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Obsidian Mines in Modoc worth a visit

By Jean Bilodeaux
03/30/13 -- Ever wonder where the Native Americans got the material to make their arrowheads? The mountains just east of the little town of Davis Creek feature many places that were used for thousands of years to create these tools. Huge domes of volcanic matter bubbled to the surface and cooled rapidly forming the shiny black glass called obsidian. Because of the gases in the air when reaching the surface, these massive, mile-wide, domes formed glass that is iridescent in color. Some at first glance are green, blue, purple, red, yellow, orange, brown, clear, gold, silver or any combination or all of the colors mentioned. Because of this unique coloring, people from all over the world come here to collect the beautiful rocks.

obsidian, volcanic, warner mountains, Jean Bilodeaux, arrowheads, mine, myoutdoorbuddy.com Frank galusha, Obsidian Mines in Modoc worth a visit

Obsidian. Photo courtesy of Modoc National Forest

Obsidian is dense volcanic glass, usually rhyolite in composition and typically black in color. Obsidian is often formed in rhyolite lava flows where the lava cools so fast that crystals do not have time to grow. Glass, unlike crystals, has no regular structure and therefore fractures in smooth, curved shapes. The intersections of these fractures can form edges sharper than the finest steel blades. For this reason, obsidian was used by many native cultures to make arrowheads and blades. Even today, surgeons use the knife sharp edges in operations.

The volcanic deposits found in the Warner Mountains come in many forms. From the light weight pumice sometimes called “floating rocks” to the dense, glass-like obsidian, the colors and diversity are amazing. The Warner Mountains are famous for the variety of obsidian and for the four mines where the public can, with a permit, collect it.

The four mines - Pink Lady, Lassen Creek Rainbow, Needles and Middle Fork Davis Creek - are all located within a few miles of US Hwy 395 in northeast California. Rainbow obsidian found at the Rainbow Mine and Middle Fork Davis Creek is sought after for its colorful sheen. Pink obsidian from Pink Lady, and the bundles of obsidian needles from the Needles Mine are the most popular. To make the mines even more interesting, the Needles Mine has deposits of elongated obsidian needles, think string cheese only in glass. Ample obsidian deposits assure every looker success at finding this unique glass. To find the colored obsidian it is recommended that you go on sunny days between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., although other hours are okay, you just have to look harder.

On the Modoc National Forest, obsidian excavation may be done under a Free Use Authorization at any of the four designated mines. Excavation is allowed at these locations only. The Free Use Authorization allows a visitor to collect a predetermined amount per year of obsidian for their own personal use. This obsidian may not be sold or traded. Collection for resale is a violation of the Free Use Authorization permit.

The Davis Creek Mercantile in Davis Creek provides maps and permits to the mines, free of charge. Although four-wheel-drive vehicles are not needed, high clearance vehicles are suggested. The mines are closed during the winter months due to no road maintenance and snow. Call the Davis Creek Mercantile for road conditions if your travel is in early winter or late spring.

Free Use Authorizations are available at:

  • Modoc National Forest Supervisor's Office - 800 West 12th Street, Alturas, CA 96101
  • Warner Mountain Ranger District Office - 385 Wallace Street, Cedarville, CA 96104
  • Davis Creek Mercantile - 41942 Highway 395, Davis Creek, CA 96108

Applications for commercial collection are only available at the Supervisor's Office. Call ahead for an appointment for a commercial permit at 530-233-5811.

This article also appears at geotourism.com.

More Outdoor News

Coleman NFH ready for Return of Salmon

Salmon swimming at Coleman National Fish Hatchery. Photo by Sharon Waranius
By Frank Galusha
09/20/14 -- Salmon are rapidly returning to the Coleman National Fish Hatchery and this year the gates will be wide open for people and fish to enjoy the FREE 23rd Annual Return of the Salmon Festival. This would have...Full Story

CA DFW has swan tours through January

Tundra Swans
09/19/14 -- The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will offer free swan tours near Marysville from Nov. 2014 through Jan. 2015. Co-hosted by local rice farmers, the tours will focus on tundra swans...Full Story

Scott Valley Bank gives $10K to Boles relief

09/19/14 -- In response to the Boles Fire disaster, Scott Valley Bank is donating $10,000 to the Community Disaster Relief Fund administered by the Shasta Regional Community Foundation (SRCF). The bank considers...Full Story

Deer hunting from my porch?

