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15 Common Rocks & Minerals You Can Find in California

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From its sunny beaches to rolling hills, the state of California contains some of the rarest and most exquisite rocks, minerals, and gemstones in the U.S. This guide will cover the most common rocks and minerals you can discover in the Golden State, as well as where to find them.

The most common rocks and minerals you can find in California are:

  • serpentine,
  • agate,
  • geode,
  • obsidian,
  • blueschist,
  • anorthosite,
  • Chinese writing rock,
  • gold,
  • rhodonite,
  • jade,
  • tourmaline,
  • chrysocolla,
  • malachite,
  • aquamarine,
  • and garnet.

California is brimming with fascinating rocks and minerals that would delight any rockhound, but since there are many different types of stones in this state, it can be difficult to know where to start and what to look for as you explore. Refer to this list of common rocks and minerals during your California rockhounding trips so that you find exactly what you are looking for in the Golden State.

Common Rocks and Minerals You Can Find in California
Common Rocks and Minerals You Can Find in California

If you are interested in checking out the best book about rockhounding in California you can find it by clicking here (Amazon link).

What Rocks Are Found in California

Whenever you go rockhounding in California, be sure to keep an eye out for some of these interesting rocks: 


LocationGPS Coordinates
Trinity County40.890919, -122.708763
Trinity River40.768530, -123.126335
Watts Valley36.933906, -119.359318
Point Sur36.304758, -121.899745
Jade Mines41.876563 -123.460240
Shady Run Gravels39.206411, -120.742092
Escondido Canyon34.035324, -118.777541
Where to Find Serpentine in California

One of the most common rocks that you will come across in California is serpentine. Serpentine is California’s state rock, and it varies in color from apple green to jet black. In California, serpentine is known for its close association with gold, so the two are often found together.

Another mineral that’s often found with serpentine is benitoite, a shiny blue stone that is one of the world’s rarest gemstones.

To find serpentine in California, visit Trinity County, which is known for producing some of the most beautiful stones. You can also look near the Trinity River, Watts Valley, and Point Sur for high-quality pieces. 

Recommendation box: All tools and equipment you need for rockhounding and rock identification* (Amazon links):

1. Estwing Rock Hammer – Light, comfortable, and extremely durable hammer.
2. Estwing Geologist Pick – Classic and the most trusted paleo pick in the world.
3. Finder 12-inch Chisels – Heavy-duty chisels set with hand protection.
4. Mini Handle Shovel – This is a great tool for digging deep in the dirt.
5 Ironclad Utility Work Gloves – Breathable, but they also protect the areas requiring them most.
6. 3M Safety Glasses – Comfortable and efficient goggles for rockhounding.
7. Convoy 8+ UV Light – 365nm UV LED flashlight with a patented glass filter.
8. Wesley’s Jewelers Loupe – High magnification options (30X and 60X) with carrying case.
9. Mohs Hardness Kit – A specially designed kit for rockhounds

*All recommended products are personally tested and regularly used by experts from this website.


LocationGPS Coordinates
Jalama Beach34.510485, -120.502106
Cresent City Beaches (Pebble Beach)38.128284, -122.887155
Bullion Mountains34.379015, -115.941243
Agate Beach41.143737, -124.144279
Turtle Mountain34.285731, -114.851190
Jenny Creek36.294966, -118.738152
Kramer Hills34.922445, -117.465284
Goose Lake41.917611, -120.362579
Where to Find Agate in California

If you are a fan of agates, California is one of the best states to explore. You can find all kinds of agates with lace, banding, and moss patterns on the beaches and deserts.

Additionally, California is one of the few states in the U.S. where rockhounds can collect fire agates, which were named after their bright orange, red, gold, and green colors.

Rockhounds often pick up agates from the beaches and waterways of California, but people also find them in the mountains. To add California agates to your collection, stop by Jalama Beach, Cresent City Beaches, and the Bullion Mountains. 

TIP: The most common opinion among scholars is that аgate and jasper are not the same minerals. Check out the differences between these two similar minerals in the article below:
Jasper vs. Agate: Crucial Differences (Are They Same?)


LocationGPS Coordinates
Crystal Mountain39.557253, -120.088858
Black Mountain33.159609, -116.807438
Traverse Creek38.858273, -120.813731
Slate Mountains38.823178, -120.685422
Hauser Geode Beds33.764178, -115.423562
Pino Grande38.869911, -120.625215
Riverside County33.508130, -115.874627
Where to Find Geodes in California

There are many types of geodes that rockhounds find in California, including agate geodes, quartz geodes, opal geodes, amethyst geodes, chalcedony geodes, colemanite geodes, and thundereggs.

Geodes are common in California, so as long as you know where to look, you are sure to come back with a great haul.

