Rockhounding Las Cruces, New Mexico: Places To Hunt Rocks, Crystals, and Fossils

New Mexico has a rich variety of fossil elements, gems, minerals, and rocks, awaiting their being picked up and added to an amazing collection.

However, it is trite to be conversant with the right location, so as not to end up disappointed with the results.

Compiled below is a very interesting list of the best sites near La Cruces to find beautiful specimens.

Rockhounding Las Cruces, New Mexico


The information provided in this article by 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.

1. Rockhound State Park, Deming

Rockhounding in New Mexico isn’t whole without acknowledging this amazing state park.

It is one of the few state parks that encourages the collection and keeping of samples by tourists and visitors.

Rockhound state park, its name derived from the abundance of minerals in that area, lies on the slope of the little Florida mountain, west of La Cruces, 13 miles from Deming.

The park is known for its two separate units, one of which is the Rockhound park occupying a 349-acre land space, and the other, the spring canyon area.

There are a plethora of jaspers, which primarily come in 4 colors at the park: orange, orange-brown, pink, and gold.

You can also find geodes, slate gray marble-like nodules, limestone, thundereggs, quartz crystals, obsidian, and many other similar minerals.

The prettiest gemstones can be found under the group of prickly cacti.

They are glittery black gemstones that catch in the light.

The most preferable period to go rock hounding in the Rockhound state park is the monsoon season after the rains dry up.

Collection of samples is permitted. However, visitors are not permitted to take more than a few rocks with them, thus needing nothing more than a 12-inch rock hammer.

2. Kilbourne Hole, Texas

The Kilbourne hole is the result of a volcanic eruption, located in between the Potrillo Mountains and the Rio Grande, Southern Dona Ana county, a little over one hour from La Cruce.

The Kilbourne hole, also known as a maar, is known for its abundance of crustal and mantle xenoliths which were ejected from the earth during the volcanic eruption.

You will also find peridot crystals, available in only this part of the state, and obsidian, if you are lucky enough.

To find a large quantity of peridot, you have to walk to the spot where the basalt rocks are lying.

You might also have to chip at the rocks to discover if there are peridots inside them.

A very good hammer is most needed for this task.

However, collection of materials is not allowed at Kilbourne Hole, as it is now an Organ Mountains National Monument.

If you are planning on visiting this beautiful site, it is best you go in an AWD or a 4×4 vehicle, as a result of the sandy roads.

3. Jarilla Mountains, Otero County

The Jarilla Mountains are a small ambit of mountains in Southern Mexico, the mines being the real deal.

The Orogrande Mining District in the Jarilla Mountains was once a producer of gold, silver-lead, and iron.

Presently, there, you can find a very lengthy list of collectible materials, among which are garnets, pyrite, quartz, malachite, large euhedral orthoclase crystals, and epidote.

The Jarilla mountains are also one of the best places to dig for turquoise, certain gemstones, and ore samples.

It must, however, be noted that this mine has a placer claim and patented loads.

Hence, unsupervised and unpermitted collections are not allowed.

It is advisable to obtain permission first before any collection takes place.

4. Shakespeare Ghost Town, Hidalgo county

Shakespeare ghost town is an American ghost town entirely built on and devoted to mining, located 2 hours away from La Cruces.

The population of the town decreased in 1920, after the collapse of her mining industry.

However, it remains a great site for rock hounding. It is now a privately owned national historical site.

There have been a lot of tales about discovered minerals, particularly in the areas where the mine was previously located.

You can find malachite, azurite, chrysocolla, and copper ore in Shakespeare ghost town. It offers you a shot at intriguing materials. Find areas where digging has been commenced for easier perusal.

Shakespeare ghost town cannot be visited without the presence and supervision of a tour guide.

Thus, no collection of materials can be made without being granted permission.

5. City of Rocks State Park, New Mexico

The City of Rocks state park, whose name is derived from the intriguing rock formation resulting from a volcanic eruption, is located between Silver City and Deming.

These rock formations form huge boulders that are as high as 40 feet.

The kneeling Non-Tuff is the most unique feature of the City of Rocks, as it is composed of mineral crystals, and pumice.

This particular specimen also has glassy grains of quartz, potassium feldspar, and biotite mica.

There are also a few pink and yellow rocks, an effect of iron dioxide during the eruption.

Hornblende crystals and sanidine can also be found if closely sought.

The City of Rocks state Park is a little more than an hour’s drive from La Cruces.

6. North Organ Mountains, La Cruces

The organ mountains are a beautiful assembly of mountains, forming a pattern along the east of the Rio Grande.

The mine at the north of the Organ Mountains is the only easy-to-reach and accessible mine there.

It is the former area of the Memphis mine.

There is an abundance of mineral dumping in the mine, with a plethora of white marble and coarse calcite.

There are also massive garnet-rich rocks, individual crystals, oxidized hard rocks, and malachite.

The oxidized rocks are dark brown limonite, with a high iron content.

Memphis mine is open at any season of the year, as there are no visible gates or fences.

The sites mentioned above are great places to see minerals and rocks.

At all times, pay attention to the provision of the law pertaining to rock hounding, and be careful about loose rocks.

It is trite to note also, that access to some of these sites needs to be granted before you can visit and add to your collection.

Rockhounding Resources

If you like having a physical book in hand (especially good when you have no cell service), check out:

Rockhounding New Mexico (140 Sites To Check Out)

Rockhounding New Mexico (by Stephen Voynick)

Roadside Geology of Mexico

Gem Trails of New Mexico

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Rockhounding Las Cruces