28 Great Places You Can Find and Dig For Geodes In California In 2023

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

| Updated

28 Great Places You Can Find and Dig For Geodes In California In 2023

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

Updated

Finding geodes in California can be a challenging task without the proper guidance. Many areas of the state are known for their abundance of geodes, but they can also be hard to find if you don’t know where to look! Geodes are magnificent rocks that often contain crystals in their center, making them a sought-after find for geode hunters and geology enthusiasts.

These are the best spots throughout California where you can hunt for geodes. From public lands to private collecting sites, there are plenty of places to explore and find the perfect ones. With careful planning and the right equipment, any geode hunter can succeed in their search for these fantastic rocks!

What Are California Geodes Anyway?

An elegant agate geode with purple and blue hues

Geodes are geological rock formations that contain a hollow cavity lined with crystals. They can be found in many places, including deserts, volcanic ash beds, and sedimentary deposits. People have admired geodes for centuries due to their unique shape and dazzling crystal formations. Because of this, many people enjoy searching for these natural wonders in nature.

If you want a deeper explanation, we have also put together an article on how to tell if a rock is a geode.

The crystals within geodes can range from quartz to amethyst, and the cavity size can range from very small to large enough to fit a person. These are formed when silica-rich solutions fill up hollow rocks or bubbles in lava flows and crystallize into stunning formations over millions of years. California’s distinctive geology makes geode formation very simple.

The Types Of Geodes Found In California

Geodes come in various forms and are discovered in different parts of the world. The kind of crystal inside a geode significantly impacts how it looks and how much a geode is worth. You can locate the following geodes here in California:

  • Agate geodes
  • Amethyst geodes
  • Chalcedony geodes
  • Clear Quartz geodes
  • Colemanite geodes
  • Opal geodes
  • Quartz geodes
How We Found The Best Geode Locations in California
When it comes to choosing the best options for finding California geodes there are plenty of things we consider. Many of the best locations are closely guarded secrets which can make it really difficult for more casual geode hunters to find success. The key factors in our recommendations are:

  • The deep experience and understanding of our team about the area
  • Recommendations from local groups and clubs
  • How easy it is to get the a particular location
  • Safety and potential hazards when collecting
  • Weighing private and public locations
  • The ability for both experienced and novice geode enthusiasts to find great samples

With these factors in mind we’ve been able to put together a fantastic list that just about anyone can use!

The Best Places To Find Geodes in California

A pretty amethyst geode on a piece of log

We’ll kick things off by listing our top picks for geode locations in California. There are many excellent locations to mine for gems in California, but only a few are ideal for geode hunting. Although some of these places are not well known, they’ve always provided us with excellent selections when looking.

Always Confirm Access and Collection Rules!

Before heading out to any of the locations on our list you need to confirm access requirements and collection rules for both public and private locations.

These requirements are subject to change without notice and may differ from what we state below.

Always get updated information directly from the source ahead of time to ensure responsible rockhounding.

Imperial County

A slanted roadcut in Imperial county

Imperial County is located in the extreme southeast corner of California along the Arizona and Nevada border with Mexico to the south. Geographically, it’s primarily flat desert terrain with some mountain ranges scattered throughout. Geology mainly comprises alluvial fans, mudflows, and dunes.

Getting to Imperial County is relatively easy. You can take a short drive from San Diego or Los Angeles along Interstate 8 or fly to Imperial County Airport in El Centro. For those who want to make an adventure out of it, you can always take the scenic route through the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park on your way in.

Make sure you’ve read up on the most recent collecting guidelines from the State of California before you bring anything home.

Where we found geodes in Imperial County

Although geodes can be discovered across the county, there are a few locations that we’ve found are excellent:

  • Along the shorelines of Imperial Valley
  • The northern region of the Imperial Valley area
  • In the Hauser Geode Beds in Wiley Will area

Rock pick being used

The tools every geode hunter will need

When you're out looking for geodes having the right tools for the job is very important. You don't need a lot for most trips but there are a handful that are critical and will make your life a lot easier.

We get asked a lot about the equipment we use. Over the years we've found a handful of tools that we recommend to both new and experienced geode hunters which we outline in great detail in our complete rockhounding tools and kit guide. These are quality options that also happen to be relatively inexpensive.

Below are the basic tools that make your life so much easier and save you a ton of time. Check out the full guide to see everything we recommend bringing. One quick note, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases but we try very hard to only recommend gear we would use ourselves and often recommend brands you can't find on Amazon.

