The 45 Fantastic Places To Find And Mine For Tourmaline In California In 2024

By Keith Jackson - Geologist

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The 45 Fantastic Places To Find And Mine For Tourmaline In California In 2024

By Keith Jackson - Geologist


There are many beautiful and colorful tourmalines in California. This gemstone has a wide range of colors, from deep blues to bright pinks, and can even show more than one color in a single crystal.

The state’s long geological history has created a lot of different places where tourmaline can form, such as in granite deposits and old volcanic flows. Because of its wide range of crystals, this is a great place for people who want to find and gather them.

The article details the exciting world of tourmaline in the state. It shows you where to find these gemstones and discusses the geological features that make each area unique.

Our complete guide will help you find the hidden gems in the state’s wonderful scenery. Come with us as we explore the colorful and varied world of tourmaline!

What Is California Tourmaline Anyway?

A stunning piece of multicolored tourmaline crystal
Tourmaline photo provided by and available for purchase at affordablemineralsNY

Tourmaline is a mineral that is known for its wide range of colors. It can be found in pink, green, blue, and black. One tourmaline crystal can have more than one color because the mineral’s composition changes as it grows.

Tourmaline is not just one mineral; it’s a group of minerals with similar crystal structures and chemical compositions. This article was written to help you narrow down your search by giving you a better idea of what tourmaline looks like.

Heat and pressure have changed the rocks that tourmaline typically grows in. This can happen in old volcanic areas or places where huge amounts of magma used to flow.

These unique underground conditions help make the beautiful and varied tourmalines that people love to collect and wear as jewelry.

The price of tourmaline is determined by several factors, including its wide range of colors, unique crystal structure, pleochroism, rare and unique varieties, and where it originated.

The Types Of Tourmaline Found In California

California’s different types of geology have given tourmaline a wide range of colors, forms, and names. Below the state’s surface, you can find these different types of tourmaline:

  • Elbaite
  • Dravite
  • Rubellite
  • Schorl
How We Found The Best Tourmaline Locations in California
When it comes to choosing the best options for finding California tourmaline 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 crystal 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 mineral 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 Tourmaline In California

A stunning tower of pink tourmaline crystal
Tourmaline photo provided by Fine Mineral Photography – Gerhard Wagner’s collection @finemineralphotography

First, we will name our favorite places in the state to look for tourmaline. There are a lot of great places to mine for gems in California, but only a few are good for finding tourmaline specimens. Some places are not as well known, but they often have great chances to search.

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 directly with the location. We haven’t personally verified every location and the access requirements and collection rules often change without notice.

Many of the locations we mention will not allow collecting but are still great places for those who love to find beautiful rocks and minerals in the wild without keeping them. We also can’t guarantee you will find anything in these locations since they are constantly changing. 

Always get updated information directly from the source ahead of time to ensure responsible rockhounding. If you want even more current options it’s always a good idea to contact local rock and mineral clubs and groups

Diablo Range

A breathtaking view of the geological landscape at the Diablo Range

Stretching roughly 150 miles from the San Francisco Bay Area to the Salinas Valley, the Diablo Range is a long mountain chain that offers plenty of natural beauty as well as exciting opportunities for rock and gem seekers, with tourmaline being one of the most fascinating minerals to be found there.

The mountains contain a variety of various rocks, such as granite and metamorphic rocks, which are exactly the types of sites where tourmaline prefers to grow. Originally, volcanic activity and shifting earth produced the ideal conditions for tourmaline to originate.

In addition to tourmaline, the Diablo Range is a rich source of other stones and minerals, making it a popular destination for nature enthusiasts and treasure hunters.

Where we found tourmaline in the Diablo Range

If you hike through rough terrain or look closely at rocks, you might find pretty tourmaline crystals buried in the ground.

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.

Emerald Bay

A stunning view of Lake Tahoe from Emerald Bay with the historic and iconic tiny island in the middle

Emerald Bay is a stunningly beautiful place with clear blue water and picture-perfect scenery. It’s part of Lake Tahoe and a popular place for outdoor activities like swimming, hiking, and boating.

But Emerald Bay is also interesting because you can find tourmaline, a valuable and colorful gemstone.

Geologically, the area around Emerald Bay has a lot of history. Different rocks and minerals were formed over millions of years as the Earth’s crust moved. You can find tourmaline in different colors here, such as pink, green, and black.

Where we found tourmaline at Emerald Bay

This gem is often found in areas where the Earth has changed or been active with volcanoes, which is exactly what happened in the Emerald Bay area. But, the best place to look for these gems is on the rocks around the bay.

Lake Henshaw

A perfect and serene view of Lake Henshaw

People love to fish and do other outdoor activities at Lake Henshaw, a beautiful place to find tourmaline because it’s close to the famous Pala mining area.

Tourmaline has been mined in this area for more than one hundred years. The geology of this area is perfect for making it. Volcanic activity and the shifting of the Earth made pockets where it could grow in the past.

