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“Everything You Need to Know About Rocks and Minerals”

California State Mining and Mineral Museum
Ranked #3 of 20 things to do in Mariposa
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Specialty museum dedicated to the California gold mining industry.
Reviewed 30 December 2013 via mobile

My husband and I made a point of coming to visit the museum, and were not disappointed. There were lots of incredible examples of every type of rock. We also loved the exhibit on mining.

The staff was friendly and knowledgable, and we were very happy that we came. Not too busy, and open when they said they were.

Thank bpianopilot
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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"gold nugget"
in 4 reviews
"junior ranger"
in 2 reviews
"security reasons"
in 2 reviews
"rock hound"
in 2 reviews
"county fairgrounds"
in 2 reviews
"gold country"
in 4 reviews
"nuggets"
in 2 reviews
"surrounding area"
in 2 reviews
"great stop"
in 2 reviews
"worth a visit"
in 2 reviews
"guided tour"
in 2 reviews
"gift shop"
in 2 reviews
"gold rush"
in 2 reviews
"tunnel"
in 12 reviews
"gems"
in 9 reviews
"specimens"
in 13 reviews
"rocks"
in 21 reviews
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50 - 54 of 79 reviews

Reviewed 22 November 2013

A friend of mine runs his own jewelry business, and is a volunteer at the California State Mining and Mineral Museum, a fascinating attraction 2 miles south of Mariposa in the Sierra Foothills on Highway 49.We went for a tour, and came away with the view that the place itself is a gem.

The displays of rocks, gems, and minerals focus on those from California, but not to exclusion—some come from as far away as Afghanistan. The shapes, colors, and, textures are dazzling—some even fluoresce under a black light display. And you wind up learning odd and interesting bits of information: did you know what’s the state gem of California? It’s called benitoite, because it’s found in San Benito county—and so valuable that the display pieces are in the museum’s vault, not the general display area.

The museum shows not only examples of the minerals, but gives you an idea of what it takes to get them from inside the earth into the display case. There is mining equipment from various eras, some of which is shown in a walk-through mockup of a mine shaft, built into the side of the hill into which the museum is built. (This exhibit is adorned with photos of mining operations from different eras, and some things never change: a relatively recent photo shows a couple of latter-day 49ers named—wait for it—Smiley Tierney and Sweetwater Clyde.) Most of the equipment is actual, and actual size, but one of the most eye-catching exhibits is a scale model of an ore-processing plant.

If all the above isn’t Wild West enough for you, consider this: on October 1, 2012, low-lifes actually robbed the Museum of about two million dollars worth of gold and gems—but were thwarted in their attempt to take the Fricot Nugget, the world’s largest gold nugget. Hear thrilling tales of (not so yester-)year from the knowledgeable and enthusiastic docents, who exhibit every quality you’d ever want in a tour guide (except maybe a pause button.)

Other info: my guess is that this is not the museum for pre-schoolers, but grade school through adult should have a great time. A really nice touch for both parents and offspring is the Junior Ranger Self Guided Museum Tour and Questions, a sort of blend of an open-book test and scavenger hunt for children. The net effect is that kids and parents can de-couple, with the parents taking in things at their own pace, while the kids chase down answers to questions like “What rare mineral makes bright pink crystals”?

The small gift shop makes a successful effort to selling only items related to the museum’s themes. No food is sold (unless there’s a fairground event going on when you visit), but they do sell cold bottled water—a nice amenity, as summer high temps in Mariposa are usually on the wrong side of ninety.

For more, check out their web site: www.camineralmuseum.com.

So—educational, entertaining, and air-conditioned in the summer—what’s not to like? C u there, fellow rock-hounds!

1  Thank GregM302
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 September 2013

The hours posted were 10-5. It was nearly 11, but no one there (once we found the museum in a very obscure location). Also, no cameras allowed. We stayed an extra day to see Mariposa museums, but this museum (and the history museum) had the ridiculous, unenforceable rule against cameras. Everyone has a phone or tiny camera that will not be detected. What are they afraid of? That we will steal something? We just wanted some photos. Time to get with the times!

4  Thank SezLuckyGirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 July 2013

If you enjoy Rocks, Minerals and a bit of California Gold Rush History, this is the place for you. There is a huge collection of specimens and a replica mine tunnel that really give you the feeling of what it must have been like to hard rock gold mine in the 1800's. The kids really enjoy the Junior Ranger Program and at $4 for adults, one of the best bargains going.

2  Thank Boysplus
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 18 June 2013

The museum is a bit hard to find as it is actually inside the fairgrounds but you can see it from the main parking lot.

The people running the museum are very friendly and give you a quick intro when you walk in. There are many rocks and minerals to see in nice displays. The highlight is a short walk through a mine tunnel where there are several displays. Don't go in here if you have mold allergies as it is almost toxic from that point of view.

There is a vault that is normally open to show valuable rocks but they museum was actually robbed back in September so that is unfortunately closed.

There is a small gift shop with lots of inexpensive things to buy for the kids. My family really enjoyed it.

2  Thank Ron H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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