Rockhounding Socorro, New Mexico: 8 Places To Hunt Rocks, Crystals, and Fossils  

Are you looking for some places to go rockhounding in Socorro, New Mexico?

If so, you’re in luck, as Socorro is the perfect area to go looking for some unique rocks and minerals in New Mexico.

This article will find eight places to go rock collecting in Socorro, New Mexico.

Rockhounding Socorro, New Mexico


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.

1. Quebradas Back Country Byway

The Quebradas Back Country Byway is an unpaved backcountry road in rural New Mexico.

The 24-mile trail allows you to explore the diverse landscape of the state.

It is located 13 minutes east of Socorro in the upper Chihuahuan desert mountains.

The trial roads are two-way traffic and narrow but are perfectly safe to drive on.

It is best to drive on the trail with off-road and 4wd vehicles.

You can drive in passenger cars, but it may be harder to do so when the path is wet.

When heavy rain has passed, be careful.

The road crosses many dry streambeds, and the trail can become impassable due to the heavy rain.

The trial is open all year long, and there are no fees for entry.

Some of the rocks and minerals you can find along the route are sedimentary rocks, fossils, fluorite, petrified wood, and azurite.

2. San Lorenzo Canyon

The San Lorenzo Canyon is about 23 minutes away from the city of Socorro.

There is a trail you can hike on, which is 1.80 miles long.

It’s an easy route and takes about 54 minutes to finish the journey.

You can visit the trail all year long, although it is best to avoid it during the rainy season.

Some of the rocks and other minerals you can find are sedimentary rocks, limestone, quartz, clay, and fossils.

3. Box Canyon

The Box Canyon is about 10 minutes or 5 miles west of the city of Socorro.

It’s a popular area for people to go rock climbing and hiking.

You can also discover some spots to go rocking collecting to find different minerals.

The Box Canyon Trail is about 14.90 miles long and takes over seven hours to complete.

Many people consider it to be a moderately difficult hike.

You can visit the trail at any time of the year, and there are no fees for entry.

Some of the rocks and minerals you can find are sedimentary rocks such as sandstone and limestone.

You may also find fossils of prehistoric animals.

There is also a deposit on Box Canyon, where you can look for barites and fluorites.

4. Water Canyon

The Water Canyon is about 20 minutes west of Socorro, New Mexico.

The area is high in the Magdalena Mountains, and you can find campgrounds and a trail nearby.

The Water Canyon is 3.60 miles long and takes almost two hours to complete.

Many people find the route easy and enjoy the beautiful scenic views.

You can visit the trail at any time of the year and bring your pet dog along too.

Some of the rocks and minerals you can find along the trail and campgrounds are sedimentary rocks, red beryl, azurite, and wulfenite.

You can also dig around the Water Canyon Mine to find baryte, manganese, hollandite, and quartz minerals.

5. Magdalena Mountains

It is less than an hour’s drive from Socorro to the Magdalena Mountains, which are situated about 18 miles west of the city.

The highest point of the mountains is Mount Badly, with the second-highest point, Timber Peak, and the third is Buck Peak.

You can find the canyons above in this list within the Magdalena Mountains range.

Due to the isolated mountains and the absence of human development, you get scenery with unique rock formations.

You can hike along several trails to find places to go rock collecting.

These trails are Timber Peak Trail, Copper Canyon Trail, North Badly Trail, and South Badly Trail.

You may discover quartz, limestone, azurite, and calcite along these trails.

The Messa Trail #13 is the most popular trail in the mountains because it is a bit challenging.

It is 5.2 miles long and takes about five hours to complete.

All of these trails are open year-round, and there are no entry fees.

Somewhere within the mountain range is the Manganese Chief Mine or King Mine.

You can discover the minerals manganese, rhyolite, calcite, pyrolusite, and wad in the area.

6. Rosedale Mining District

Consider visiting the Rosedale Mining District if you don’t mind an hour and thirty minutes drive.

There are three places you can go digging for rocks and other minerals within the district.

Below are those three places:

  • Rosedale Mine
  • New Golden Gal Prospect
  • Robb Prospect

Near Rosedale Mine, you may be able to find gold, silver, copper minerals, magnesium, and lead.

In addition, within the two prospect areas, you can find the minerals hematite, limonite, pyrite, quartz, and wad.

7. Jornada Draw

In the Jornada Del Muerto basin, there is a valley known as Jornada Draw.

The valley is at the height of 4,390 feet, and its upper areas are filled with ephemeral lakes known as Jornada Lakes.

There are many unique minerals you can find within the Jornada Draw, such as wood opal, moss opal, and agate-jasper.

Some of the other rocks you can find are quartz, moss agate, and chalcedony.

8. Presilla Wilderness Study Area

The Presilla Wilderness Study Area is a large land dedicated to animal and plant life research in New Mexico.

It can be reached in less than thirty minutes by car about ten miles from Socorro.

You can take the Arroyo del Tajo trail to find places to go rock collecting.

The route takes a little over two hours to complete and is considered moderately challenging.

Some of the minerals and rocks you can find are fluorite, granite, barite, and quartz.

Wrapping Up

There you go. These are the best places to go rockhounding in Socorro, New Mexico.

But, of course, these are not the only places you can collect rocks in the state.

Rockhounding Resources

If you like having a physical book in hand (especially good when you have no cell service), check out:

Rockhounding New Mexico (140 Sites To Check Out)

Rockhounding New Mexico (by Stephen Voynick)

Roadside Geology of Mexico

Gem Trails of New Mexico

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Rockhounding Socorro