 UTCIan Nicastro

Look into the Sierra Nevada Rockhound Group on Facebook. They don't go to Clear Creek, but they collect at other Garnet deposits in the northern part of the state, etc... like Garnet Hill in Calaveras County.

5th Jun 2019 00:56 UTCSean

I'll look into them. Thanks.

4th Nov 2019 17:15 UTCAnndee Yates

Hi Sean, have you made it out to California yet? If you can get a car or driver who is willing to spend some time with you, the Sierra Nevadas are full of dirt roads which connect to other through roads. A really cool spot to just pull off a main road is Snelling California in Merced County. The Merced River was heavily mined for gold and piles of tailings continue for miles all along the main road through that town. The piles are easily accesible and full of wonderful treasures. Then, if you continue traveling into the mountains there toward Yosemite, the dirt roads are abuntant and full of geologic wonders!  Hornitos is a great place for finding all kinds of cool rocks. 

16th Nov 2019 19:29 UTCSean

Yes, I have. I've found some neat stuff (aka Garnets). Wasn't really the easiest mineral collecting excursion in the world, but it was a worthy trip. 

Sadly, I'm not into panning and I'm not a big fan of metallic minerals like Gold. But thanks for the suggestion.
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