Hauser Geode Beds
Located on BLM Land, Near Wiley's Well Rd
by Lynn Bremner
On a recent trip to the Hauser Geode Beds near Blythe, CA, memories of my first visit came to mind. I was twelve years old the first time I went geode hunting with my family. My father had learned about the beds from an old prospector who frequently rockhounded there. The old man said we could easily find the famous Hauser Geode Beds by driving east on Interstate 10 through the Coachella Valley until we saw a sign pointing the way to the geodes. The prospector said we'd know we were there when we saw geodes abundantly scattered upon the ground. You can imagine how excited we were to learn of such a location.
The geode beds seemed like a fairly easy find, so my father packed us up into his 4x4 Jeep and we headed out of San Diego eastbound on Interstate 10. After a tiresome search for the geode sign we finally decided to stop and ask a local gas station attendant if he knew where the Hauser Geode Beds were located. It didn't take long to jot down yet another set of simple directions which led us to the Wiley's Well Road exit and down a washboard dirt road toward the Wiley Well and Coon Hollow campgrounds.
After a few hours of unsuccessful exploration down unmarked dirt roads, we finally found the Hauser Geode Beds. It was only an hour until sunset, and a lone prospector who had been digging all day was packing his gear to leave. He was kind enough to show us the hole where he had found buckets full of fist-sized geodes. He even took a few minutes to show us how to extract them.
The prospector explained that geodes are found in groups located in volcanic ash beds, which is why they are referred to as geode beds. He showed us sample geodes from his bucket so we could easily identify them. At first glance geodes look like sphere-shaped, brown, muddy rocks and can easily blend in with the landscape. They are lighter in color than the darker varnished rocks which cover the land surrounding the geode beds, so they can easily be identified once you know what to look for. Geodes vary in size. Some are as small as a cherry and othersare as large as a grapefruit.
We thanked the fellow for his help and began to dig. The excitement was overwhelming and the tedious hours we spent searching for the geode beds were forgotten in the thrill of discovery. As my brother eagerly dug out the geodes, my father and I cracked a few open to discover beautiful crystals inside. It was a moment of pure delight.
We left the Hauser Geode Beds with a bucket full of geodes and huge smiles. It was the first of many successful rockhounding trips to Wiley's Well. Every Thanksgiving we returned to Coon Hollow campground at Wiley's Well to camp and search the desert floor for geodes and other rocks and minerals. Although I never forgot the excitement of the first geode expedition, I still feel a charge of mystery and anticipation each time we revisit the Hauser Geode Beds and the Potato Patch, another nearby collecting site.
Although our annual Thanksgiving trips to the Hauser Geode Beds have ceased, during a recent visit there I found myself digging in the volcanic ash beds with the same enthusiasm I had experienced years ago. Cautiously I tapped around an embedded geode with my pick. Each strike loosened the geode a little more from its thousand-year resting place. Finally, the geode fell into my hand and I broke it open to discover its contents. To my disappointment the geode didn't contain any crystals -- so I continued to dig and search for the next one.
Notes on the Hauser Geode Beds
Location: Take the Wiley's Well Road exit from Interstate 10 and continue driving south to the graded dirt road just past the state prison. You will pass Wiley's Well campground (9 miles south of I-10), and Coon Hollow campground (12 miles south of I-10). You will see a dirt road on the right with a marker indicating the route to the Hauser Geode Beds. (This is also the Imperial and Riverside county border.)
Turn right on the dirt road and follow for about 4 1/2 miles, and take a right when the road splits again. This road will lead you to the two locations of the Hauser Beds.
Tools: Make sure you take collecting buckets, hand picks and a shovel. Also take plenty of food and water. Don't go in the summer, it's very hot.
GPS coordinates Hauser Geode Beds - South end: 33° 22.567'N 114° 59.383'W The decimal degrees 33.376117 -114.989717 Stay on the dirt roads. This can be hard to find, you may want to get a copy of James R. Mitchell's Gem Trails for Southern California, there are also other spots to visit when you're in the area. The book Gold Road to LaPaz also covers this area. Get the AAA map for Imperial County. USGS has a online map locator and downloader -- you will want the Wiley Well - 7.5 and 15 Minute Topo Map. Get the free one, it's a PDF.
Tips: Start your day early, since it may take you a while to find the Hauser Geode Beds. You want to leave the area before dark to ensure a safe trip back to Wiley's Well Road. At night, it's much more difficult to see the roads and to find your way back to the main road.
Coon Hollow Campground - a BLM facility
Located 12 miles south of Interstate 10 (3 miles south of Wiley Well Campground) on the Wiley Well Road. The road to the campground is maintained in excellent condition. It serves as a popular winter haven for rockhounds. Twenty-nine primitive sites are provided with picnic tables, grills and vault toilets. Campers should bring their own firewood and drinking water. A fee is required for overnight use.
Wiley's Well Campground - a BLM facility
This historical well and wash-side campground are situated along Wiley's Well Road, nine miles south of Interstate 10, where the old Bradshaw Trail intersects the well maintained Wiley's Well Road. Twenty-one primitive campsites are available next to the dry wash where ironwood and palo verde trees provide some shade. Picnic tables, grills, and vault toilets are provided. A sanitary disposal station for trailers is available at the Wiley's Well rest area on Interstate 10. Campers should bring their own firewood and drinking water. A fee is charged for overnight use.
The Hauser Geode Beds are located on BLM land, which is open to backcountry camping.
Now you can experience the excitement and mystery of geode hunting at home. Each geode set contains five natural geodes that have never been opened. You will be the first to see what treasures lie within each geode.
Your "Break at Home" geode should have either quartz or calcite crystals inside. To order, or for more information click here.
If you don't have time to look for your own geodes, click here.
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