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How to Find Precious Gems in Shasta County, California

Find a treasure in Shasta County, California.
pyrite quartz image by A74.FR Ben Fontaine from Fotolia.com

Shasta County, California, is near the top of the state and only about two hours south of the Oregon border. The county is famous for being a bustling area for gold-hunting in the early 1900s and many small towns in the county still celebrate the gold rush every year. The county still has towns that appear to be stuck in a time warp like Old Shasta and Burney. Finding precious gems and minerals in the county is not easy anymore, but can still be done

Visit Redding, California, and then make your way about 10 miles east on Hwy. 299 toward the town of Old Shasta. The Old Shasta area is famous for being one of the most gold-rich areas during the early 1900s and prospectors still get lucky there once in a while.

Visit the main museum in the Old Shasta State Park and speak to the park rangers. They sell maps and are happy to offer advice. The museum also sells both metal and plastic gold pans and gold nuggets if you cannot find your own and need to impressive someone.

Drive 10 miles further east to French Gulch, California, and visit the historic French Gulch Hotel. The proprietors furnish maps, gear and advice to treasure hunters.

Wander across the street to the unmarked bar to listen to grizzly old prospectors talk about the hot spots. Some are for hire and will gladly show you old mines, creeks and lake beds you might not otherwise find in the foothills.

Arrive at a destination with or without a guide and be ready to get dirty. Wear rubber boots if you plan to use a gold pan to sift through creek bottoms, and wear safety goggles if you plan to chip away at rock walls.

Creek beds will often yield agates and pieces of quartz and you may even find a sliver or nugget of gold if you are lucky. Rock walls often yield veins of quartz that can be carefully hammered away to expose bits of gold and copper.

Look for quartz that is clear and white. It is rare and precious in Shasta County and makes beautiful decorative items and material for landscaping.

Things You'll Need:

  • Maps of old mining sites
  • Gold-panning equipment
  • Rock hammer
  • Rubber boots
  • Safety goggles


Do not go onto private property. Respect the land and fix any damage you cause. Basically, leave the land like you found it.

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