Where to Find Geodes in Northern California (3 Best Locations)

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3 Places to Find Geodes in Northern California

Northern California may not be famous for its geodes, but there are some rewarding areas to search. For the most part, you’ll be finding quartz geodes, but there’s also amethyst and some impressive agate nodules to be had if you know where to look.

So, let’s take a look at some places to find geodes in Northern California, so that you can get to planning your next adventure.

A Note About Mineral Claims

I’ve done my best to make sure that the areas listed all have some spots that are open to public collection, you need to keep in mind that a lot of these places will have private claims on their land. It’s up to you to make sure that you’re not trespassing on a claim.

Mineral claims essentially allow someone to get the rights to minerals on public land. Whether or not you agree with the practice is immaterial in this instance, You’ll be considered a trespasser if you’re on someone else’s claim without permission.

A classic case of this is Petersen Mountain. Plenty of old timers were up there 40 years ago, but these days the majority of the mountain is claimed due to the large amounts of excellent quartz in the area. Some of these may be open to fee digging or for rock and mineral clubs, but others are solely used as commercial operations.

The Diggings is the easiest site to use to make sure you’re not on a claim.

Do your research before you head out. It’s on you to make sure you’re allowed to dig where you’re at.

In addition to avoiding the claims of others, you’ll also need to make sure that you’re allowed to dig on the land in the first place.

1. Crystal Peak Mine

The Crystal Peak Mine, near the border between Nevada and California, has a long history. This area was actually where electronics grade crystals were pulled from the earth for use in radios during WWII. Today the mine is technically closed, but it’s accessible to the public with some minor restrictions.

This area is virtually littered with crystals. Those headed out may want to bring a shovel and pick to do some digging, but it’s not strictly necessary. This area can be hard to impossible to access during the winter months due to snow, but in spring and summer, it’s rather easy to get to. There are quartz geodes in this area, along with the more common forms of crystalline quartz. The geodes may take some digging to find, since they tend not to be lying on the surface.

The restrictions in this area are fairly simple: hand tools only, the crystals are only for non-commercial purposes, and you’re only allowed to take one 5-gallon bucket worth of crystals out.

To get there, you’ll either want to head about 10 miles west of Reno and take the Verdi exit. From Verdi, you’ll take Dog Valley Road and stay on the lefthand side of the road until you see the sign for the mine. It’s a bit out of the way, but so are all adventures worth having.

2. Pino Grande

Located to the Northeast of Placerville, California, Pino Grande is known mainly for housing quartz crystals. In addition to the usual sorts, there are also geodes in the area for those who are careful to look around. There’s a catch though.

The area is primarily on private land. While there appear to be some paid dig sites in the region, you’ll need to find them yourself since none of them seem to have an online presence. This isn’t uncommon, since these are often mom-and-pop operations that aren’t exactly keen on having all of their land dug up.

Your best bet is to get in touch with local rock and mineral clubs and ask around. Fortunately, there’s a large and relatively modern club in the area, known as the El Dorado County Mineral and Gem Society. You can find their page right here.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find any information on whether or not there is any land that’s publicly accessible. As usual in these cases, your best bet is to contact the local club and see if they can direct you to an area to collect.

3. El Dorado National Forest

El Dorado National Forest houses quite a bit of quartz, including the occasional geode. Since this is National Forest land, it’s generally open to small amounts of collection as long as you stick to using hand tools. The main restriction is that you can’t cause a lot of damage to the area, so you can still get in trouble even if you’re only using a shovel.

The general idea is not to cause “significant resource damage.” The best way to avoid falling afoul of these regulations is to limit your digging to smaller areas, damage as little plant life as possible, and make sure to fill in any holes that you’ve dug. In other words, just be a responsible collector and clean up after yourself.

This area houses a lot of quartz in many forms, including geodes. While it may not be the easiest place to follow regulations, it is open for public collection in limited amounts. It’s also one of the few areas in NorCal where you don’t have to worry about falling afoul of private property.

There are still a lot of claims out there, so make sure that you’re in an area that someone else hasn’t claimed before you break out the shovel. It can be some work to find a good spot, but it’s also very rewarding for those who put in the work.

Other Places to Find Geodes in California

Northern California only has a few locations where geodes can be found. It’s generally not worth a trip just for geodes unless you live nearby.

For those looking specifically for geodes, I recommend Southern California. There are far fewer claims to fall afoul of and there’s also an astounding array of other minerals in the region. 

You can start with the Hauser Geode Beds, and work from there.

That said, NorCal (and Southern Oregon) does have a lot of crystals and other interesting minerals. It’s just not particularly rich in geodes.

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03/08/2024 01:31 am GMT

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