Mexico is a country know for its food, music, weather, and natural beauty, which makes it one of the best places in the world to go on vacation.
The natural beauty of Mexico has also made it one of the best places in the world to travel for rock hunting.
Rock collecting is one of the most popular hobbies to take up for good reason.
The beauty and history that comes with geology makes it a fascinating subject that offers something for almost anyone.
Where To Go Rockhounding In Mexico
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.
Check the most recent laws about bringing rocks as souvenirs back with you, or look into sending them ahead of you via mail.
Cerro de la Silla in Monterrey
Monterrey is the capital of Nuevo León, a state in the Northeast of Mexico.
It’s actually the second largest city in all of Mexico.
Economically and culturally this is a powerhouse of a city, definitely worth visiting.
Geographically, Monterrey is absolutely beautiful. It sits at the foothills of the Sierra Madre Oriental mountain range.
Surrounding the city is forest and mountainous terrain, where waterfalls and, of course, geological finds.
Cerro de la Silla is a specific mountain that falls within the Monterrey city limits.
It has a saddle shape that gives it the name Cerro de la Silla, which can be translated to ‘hill of the chair.’
Along with being a gorgeous mountain, it’s listed as a natural monument in Mexico.
This makes it a very popular spot for tourists from around the world.
Essentially, there are four summits to climb, with Pico Antena and Pico Norte being the easier two to climb.
It’s best to visit during the cooler winter months, when the heat will be more manageable.
One of the reasons that it has become so popular is the ability to rock hunt on Cerro de la Silla.
The Sierra Madre Occidental range that encompasses Cerro de la Silla is known for its gorgeous geology.
This includes Azurite and Malachite.
Malachite is a gorgeous green and black copper carbonate hydroxide mineral, while Azurite is also a copper mineral, but it is softer and blue.
Also in this range, among many other specimens, is Sonora Sunset.
This is a beautiful red and blue rock that you won’t want to leave Mexico without.
Whether you’re going strictly for rockhounding Mexico, or if you’re interested in blending rockhounding with touring Mexico for the country’s culture, taking the time to visit Monterrey and going for a hike on the Cerro de la Silla is an opportunity to find gorgeous rocks.
San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas
In the Central Highlands of Chiapas you will find the town of San Cristóbal de las Casas.
This is a major city in terms of its cultural impertinence to the region, which is naturally mountainous by its nature.
Generally speaking, the warm climate and cultural landmarks in San Cristóbal de las Casas make it a great place to travel for tourists.
However, there is also great areas to explore geologically speaking.
It’s just important to remember that this region is incredibly mountainous, and the altitude can lead to the temperature dropping rapidly.
Among the mountains of the region is Huitepec.
What distinguishes Huitepec from other mountains is that it’s a volcano.
This contributes to a high rate of rocks made from this volcanic activity in the region. This includes various types of igneous rocks.
Mexican Amber is also common in this region, though mines for it are not within the city limits, this makes San Cristóbal de las Casas a great starting point for anyone who is interested in amber.
After all, Mexican Amber is also known as Chiapas Amber for a reason, it’s very prevalent in the region.
In Chiapas, the largest Amber mine is in Simojovel.
That’s about a three-hour drive from San Cristóbal de las Casas, but because there is less to do outside the mines in Simojovel than in San Cristóbal de las Casas, it is probably a good idea to make the drive early in the morning before you head in that direction.
For the casual tourist interested, this is also a great region of Mexico to tour for the cloud forests and Mayan ruins.
The amber in Chiapas is about 25 million years old and is similar to amber in the Dominican Republic. It is also considered vital to the economy of the region.
The Mexican state of Durango is in the North-Central region of Mexico, and it is completely landlocked.
It is considered a semi-desert and is one of the least densely populated regions in all of Mexico.
Other regions of the state are more humid and like a tropical environment.
Durango, like most of Mexico, is mountainous, blending hills and valleys.
You aren’t going to find many tourists in Durango.
The same way you wouldn’t see a ton of tourists traveling to the American Plains.
The city of Mapimi isn’t the capital of Durango, or even one of the biggest cities.
It’s still a place that you absolutely should visit if you have any interest in geology, though.
That’s because Mapimi is home to one of the most important mines in Mexico.
It’s called the Oujula Mine, and among other minerals this is where Adamite is widely mined.
When it’s pure, Adamite is clear, but it often gets yellow and green hues as it becomes less pure.
Of course, there is more than just Adamite in Mapimi.
Legrandite, Calcite, and Scorodite are among the different minerals that you can find in the area around Oujula.
Mapimi is a great trip for anyone with an interest in minerals and geology.
It’s just that because of how rural this area is, it’s its own kind of trip. Mapimi has a population between 5,000-6,000 people.
That’s an absolutely microscopic population as far as places people normally travel to are concerned.
You will need to drive to get here, while a train can take you out to Oujula.
However, for anyone with a love of minerals, this is a can’t miss area in Mexico.
