Day Trip: How Digging for Tourmaline Can Pay for Itself

One of the most fun day trip activities I’ve ever done in San Diego County is at the Himalaya Tourmaline Mine Dig located about 20 miles east of Pala at the Lake Henshaw Resort.

For $75 you get to mine for sparkly gems from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. All tools are included – just show up with clothes than can get dirty, water and a cooler of food if you’d like. There is also a restaurant at the resort. Children under 12 are free and there are special rates for seniors, military members, groups and on rainy days.  

Seventy-five dollars may seem like a lot to pay to shift through dirt and rocks, but you will find gems. In fact, we found about 20 pieces of tourmaline in just a few hours. A miner told me one of the larger pieces I found could be, “sold to a hippie for about 50 bucks.”

A tempting idea, but I decided to keep my watermelon-colored piece of tourmaline. 

Tourmaline can not be made in a lab. It is commonly a bubble gum pink color, but can also be red, green, black and watermelon. Dig manager Denise Olson says the largest piece she found was the size of a Coke can!  

It’s “an outdoor treasure hunt that you will walk away with something from,” explains Olson.

Forrest Breese from Fallbrook who was digging for tourmaline for the first time said it was the best $75 he’d spent.

“It’s my therapy,” he explained.

To see just how easy and fun it is to dig for tourmaline at the Himalaya Tourmaline Mine Dig, watch the video and check out the photo gallery attached to this article.

For map and written directions click here.