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The Ocean View Mine and the Pala Chief Mine
37304 Magee Rd, Pala, CA 92059
Jeff Swanger, Owner, Chief Operator, and Hero to Small Scale Miners
$75 a person
Special instructions to reach the mine at their website and also discussed below.
Oceanview Mines, LLC offers two fee/dig experiences in the Pala Mining District. Commonly found are tourmalines, kunzites, and morganites, along with other sparkly things like pink lepidolite. The Pala area, a pegmatite mining district, has been actively worked for gemstones since the turn of the 19th century.
A screen and wash activity is held three times a week in season throughout much of the year. Online videos produced by Jeff Swanger and crew show the entire process. This easy-to-do activity will return attractive stones.
The second experience is held twice a month for part of the year. Bring your own tools. The Pala Chief fee/dig allows rockhounds to search through old tailings and mine dumps, along with hacking at the side of Chief Mountain itself. At some point the mine operator might work an excavator, digging a six-foot deep trench to bring up fresh dirt and rock for searching. Anything found can be kept.
Follow website directions with care. Their directions start in Pala and go east. First, get to Magee Road using Highway 76; the mine’s entrance road is a few miles from there. Only Magee’s south entrance from Highway 76 should be attempted. Do not take Magee Road if you are driving south from Temecula. In Pala there is a Magee Place that is not Magee Road. If Magee Road is not in one’s navigation device, try looking for the Pala Raceway. Magee Road is further east on 76.
If you have the time, locate Magee Road the day before so you won’t worry about finding it on the day of your dig. The countryside is beautiful and the Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala itself is a Kodak moment. The California Mission chain is well known but their extension churches like this one are not. On this day before you can also try visiting The Collector or the Fallbrook Gem and Mineral Museum.
The mine property road is rough but I saw a Mini Cooper negotiate its entire length. Staff will happily load people and gear into a buggy if a driver does not wish to drive the road. Bring sunscreen even if it is overcast, snacks, and tools if you are doing the Pala Chief. Full details at their website. Driest weather month may be May if you are planning a trip from across the country.
Resist taking too many photographs, instead, dive into digging or screening as long as you can and as hard as you can. You are going to find something wonderful. Oh, and if you can’t go, you can order a bag of pay dirt if they are still offering it. I found enough nice things in what they sent to convince me to go in person.
Magee Road and Highway 76 coordinates:
33°21.830′ N 117°03.440′ W
Google map link to Magee Road and Highway 76:
For further adventures, read my file on Places to Collect and Visit in the Southwest:
I am ashamed that I took vertical video but here it is.
Pala Chief Mine in Early March, 2019 from Thomas Farley on Vimeo.