At a minimum you should have:

1 - Sturdy rock hammer: The Estwing Rock Pick is our standard

2 - Rugged chisels: Try Kendo' 3-piece Chisel Set

3 - Compact shovel: The Koleiya 28-inch shovel works well

4 - Rock screen pan: The Wazakura Soil Sieve Set fits the bill

5 - Eye protection: DeWalt Safety Glasses are cheap and comfortable

6 - Head protection: Malta's Safety Helmet has been our go-to

7 - Jewelers lens with at least 20x magnification: Jarlink's Jewelers Loop is perfect

The geode-finding books that we use most

There are also a few books that have been extremely helpful in the search for gems. These books have great recommendations and tips:

National Audubon Society Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals: North America 

Northwest Treasure Hunter's Gem & Mineral Guide 

Earth Treasures: The Northwestern Quadrant 

We provide links to find these tools on Amazon but some can also be found at your local hardware stores. For more recommendations check out the link to our full tool guide above.

Riverside County

A rushing stream in Riverside county surrounded by trees

Riverside County is an expansive Southern California region between Los Angeles and San Diego. The terrain here is diverse – from deserts to mountains, rivers, and streams. The geology ranges from dunes to rocky cliffs, making it an excellent place for exploring. There’s plenty of wildlife too!

Riverside County is a diverse area with varied terrain, including mountains, deserts, and valleys. The Santa Ana Mountains are located on the county’s northern border, while the San Jacinto Mountains are located in the southeast corner. The Santa Rosa Plateau is a unique ecosystem characterized by rolling hills and oak woodlands. Geologically speaking, Riverside County features numerous faults and basins like the San Andreas Fault and Elsinore Fault Zone.

Where we found geodes in Riverside County

Nearly every place in the county has geodes. However, there are a few locations you should check out first:

  • In the hills below the Desert Center camping area
  • Desert Center near the Augustine Pass
  • Abandoned mine and gravel pits located throughout the county

San Bernardino County

A tranquil desert area with trees and dunes in San Bernardino county

Situated in the heart of Southern California, San Bernardino County is a vast expanse of diverse geography and terrain. Its geology includes granite and limestone formations and sedimentary deposits from ancient sea beds.

The county also contains several large lakes, including Big Bear Lake and Lake Arrowhead. San Bernardino County is an ideal destination for anyone looking to experience the great outdoors and explore various landscapes!

Where we found geodes in San Bernardino County

There are geodes almost everywhere in the county, but there are a few places you should see first:

  • North-east of Lockheart area along both sides of secondary road
  • North-west of Leadpipe Springs
  • Hinkley area

Black Hills

A stunning view at the peak of the Black Hills

The Black Hills are a majestic range located in California’s Central Valley. Their rolling hills and towering peaks provide a picturesque backdrop to many of the state’s towns and cities. Geographically, the Black Hills stretch from the San Joaquin Valley in the west to the Sierra Nevada in the east. The terrain is mostly hilly, with some flat areas covered with chaparral shrublands, oak woodlands, and coniferous forests. Geologically, the Black Hills are part of an ancient mountain range formed by uplift and erosion over millions of years.

They are composed mainly of granitic rocks once part of a larger mountain range before being separated by faulting along its length. The area is also home to several unique geologic features, such as granite domes, volcanic plugs, and mineral deposits mined for gold since the 19th century. Overall, these hills provide a stunning landscape for outdoor activities like hunting for geodes.

Where we found geodes at the Black Hills

Geodes can be found in many places in the Black Hills of California, including along the banks of dry creek beds, around old volcanic rock formations, and in the dirt and gravel of road cuts.

Slate Mountain

Slate mountain with snow in some parts and a lake at its foot

Slate Mountain in California is one heck of a sight to behold. Situated in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, this peak stands tall at 11,600ft and offers some truly stunning views. The terrain is a mix of rolling hills and steep inclines, while the geology is mostly metamorphic rock formed from sedimentary shale. This means it’s full of exciting shapes and textures, with some particularly impressive outcrops along the way.

Hikers and geode hunters alike will be delighted to know that there are plenty of trails to explore around Slate Mountain, ranging from strolls to more challenging paths for those looking for an extra adrenaline rush. If you’re looking for a fantastic geode hunting experience in California, Slate Mountain definitely won’t disappoint!

Where we found geodes at Slate Mountain

Geodes can be found in and around Slate Mountain in California. The best places to look are in streambeds, hillsides, rocky outcroppings, and near mineral deposits.

Other Great Places To Dig For California Geodes

an exquisite chalcedony geode with a light blue hue

We wanted to share the other locations on our list with you now that we’ve mentioned our favorites. Before moving on to more general areas, we’ll include our top picks per county. In the following section, we offer more detailed guides for any recommendation that we refer to as “county-wide.”

