If you are a rockhounding fanatic, then Arizona should be your first pick when it comes to finding amazing rocks.
While some are collectors’ dreams based on value, others are simply beautiful and can help to spruce up the unique look of your home.
Either way, it’s a win-win when you go on a rockhounding excursion.
When it comes to rockhounding Arizona, we’ve chosen our top 12 locations for you to explore.
The information provided in this article by YesDirt.com is for informational purposes and is subject to change. Laws are updated. Accessibility guidelines and restrictions change. Be sure to confirm the land status and collection rules before you travel to an unfamiliar location or collect any material.
Where To Go Rockhounding In Arizona
Colorado River Rockhounding – Gold
Rock hunting has been around for centuries and gold was one of the earliest finds in Arizona.
Pauline Weaver found gold on the Arizona segment of the Colorado River in the early 1860s, and her discovery sparked what became the Colorado River Gold Rush.
This resulted in the formation of the La Paz Mining District, which encompassed a 20-mile radius from each side of the Colorado River starting at the actual discovery location.
The Weaver mining district was established the following year as additional sediments were discovered further down the Colorado River.
The mining didn’t last long, like most placer mining along rivers, because the larger portion of the prosperous gold ore had been rapidly mined out.
However, rock hunting experts and rookies are still able to locate gold in the Colorado River. They’ll find it in the sandbars of the river, and the gold is most often very fine.
There are several other places that you are still able to hound for gold, such as atman, Vulture Mine, Little San Domingo Placers, Gold Basin, and Greaterville.
Rockhounding Date Creek Mountains – Quartz Crystals
While quartz may be a common crystal across the globe, it is still a top choice for rockhounding in Arizona. This is because you are guaranteed to find amazing specimens that are nicely crystallized in this area and its environs.
Luckily, there are many excellent areas in Arizona where you can do your rock collecting and acquire very lovely samples.
One of these sites is the Date Creek Mountains. While this zone has been heavily exploited over the decades, there are still some nice parts to be found.
You could get fortunate and come across a lovely specimen on the surface while wandering about. However, the finest specimens are discovered by those willing to search. Scan for abandoned holes and start digging.
Another place with lovely quartz crystals is Diamond Point, northeast of Payson.
This location is at a higher altitude but rock hunting enthusiasts are not bothered by this usually.
New crystals can be exposed by rainstorms, but you’ll certainly discover the perfect ones when you get grimy and dig.
The slopes north of Aguila are a famous harvesting spot. Throughout this place, people can find decent discharged quartz crystals.
Crystal Hill, slightly southeast of Quartzsite, is among Arizona’s increasingly common crystal collection spots.
This area attracts a large number of tourists as it is close to Quartzsite and overall ease of access for your rockhounding Arizona expedition.
Since it takes effort to find good quartz, there are still some available. Optimistic rockhounds that are capable of following the edges and pick beautiful crystals out from the rock layers discover the perfect bits.
Rockhounding Hauser Geode Beds – Geode
Here is another popular area for rockhounding Arizona excursions.
If you’re passionate about geodes, this is the place of choice where you’re sure to find tiny and large geode stones when you’re rock collecting.
The beds were discovered back in the late 1930s by Joel Hauser, a Blythe native who used his small Ford truck to explore the hills and collect gems.
It is situated off Interstate 10 and Wiley’s Well Road South, approximately one hour to the south of Blythe on both paved and rough terrain.
Jump into your 4×4, and travel until you get to Coon Hollow campground. (A high SUV or other trucks can work too).
Turn right on this dirt road when you see a sign for Hauser Geode Beds. It is inconsistent and gets rough at some points.
The Hauser Geode grounds, which have been famous to rock enthusiasts for several years, have created some quite spectacular geodes of numerous forms.
Amethyst crystals border certain geodes, while white or black calcite crystals cover plenty. A geode is a mineral in the form of a sphere with a crystal-lined cavity.
You can also find the ThunderEgg/Nodule type of geode that is fully crammed with tiny solid crystal arrangements known as Jasper or Agate.
Other places to find geode are the Straw beds and the Potato Patch. Diggings can be found on the sides of the hills, where you can rummage through the green ash for geodes.
