Rockhounding Delaware Beaches: A Visitor’s Guide To Hunting Rocks

Delaware isn’t exactly known for its rock hounding abilities, considering the state is small and has limited resources.

Delaware is made of sedimentary rocks holding fossils.

This can frustrate those who love to rockhound, so in this article, we’ll provide you with a guide to rockhounding at Delaware beaches for beginners and experts alike.

Rockhounding Delaware Beaches: A Visitor’s 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.

What Types of Rocks Does Delaware Have?

If you want to rockhound in Delaware, the best place is the Piedmont region.

It has metamorphic rocks that contain things like gneiss, sillimanite, and garnet.

Quartz is often found on beaches near Cape Henlopen.

Belemnites are found east of St. Georges.

Below, we’ve listed the types of rocks to look at and where to get them.

Sillimanite

Sillimanite rocks are a type of metamorphic rock that can be found in the Piedmont region of Delaware.

They are named after the American chemist Benjamin Silliman and are known for their elevated levels of alumina.

Sillimanite occurs in three colors: yellow, brown, and blue.

Unaltered single crystals of sillimanite are usually yellow.

They can come from high-grade metamorphic rocks and associated pegmatites.

Garnet

Garnets are often red, but can also be oranges, pinks, greens, blacks, and honey browns.

Garnets form from sedimentary rocks with elevated aluminum content, such as shale.

High heat and pressure can break the chemical bonds in the rocks and recrystallize them to make crystals.

Garnets can also be found in igneous rocks like granite and basalt.

Delaware is a wonderful place to find garnets because they can be found all along the coast.

The best place to find them is on the eastern side of the state, in the area known as the Piedmont region.

Here, you’ll find rocks made of metamorphic materials that contain garnet.

The colors of these garnets can vary depending on their origin, but they can be red or green.

Belemnites

Belemnite fossils are usually found on the beaches of St. Georges and Cape Henlopen State Park.

They come from an extinct class of marine animals that were squid-like creatures with ten arms.

The name “belemnite” comes from the Greek word Belemnon, which means “dart.”

They’re usually brown and are conical shaped with a hollow core.

The best place to find these fossils is in the dirt that got dredged up from the construction of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal.

If you search there, you will find a few of them.

Miocene Fossils

Miocene fossils are a type of rock that is commonly found on Delaware’s beaches.

These fossils are often over twenty million years old and can be found in a variety of colors, including black, white, red, and green.

They are usually made up of calcite, which gives them a colorful appearance.

The best time to find Miocene fossils is during low tide.

However, it’s important to be aware of the tides and always check before you head out.

You can find tide charts online or in local newspapers.

Some of the most common Miocene fossils that can be found on Delaware beaches include:

  • Ammonite
  • Belemnite
  • Nautilus
  • Gastropod (snail) shells

Where to Find Delaware Beaches for Rockhounding

The best place to find Delaware beaches for rockhounding is in the Piedmont region on the northern side of the state.

This region is rich in metamorphic rocks that contain quartz, sillimanite, garnet.

During low tide, look for them on the beaches.

Cape Henlopen State Park – “Cape May Diamonds” (Quartz)

If you’re trying to find quartz in Delaware, Cape Henlopen is the place to go!

This state park has a sedimentary layer of rocks that contain belemnites and other fossils from dinosaurs and ancient marine animals like mosasaurs and plesiosaurs.

You can find what is called a “Cape May Diamond” in this area.

Cape May Diamonds are formed when quartz crystals grow in a sedimentary environment.

They are usually found in sandstones from when they were still underwater millions of years ago.

Laurel – Bog Iron Ore

Best known for finding rocks within the creek gravels, Laurel is also a suitable place to find bog iron ore.

This mineral is a type of iron oxide and can be found as nodules or masses.

It’s usually black but can also be reddish-brown to yellow.

You can find bog iron ore along the banks of creeks and rivers throughout Delaware.

Fowler Beach – “Cape May Diamonds” (Quartz)

One of the most popular rockhounding destinations in Delaware is Fowler Beach.

Quartz can be found at this location, and it’s called “Cape May Diamonds”, even though it’s not a diamond.

It’s also an ideal spot for people to find fossils, which you might find if you’re patient and keeping your eyes open for any little pieces of rock that stand out against the rest.

Deauville Beach – “Cape May Diamonds” (Quartz)

Quartz crystals are the most recognizable mineral to people who have limited knowledge of rocks.

Minerals such as amethyst, hematite, and pyrite are also quite popular.

Quartz is a hard colorless or white-colored crystal that is both transparent and translucent.

It will sparkle in the sunlight from the embedded crystal faces because of this property.

The quartz variety called “cape may diamond” is found on Deauville Beach.

Do I Need a Four-Wheel Drive to Go Rock Hunting on Delaware Beaches?

No, you do not need a four-wheel-drive vehicle to rockhound on the beaches of Delaware.

However, it is important that you check the weather before going out and know what time the low tide will occur, so you can maximize your hunting time.

You might also want to consider bringing a shovel and bucket with you, as well as a magnifying glass so that you can inspect any rocks or fossils you find.

The best place to find Delaware beaches for rockhounding is in the Piedmont region on the northern side of the state.

This region is rich in metamorphic rocks that contain quartz, sillimanite, garnet.

During low tide, look for them on the beaches.

If you’re looking for “Cape May Diamonds” (quartz), then Laurel or Fowler Beach are your go-to spots!

No four-wheel drive is required either – just bring a shovel and bucket with you should any fossils be found while hunting rocks at these locations!

rockhounding delaware beaches