In other words, you can find beautiful tourmaline crystals near Lake Henshaw, especially in the nearby hills and mine areas. These crystals are often pink or green but also bi-colored or tri-colored.

Where we found tourmaline at Lake Henshaw

You can look around the old mines and natural areas nearby, as well as the shore and hills to find tourmaline.

San Jacinto Mountains

A picturesque view of grasslands and vast landscapes of San Jacinto Mountains

The San Jacinto Mountains are breathtakingly beautiful with their rough peaks and lush forests, but they are also a hidden gem for rock and mineral enthusiasts.

One of the best things about this area is that it’s a great place to find tourmaline, a very colorful and valuable gemstone. The mountains have had a lot of geological activity in the past, such as volcanic eruptions and earth shifting.

These mountains have had a lot of geological activity in the past, such as volcanic eruptions and earth moving. These events made the perfect conditions for tourmaline to form.

The San Jacinto Mountains have different types of rocks, like granite and metamorphic rocks, where tourmaline often grows. This makes them a great place to look for gems.

Where we found tourmaline in the San Jacinto Mountains

As part of the Peninsular Ranges, the San Jacinto Mountains have pegmatite deposits. Pegmatites are igneous rocks that often have large crystals and many minerals, including tourmaline.

Looking where pegmatites are exposed can be a good place to start. Old gem mines, some of which may be closed or on private property, are also great places to find these gems.

Tourmaline Queen Mountain

The stunning and famous Tourmaline Queen Mountain where you can find tourmaline crystals

People who like rocks and gems love to visit Tourmaline Queen Mountain. The mountain is famous for its tourmaline, a beautiful and valuable gemstone in many colors.

It’s part of the Pala mining district, known for having many minerals and gemstones. The mountain has unique rocks, such as pegmatite, where tourmaline usually grows.

Although much of the mining is now history, people interested in geology and gathering gemstones still come to the area.

Where we found tourmaline in Tourmaline Queen Mountain

Many have been looking for gems in this area for over one hundred years. Around Tourmaline Queen Mountain, you can find tourmaline in bright colors like pink, green, and even rainbow.

Other Great Places To Find California Tourmaline

Stunning views of mountain ranges

After discussing our top picks, we wanted to discuss the other places on our list. Below is a list of the additional locations where we have succeeded, along with a breakdown of each place by county.

Our recommendations by county

County Location
Alpine Hope Valley
Fresno Green Mountain
Imperial Black Mountain
Inyo Deep Canyon
Los Angeles Sierra Pelona Valley
Marin East Peak of Mount Tamalpais
Mariposa Silver Knob
Riverside Anza Valley
Riverside Big Maria Mountains
Riverside Cahuilla Mountain
Riverside Red Mountain
Riverside Iron Spring Mountain
Riverside Garnet Hill
Riverside Rouse Hill
Riverside Crestmore area, The Jensen Quarry
San Diego Elder Canyon
San Diego Moosa Canyon
San Diego Tulley Mountain
San Diego El Capitan Quarry
San Diego Gem Hill
San Diego Chief Mountain
San Diego Van Dam Peak
San Diego Rincon Mountain
San Diego San Marcos Mountains
San Diego Volcan Mountains
San Diego Palomar area, Aguanga Mountain
San Diego Mountain Lily
San Diego Romona area, Hatfield Creek Valley
San Diego Romona area, Hatfield Creek
San Diego Pauma Valley
San Diego Warner Springs area, Chihuahua Valley
Siskiyou Russian Lake
Siskiyou Klamath Mountains
Tulare Drum Valley
Tulare Frazier Valley

Common Tourmaline-Hunting Questions

A majestic tri-colored tourmaline crystal formation
Tourmaline photo provided by Fine Art Minerals – @fineartminerals

Here are some questions that people often ask about where to find tourmaline in the state that should also be answered:

Is it illegal to collect tourmaline in California?

Like collecting other minerals in California, the legality of collecting tourmaline depends on where you are and who owns the land.

Minerals like tourmaline can not be taken from private land without permission. If you want to take minerals from private land, you must get permission from the owners.

You can collect tourmaline for fun on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) or the United States Forest Service (USFS), but there are rules.

For example, you can not use mechanical equipment and only collect a certain amount of rocks in a day. This is for personal, non-commercial use only.

It’s usually against the law to take rocks, minerals, and jewels, like tourmaline, from national and state parks. These places are protected; taking any natural materials from them is against the law.

Learning about and following the state’s laws and rules about collecting tourmaline and other minerals is essential before you start. This will make sure that your activities are legal and responsible.

The Best Places To Buy Tourmaline In California

Rock Mama Gallery rock shop in California where you can find different kinds of tourmaline crystals

Some people do not like the dirty and hard work of finding tourmaline. This is for you if you want to find them without having to do that!

Here are some of our favorite rock shops in the area where you can find and buy different tourmaline specimens:

About Keith Jackson - Geologist

Keith Jackson is an avid rockhound who is constantly exploring new sites to expand his collection. He is an active Geologist with a wealth of experience and information from across the country that he loves to share with the Rock Chasing crew.

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