If you’re considering rockhounding in Louisiana, keep in mind that the locations are changing all the time due to things like depletion caused by other collectors, or construction in those locations, amongst other things.
With that in mind, it’s essential to specify that Louisiana prides itself on its mineral, fossil, and gemstone resources, and there are a few places worth mentioning – although they are far from being the only ones.
Rockhounding Louisiana: A Guide
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.
Louisiana’s surface topography comprises mainly sedimentary rocks, which limits rockhounding.
However, that’s not to say there aren’t any remarkable rocks in the state! Louisiana prides itself on being rich in petrified palm wood, agate, and agatized corals, amongst other things.
Located in central Louisiana, Vernon Parish is home to the opalized palm, a gemstone formed from trees in the Oligocene Epoch roughly 20 million years ago.
Furthermore, alongside Rapides Parish, Vernon Parish prides itself on being one of the few places in the country where you can find petrified palm wood.
And though Louisiana was not home to many dinosaurs back in the day, some searchers may be lucky enough to even come across the gem bone, one of the rarest fossils in the world.
This fossil dates back to the Jurassic Age, roughly 150 million years ago, and finding it is rare but not impossible.
Yet, if you don’t find that rare fossil, rest assured that there’s much more you can see, as Vernon Parish is also home to Jasper, silicate wood, and Coprolites.
Within the area’s regional stream gravels, you may be able to find Palmoxylon, also known as Silicified palm wood.
Vernon Parish is also known for its resources in agate, Louisiana’s state mineral. Interestingly enough, for 35 years between 1976 and 2011, agate was the state’s official gemstone until Act 232 of the state legislature named it Louisiana’s official state mineral.
The best places to find agate are in the creek beds and country roads on the western side of Vernon Parish.
Before visiting Vernon Parish, it’s essential to understand which months are better, so your trip can be more enjoyable.
Summers in Louisiana can be unbearably hot and long, whereas winters tend to be short but cold.
Therefore, the best months for visiting Vernon Parish are April, May, September, and October.
Getting there is relatively simple. There are four airports nearby: Alexandria International Airport, Leesville City Airport, and Lake Charles Regional Airport; one train service: AMTRAK 100 Ryan St.; and multiple bus and taxi services, making it a do-able trip, regardless of the part of the country from which you’re coming.
Located in Vernon Parish, the Catahoula Formation is rich in petrified palm wood and opalized palm.
The former, petrified palm wood, is also known as Palmoxylon, Louisiana’s official state fossil, and is one of the great reasons to visit the Catahoula Formation.
It formed millions of years ago due to fallen trees that, before decomposing, got buried in sediments rich in minerals from volcanic ash.
Another reason to add the Catahoula Formation to your list of rockhounding destinations is the Louisiana opal, a type of sandstone formed of sand bound together by clear opal.
The best time of the year for visiting the Catahoula Formation is between February and November because the temperatures are higher than the rest of the year, and there is little precipitation in those months.
With an oceanic climate, it’s crucial to know that there is rain in this area throughout the year, with 103 inches of rain annually.
However, the smallest quantities are between February and November.
You can catch a four-hour flight from Los Angeles International Airport to reach this destination. Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport (BTR) and Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) are two other airports closer to this region.
St. Tammany Parish
If agate is what you’re after, make sure to include St. Tammany Parish on your list of rockhounding destinations.
More specifically, north of the city of Covington, toward the Amite River, eastward from the Mississippi River.
And if you’re searching for sedimentary rocks, you can find limestone, shale, and clay within St. Tammany Parish.
However, before starting your trip, it’s vital to remember that the locations of rocks may be continuously changing for several reasons.
For example, depletion caused by other collectors or construction in those locations may affect the quantity, quality, or even the presence of rocks, minerals, or crystals in the area.
That’s not to say your trip is in vain if you cannot find what you were searching for; it’s just another element for you to consider.
Within the eastward area of St. Tammany Parish, toward the Amite River, you should be able to find limestone, as well as shale and clay.
Located in Louisiana, a state known for its humidity, St. Tammany Parish gets 60% more rain annually than the rest of the country.
This is a critical element to consider before planning your trip. Like Vernon Parish, the best time to visit this location is between April and May and between September and October to avoid the high summer temperatures, precipitation, and winter cold.
Located in the St. Tammany Parish, this is an ideal location for finding gemstones in Louisiana and is probably the best-known place in the state for hunting agate.
When rockhounding in Louisiana, rivers, stream bars, and gravels are great places to start your search, and the Amite River is no exception.
The best time of the year to visit this location is between February and May, as the temperatures at the beginning of this period are cool, then gradually warm up, avoiding those unbearably hot Louisiana summer days.
Furthermore, these months are ideal due to the lower chances of precipitation and the smaller crowds of tourists excited to visit Louisiana in the summer.
Having fewer tourists also means that accommodation costs are usually lower this time of the year.
Furthermore, keep in mind that starting your search several days after rain may be the way to go because, once the water levels recede, gemstones may become exposed and easier to find.
Before considering rockhounding, you need to understand that Louisiana’s rocks, minerals, or crystals resources are limited compared to other states.
But you’ll find this state a hidden gem if you focus on what you can find. Louisiana prides itself on diverse rocks, gems, and minerals, from clay and limestone to agate and petrified palm wood.