Rockhounding Near Durango, Colorado: Five Places to Hunt Rocks, Crystals and Fossils

If you’re looking for an ideal location for rockhounding minerals, crystals and fossils, then Durango, Colorado is a perfect choice.

In the following article, you’ll get information about Durango and some great locations to check out.

Rockhounding Near Durango, Colorado (A Visitor’s Guide)


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.

The attraction of Durango, Colorado is the mountain ranges and the vast diversity of geological digging sites that the city’s surrounding areas have to offer.

In every direction, you could stumble upon an old mine or prospective gemstone location that is a short ride from Durango. 

See also: A Guide To The Types Of Rocks Found In Colorado

Wolf Creek Pass

One of the top rockhounding locations near Durango is Wolf Creek Pass, which is located above Highway 60.

The site is approximately eight miles in length, so there is plenty of room to roam and find your ideal digging location. 

It is a series of rock cliffs that might be a little dangerous for newcomers to search for new treasures.

The terrain is rough, so wear proper hiking gear that allows you to move about without hesitation.

You do not need a permit to set up a digging site on location.

Local collectors would suggest beginning your search in the area beyond the designated parking area on the left. 

It is wise to bring your own rockhounding tools (pick, hammer and chisel) to dislodge desired gemstones. 

Just be careful of oncoming traffic before chipping away to claim a specimen on the side of the cliffs.

One misstep could result in an unearthed boulder landing on the highway and delaying traffic. 

Ultimately, Wolf Creek Pass is an ideal site for experienced collectors who are searching for minerals or nodules filled with crystals.

Other minerals found on the site’s grounds include agate, quartz and white natrolite.

The odds are high that you will add several specimens to your collection before the day ends.

El Duderino Trails

El Duderino Trails offer one of the steepest terrains in Colorado, so you may need to have advanced rockhounding skills.

Each of the multiple trails available is very narrow, with little room for error.

Still, El Duderino Trails boast some of the most beautiful crystals in the region.

Some of the specimens include smoky (gray, rose and purple color) quartz, topaz and other minerals.

All are in abundance throughout the site.

Another popular rock is amazonite (blue-green color), which is often associated with quartz.

Each comes in a wide range of sizes.

Both amazonite and quartz are quite popular throughout the state of Colorado. 

Newcomers can dig in any part of the El Duderino Trails and be rewarded with a beautiful gemstone for their effort. 

Keep in mind that the mountain ranges of Colorado were once at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.

The shifting of the earth’s plates pushed them above sea level.

Thus, the rocks and minerals that flowed downstream eventually surface on the paths of trails like El Duderino.

The Bureau of Land Management has several guidelines that all collectors must adhere to while on the site.

All public properties like El Duderino Trails are eligible to become collecting digging sites.

However, you can only gather gemstones and minerals for personal purposes.

Plus, all collectors can only gather 25 lbs. of specimens per day and 250 lbs. for the year.

The Bachelor-Syracuse Mine

In the 20th Century, the Bachelor-Syracuse Mine was a fully-functional mine that employed the majority of the Durango residents.

The region alone is the most centralized rockhounding location in Colorado.

You will have to travel approximately 1500 feet up the hills of Gold Mountain before reaching the Bachelor-Syracuse Mine.

You may have trouble driving a large vehicle to the mining site.

However, the additions to your collection might be worth the time and effort. 

The digging site has housed gold, silver and other metals since the 1800s. 

Today, the mine is officially closed to prospectors, but it is open for tours and guests to observe reenactments that depict the conditions of the mine from a century ago.

However, the area is still very robust with precious gemstones and other minerals as local collectors can be seen digging for specimens near the creek each day.

The stream provides an impressive collection of minerals that come from the Gold Mountain overhead.

Visitors feel the west side of the mountain is an ideal location for setting up a digging site.

There is no better feeling than unearthing a gemstone or mineral from one of the historical mining sites located in Colorado. 

Not a bad souvenir for your troubles. 

Old Hundred Mine

Old Hundred Mine is an excellent vein for gemstones and other minerals in Colorado’s rockhounding community.

It is located 13,000 feet above sea level in the plateau region of the Galena Mountains.

The road to the Old Hundred Mine is tight, with little room for one vehicle as you will make hairpin turns close to the mountain’s steep edges. 

The hiking terrain is hazardous, so take proper precautions when traveling in high elevated mountainous conditions.

The weather can be unpredictable and change in no time.

You will gain access to the mining site from the front of the mountainside.

If you have a phobia of heights, Old Hundred Mine might not be the ideal location for your rockhounding pleasures. 

Before it closed, the mining site unearthed silver, copper and gold for prospectors.

Today, all guests are allowed to dig or pan for minerals and metals with an onsite ticket purchase.

The minerals found near Old Hundred Mine include limonite and pyrite cubes.

Each specimen is bright with a near-perfect shape after being removed from the rock formation.

Local collectors have remarked the minerals found are quite large, which is rare for this area of Colorado.

However, their presence is ideal for newcomers as limonite and pyrite cubes can be easily found while chipping away at the rock formation. 

But, before beginning your new journey to Old Hundred Mine, remind yourself that the site is located at a high altitude.

So, take all the necessary precautions that come with rockhounding at a high elevation.

Newcomers to the region will succumb to altitude sickness.

It is important to stay hydrated and do not overwork yourself. If not, then your stamina will be sapped quickly. 

Adams Mines

The rock formation surrounding the Adam Mines is plentiful of garnet, quartz and other minerals. 

Also, the area is known for having an abundance of metals as local collectors have found gold and silver on their recent hunts. 

The region contains numerous veins that produce small pockets of quality mineral specimens. 

The area surrounding Adams Mines boasts the highest gemstone ratio in Colorado.

The mine is located in the town of Silverton, which is in the southwest region of the state.

Since the time when the mine was officially closed, the site has become a popular tourist attraction.

Next to the Adams Mines is an adjacent property that is home to mineralized quartz rocks, rhodochrosite crystals, fluorite and other quality specimens. 

See also: Can Rhodochrosite Go In Water?

Local collectors feel these flatlands are the best locations in the Silverton area.

The ideal digging site extends just over 17 miles away from the far side of the old mine.

Traveling to the Adams Mines is simple as you drive on the Million Dollar Highway out of Durango.

The only challenge will be navigating the roads during the winter months.

At times, you will encounter a steep decline which becomes hazardous in icy weather conditions.

Do not be alarmed, but your vehicle may slide off around from time to time. 

Wrap Up

Here is just a glimpse into the best rockhounding locations near Durango, Colorado.

All of the sites offer a distinct challenge of collecting rock, crystals and fossils.

Each of the named locations is worth the time and effort to visit.

Plus, newcomers to rockhounding will come away with a memorable experience of traveling to these new destinations. 


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rockhounding near durango