Nevada was one of the most famous areas for silver discovery in the 1800’s.
Therefore, it has a plethora of mines to discover along with deserts, mountains, lakes and rivers.
All of these locations make Reno and its surrounding areas a fantastic place to find an incredible array and volume of rocks.
Rock and mineral hunting around Reno is all but guaranteed to grow your rock collection substantially with some beautiful and unique rocks and minerals.
Rockhounding Near Reno, Nevada (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.
We’ve compiled some fantastic places within two hours of the city limits for you to go rockhounding near Reno!
1. Crystal Peak Mine in Dog Valley
The Crystal Peak Mine is located in the Dog Valley Mining District and is about 13 miles outside of Reno.
During World War II, the Crystal Peak Mine was an extremely important site for mining quartz for our military to use for two-way radios.
Today, it is a campground and park.
- Collection Limit – You can collect up to five gallons of treasure here per week, per family
- What kind of rocks/minerals/crystals are located at Crystal Peak?
The Nightingale exit is located about 45 minutes outside of Reno off of Highway 80.
Once you hit the Nightingale exit, follow the local roads for about another 30 minutes to reach the Fossil Hill Site and surrounding areas, where you can find a plethora of agate and some fossils as well!
- What kind of rocks/minerals/crystals are located in Nightingale?
- Red Moss Agate
- Green Moss Agate
- Fossils that can be up to a million years old, including spiral and round shells, clam shells and limpides
3. Wonderstone Mountain (also called Rainbow Mountain)
Wonderstone Mountain is in Churchill County, just east of Fallon.
It is made of wonderstone, which is a volcanic rock composed mostly of volcanic glass particles that have been welded together.
It has layered red and white stones and is highly contrasted.
- There are three different rockhounding locations to be found here: Wonderstone Mountain A, Wonderstone Mountain B and Green Mountain.
- There are many active private claims in this area, so make sure you aren’t rockhounding on a private claim before you start collecting your rocks, gems, and minerals.
- The area is full of horned and fence lizards. These types of lizards blend really easily into the ground, so watch your step to avoid squishing one!
- What kind of rocks/minerals/crystals are located on Wonderstone Mountain?
4. Lahonton Reservoir
The Lahonton State Recreation area is located in Fallon, about an hour away from Reno.
Lahonton is part of an ancient glacial lake that has nearly all but evaporated – the only current lakes that remain from this massive ancient lake are the Lahonton Reservoir, Pyramid Lake and Walker Lake.
- The park is always open and requires a $5 entrance fee; camping is permitted here as well.
- Lahonton is home to a variety of wildlife and is also a nesting site for bald eagles.
- What kind of rocks/minerals/crystals are located at the Lahonton Reservoir?
- Petrified Wood
5. White Lake and Cold Spring Valley:
White Lake is located in the Cold Spring Valley about 20 minutes outside of Reno, just off of Route 395.
White Lake is actually dry most of the time, which makes it easier for rock hounding!
Sometimes during the spring months the lake will have water in it, if you get lucky enough to visit when there is water in the lake, concentrate your search along the shoreline.
- What kind of rocks/minerals/crystals are located at White Lake and Cold Spring Valley?
Sparks sits just east of Reno. It is one of the largest cities by population in Nevada.
The surrounding area draws and washes are a great place to find rocks and minerals.
Simply explore the areas right around and outside of town to discover your treasures!
- What kind of rocks/minerals/crystals are located in and around Sparks?
7. Virginia City
Located about 30 minutes south of Reno by way ofI I-580S and NV-341, you’ll find Virginia City.
Virginia City and its surrounding areas are one of the best places in this region of Nevada for rockhounding.
There are a ton of historical buildings and museums, there are even haunted buildings in Virginia City.
Virginia City began as an old west town that had a huge silver ore discovery called the Comstock Lode in 1859.
- There is a Visitors Center in Virginia City that is open all year long, seven days a week.
- There are a variety of mines and mills in Virginia City to check out including:
- C&C Shaft
- Combination Shaft
- The Ward Mine
- The Sierra Nevada Mine
- The Mexican Mill
- What kind of rocks/minerals/crystals are located in and around Virginia City?
