California has a large variety of valuable gems and minerals, in addition to its famous history of gold mining. Below are some of the most highly sought after minerals that you can find in California.
Along the rocky coastal stretch of Big Sur in California there are number of spots where jade stone can be found. Some of the areas where one can look for jade are Willow Creek, Gem Cove, San Simeon, Jade Cove and Sand Dollar Beach. However the quality of the jade found here is not of particularly high quality.
The Sand Dollar Beach is located about 9 miles from Lucia that lies in Monterey County of California close to the National Park of Los Padres. Finding jade here could be a challenging task as the stone is limited.
The Gem Cove Beach which is also known as the North Jade Cove Beach is located just a few miles to the south of the Sand Dollar Beach. This site is said to have an extensive amount of jade, but the trail to the Gem Cove has no signs or directions that lead towards the site. It is very steep and prone to rock fall, therefore one must be careful while exploring this area.
Willow Creek is another spot to look for jade. This is located about a mile from Jade Cove Beach. The creek is located under the bridge which comes after crossing Jade Cove. The site where jade can be found at Willow Creek is towards the northern end of the beach.
San Diego County in the southern part of California has a few known mines which are still active and where tourmaline deposits can be found in various colors.
The Tourmaline Queen Mine which is a part of the Pala Mine in the Pala District of San Diego has been known as one of the largest producers of the tourmaline gemstone. Although the mine is not a very active producer of the gemstone at the present times, it is still known to have some tourmaline bearing pockets. Some good quality of the crystals has been found here in pink and blue colors.
The Oceanview Mine located in the Pala district is an old mine and still remains active. A few years ago a large deposit of tourmaline in numerous varieties was discovered at the site.
The Himalaya Tourmaline Mine situated at Lake Henshaw falls in the Mesa Grande of San Diego County and offers a variety of valuable tourmaline in colors such as green pink and black.
Tourmaline samples have also been found in the Clark Mine situated in the Rincon Mountain of the San Diego County.
Another site in the San Diego County where tourmaline has been found is at the Little Three Mines located close to Ramona. The crystal found here was rather thick and very dark green in color.
The turquoise in California is generally of lower grade quality. The Turquoise Mountains situated close to the Silurian Hills has been the source of the gemstone for many years, but is now found only in limited quantities. Some mines of San Bernardino County where turquoise is found include the Apache Canyon mines (which are the only ones producing turquoise on a commercial level), the Baker mine and the Gove mine. Apart from the above, there are some small occurrences in San Benito County as well as in Imperial County in the Chocolate Mountains.
It is certainly no secret that gold can be found all throughout the state of California. The Sierra Nevada Mountains are one of the richest gold bearing regions in the world. For additional information about gold in California, read the following articles:California's First Gold DiscoveryBodie, California Mining TownGold Mining in the State of California
The Opal Mountain situated in San Bernardino County of southern California is known to have a lot of common opal. One can find various colors of the stone here such as white, yellow, red, orange, green and honey. A large area of the mine has been recently bulldozed and a bulk of common opal can be excavated from the surface itself. A better variety can also be extracted but are said to be around 200 feet below between the cracks of very hard rocks. The quantity of the opal available is however not believed sufficient for commercial exploitation.
The Purple Heart Mine is located in the Kingston Range of the San Bernardino County in southern California and surrounded by large igneous rocks. Towards the eastern slopes of the mountain range the amethyst stone can be found in pockets and veins of quartz. The amethyst found here is apparently very light sensitive and not usually used for making jewelry. The hues of the crystal vary from violet to sometimes colorless.
Another site in southern California where amethyst has been found is the Hauser Geode Beds located close to the town of Blythe. A pale pinkish violet color of the crystal is found here.
Jasper is found near the town of Rosamond in southern California’s Antelope Valley. It is located near the entrance to the Edward’s Air Force base and south of the civil airport at Mojave. Jasper can be found in the Gem Hill region of the Rosamond Hills.
Jasper is also available in small quantities in Boron, a community situated in Kern County and is on the border with San Bernardino County. Boron is the site for the U.S. Boron Borax mine which is amongst one of the biggest known borax mines anywhere. Jasper can be seen near the Clay mine road along the crest of the hill. The Castle Butte area also has deposits of jasper.
Last Chance Canyon in Mojave is a preferred location to collect stones like jasper. The stone is located in the area called Hidden Forest and also in the Red Rock Canyon. Most of these locations are on private property and would require permission for collection.
Jasper can be found in and near Barstow City of San Bernardino County. There are two locations which are situated a few miles off the Interstate Highway 15.
Afton Canyon area is another site where jasper is found. The property is owned by the Union Pacific Railroad and any collection of jasper or other stones require specific permission from the railroad authorities for security and safety reasons as the area of interest lies near the railway tracks.
Jasper has also been found in the Cady Mountain Range located in the Mojave Desert of San Bernardino County. This is situated near Interstate 15. The Pisgah crater located six miles to the south side of the Cady Mountains also has deposits of jasper.
The Alvord mines in the Alvord Mountain Quadrangle in San Bernardino County have veins of hard jasper but the amount is not enough for commercially exploitation of the stone. The colors of the stone available here are grayish, medium to darkish red and light to medium brown.
The Morgan Hill Poppy Jasper is one of the most sought after jasper in the U.S. The location of Morgan Hill is southeast of San Jose, California. The gemstone is similar to the “Ocean Jasper” found in Madagascar. The site however, lies on private property and is not accessible to public. Perhaps there are other undiscovered deposits nearby?
Some of the counties in southern California where beryl has been found in huge deposits are San Diego County, Riverside County and San Bernardino County.
The Elizebeth R. Mining area is located in the Chief Mountains that are situated in the district of Pala of San Diego County. At the Oceanview Mine of this area, several beryl crystals have been found with colors ranging from light pink to blue. Morganite beryl as large as 7 cm has also been found here.
Aquamarine beryl crystals are found in Audrey Lynn Mine situated in the Cahuilla Mountains located in Riverside County. The mine is known to have been discovered with large pockets of good quality aquamarine crystals with colors such as blue and bluish green. Several other beryl crystals with pale green, greenish yellow and grayish green hues also occur in large deposits at the site.
The most recent discovery of beryl was in the San Bernardino County of California in 2006. A blue colored hexagonal sample of good quality aquamarine was found here. It goes to show that there are still valuable mineral deposits out there still being discovered.
Fossils of shark teeth and other large marine mammals, crocodiles, sea turtles and even birds have been found in the area called the Sharktooth hills in the foothills of southern Sierra Nevada of California. The discovery of this fossil site was made almost 150 years ago and still draws a large number of visitors.
San Diego County where the sea side city of Carlsbad is located was recently discovered with fossils dating back to the Ice Age and which were as old as 50000 to 200000 years. The fossils that were found included prehistoric bones of bison, turtles, horses and mammoths.
The Diamond valley lake near Hemet of the Riverside County in southern California is known to have fossils from the Ice Age and consists of bison, horse, camel, American mastodons and Columbian mammoths.
The Anza Borrego state Park located in the eastern part of San Diego County has a number of fossils such as Ilamas, horses, and bison.
Many amazing fossils are on display and can be seen at the Natural History Museum at San Diego, San Diego Zoo and La Brea Tar Pits situated in Los Angeles.