California Mule Deer (CDFW photo)
California Outdoors Q&A by Carrie Wilson
09/18/14 --  I have a house on five acres in Northern California and have some really nice bucks on my land. Every day they come within a few feet of my house and graze on my garden and plants. If I purchase an A Zone tag...Full Story

Fire leaves huge scar on Weed

Weed, California Boles Fire Devastation, Ray Haupt
By Ray Haupt
09/16/14 -- This is a view on the south side of the Roseburg Mill in Weed, California. The small housing area in the foreground looks to me to be the old mill housing area just east/northeast of the Weed Mercantile. Cause of the...Full Story

Pick Up Litter Day comes to Parks

09/17/14 -- [Updated 09/20] Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, the Friends of Whiskeytown, and Oak Bottom Marina are collaborating with local businesses and supporters to help clean up litter around Whiskeytown Lake...Full Story

How to Comply with Tow Chain Laws

By Don Stec
09/13/14 -- One of the most common mistakes trailer owners make is: Failure to properly attach a safety chain between a trailer and the towing vehicle. There seems to be a consensus by the general public that simply...Full Story

Sac River NWR Codora Unit opens

Sul Norte and codora sign USFWS
09/12/14 -- If you have driven across the Butte City Bridge on Highway 162 in Glenn County you may have noticed a large habitat restoration on the south side of the roadway. This is the Codora Unit of the Sacramento...  Full Story

Identity of mountain lion confirmed

09/12/14 -- The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has completed forensics testing of the mountain lion killed by wildlife officials in Cupertino on Wednesday, Sept. 10. Test results from the department’s...Full Story

Lion guilty of attack killed by CA DFW

09/11/14 -- A 65-pound male mountain lion was killed with a rifle shot near the Picchetti Ranch Zinfandel Trail area this morning in an effort to protect public safety relating to a lion attack several days earlier. Wildlife experts...Full Story

Young boy attacked by mountain lion

09/09/14 -- A 6-year-old boy hiking with a large group of people was attacked by a mountain lion in a rural area west of Cupertino on Sunday afternoon. The child is expected to survive, and the California Department...Full Story

Above the Canopy

Elegant terns feeding young in kelp beds off Lovers Cove, Pacific Grove, photo by Steven T. Callan
Article and photos by Steven T. Callan
09/06/14 -- Having had the pleasure and privilege of diving in California’s kelp forests from San Diego to Monterey, I would describe it as a surreal, almost religious experience -- witnessing underwater cathedrals rising...Full Story

Redding events for your calendar

Redding Air Show, Visit Redding, Exchange Club
09/03/14 -- In September, Redding gets historical on land and in the air. September 27 and 28 marks the spectacle, tradition, and education as Historic Hawes Farms Civil War Reenactment and the 29th Redding Air Show...Full Story

Turtle Bay to showcase Toytopia

Toyopia, Monopoly, Turtle Bay Museum, Redding, Shasta,Credit Stage Nine Productions.
09/03/14 -- Turtle Bay is gearing up to host a brand new exhibition: Toytopia, from Stage Nine Exhibit Design! From September 20th to January 7th, the Exploration Hall and East End of the museum will be filled with a reminisce...Full Story

Trinidad Sea Kayaking

Trinidad Sea Kayaking, Pacific Outfitters, PacificOutfittersAdventures.com
By Jason Self
09/03/14 -- The thing I love most about guiding and coaching sea kayaking is sharing unique experience with others. The ocean is dynamic. It’s full of life and energy. One hundred yards from shore and you’re...Full Story

Special exhibition on tap for Lassen Park

08/30/14 -- Lassen Volcanic National Park will celebrate its new Artist-In-Residence program with a special exhibition opening at the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center on Friday, August 29. The exhibition will feature...Full Story

Matsutake mushroom season to begin

08/29/14 -- Matsutake mushroom season will begin next week within the Medicine Lake Highlands region of the Modoc National Forest. The season will open Sept. 2, 2014 and will run through Nov. 30, 2014 when all...Full Story

A bridge to the future -- but where?