Copper Canyon and Chihuahua as a Whole
Chihuahua is both a city and a state in Northwestern Mexico.
The state of Chihuahua is named after the Chihuahua Desert, but there is more than just desert in the state, as there are more forests in Chihuahua than any other Mexican state.
This gives it a blend of different ecological regions, and with this comes a blend of different geological formations.
Agate is one of the most popular rocks to search for in all of Mexico.
That’s because it is an absolutely gorgeous gemstone.
Typically, formed in volcanic and metamorphic rocks, Agate is particularly common in Mexico because of the high number of volcanoes that go through the middle of the country.
Like many other popular areas to look for rocks in Mexico, this has led to a lot of Agave being found in the state of Chihuahua. This includes Fire Agate.
Depending on where you go in Chihuahua, there are different finds that you could make.
For on the Cavira Peridot-Olivine Mines are an important site to find different ores and rocks. For one, and as the name implies, Olivine is found here.
This magnesium iron silicate is not uncommon in the mantle, but it does weather quickly above ground.
Olivine being the mineral of peridot comes from does give it decent value to be aware of when you’re dealing with it.
More popular than the mines is Copper Canyon.
Copper Canyon is a series of six canyons in Chihuahua, which are actually deeper than the Grand Canyon.
Due to how Copper Canyon was formed, the majority of the rocks owe their origins to volcanic activity.
In fact besides the bottom of the canyon, the rocks are made from explosive volcanic ash flows, ash falls, and mudflow breccias that were deposited there tens of millions of years ago.
Tourism to Copper Canyon is incredibly popular, with people choosing to visit and tour by horse, hiking, and bike.
It is in a remote region, and is best to get their by driving a car. However, it’s certainly worth the drive.
Cave of the Crystals
The Naica Mine is in Chihuahua’s municipality of Saucillo.
It’s famous for its mining of lead, zinc, and silver. Now, that’s definitely interesting for you if you have an interest in geology, but that’s not the real reason to visit.
You are going to want to visit the Naica Mine because it is attached to the Cave of Crystals.
The Cave of Crystals is a 109 ft long chamber of a cave made of limestone.
In it are the extraordinarily large selenite crystals. Those crystals are said to have been formed by being 2-3 miles above a fault and magma chamber.
Groundwater saturated with sulfide ions.
The densities between the cool surface water and this heated water that was saturated with minerals.
As oxygen diffused into the heated water it oxidized with sulfides.
As the temperature dropped and time went on the sulfite crystallized.
There is also the Cave of Swords in this area, which is less well known despite being older because its crystals were developing for less time.
This left them at only about a meter long and less impressive than the Cave of Crystals.
The Cave of Crystals is actually a relatively new discovery, only being found when it was drilled into in 2000.
Today there are scientists working on the Naica Project who are studying it extensively.
It’s also worth pointing out that you need to be careful of hypothermia when you visit the Naica Mine.
The maximum temperature in the caves and mines is only 58 degrees Fahrenheit.
They also have 100% humidity. This makes them dangerous to tourists, who become susceptible to hypothermia.
That isn’t to say don’t go, because this is a truly remarkable site that you should see. Rather, it’s just a warning to be careful when you do go.
Veracruz and Guerrero
Veracruz is one of the most popular states in Mexico for tourists to visit.
After all, it lies along the Eastern Coast of Mexico and enjoys tropical weather along the Gulf of Mexico.
Like most of Mexico, Veracruz is mountainous and has volcanoes from the Trans-Mexican Volcano Belt.
These mountains, along with all the rivers in Veracruz make the region a great place to go for hikes and spend time outside looking for geological finds.
Guerrero, meanwhile, also is on the coastline, but it is a state on the Pacific Ocean.
Just like Veracruz, it is popular with tourists of every persuasion.
The Triangle of the Sun is a grouping of three municipalities, with Acapulco being the primary of the three.
Guerrero also offers amazing archeological finds and beautiful nature walks.
Besides being popular with tourists for their climate and beauty, these two states have one very important thing in common.
They produce the best amethyst in the world.
In Veracruz, the Amethyst is generally clear with a lavender color. It’s also often free floating and doubly terminated.
The Guerrero variety of amethyst is a bit different from that of the Veracruz amethyst in that it’s darker.
It’s also the most valuable Amethyst in the world.
For anyone with a love of Amethyst or gems of any kind, these two states are a must visit.
It’s just important to not mistake amethyst for Creedite, which looks familiar and is also common in Mexico.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with Creedite, but it’s also probably not what you’re looking for in either Veracruz or Guerrero.
The great thing about these two states is that they’re already popular to travel to for tourists.
There are plenty of international airports to fly into, hotels to stay at, and transportation available to use in both of these states.
This makes this a much easier trip than to somewhere like Mapimi.
Mexico has a rich geological history that makes it a great country for rockhounding, and as long as you prepare before you go, you should being able to find treasure troves of gems, minerals, and other exciting finds.
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