You can also take a trek and find geodes scattered about, even though they might not be of the highest quality.
What To Take With You
When rockhounding in the wilderness, you should try to be fully equipped: pick and shovel to dig the hole, a hammer to break the rocks, and some buckets, as well as the usual desert necessities, such as plenty of water, food, a first-aid kit, mobile phone maps, and anything else you feel necessary that doesn’t add too much weight.
Rockhounding Saddle Mountain – Fire Agate
Saddle Mountain is a famous rockhounding destination just next to Queen Creek, particularly for those looking for fire agate, a semi-precious jewel found only within Arizona and some other southwestern regions.
The fire agate found in the Saddle Mountains is of high caliber and will complement your mineral inventory.
There are several points to consider when you’re engaging in rockhounding in Saddle Mountain.
For starters, Saddle Mountain is home to many private mining claims, so make sure you’re exploring in a public space and not on someone’s land.
Furthermore, since Saddle Mountain has attracted so many rockhounds over the decades, you’ll need to be patient if you’d like to locate fire agate.
The ideal opportunity to delve for that kind of gemstone is immediately after a downpour.
Rockhounding Round Mountain- Chalcedony Samples
People may surely access chalcedony samples, such as agate and often a variety of minerals, whenever they explore this rockhounding place.
They might be able to wiggle a geode out from the rocky terrain with some effort.
Once you’ve had your limit of rockhounding, take a stroll on some of the pathways that snake through the region, or pitch a tent so you can drill down early the next day.
Rockhounding Bear Hills – Jasper
Jasper is one of the most plentiful and widely distributed minerals in the state of Arizona.
Some of these sweet jaspers can be found in the Bear Hills, just east of Brenda, and they can often display nice orbicular patterns.
This is a perfect place to hunt for quality specimens because there are so many color variations.
Jasper is a popular choice among rockhounds since it is tough and polishable. You may use it to make jewelry by putting it in a stone tumbler or cutting it into cabochons.
The majority of jaspers are strong dark colors. Select bits, on the other hand, will have pleasant banding and color variance. That’s just what you’re looking for!
Other areas to find Jasper is the Plomosa region, southwest of Bouse, and Yuma south of the Quartzsite. You may get lucky and find both gold and agate as well.
All you need are your boots because Jasper is abundant.
Rockhounding Apache Tears Caves – Apache Tears(Obsidian)
This wash absorbs run-off from the surrounding hills, and as a result, it’s brimming with Apache Tears, which are Obsidian nodules.
Merikanite Obsidian is a semi-precious rock. It is a type of natural glass with conchoidal contours (convex on the outside, concave on the inside), with nodules ranging in size from peas to a tennis ball.
You will quickly locate the stones by following the scores as you walk along the sandy area. Since there are so many of them, you’ll quickly become picky on what to collect.
Apache Tears are only formed near Superior, Arizona, and when refined and held to the light, these are semi-transparent and have a smoky brown shade.
The only obsidian nodules known as Apache Tears are those found in the region.
Obsidian is a volcanic glass made mostly of Silicates, but it contains a diverse range of elements, making it a rock rather than a mineral.
The rock is made up of cryptocrystalline Silica minerals suspended in a glassy suspension, which forms when magma is supercooled.
Obsidian is produced at the end of basaltic eruptions when the expelled mainly Silicates are rapidly cooled at surface temperatures.
Why Are They Called Apache Tears
Legend has it that several apache warriors jumped to their deaths rather than be defeated by members of the military. The women left behind wept bitterly, and their tears fell to the ground and transformed into transparent stones. (source)
Rockhounding Golden Valley – Agate
Between Kingman and Oatman, the Cuesta Fire Agate Mine can be found when you exit Route 66. Since 1902, the location of this mine has consisted of four 20-acre claims held by one family.
The ability to dig for a fee is available at this mine. As a visitor, you can pay a fee then hire equipment to mine the claim for a day for a small fee. The diggers will hold anything they find, up to the size of a bucket, no more than five gallons per day.
Don, the proprietor, explains how Fire Agate is shaped and provides tips on how to search for, find, and excavate fire agate from the host rock.