Our recommendations by county

County Location
El Dorado Pino Grande
El Dorado Slate Mountain
Imperial County wide
Imperial Black Hills
Imperial Northern region of Imperial Valley area
Imperial Hauser Geode Beds in Wiley Well area
Los Angeles Branch road off Escondido Canyon Road between Agua Dulce Canyon and Acton
Riverside County wide
Riverside Blythe area
Riverside Desert center in the hills below the camping area
Riverside Desert Center near the Augustine Pass area
San Bernardino County wide
San Bernardino Hinkley area
San Bernardino 15 miles north-northeast of Lockheart area along both sides of secondary road
San Bernardino Northwest of Leadpipe Springs
San Bernardino Yermo area Calico ghost town and in the Calico Hills beyond
Sierra Crystal Mountains

Additional areas you should try

You’ll notice that we frequently use “county wide” in our recommendations. We want to assist you in your search because the area to look for geodes in California is large. There are a few major California areas you should explore where geodes are commonly found:

Streams and creeks

Streams and creeks are a real gem for geode collectors. They can be the perfect spot to find these little treasures, as they often contain all sorts of rocks and minerals that can be cracked open to reveal a gorgeous crystal inside.

If you’re lucky, you may even come across some rarer specimens, like quartz or calcite geodes. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you could dip in the water and see what you can dredge up! Just get permission from the landowner first, and always be careful when exploring creeks and streams.

Roadcuts

Roadcuts are great places for geode hunters to find their next prized possession. Not only are they an accessible spot to explore, but they also provide a glimpse into the earth’s history, allowing collectors to identify different geological formations. Plus, they’re often wide open and easy to navigate, so collectors can easily search for those elusive geodes without worrying about getting lost or stuck in a tight space.

Roadcuts are also the perfect place for geode enthusiasts because erosion creates natural fractures that can reveal beautiful crystals. It’s like discovering a hidden treasure! With so many variations on display, it’s no wonder why roadcuts are such a popular area for geode collectors.

Beaches

Beaches are great places for geode collectors to find their treasures! After all, the ocean is an excellent source of minerals and rocks, so it’s no surprise that beaches are often full of them. Plus, you can often find geodes in the sand and among shells and other beach debris.

Geode collectors love to explore the shoreline for these valuable gems – you never know what you might stumble upon! It’s also an awesome way to spend an afternoon combing the beach, and you’ll never know what kind of surprise awaits you!

Mines and mine dumps

When looking for geodes in mines or mine dumps, it’s important to remember to bring safety equipment like gloves and masks since these areas may contain hazardous materials. Also, check with local authorities about any restrictions before you start digging!

Mines are often full of gems, crystals, and minerals found in the walls or the tailings left behind after the ore is removed. On the other hand, mine dumps are piles of waste materials that a mine has discarded. They’re a great source of geodes because they’re often full of different types of rocks that contain them.

Common Geode-Hunting Questions

a gorgeous big clear quartz geode

It’s essential to address specific common questions about California geodes, including the following:

Where can you find amethyst geodes in California?

Amethyst geodes can be found in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California, as well as in the mountains near Santa Cruz and at the Crystal Hill Mine in Santa Margarita.

Is it illegal to collect geodes in California?

In California, collecting geodes is lawful as long as you abide by the local rules. If you’re on government property, ensure you’re following applicable local laws, and if you’re on private property, make sure you have permission.

The Best Places To Buy Geodes In California

Rocks and geodes available at George's Geodes and Gems in Willits

Not everyone likes spending hours exploring the outdoors in search of geodes. Sometimes all you want is something lovely for your workplace or collection that doesn’t require much effort.

Here are other places to get incredibly lovely geodes from our favorite local rock shops.

  • Gems A Plenty – 575 N Central Ave, Upland, CA 91786, United States
  • Amazon – It’s interesting that Amazon has a decent selection of geodes. Even whole kits with geodes to crack open are available for those who want to do it themselves. 
  • Georges Geodes and Gems – 600 S Main St., Willits, CA 95490, United States
  • Knott’s Berry Farm Geode Shop – 8039 Beach Blvd, Buena Park, CA 90620, United States
  • Miner’s Gems and Minerals – State Historic Park, 2616 San Diego Ave, San Diego, CA 92110, United States
  • Mystic Journey Crystals – 2921 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405, United States

Additional places to find geodes in nearby states

Check out our guides for nearby states if you’ve already tried all of our suggestions above or if you’re planning a trip outside of the state:

If you have any recommendations for our list, please leave a comment below!

About Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

Keith Jackson is an avid rockhound who is constantly exploring new sites to expand his collection. He has worked as a professional Geologist for over 20 years and holds a PhD in Geology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a Masters Degree in Geology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and a Bachelors Degree in Geology from the University of Connecticut.

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