Dog Valley, CA
DOG VALLEY, CA (KOLO) -- It's an easy day-trip you'll really dig -- The Crystal Mine in Dog Valley, California draws kids and adults alike. If you live in Reno, the mine is only about a 38 mile drive. Just head north on US 395, get off at Bordertown, and turn left going over the highway, then turn right. Follow Long Valley Road along some railroad tracks. You'll come to a fork in the road, but keep going straight. Take in the scenery along the way, which includes desert and forest settings.
Long Valley Road, also called 002 Road, will take you to Lookout Campground. The majestic trees of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest are enough to bring calm to even the most stressed city-dweller. Day visitors can enjoy lots of hiking opportunities, and for a $6 fee you can camp overnight here.
According to the National Forest Service, Dog Valley earned its name because the woods were once inhabited by packs of wild dogs.
But the forest probably isn't the big attraction in Dog Valley. Off the main road, before you reach Lookout Campground, you'll find the crystal mine. Coming from Bordertown, look for a road on the right leading up to the mine -- there is a small brown sign.
Families and visitors of all ages spend the day searching through the piles and piles of rocks -- they're hunting for crystals.
"I was sitting down and I was on the ground and it was right in front of my foot," a young visitor tells KOLO Eight.
The National Forest Services says during World War II the mine was dynamited to uncover crystals to be used in radios.
The abundance of the crystals means they're not especially difficult to find, but it requires a sharp eye. Several were found on the surface during KOLO's visit.
You will need to bring your own tools. But simple gardening tools will likely be sufficient for your dig.
When you need a break from digging, enjoy a picnic lunch, or drive out of the forest to Bordertown Casino.
Taking home your treasures is free, but you can't take more than five pounds of material from the mine a week.
You'll leave Dog Valley with great memories of your search and maybe a sparkling keepsake.
Round-trip, Dog Valley is 76 miles. That's 14.63 dollars with current gas prices.
If you stay overnight, the camping fee is 6 dollars.