Some visitors have come across Chalcedony (Desert) Roses as well as Druse Crystal Clusters.
You’re able to trod along the claims for 30 dollars a day and salvage whatever you discover on the land.
Rockhounding Arizona Location: 9049 Oatman Rd (Old Route 66), Golden Valley, AZ 86413
Rockhounding Fountain Hills – Amethyst
Sami Fine Jewelry offers Amethyst Mine Tours on a regular basis, allowing guests to get up close and personal with the Arizona Four Peaks Amethyst.
The mine is reached by helicopter for visitors.
The guests meet and interact with the mine owner, Kurt Cavano, as well as the miners once they arrive. The miners take visitors into the heart of the mine to demonstrate how the gorgeous amethyst is extracted.
Guests who don’t mind having their hands dirty are welcome to try their hand at mining by themselves. However, space is restricted, and reservations are needed.
The tour lasts for six to eight hours and will cost a group of four people a total of $2,700. You are transported back to the starting point once you’ve seen the finishing process for the Amethyst production.
Location: 16704 Avenue of the Fountains #100, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268
Rockhounding Flagstaff – Gem Variety
Throughout the months of June to August, the Environmental Education Center in Willow Bend provides free supervised downtown geology excursions of Flagstaff two times each month.
These one-hour walking tours are established on the book Stone Landmarks, written by Marie Jackson, a local-based author in Flagstaff.
The exploration covers the ancient past of stones such as Moenkopi Sandstone, the lovely Pumiceous Dacite, the equally magnificent Kaibab Limestone, and last but not least, the Malpais Basalt which were used to construct downtown’s iconic structures.
The tour furthermore emphasizes the evolution of architectural techniques, shifting tastes for different forms of rock, and historic occurrences.
Participants will look for fossils along the walls of the Ice House, learn about “Arizona Red” stone, explore the depths of the “Grand Canyon” at Heritage Square, and see elegant rock etchings, among other things.
Location: 24 N San Francisco St, Flagstaff, AZ 86001
Rockhounding Littlefield: Variety Of Gems
The Land Management Bureau approved the recreation area of Virgin River as a rockhounding expanse on municipal property. Petrified wood mineral specimens, minerals, semi-precious stones, as well as invertebrate fossils can all be found here.
Each individual is allowed to gather as much as 25 pounds of material each day and 250 pounds per year for non-commercial intentions.
On public property, you do not collect historical objects like pottery, rock art, or arrowheads, or vertebrate fossils like dinosaurs, mammals, or fish.
Rockhounds have access to a campground that is available at this location. Sixteen miles northeast of Littlefield, AZ, is where you’ll find the rockhounding area. Take exit 18 off Interstate 15
Location: Littlefield, AZ 86432
Quartzsite: Gems, Rocks, And Fossils
This Two-week Camping Zone at Dome Rock Mountain is ideal for rockhounding Arizona— Just like Littlefield, The Land Management Bureau appointed this public property as a rockhounding field.
Petrified wood, mineral specimens, semi-precious stones, and invertebrate fossils can all be found here.
Each individual is allowed to dig up a maximum of twenty-five pounds of material per day and 250 lbs in total annually. It can only be collected for non-commercial objectives.
On public property, you are unable to collect historical objects like earthenware, rock sculpture, or arrowheads, or vertebrate fossils such as dinosaurs, any mammals, or fish.
There is a large camping zone accessible at this public rockhounding spot.
Location: 2995 Dome Rock Rd W, Quartzsite, AZ 85346
Overall, rockhounding is the right pursuit for you if you’ve often been intrigued by the natural deposits in Arizona’s soils. Rockhounding is ideal for the whole family but remember to carry adequate water, food, and a map.
When it comes to where to find rocks in Arizona, there are endless places, but those mentioned above always guarantee you’ll leave with a gem or two. You can start or contribute to your rock array by visiting any of these fantastic rock hunting locations.
Arizona Rockhounding Resources
If you like to have a physical book in hand (like when there’s no cell service), here’s a few popular options:
Rockhounding Arizona: A Guide To 75 Of The State’s Best Rockhounding Sites
Southwest Treasure Hunter’s Gem and Mineral Guide
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