Types of Rocks In New Mexico: A Guide To the 5 Most Common You’ll Spot

New Mexico is one of the best places to rockhound.

Home to some of the earth’s rarest gemstones, it’s a dreamland for enthusiasts.

The state’s national gemstone is turquoise.

Popular ever since prehistoric times, turquoise is now one of the most recognized gemstones in existence. 

Types of Rocks In New Mexico


Numerous rock mines have been developed and worked in various locations around New Mexico.

An ochre and turquoise mine near Santa Fe is one of the first recordings of this, dating as far back as pre-Columbian times.

However, most of the work began in the early 1800s. 

In 1804, Copper was extracted in a mine known as Chino Copper Mine, Santa Rita; which is still operating today.

One of the most profitable rock and mineral mining areas is located near Soccorro, in the heart of the Magdalena Mountains.

There is even a Rock Hound State Park in Luna County for non-commercial collectors. 

Whether you’re a collector, a healer, or simply a tourist hoping to locate some interesting stones, this article is ideal for you.

Discussing 5 unique, beautiful, and common rocks of New Mexico, what they look like, and where to find them. 


For many years Zeolites were thought to be uncommon, with the only places they could be found being in fissures and vugs of volcanic rock.

It wasn’t until the 1950s that an abundance of zeolite deposits were found in Western America.

At first, mining efforts focused on using zeolites for petroleum processing, but that was unsuccessful. 

Since then it has proved useful for several other industries including; animal feed, water treatment, soil amendment, environmental remediation, food preservation, and odor/moisture control. 

The largest zeolite production in New Mexico comes from the St. Cloud Winston Zeolite mine, an open mining pit.

There are several surrounding deposits such as Foster Canyon, Copper Flat, and Iron Horse. 

Fire Agate

This stone came to be millions of years ago in the Tertiary Period, with volcanic activity playing a role in its formation.

It boasts bright tones of red, brown, gold, and orange, giving it a coloration similar to flames.

Some say that this resembles the intense heat of the New Mexico mountain ranges that it can be found in.

Although these formations are still millions of years old, it can be hard to find the stones as they still lie beneath several layers of undissolved rock.

For a more likely find, there are older formations in the Santa Fe formation. 

A lot of people are surprised when they find fire agate in New Mexico, assuming that it is only located in old mines.

The truth is the complete opposite.

There are sparse fire agate stones on mountain trails, in caves, and chasms.

So with some patience (or luck), it just takes being in the right place at the right time. 


Azurite is one of the rarest stones that appear in nature.

It belongs to a unique set of copper gems including New Mexico’s national stone, turquoise.

With a deep blue coloring, the mineral is produced by weathering copper ore deposits. 

Unfortunately, due to its softness, Azurite does have a tendency to lose its vibrant colour; leaving it with fewer uses.

Due to this, it is not used within the high-end jewelry industry, but smaller corporations will use it for rings, bracelets, or earrings.

Heat will easily destroy Azurite, so it must be mounted with species done at room temperature. 

It has long been used by various cultures as an ornament for pregnant women to aid with a happy pregnancy and safe delivery.

Azurite is all about removing blockages from your life, whether they be mental or physical.

Early Egyptians believed that the stone had the ability to communicate with spirits, and the Chinese believed that it could open the gateway to heaven. 

Apache Tears

Apache tears are a type of Black Obsidian Stone.

They can be found near an isolated town called Mule Creek, just a few miles away from the border of Arizona.

When looking for apache tears, you should frequent canyon areas or cliff edges that have formed rhyolitic deposits. 

Although the area is easy to find with a map, you will need to take a pickaxe with you.

Apache tears are hidden beneath geodes, (lumps of pyrite).

These are grey in color, porous, and lumpy. Inside they conceal the black and glassy stone. 

It is said that the name is derived from an Native American legend, where an Apache tribe was pursued by the Calvary, and although they fought bravely, they were greatly outnumbered.

Instead of being captured, the tribe jumped off a cliff to their death. 

A woman from the tribe cried from grief.

Her tears fell to the earth and formed these strangely shaped, dark stones.

It is believed that her tears became reality so that nobody would forget this tragic event.


Meteorites fall randomly all over the earth’s surface.

In fact, around 17 meteorites reach earth every single day.

Most of which go unnoticed and fall in large, inhabited areas – but even if a meteorite did fall in your back garden, it would still be very hard to spot.

Due to their color and shape, they tend to look like normal, simple rocks.

There are high quantities of meteorites around the deserts of New Mexico state, making it the perfect place to be for finding them.

Despite hundreds of New Mexican meteorites being found, only a few have actually been seen falling. 

The select areas that frequent the most meteorites are the dry lake beds and blowout regions of the Roosevelt Country, located in the central-east of New Mexico. 


Regardless of which part of New Mexico you’re in, there is an abundance of minerals and stones.

Since several species are well disguised as simple rocks, it’s likely that you’ve located some but not even noticed.

It is important to bring the correct tools with you, such as a hammer, in order to dislodge them from their rock formations.

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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Types of Rocks In New Mexico