Some of the best locations to find geodes in California include Crystal Mountain, Black Mountain, Traverse Creek, and Slate Mountains. Also, the Hauser Geode Beds are a favorite spot for local rockhounds, so be sure to check it out if you are in the area. 

TIP: Check out the complete guide If you are interested in finding geodes in California:
Guide: 9 Best Locations to Find Geodes in California


LocationGPS Coordinates
Warner Mountains41.449700, -120.251401
Middle Fork Davis Creek41.725416, -120.314262
Glass Mountain41.601001, -121.504565
Gem Hill34.924032, -118.221488
Modoc National Forest41.499778, -121.001532
Pisgah Crater34.744959, -116.375535
Obsidian Dome37.758690, -119.021066
Obsidian Butte33.170683, -115.637406
Where to Find Obsidian in California

Did you know that you can find the rarest type of obsidian in California? While obsidian usually displays a pitch-black sheen, rainbow obsidian, also called fire obsidian, displays a swirl of iridescent colors. You can also find pink obsidian and traditional black obsidian in various regions of California.

Anyone who wants to add a stunning piece of rainbow obsidian to their collection should stop by Warner Mountains and Middle Fork Davis Creek. A few other places to visit for obsidian are Glass Mountain, Gem Hill, and Modoc National Forest. 

TIP: Obsidian is valuable for its beautiful textures, rainbow sheen, and snowflake-like appearance. Find out more about obsidian’s value in the article below:
5 Crucial Factors of Obsidian Value: What’s Obsidian Worth?


LocationGPS Coordinates
Two Harbors Beach33.441395, -118.498073
Jenner38.452694, -123.129730
Klamath Mountains41.319579, -122.480387
Russian River38.442010, -123.113000
Oakland37.872516, -122.231201
Cazadero38.537123, -123.085046
Condrey Mountain41.937437, -122.979464
Where to Find Blueschist in California

Blueschist is a real treat for rockhounds who enjoy collecting colored stones, and California is one of the best places to find it.

This rock requires very specific conditions to form, including high pressure, low temperature, and iron-rich or magnesium-rich rocks, and California is one of the few states with terrain that meets all the conditions. 

Rockhounds who are searching for blueschist should stop by Two Harbors Beach on Catalina Island. As you search, keep in mind that certain areas of Catalina Island prohibit rockhounding, so you’ll need to be careful where you go during your trip. 


LocationGPS Coordinates
San Gabriel Mountains34.288145, -117.652508
Santa Clarita34.445042, -118.454809
Los Angeles34.169018, -118.219524
San Andreas Fault35.135667, -119.676428
Fish Fork34.302681, -117.665125
Big Butch Wash34.262080, -117.637487
Where to Find Anorthosite in California

Although anorthosite is commonly found on the moon near the lunar highlands, rockhounds don’t have to travel to space to pick up some of this rock.

Since the conditions for anorthosite exist in California, you can find this interesting stone in multiple areas of the state. Anorthosite varies in color from white to smokey grey, and it displays its colors beautifully once tumbled and polished.

The best place to find anorthosite in California is the San Gabriel Mountains, but you can also acquire some near the outskirts of Santa Clarita. 

BTW: Do you want to know more about rock and mineral identification? The books listed below are the best ones you can find on the internet (Amazon links):

Chinese Writing Rock

LocationGPS Coordinates
Auburn38.899187, -121.057960
North Fork American River38.884089, -121.059505
Yuba River39.298045, -121.211597
Lake Clementine38.944228, -121.007062
Foresthill38.995502, -120.816647
Middle Fork American River38.955599, -120.939728
Where to Find Chinese Writing Rock in California

Chinese writing rock is a rare igneous rock that’s only found in China and California. With its unique black background and white lines that resemble sprinkles, this rock is sure to catch the eye of any rockhound.

The interesting patterns of the white lines of feldspar on the black basalt look similar to characters used in Chinese writing, hence the name of this stone.

As mentioned, the only places in the world to find this special rock are China and California. To uncover some of these rare rocks, stop by Auburn, which is near the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas.

What Minerals Are Found in California

California provides a wide variety of valuable and beautiful minerals, including: 


LocationGPS Coordinates
South Yuba River39.292951, -121.191442
Placerita Canyon State Park34.377819, -118.467237
Downieville39.563273, -120.825906
Trinity River40.768903, -123.126577
Merced River37.602962, -120.104713
Santa Clarita34.418990, -118.509741
Butte Creeks Fork Recreation Area39.908930, -121.617997
Kern River35.923088, -118.499963
Where to Find Gold in California

Gold has a long and interesting history in California, so it’s only natural for rockhounds to seek out this alluring mineral when they are in the state. Although hundreds of thousands of people hunted for shiny nuggets during the California Gold Rush in the 1800s, there is still plenty of gold left in the Golden State.

