Cave Creek provides some of the best experiences in rockhounding you will ever find in the northeast of Phoenix.
In this article you’ll get some tips and information about visiting Cave Creek for the first time.
Rockhounding Cave Creek (Tips For First Time Visitors)
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.
At the heart of Maricopa County in Arizona lies the town of Cave Creek, with about 5000 people living there. The closest city is Phoenix, Ariz.
The Sonoran desert landscape around Cave Creek will give you an opportunity to find a trove of rocks, minerals, and crystals such as quartz, agate, and precious metals.
The place happens to be a little more developed in its locations than it used to be, but this is no reason not to enjoy the sights while adding collections to your list of rocks and minerals.
Here are some sections highlighting all the information about rockhounding in Cave Creek, Az for a fulfilling experience.
Making Your Visit to Cave Creek, AZ Successful
Planning Your Visit
Cave Creek is more than just “one” place.
Cave Creek is the town, as well as two waterways.
It is best to get an idea of a few spots to plan to hunt for rocks in advance of driving out of the town of Cave Creek into the wild.
Some potential examples include along the banks of Cave Creek itself, the areas around local mines (such as Red Rover and Go John Mine), around the campgrounds, along hiking trails, near the reservoir, and more.
Seven Springs is particularly popular.
If you need more ideas about where to go in the Cave Creek area, we recommend that you carry Gem Trails of Arizona.
Disclosure: Links to products in this article are to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you.
Make sure to get a good topo map of the area, or have it preloaded into your phone or GPS so that you can navigate around once you leave the town area.
If you are planning on hiking off trail and cross country (which many rockhounders do), it’s a good idea to drop a pin on your GPS at the location of your vehicle so you can find your way back.
Double check to make sure the areas you plan to scour for rocks are not private property.
Bringing The Tools You Need
Rockhounding in places as arid as Cave Creek is technically difficult with only your hands because the rocks are still intact and harder to break for examination/collection.
While there are some areas you can just surface hunt (like beachcombing or walking the gravel bars along streams), this trip is one where it would help to have a rock hammer, chisel, spray bottle with water, large bucket, and a shovel of some size (though a hand shovel can help).
We’d also recommend a decent sized pack for your gear and any specimens, some zip lock bags to keep your finds organized and separate, sturdy boots, thick gloves. and safety glasses if you are going to dig or try to break apart rock.
If you need more information about rockhounding tools, check out this article.
Plan For The Environment
Cave Creek weather can be dramatic.
This is not a place where you’d want to get caught out in the direct sun at mid-day during the hottest time of the year, nor would you want to get caught in a storm.
Make sure to check the weather before you go. Let someone know where you plan to go and when you intend to be back so they can raise the alarm if you do not check in on time.
We also recommend that you:
- Carry and drink lots of water to avoid dehydration during the trip, and leave extra water in your vehicle for when you return.
- Fill up your gas tank before you leave town to avoid getting stranded off the beaten path.
- Pack some extra food and some blankets in the car.
- Wear light clothing to reduce the effects of the heat and direct sun. Wear a hat. Consider using an umbrella to keep the sun off of you.
- Pay attention to the wildlife. Wasps and other stinging insects may attack if you disturb them while hiking off trail or digging in the ground or under dead wood. Keep an eye out for snakes and scorpions. Wear pants and close-toed shoes to avoid bites.
Digging For Specimens
Depending on what you are hunting (and where you are hunting), you may find float on the surface or not.
While every polite rock hunter should fill in any holes he makes, those leftover open pits can be a good place to start if you aren’t sure where to dig.
Don’t be afraid to take your hammer to big chunks to see what is inside.
But make sure to avoid applying your hammer to ledges where material could fall down upon you, or where your hammering would mar the beauty of the hike for others.
And while you might be annoyed by the other people out on the trail, with rockhounding in a place you’ve never visited before, that can be a good place to start.
Keep an eye on the people who are more familiar with the area, and don’t be afraid to initiate some small talk with other hunters to get other ideas about areas off the books to explore.
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
Disclosure: These are links to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you.
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