Shadow Mountain Gem & Mineral Society

About Us

Our purpose is to sponsor, stimulate and encourage group activities which in any way may develop knowledge and understanding of the earth sciences.

The history of the Shadow Mountain Gem and Mineral Society goes back to 1951 and a group of rockhounds meeting in a small village known as Palm Desert. By 1954 the club was incorporated and a member of the Federation.

Today the Shadow Mountain Gem and Mineral Society is an energetic and active rockhounding club. With multiple field trips being led most months, the S.M.G.M.S. has something to offer all rockhounds. The Desert Hobbyist is our official bulletin mailed monthly to all members indicating.

Contact Us or Come join us at our Monthly Meetings.

Contact Us

Shadow Mountain Gem & Mineral Society Meetings are held the First Friday of Each Month at 7:00 P.M. at the United Methodist Church of Palm Springs at 1555 Alejo Road, Palm Springs. Visitors are Always Welcome.

Mailing Address:
19-605 Kris Ave.
Sky Valley, CA 92241-7775
Website :


Ocotillo Wells SRVA Field Trips

The field trip on April 18, 2015, brought to mind some of our previous trips. The three dates of these pictures are not all of the trips we have made to the Anza-Borrego area, but each trip has yielded wonderful material for our Educational Rock Sample Bags for the children (and many adults) who attend the Date Festival.

Pebble Terrace/Bed Spring Hill/Opal Hill Mine Road

The trip started out with 15 people and 5 dogs in 6 four wheel drive vehicles. We were afraid it might be too hot out there, but there was a light breeze which made it quite nice.

We spent 2 hours at the “Bed Springs “ area, and then things picked up when we moved to the fire agate area and started finding some nice Chalcedony with possible fire in it. While at this location we met some folks from the Borrego Springs Rock Club. They were taking the Opal Hill Mine Road to where they said was the source of the Chalcedony Roses. So, some of us were anxious to follow them, plus find a shorter way back to the freeway. Well, we were too slow in following after them, and lost the road past the Opal Hill Mine. The road was quite rough, too, so 4 of the vehicles went home the way they came. I (Fred Kalmar) was with Dave Kelley and Rosemary Stonick in my Hummer, and Al Granger in his Jeep with guests, Steve Meyers and Sam Hestrop, who all wanted to try again. We found the right road and found the other Club. They were right! The roses were plentiful, and I found some Chalcedony that had nice crystal cavities, almost like geodes. From this location, it was a breeze to get back to the freeway. The Wiley’s Well Road was in exceptional condition, having just been graded. We passed the little red Suzuki from the rest of our group going back on the freeway to our refreshment stop at Chiriaco

Kramer Junction

Nine of us braved the threatening looking weather and headed for Kramer Junction. By the time we arrived at the collection site, the sun decided to shine, at least for a while, and we spent several hours surface collecting and also digging this beautiful opalite, agate, palm and bog in a wild variety of colors!

The photos here do not do justice to the beautiful material! We did have some light rain on our return trip, which seemed to be no bother at all, except for the passengers in the little blue Jeep!

Several members missed this trip due to illness. We wish them a speedy recovery, and hope they will join us on our return trip to Kramer Junction!


Our beloved Lifetime Member, Mary E. Flagel, is pictured here on May 5, 2006, receiving an award for 25 years of service as Treasurer of The Shadow Mountain Gem and Mineral Society. Mary left this world on December 22, 2014, after a long illness. Those of us who were blessed to know Mary benefited from her vast knowledge of gems and minerals. She taught us many things, and shared her knowledge with us generously. Her displays in the Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival always won the top prizes.

When Mary became ill, part of her wonderful collection became available to our Society, and we are still reaping the rewards from all those beautiful items.

Thank you, Mary, for being part of The Shadow Mountain Gem and Mineral Society, and part of our lives.

