Saddle Mountain Rockhounding (Arizona): 10 Tips For A Successful Trip

If you are looking for a great place to go rockhounding, look no further than Saddle Mountain, which is just outside of Phoenix, Arizona.

This city is known for its vast array of rocks and minerals, making it a hot spot for collectors.

This article will give you ten tips to help make your rockhounding trip to Saddle Mountain a success.

Saddle Mountain Rockhounding Tips


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.

Learn What Types of Rocks are at Saddle Mountain

Before you head out on your rockhounding trip, it is important to do your research and learn about the types of rocks that can be found in the area.

The most common type of rock is fire agate, a semi-precious gemstone found in a variety of colors.

Other popular types of rocks include chalcedony, jasper, and quartz.

It’s common to see chalcedony anywhere from the main road through the recreation area.

Bring the Right Equipment

In order to collect rocks successfully, you will need to bring the right equipment with you.

This includes gloves, a pickaxe, a bucket, and a tarp to put your rocks on.

Saddle Mountain is also a desert area, so it is also important to bring plenty of water and sunscreen.

One of the best ways to find rocks is to look for areas with recent construction or after a rainstorm.

These areas are often rich in rocks and minerals.

Learn the Best Times to Visit Saddle Mountain

The best times to visit Saddle Mountain are typically in the spring and fall when the temperatures are a bit cooler.

If you do visit during the summer, the north rim of the mountains has the most tolerable temperatures.

However, it is important to keep in mind that the weather can change quickly in Arizona, so be alert and stay prepared for severe weather events.

How to Get There

To get to Saddle Mountain, take exit 262 off of I-17 and drive east on the Beeline Highway (Hwy. 87) for about 21 miles.

You will see a sign for the Saddle Mountain Recreation Area, and you will need to turn left onto the paved road.

The recreation area is open daily from 6 am to 10 pm.

If you are coming from the Phoenix area, it will take you about an hour to get there.

Be Mindful of Private Mining Assertions

Saddle Mountain is also home to a number of private mining assertions, so it is important to be mindful of where you are collecting rocks.

It is best to stay on the main road and avoid any areas that are marked with no trespassing signs.

The private landowners in the area have set these boundaries to protect their property.

Follow the Rules and Regulations

In order to keep the Saddle Mountain Recreation Area open and accessible for everyone, it is important to follow the rules and regulations set by the city.

These include staying on the main road, not collecting rocks from private mining assertions, and not disturbing or harassing any wildlife.

The Trail is Relatively Easy to Navigate

The trail to the top of Saddle Mountain is a moderate hike that is about 2.5 miles long.

The trail can be a bit rocky in places, but overall it is not too difficult to navigate.

The terrain is mostly rocky sediment with some dirt tracks, meaning that the trail can be slippery when wet.

It is recommended to wear hiking boots and bring plenty of water.

Vehicle Requirements

Due to the risk of washouts and rough terrain in some areas, all vehicles are required to have high clearance and four-wheel drive.

There are roughly two dozen spots in the area that are prone to washouts.

It is also recommended that you have a spare tire, CB radio, and plenty of water in case of an emergency.

What to Do When You’re There

When you arrive at Saddle Mountain, there are a few things that you can do in addition to rockhounding.

There is a short hiking trail that leads to the top of the mountain, where you can get a panoramic view of the area.

You can also go picnicking or camping in the recreation area.

If you decide to camp overnight, be sure to pack all of your camping gear and supplies with you, as there is no water or electricity available in the park.

Additional Factors to Consider:

Don’t Forget Your First Aid Kit

One item some rockhounds forget to pack is a first-aid kit.

This is especially important if you are going to be picking around rocks, as you may end up with cuts on your hands or arms.

Make sure to pack bandages, disinfectants, and a few other supplies in case of an emergency.

Watch Out for Scorpions and Rattlesnakes

Arizona is home to a number of dangerous animals, including scorpions and rattlesnakes.

It is important to be aware of your surroundings at all times and watch where you are stepping.

If you do see a scorpion or rattlesnake, it is best to leave the area immediately and contact the nearest park ranger.

Be Prepared for Bad Weather

Saddle Mountain can experience all four seasons in a single day, so it is important to be prepared for bad weather.

The temperatures can range from freezing in the winter to over 100 degrees in the summer.

It is also important to be aware of the monsoon season, which runs from July to September.

During this time, there is a risk of flash floods and thunderstorms.

Bring Plenty of Water

No matter what time of year you visit Saddle Mountain, it is important to bring plenty of water with you.

It is recommended to bring at least 1 gallon per person per day.

There are no water fountains or water sources available in the recreation area, so you will need to pack all of the water you will need for your trip.

Wear Appropriate Clothing

The weather in Saddle Mountain can change quickly, so it is important to wear clothing that will keep you warm or cool, depending on the weather.

It is also important to remember that the area is at a high elevation, so you may need to bring a jacket even if it is hot outside.

Pack a Lunch

There are no restaurants or food stores in the Saddle Mountain Recreation Area, so it is important to pack a lunch with you.

There are plenty of areas in the park where you can stop and have a picnic.

Wrap Up

Rockhounding is a fun and rewarding hobby that people of all ages can enjoy.

When visiting Saddle Mountain, make sure to follow the tips we have provided so that you have a safe and enjoyable experience. We hope you enjoy your visit!

Arizona Rockhounding Resources

If you like to have a physical book in hand (like when there’s no cell service), here’s a few popular options:

Rockhounding Arizona: A Guide To 75 Of The State’s Best Rockhounding Sites

Gem Trails of Arizona

Southwest Treasure Hunter’s Gem and Mineral Guide

Disclosure: These are links to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you.

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Saddle Mountain Rockhounding