By Frank Galusha
08/28/14 – Don’t be fooled by the dateline on this story! It’s not August 28, 2014! Skip ahead 500 years. This is the Sacramento River flowing through the city of Redding in the year 2514. The city’s marvelous Sundial Bridge...Full Story

Wildlife Officer Academy graduates 28

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CDFW September 2014 Calendar

08/26/14 -- Elkhorn Slough Ecological Reserve. Docent-led walks are scheduled every Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Binoculars and bird books are available for the public to borrow at no cost. The visitor center...Full Story

Lava Beds install new information panels

lava Beds information panels
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CDFW recruiting new Wildlife Officers

08/22/14 -- The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is recruiting those interested in a career as a wildlife officer. CDFW will accept applications for wildlife officer cadet from Aug. 22 through Oct. 17, 2014...Full Story

Snakes... why did it have to be snakes!

rattle snake coiled
By Don E. Webster
08/21/14 -- Many years ago, early-on in our marriage, I brought home a rather large rattlesnake in my knapsack that I'd dispatched with a shovel while on a camping trip. Admittedly, killing the snake was...Full Story

Lake Oroville; the real issue

By Chuck Giles
08/08/14 -- The bottom line is we have ourselves a water situation, “Duh!” Lake Oroville already resembles what it used to be; the Feather River. Suddenly, this hits home for all us anglers in our bass and trolling rigs who...Full Story

CDFW: Watch for waterfowl mortality!

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Light Your Way

Light Your Way by John Higley
Article and photos by John Higley
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Boat trailer frame repairs

Article and photos by Don Stec
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Lassen National Volcanic Park

Jim Broshears, Mt. Lassen view from Brokeoff Mountain
By Jim Broshears
07/21/14 -- Lassen National Park is one of the best kept secrets in the National Park system. It may be hard to call a place that has over 400,000 visitors a year a secret but compared to Yosemite’s 2.5 million and the 9.4...Full Story

​Honey, Bees Can Make You Bumble!

The outdoor edge author badge for Don Webster, myoutdoorbuddy.com
By Don Webster
07/21/14 -- It was a warm, sunny day in July, many, many years ago. In two months, I would officially be a teenager. As I recall, it was a Saturday, and our entire family had piled into two cars and we were headed...Full Story

Peak Bagging in Winter

Peak Bagging in Winter, Jim Broshears, Trailhead Adventures, Paradise, CA, MyOutdoorBuddy.com By Jim Broshears
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CDFW: Wild animals do not need handouts

horned buck, CDF photo
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Mountains of Marble

horseback riding trails, marble mountain, phil akers
Article and photos by Phil "Flip" Akers
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Roaring Camp 1; Grumpy old man 0

 This is a better pic of Antonnette at the sluice box.
By Chuck Giles
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Take a trail ride at Wild Horse Sanctuary

 Wild Horse Sanctuary in Shingletown/Manton, 4 horses
By Jill Broughton
05/29/14 -- The Wild Horse Sanctuary in Shingletown/Manton kicked off its annual trail ride season with the Wildflower ride on April 26th-27th. Professor Laird Blackwell, an expert on California wildflowers, entertained and... Full Story

50th Wilderness Celebration set for Red Bluff

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The Mystery of the Middle Fork – Part III

By Jim Broshears
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Extreme Beam Flashlights

By Gary Heffley
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The Mystery of the Middle Fork -- Part II

Article and photos by Jim Broshears
03/10/14 -- Our return to the Middle Fork of Feather River would take place in August of 2012. Having nearly 10 months to plan the next exploration, we, of course, waited until the last minute decide our course of action... Full Story

The Mystery of the Missing Valley -- Part I

The Mystery of the Missing Valley By Jim Broshears
Article and photos by Jim Broshears
02/15/14 -- Part #1 Exploring the Middle Fork of the Feather River -- Stories about hidden valleys, waterfalls, canyons and fishing are part of outdoor folklore. Most of these tales begin with “When I was a kid we went to this place” and...Full Story

Fee Free Days set for BLM-Public Lands

Fee Free Days, BLM Managed Public Lands
01/01/14 -- The Bureau of Land Management, in conjunction with other agencies within the Department of the Interior, will waive recreation-related fees for visitors to the National System of Public Lands for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day...Full Story

Mendocino Weekend: Cave & Wave Kayaking

Mendocino Weekend: Cave & Wave Kayaking, John Whittenberger, Headwaters adventure, Redding Ca., outdoors recreation
Article and photos by John Whittenberger
10/30/13 -- My first day paddle (Thursday October 24) from Russian Gulch to the town of Mendocino was calming after being in my truck for so long. The sun came out and warmed me up just enough so I wanted to land on... Full Story

BLM seeks input on use of OR public lands

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