Submitted by Barbara Catlin, Recording Secretary and Historian, Shadow Mountain Gem and Mineral Society

Scouting trip to Borrego Springs

Don’t believe everything you read. Several years ago, a friend passed along a Rockhounder article from 1972, describing an accidental find of apache tears in the “Borrego Sink.” After a couple fruitless attempts on my own, I proposed this potential to our scouting committee and a real search was in the works.

On the beautiful morning of December 20th, the top dogs of our club set off with 6 human rouckhounds armed with vague 40 year old directions. Along a 3 mile stretch of route 22 west of Salton City, where these obsidian nodules supposedly were “lying about by the hundreds”, we stopped everywhere there was room for 3 cars. Spending no less than 30 minutes at each stop, we fanned out in all directions scouring for even a shard of volcanic glass. After 4 stops we threw in the towel and the only evidence of tears were those of disappointment on my face. Fortunately, they dried quickly amid the stunning geologic scenery. I guess sometimes, Mother Nature sticks her tongue out at you.

Making lemonade from the lemons we were dealt in the morning, we headed down the road toward Ocotillo Wells for petrified wood. The first hour of collecting was meager for some of us, so we backtracked a bit. Within feet of our cars there were great specimens for the Date Festival bags! As always, never being too old to learn, there was a lively discussion around what appeared to be entire logs which were buried, but not ‘cooked’ long enough become petrified. Rather, there were fragile wood-like fragments, surrounded by powdery, yet colorful hematite, limonite or related iron compounds. Of course, specimens too large for the bags, had to go home with the finder.

On second thought, Mother Nature wasn’t taunting us, just pointing us to look further to the right! By the way, for us fluorescent collectors, the wood is a beautiful yellow-orange in shortwave UV!

Footnote to trip – The AM/PM at the corner of 22 and 86 is well worth a stop. From delicious carne asada tacos to banana splits big enough for two, they have what it takes to replenish a weary rockhounder!

Garnet Hill

The third try was the charm for this trip after two cancellations due to high winds and blowing sands. Our happy and enthusiastic troop of 18 members met at 9 a.m. at the Motel 6. After being placed into 4 wheel drive trucks, we took off to Garnet Hill at approximately 9:15 a.m.

Taking the back way, we ran into some problems, water and mud on the trail. One truck got stuck but Mike Attard pulled him out with his red jeep.

We did not proceed on this path, but found a better one and up the hill we went, stopping a couple of times to look around. When we reached the top, we found what we were looking for rocks that were beaten and covered up by wind and sand. I saw Darlene on her hands and knees pushing sand about and she found her glory hole several dozen garnets which went to the youngest member of our club.
Thank you Darlene.

I believe everyone in the group found something wonderful by noon and we went back to our meeting place for a break and refreshments before driving off in search of Wonderstone. Everyone found something to take home. It was a very successful trip and everyone was a happy camper.

Scouting Little Chuckwalla Mountains

Scouting the Little Chuckwalla Mountains and Graham Pass Road on November 24, 2014

“You can’t win them all.” So the saying goes! We had beautiful scenery, wonderful desert vistas, and a very nice day, but not enough collectable material to support a Club field trip!

The Bureau of Land Management has closed all the vehicle routes to the areas of good material, and what is within hiking distance of the open route is VERY picked over and pretty rough country.

To soothe our disappointment, the seven of us decided to check out the Chuckwalla Bench for blue nodules, only to discover that the Chuckwalla Valley Road (old Highway 60-70) was closed due to storm damage. We used the Corridor K power line road to reach the nodule area where we didn’t stay long. Maybe we didn’t stop in the right spot, because the material was scarce there, too!
We were discouraged to find that the old highway was closed from the Graham Pass Road all the way to the Corn Springs Overpass on Interstate 10, with wash outs and bridges out, and we had to keep returning to the power line road to reach Interstate 10 from the nodule area. It is interesting to note that the power line road is well used and in good condition, whereas the County might not be able to afford to repair the Chuckwalla Valley Road.
We hope the next scouting trip will bring better results. We won’t give up!!