Rockhounding Bear Lake, Utah/Idaho: 3 Must-Visit Ideas For Those Who Love Rocks and Travel

Utah is rich in minerals and rocks. It is a rock hounds dream.

Some of the rocks and minerals that can be found in this region include copper, coal, silver, and gold.

Minerals that can be traced in this region include limestone, magnesium, phosphate, potash, zinc, uranium, tugnsten, gravel, stone, salt, potassium, and vanadium to mention but a few. 

Rockhounding Bear Lake (A Guide)

Disclaimer

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.

Why do travel hounders travel to Bear Lake to hunt rocks/ fossils? 

Idaho is known as the gem state. It’s no wonder that rock hounds travel to this area in search of special finds.

In Idaho, most of the land is administered by the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the Department of Lands.

Permits are required for most of the excavation by amateur geologists. 

The state of Idaho is known for the Star Garnet gem.

Bear Lake county is rich in minerals and other types of stones that attract rock hounds from all regions of the country.

Bear Lake County School District 33, Idaho

This location is situated on the northeastern side of Bear Lake, Idaho.

It is a 2.5 mile drive, approximately eight minutes from Idaho State Park, north beach.

Rock hounds can expect to find hot springs phosphate deposits at this location.

There are various hotels, lodges, and cabins in the nearby area that will host guests on the trip.

The area has bicycle-friendly roads and dirt/unpaved trails. 

Directions

  • Drivers should head east on North Beach road towards Eastshore Rd.
  • Then turn right onto Eastshore Rd.
  • Make a quick left turn and drive for approximately 0.5 miles until you reach the destination.

GPS coordinates:

42°06’20.8″N 111°15’10.4″W

42.105780, -111.252898

Blackstone Mine, Bear River Range, Bear Lake Co., Idaho, USA

The mine is located west of Idaho State Park, north beach. It is a 15 minute, 9.3 mile drive.

Rock hounds can expect to find the following in this area:

The area falls under the description of a natural forest.

Rock hounds should wear comfortable shoes.

Directions:

  • Drivers should head west on Beach Rd.
  • Make a right turn onto US-89 N/Main St.
  • Take a left onto Minnetonka Cave Rd
  • Then make the first left turn 
  • The destination will be on the right side.

GPS coordinates:

42.110780522642955, -111.45047406809375

Cambrian Dolomite Occurrence (St. Charles Creek Dolomite Deposit), St. Charles Area, Bear Lake Co., Idaho, USA

The area can be described as rocky mountain terrain.

Rock hounds can expect to find Ore mineralization at this location.

This site has historically been linked to Charles Creek.

The major commodity on this site is Magnesite.

The site is located west of North Beach State Park, Idaho.

It is a 15 minute, 9.7 mile drive.

There are unpaved trails and bicycle-friendly roads along this area.

There are various hotels, lodges, and cabins in the area that will host rock hounds.

Rock hounds can expect to find the following at this site:

  • Dolomite
  • Magnesite
  • Ore mineralization

Directions:

  • Drivers should head west on N Beach Rd.
  • Make a right turn to merge with US-89 N/Main St.
  • Then make a left turn onto Minnetonka Cave Rd.

 GPS coordinates:
42.11382,-111.38882

A well-prepared rock hound knows that tools are extremely important in digging out the rocks and minerals from the designated area.

While collecting rocks can be a simple task.

You could go into your backyard and collect any rock that you find unique or special.

This is the very first phase of the hobby.

However, the more you specialize in this hobby, the more specialized tools you will need.

Here are some key tools most rockhounds will need to get the job done.

Tools required

  • Gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Rock hammers
  • Rock chissels
  • Rock screen sifter
  • Blacklights/ Ultraviolet Lamps
  • Brushes

The Best Time Of Day/Year For A Rockhounder To Visit Bear Lakes, Idaho

The best time of year to rock hound in Idaho would be during the summer months from the 1st of May through the 30th of September.

Idaho experiences very chilly winters with a lot of snowfall. This can make it quite difficult for a rock hound to find the stones, rocks, and gems they may be looking for. It also makes it much harder to excavate the site. While it is possible to rock hound during the winter months, it is just more convenient during the summer months. 

Traveling to Bear Lake, Idaho and accommodation options

The sites for rock hounding are accessible along many of the main roads surrounding the area. US-89 North will take you straight to the site located to the northwest of the lake.

It is a 19 minute drive along 4.7 miles of highway.

Another site is just over an hour away which is also accessible via the US-89 highway. Take the turn off West Idaho 36 West. 

The area has a variety of accommodation available, including campgrounds, lodges, RV parks, holiday rental homes, and bed and breakfast facilities. 

A side note

It is important to note that collecting is not prohibited or restricted but there are rules to adhere to.

Rock hounds may only make use of hand tools.

No specialized equipment may be used.

Rocks may only be extracted for personal use.

No commercial excavation is permitted. Rock hounds should be considered because of the fact that only reasonable quantities may be removed.

You may remove rocks as long as you don’t cause too much of a disturbance to the area. 

Rock hounds are advised to always check land ownership before planning trips.

The area contains thousands of abandoned mines.

Rock hounds are advised against going into these mines as they may pose many dangerous hazards such as cave-ins and dangerous fumes.

It is important to note that in the state of Idaho, a permit is required when collecting decorative stones such as lava rocks and river cobbles. 

Conclusion

Knowing where to rock hound and what you need is half the fun.

The best and most thrilling part of rock hounding is the part where you actually find beautiful stones, gems, and mineral deposits.

The greater Idaho area offers rock hounds a variety of gems, rocks, and minerals to discover.

Proper planning and knowledge is the area is critical before going out to excavate. 

rockhounding bear lake