Himalaya Tourmaline Mine

Useful Information

Location: Near Lake Henshaw in San Diego County, 32 km east of Pala.
Open: All year Mon, Thu-Sun 10-15.
Fee: Adults USD 75, Children (12-15) USD 37.50, Children (0-11) free.
Rainy Day Discount: USD 10 off.
Groups (5+): Adults USD 70, Children (12-15) USD 35.
Groups (10+): Adults USD 55, Children (12-15) USD 27.50.
Groups (20+): Adults USD 50, Children (12-15) USD 25.
Groups (30+): Adults USD 40, Children (12-15) USD 20.
Classification: MineGem Mine
Light: n/a
Dimension: L=8,000 m.
Guided tours: n/a
Address: Himalaya Tourmaline Mine Dig, Lake Henshaw Resort, 26439 Highway 76, Santa Ysabel, CA 92070, Tel: +1-775-830-5797. Chris Rose, Tel: +1-775-772-7724. Jessica Schenk, Tel: +1-775-830-5797. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1898 mine opened.
1995 High Desert Gems & Minerals founded.


Tourmaline is found in pegmatite veins, lava which once intruded the rock and then cooled down extremely slow, giving the solidifying minerals enough time to form huge crystals. The slower it cools, the bigger the crystals get. The veins are called dykes, which means they are clefts which opened in the rock by tectonic forces, then filled with magma from below.

There are several pegmatite dykes existing on Mesa Grande. Some of them contain tourmaline, Himalaya Mine is located on the largest one. Most of them have an angle of 45° and go deep down into the earth. At the surface the pegmatite is eroded and the harder minerals, like quartz and tourmaline can be found on the surface. The pegmatite contains a wealth of minerals like quartz, apatite, morganite, clevelandite, calcite, lepidolite, feldspar, stibiotantalite, topaz, and spessartine garnet.

The tourmalines found here are pink, green, bi-colored, tri-colored, or watermelon. Some pockets in the rock produced over a ton of tourmaline.

Tourmaline is a complex mineral, a hexagonal boron-aluminum-silicate, which occurs in any color. Pink tourmaline is also called rubillite, green is called Brazilian Emerald. This are the two most common colours found at the Himalaya Mine. Blue tourmaline (indicolite) is also found, but extremely seldom.


Himalaya Tourmaline Mine is actually an underground mine with an eight kilometers long labyrinth of passages which was built during the last century, since the mine was opened in 1898. But unlike the other show mines we listed on showcaves.com, this one is not offering a mine tour. It is a still working mine which has produced 125 tons of gem quality pink and green tourmalines so far. For a period of 15 years during the early 20th century it produced more tourmaline than any other tourmaline mine in the world. The peak was in 1904 when it produced 5.5 tons in one single year, the most tourmaline ever produced in one year by any mine.

So what you buy with the pretty high entrance fee is a day of work, screening through piles of tourmaline bearing ore for gems. They were brought down to the digging site at Lake Henshaw from the mine uphill with trucks. However, you may keep anything you find at no extra cost. And all necessary equipment is provided for free too: shovels, desks for screening, buckets and so forth. You should bring a hat, sunglasses, sturdy boots or rubber boots, gloves, an old toothbrush for cleaning, and of course a bag for the finds. Because of the dry climate bring enough water.