From state parks to public land, there are plenty of places to pan for gold all over California; just be sure to follow California’s rockhounding laws during your exploits. Some popular places to pan for gold include the South Yuba River, Placerita Canyon State Park, Downieville, and the Trinity River. 

TIP: Thankfully, there are plenty of places where you can legally pan for gold in California. Find out the complete guide about gold prospecting in California in the article below:
Gold Prospecting in California: 8 Best Locations & Laws


LocationGPS Coordinates
San Gabriel Mountains34.287648, -117.651950
Trinity County41.025976, -122.740977
Eureka40.804802, -124.166070
Portal Ridge34.706070, -118.520174
Lancaster34.727247, -118.156170
Wrightwood34.364168, -117.628447
Where to Find Rhodonite in California

Although rhodonite ranges in color from pink to red, the pieces found in California are usually pink with distinctive black patterns. Luckily, it’s quite common in multiple areas of the state, so rockhounds should have no problems acquiring some of this decorative mineral.

If you are on the hunt for rhodonite, check out the San Gabriel Mountains or Trinity County. The best places to look are outside of manganese claims, but before you go, make sure it’s legal to collect in the area that you visit. 


LocationGPS Coordinates
Jade Cove35.913048, -121.470218
Big Sur36.361913, -121.897156
Butte County39.644358, -121.554306
Storm Jade Mine33.860483, -115.623428
Feather River39.169625, -121.614687
Happy Camp41.793526, -123.371168
Eel River40.604914, -124.195250
Lake Mendocino39.212251, -123.164945
Where to Find Jade in California

When you visit the beaches of Northern and Central California, keep an eye out for some nephrite jade. Since California also has plenty of green chert and jasper, it can be difficult to tell the difference between these green stones and jade unless you conduct a hardness test.

Although green is the most common color of California jade, some fortunate rockhounds find black jade, which is much rarer in the state.

One famous place to go for jade in California is Jade Cove, an area of Big Sur that contains the only concentrated underwater deposit of quality nephrite jade in the world. 

TIP: Jade can occur in a surprisingly significant number of colors, not only green. Check out the complete guide on all jade color varieties in the article below:
All Jade Color Varieties (Description & Explanation)


LocationGPS Coordinates
Himalaya Mine33.213604, -116.800044
Oceanview Mine33.389879, -117.049723
Pala33.362594, -117.075998
Queen Mountain34.052077, -116.099296
Lake Henshaw33.232571, -116.754866
Alpine32.857261, -116.779012
Fresno 36.884342, -119.746509
Where to Find Tourmaline in California

Did you know that the rich, saturated colors of California tourmaline are said to rival those of rubies and emeralds? For decades, California tourmaline was prized for its exquisite black, pink, green, yellow, and purple colors, and it was regularly mined and shipped overseas during the early 1900s. 

Tourmaline is often discovered outside of old tourmaline mines near San Diego County, and one of the best places to look is near the world-famous Himalaya Mine. 

TIP: The U.S. generally has plenty of regions with a rich volcanic history. Because of this, you can find tourmaline in half of all the states with no problem. Find out more in the article below:
Where to Find Tourmaline: Best Environments & Locations (USA)


LocationGPS Coordinates
Blue Bell Mine35.245270, -116.205760
Reward Mine36.751288, -118.050905
Cerro Gordo Mine36.538827, -117.791057
Twentynine Palms34.161580, -116.135197
Trona35.764666, -117.389541
Joshua Tree34.145867, -116.323943
Milpitas37.461694, -121.878087
Where to Find Chrysocolla in California

California has some of the heaviest concentrations of chrysocolla in the U.S., so it’s a great place to be if you want to add some of this blue-green mineral to your collection.

As you search for this mineral, keep in mind that it can look very similar to turquoise, a blue-green mineral that’s also fairly common in California.

For California chrysocolla, look near Blue Bell Mine in San Bernadino County or Reward Mine near Eclipse Canyon. 


LocationGPS Coordinates
Blue Bell Mine35.243693, -116.207649
The Malachite34.797800, -120.034200
Copper Prince Mine 38.792500, -122.674700
Blue Star Mine37.122051, -118.411026
Santa Barbara34.450951, -119.696987
Inyo County36.286095, -117.332006
Pocahontas Mine37.343630, -120.064107
Where to Find Malachite in California

Since there’s plenty of copper in California, it makes sense that rockhounds often come across copper minerals, such as malachite. California malachite is light green with swirling patterns, and it’s usually found with calcite and azurite. 

