Nevada is a great place to go rockhounding.
Here are just a few suggestions that anyone who enjoys the hobby should check out.
Rockhounding Near Winnemucca (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.
The state of Nevada produces the third most gold in the world.
Located in the center of the Great Basin, Winnemucca is ideal for rock lovers to gather other kinds of gems and minerals.
In addition, a vast array of geological wonders can be found in the basin and range landscape.
The Opal Mines in Denio
Three privately owned opal mines are located close to Oregon along the northern edge of Nevada, where tourists can dig for a fee and keep what they find.
Black opals are rare and exhibit iridescent colors, so most people are looking for them.
They are all located in the Virgin Valley, whose geological history explains the abundance of opals.
Some of the other rocks and minerals you can find are listed below:
- Opalized wood
There you will find the three mines: Bonanza Opal Mines, Rainbow Ridge Opal Mine, and Royal Peacock Mine.
For you to get to the mines, it is about a two-hour drive from Winnemucca, Nevada.
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Black Rock Desert
Another great rockhounding location near Winnemucca, Nevada is the Black Rock Desert.
There is an abundance of rocks and minerals you can find within the area.
Below are some of the minerals you can find:
- Petrified wood
You can search for agates, fire opals, geodes, obsidian, topaz, malachite, or malachite in Black Rock-High Rock County.
Rockhounds can also find geodes at the Black Rock Range Geode Mine.
If you dig around the southern areas of the mine, you can find plenty of geodes of different sizes.
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In northern Nevada, Blue Mountain sits alone along the east side of Desert Valley.
Also, it’s only a 30-minute drive from Winnemucca, Nevada.
The hike to the top of Blue Mountain from the 4×4 road will take approximately 3.5 hours at a leisurely pace, involving 1.3 miles of walking and an elevation gain of 1700 feet.
Some of the rocks and minerals you can find on Blue Moutain are listed below:
- Petrified wood
It is possible to access the mountains from this lightly populated region using relatively good roads.
Just be cautious of open-range cattle and long-haul 18 wheelers on Jungo Road.
Even though the road to the mountain crosses some unmarked private property, the mountain itself is on BLM land.
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Little Joe / Duffy Deposit
A deposit of precious opal lies along the eastern front of the Calico Hills in western Humboldt County.
Here, the opal occurs as nodules filled with vesicles in basalt.
Vesicles contain yellow, orange, and red opals that commonly have purple, blue, green, red, and yellow fire, though red and green are most common.
It is possible to find both precious and common varieties of opal with a milky white background.
Additionally, the basalt nodules often contain opal and agate.
Sadly, the Calico Hills Opal is subject to deteriorating and cracking.
These Duffield claims are private property and no longer open to the public.
Nevertheless, the deposit is well known since it was once operated as a pay-to-dig site for many years.
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North of Winnemucca, in the Santa Rosa Mountains, is this opal deposit.
The area was once a free dig area and campground.
However, it has been inactive for quite some time now.
Opals from this location form in the form of vesicles in basalt and can be found in many different colors, such as white, yellow, orange, red, and black.
The base has multiple opaque layers of transparent color and shows a subtle play of red, blue, green, and yellow fire.
There are only a few vesicles in this location that contain opal, but a high percentage of the vesicles contain precious opal.
Pershing County is home to a little-known location where a precious opal exists.
This location lies along the road from Lovelock to the old Velvet gold mine.
A rhyolitic formation containing a fire opal is said to be found there.
The opals are hard to extract due to the hardness of the rock.
The gems deteriorate when exposed to the air, as they do with most other Nevada opals.
Most likely, the deposit is located in section 33 in the southern half of T27N and R29E.
As with most of the world’s deposits, common opal is far more prevalent than precious opal.
Battle Mountain is a short drive of 40 minutes from Winnemucca, Nevada.
On it is the Sheep Creek range at the high point of the Cone Benchmark.
It is located just north of Battle Mountain, Nevada, and is very visible from I-80.
Some of the rocks and minerals you can find here are listed below:
- Platinum minerals
Most rockhounds say the best way to reach Cone Benchmark is from the west of Battle Mountain.
However, after passing the microwave towers north from Battle Creek drainage, there is a rocky road, so it may be best to walk or use an off-road vehicle.
Battle Mountain has a BLM office, so there should be no private land within the area.
Near Eureka, Nevada is the open-pit molybdenum mine at Mount Hope.
The deposit is considered one of the largest and highest-quality molybdenum deposits around.
Some of the minerals you can find in the area include lead, silver, and zinc.
Due to the Mount Hope project, some areas of the mine might be closed.
It’s best for you to check within the city to see if you’re allowed to go rockhounding in the area.
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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As you can see, there are a few places you can go rockhounding near Winnemucca, Nevada.
However, in our opinion, best place to go rockhounding in this area is within the Virgin Valley.
Based upon your interest in Nevada, you might also want to check out:
- 15 Sites Not Too Far From Reno For Rockhounding
- Types of Rocks Found In The Lake Tahoe Area
- What Is Wonderstone?
- Rockhounding Near Moab
- Rockhounding Devil’s Head, Colorado
- Rockhounding Near Jackson, Wyoming
- Rockhounding Near Boise, Idaho
- Graveyard Point Rockhounding
- How Long Does It Take Fossil Fuels To Form?
- FAQs For Visiting Wild Horse Hot Springs
- Trilobyte Me! Quarry Visitor Tips