Missouri is a great place to go rockhounding.
Here are just a few suggestions that anyone who enjoys the hobby should check out.
Rockhounding Near St Louis (A Visitor’s 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.
Missouri, also known as the “Cave State,” contains many old mines and quarries and provides many exciting locations to search for rocks, as well as geodes and other highly sought after gems.
St. Louis, with its close proximity to the Mississippi River, allows an opportunity to rockhound in the gravels of the river, where agate and many other items of interest can be found. Below are some top-rated locations to help get you started:
The Mississippi River runs from Lake Itasca in Northern Minnesota and goes through the center of the country, travelling through 10 states before ending in the Gulf of Mexico.
Its gravels and tributaries are rich with gemstones and minerals.
The river provides a unique opportunity to search for quartz family minerals, including agates, chalcedony, jasper, geodes, and petrified wood.
In addition to quartz family gemstones, minerals are in abundance, including galena, dolomite, and marcasite.
The Mississippi River is also home to venomous snakes, including rattlesnakes and cottonmouths.
Coyotes have also been spotted along the banks of the river, so use caution while searching and be aware of your surroundings.
St. Louis road cuts near Highway 141 and Highway 30
There are a number of road cuts in the area of Highway 141 and Highway 30, some of which may be difficult to see from the highway.
At any of these locations, one could expect to find quartz, pyrite, goethite, calcite, and barite.
Gravel areas and streams are prime areas to search for some of these rocks and minerals.
Use care to avoid any areas with “No Trespassing” or “Private Property” signs.
These highways can be quite busy at times, so use care when slowing down to find the road cuts or when pulling off or back onto the roadway.
Hillsboro, Missouri is a 45-minute drive and is located slightly northeast of St. Louis, Missouri.
In addition to limestone, dolomite, chert, and calcite, one can find Mozarkite here, a member of the chert family and the state rock of Missouri.
Don’t forget that local streams are ideal places to search for those special rocks!
Use caution when searching around waterways. Even local streams can be teeming with dangerous wildlife, including venomous snakes.
Old Monroe, Missouri
Old Monroe is about a 45-minute drive from St. Louis.
It is one of the best places to find agates.
The gravels of the local streams and rivers are always good places to look for agates and other quartz family minerals, as well as petrified wood.
Again, use care when searching in local streams and rivers and respect the wildlife that may call it home, some of which may be dangerous!
Old Mines, Missouri
Old Mines, including the area of Potosi, is another place with an abundance of rocks and minerals.
It takes a little over an hour to make the drive, but it is well worth your time!
There are a number of abandoned mine pits.
Finds may include druzy quartz, Missouri lace agate and barite blades.
Since it is easy to get lost in this area, properly preparing in advance is recommended.
Drive east from Potosi on Highway 8 and turn on CR-0.
There are tailing piles located on both sides of the road.
They are filled with druzy quartz, lace agate, and barite.
Keep in mind that abandoned mines are dangerous.
Every year people die in accidents that occur in these mines, most often due to drowning.
Be safe and do your rock searches outside of these dangerous areas.
Elephant Rocks State Park, Belleview, Missouri
Although rockhounding isn’t permitted in Missouri State Parks, there is an operating quarry at the back of this park.
Request permission from the office staff to go through and collect items from the scrap pile.
There are often nice scraps since the granite is cut there for building monuments.
Following your search for the perfect rock, don’t forget to take in the beauty of this park, so named because of the giant boulders resembling elephants!
Any rockhounder will appreciate the beauty of these giant boulders, which were made from 1.5 billion year old granite and are now pink due to molten magma slowly cooling over millions of years.
Consider tapping into the knowledge that the office staff surely has of the area.
They are local experts when it comes to finding out about other “little known” places to search for rocks and minerals.
Marble Hill, Missouri
About an hour and a half drive from St. Louis is the town of Marble Hill which, according to legend, was named after a marble-like rock in the vicinity.
This is another town rated as one of the best places to find agates.
One can expect to find common agate and petrified wood from Marble Hill East to the Mississippi River while searching the gravel areas.
There are several abandoned mines in Marble Hill, including ones that contained coal, cobalt, copper, gold, and iron.
Again, be mindful of private property and always heed “No Trespassing” signs.
Abandoned mines may pique your interest, but they are dangerous and should be avoided.
Take special care when traveling with curious children!
Arnold, approximately an hour and a half outside of St. Louis, is another great place to visit, especially if you are looking for geodes.
The west side of I-55 is an ideal place to start.
The area is not only abundant for beautiful geodes, but also other crystals.
Most of the geodes are lined with quartz, calcite, pyrite, fluorite, aragonite, malachite, barite or sphalerite and are stunning in appearance.
Arnold is the place to go for geodes!
Cape Girardeau County, Missouri
Cape Girardeau County, about 115 miles from St. Louis, is the site of another geological treasure.
This area contains some of Missouri’s most common finds, such as agate and other rocks and minerals. Cape Girardeau County, Missouri is also another great place to find agates.
Other rocks and minerals abound in Cape Girardeau County’s gravel and streams and waterways.
Grindstone Creek, Missouri
Although Grindstone Creek is a 2-hour drive from St. Louis, it is definitely worth mentioning. The area boasts an abundance of both calcite crystals and various gemstones.
As always, one should be mindful to follow any laws or regulations when searching, and remember to obtain permission to search and collect on private property.
For the more serious rock collector, check out the St. Louis Mineral and Gem Society, a non-profit club that offers its members field trips to local mining sites to collect specimens.
The above ideas are just a few of the many exciting opportunities that Missouri provides to enjoy rockhounding.