As you would expect, California malachite is found in or next to the various copper mines scattered across the state. Check out Blue Bell Mine, The Malachite, and Copper Prince Mine. 


LocationGPS Coordinates
San Diego32.924464, -117.017021
Riverside County33.860680, -117.302975
Lake Henshaw33.230992, -116.755295
Tourmaline Queen Mountain33.389422, -117.070120
Williamson Mine33.557546, -116.791862
Cahuilla Mountain33.576514, -116.783763
Pala33.374156, -117.076943
Where to Find Aquamarine in California

Anyone who enjoys collecting beryl and its various mineral forms should stop by California, especially if you want to collect aquamarine.

California aquamarine is popular due to its high clarity and vibrant color, and its appearance is frequently compared to the calm waters of the ocean. Additionally, some rockhounds find emeralds along with California aquamarine, although it’s a much rarer find.

To add aquamarine and other beryl minerals to your collection, visit San Diego, Riverside County, and Lake Henshaw. 


LocationGPS Coordinates
Ramona33.005363, -116.857499
San Diego32.761781, -117.059593
San Bernadino34.087739, -117.256539
Pala33.373260, -117.079389
Hatfield Creek33.057830, -116.852396
Rincon33.289279, -116.961266
Gem Hill34.924032, -118.221144
Where to Find Garnet in California

Any rockhound who visits Southern California should pick up some gem-grade spessartine garnets. While you can find grossular garnets, spessartine garnets are far more popular.

The gem-grade spessartine garnets from Southern California are lovely and display a deep, rich orange color, which makes them a popular choice as gemstones.

For spessartine garnets, look near Ramona County first, then swing by San Bernadino, San Diego, and Pala.

TIP: There are more than twenty different species of garnets but only five species of garnets are worth cutting and polishing. Find out more in the article below:
How To Cut & Polish Garnets: Follow The 6 Simple Steps

FAQ About Common Rocks & Minerals in California

Some common FAQs about the various rocks and minerals from the Golden State include:

What Rare Rocks Can You Find in California

California is a paradise for any rockhound who enjoys collecting rare rocks, such as serpentine, jasper, geodes, Chinese writing rocks, blueschist, and agates. One unique type of agate that’s only found in a few U.S. states is fire agate, which is named after its streaks of red, gold, orange, and green.

Another rare California rock that’s popular among rockhounds is the Chinese writing rock, a rare kind of basalt that’s sprinkled with white feldspar. Because California is one of the few places in the world that possesses Chinese writing rocks, many rockhounds visit the state just to collect these unique stones.

Whether you prefer colorful rocks such as serpentine or patterned stones like Chinese writing rocks, California will not disappoint!

Although there isn’t a place in California where you are sure to find all these rocks together, it’s best to start with the mountains and rivers in central and southern California, which are known for their abundance of rocks and minerals.

If you are looking for a specific rock, take a look at the locations above to find the best rockhounding sites for each one.

What Rare Minerals Can You Find in California

During your California rockhounding adventures, some rare minerals you might come across include jade, topaz, tourmaline, aquamarine, turquoise, garnets, rhodonite, gold, amethyst, opal, and benitoite.

A fun fact about Benitoite is that it’s one of the rarest gemstones in the world, and gem-quality pieces are only found in California! This dazzling sky-blue stone is California’s state gemstone, and it’s also known as “the blue diamond” because of its color and brilliance.

If you are on the hunt for Benitoite, the best place to go is San Benito County. If you want to find other gemstones and rare minerals in one area, Lake Henshaw and the Himalayas Mine are the best spots to visit.

What is the Most Famous Rock or Mineral Found in California

All the renowned tales of the California gold rush paved the way for gold to become the state’s most famous mineral.

Despite the fact that California had one of the largest gold rushes in U.S. history, there’s still plenty of gold left in this state for eager rockhounds. However, as you pan for gold, remember that pyrite is also common in California, so be sure you know how to distinguish the two!

Any rockhound who wants to pan for gold in the Golden State should add the Trinity River, the South Yuba River, and the Kern River to their rockhounding itinerary. You can also look near Downieville, Santa Clarita, and Placerita Canyon for the mineral that forever changed the state of California. 

If you are interested in checking out the best book about rockhounding in California you can find it by clicking here (Amazon link).


During your California rockhounding adventures, there’s no telling what valuable and unique rocks or minerals you might come across in this state. Perhaps you’ll find an exquisite piece of Benitoite or a special Chinese writing rock during your travels.

Whether you visit California beaches, mountains, or deserts, you are certain to find some one-of-a-kind treasures that will become the highlight of your collection.

TIP: California is a rockhound’s dream. Check out the complete rockhounding guide in California with maps and all regulations in the article below:
California Rockhounding: 11 Best Spots with Map & Laws