8. Castle Peak Mine
The Castle Peak Mine is located in Storey county.
It is a part of the Castle Peak Mining District, which is part of the Toiyabe National Forest.
- What kind of rocks/minerals/crystals are located in or near Castle Peak?
9. Silver City
Located approximately 41 miles southeast of Reno, Silver City is easy to get to by taking a quick drive on I-580S.
Silver City features historic structures and was also important during the silver mining boom in Nevada history.
The local schoolhouse in Silver City was an archeological dig site.
There are a ton of areas around Silver City to explore, including the Silver City Mining district.
Visit the Daney Mine and Mill, the Rock Point Mine and take the Chollar Mine Tour to get a real feel for what Silver City was like back in its heyday.
- What kind of rocks/minerals/crystals are located in and around Silver City?
- Other iron minerals
10. Carson City
Carson City is located just about 30 miles south of Reno, off of I-580S.
Carson City is not just the capital of Nevada, it’s also the sixth largest city in the state and it became an important city after the discovery of the Comstock Lode.
Carson City has a number of parks and historic locations to explore, as well as a variety of mines, including the Carson Mine.
- What kind of rocks/minerals/crystals are located in and around Carson City?
11. Pine Nut Mountains
Take a quick hour drive southeast from Reno and you’ll find the Pine Nut Mountains, including Mount Siegel, which stands 9,456 feet tall.
The mountain range stretches over 30 miles, going from north to south.
The mountain range features huge granite cliffs and enormous rock formations.
ATV’s are a very useful tool when exploring the Pine Nut Mountains.
- What kind of rocks/minerals/crystals are located on and around the Pine Nut Mountains?
12. Churchill Butte (the SE side)
Located 45 miles outside of Reno, Churchill Butte is near Stagecoach.
It does have a a dirt road that goes all the way up to the summit.
There are incredible views to be seen from the peak and the surrounding areas.
The best time to hike Churchill Butte is in November through March, since summer is typically too hot to spend much time out in the sun there.
If you are visiting Churchill Butte by way of the Fort Churchill Historic State Park, you’ll have to pay a $5 visitors fee.
- What kind of rocks/minerals/crystals are located near Churchill Butte?
- Tungsten Materials
13. Talapoosa Mine
43 miles to the east of Reno in Lyon County, you’ll find the Tallapoosa Mine, which is part of the Ramsey Mining District.
The site was discovered in 1864 and features surface and underground mines.
There are active claims to be aware of here.
- What kind of rocks/minerals/crystals are located at and near Tallapoosa Mines?
14. Walker Lake
Walker Lake is approximately 75 miles southwest of Reno and is located in Mineral County.
Walker Lake is managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
Walker Lake, along with Lahontan and Pyramid Lakes, was part of the massive ancient glacial lake that filled this area historically.
Walker Lake has dried up several times during its history. Lots of rocks and fossils can be found on the shores and the surrounding areas of Walker Lake.
- What kind of rocks/minerals/crystals are located near Walker Lake?
- Petrified Wood
Take I-80 east from Reno and about 34 miles away you’ll find Fernley.
There is a wildlife management area and the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial just east of Fernley, so there are lots of places to explore.
Take some time to check around the sides of the roads in this area as well as the surrounding hills and you’re likely to find some great specimens for your collection.
- What kind of rocks/minerals/crystals are located near Fernley?
Some of these locations are very well known and some of them are local hidden gems, but now you have a great list to get your rockhounding near Reno started.
Carry With You
If you are planning a hike where there will be rocks to pick through, consider packing one of the following:
- National Audubon Society Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals (small book with pretty colored pictures to help identification)
- National Audubon Society Field Guide To North American Fossils (small book with pictures)
- Gemstone & Crystals Properties (durable fold-up guide)
- Small UV Flashlight
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Good luck and happy rock hunting!
Based upon your interest in Nevada, you might also want to check out:
- 8 Sites Not Too Far From Winnemucca For Rockhounding
- Types of Rocks Found In The Lake Tahoe Area
- What Is Wonderstone?