There are a number of locations to hunt for gemstones and minerals around Walker Valley and it’s important to pick your destination ahead of time so you can prepare accordingly for the outing.
This article will give you five tips to help make your rockhounding trip to Walker Valley a success.
Walker Valley Rockhounding Tips
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.
Walker Valley is just a short distance south of Mt. Vernon.
It contains a number of sites with a variety of jade, geodes, rhodonite and quartz/quartz crystals.
The state is also known to have plenty of petrified wood, so there is a chance you could make a lucky find of this as well.
There are a number of hiking trails in the valley that are open all year, and there is also a campground close by.
Walker Valley is one of many gem hunting locations in Washington State that does not require a permit to rock hound, has no fees and is not restricted to collecting.
Here are five tips for a successful rock hounding trip to Walker Valley:
Know The Area
It is important to know where you are going and the best route to get there and back home safely.
Being prepared with knowledge of the destination will ensure that you prepare and pack appropriately with things like the right hiking gear, food & water and clothes for the terrain and the time of year, as well as the proper tools for working on the collection site.
The Walker Valley geode collection site is a hard rock digging site and if you dig around in the brownish rock in the lower portion of the formation, you can also find thundereggs.
One very important thing about tools to note right off the top is eye protection.
Smacking rocks with a rock hammer will cause splinters to fire off in random directions, and the last thing you want is to have one of those shards hit your unprotected eyes.
Always bring eye protection when swinging your rock hammer.
Secondly, the other tools you will make use of here are: gloves, rock hammer, rock chisels, rock collection container/s of your choosing and a shovel of some sort (collapsible hand shovel recommended as it is easy to pack in and out no matter where you are going).
For more details about getting your rock hunter kit together, here’s our shopper’s guide.
Be sure to bring a lunch or a snack with you and plenty of water and please remember to be courteous and take any garbage with you when you are done.
If you are bringing a dog with you to a collection site, remember to bring some supplies for them as well, including doo doo bags to clean up after them and keep the collection site clean and tidy for the enjoyment of all.
No one wants to find THAT kind of nugget when they are hunting for gemstones.
With a campground nearby, you may also want to pack camping equipment and supplies.
Spotting A Geode
There are a few key features of a stone that will indicate that it is potentially a geode at a glance, most notably, the shape and texture.
You want to look for round stones with a bumpy exterior.
The texture may look similar to a head of cauliflower clumps.
You can sometimes spot trace amounts of the inner material on the exterior of the stone.
Once you find a potential geode stone, hold it up close to your ear and give it a gentle shake.
You can sometimes hear debris bouncing around inside the hollow of the geode, which would be a clear giveaway that what you hold is in fact a geode.
One more trick is to find another stone that is as close to the same size as the suspected geode and compare its weight with it.
If the suspected geode is lighter, this is another solid indicator that the stone is hollow, indicating that it is in fact a geode.
Finally, the only way to truly know if what you have found is a geode or not, is to crack it open.
You can do this by placing the potential geode stone on the ground and hitting it in the middle of its surface with a rock hammer.
Be sure to wear your protective eyewear when doing this to keep any flying rock debris from getting into your eyes.
Another option is to use a rock saw to cut it open.
If you don’t feel comfortable opening the geode yourself, many rock shops will open them for you.
It’s important to note that rock hounding, while primarily a safe activity when collecting by hand, requires more attention to safety when you start digging or hammering away at a rock face.
Always dig & hammer with caution when dealing with any material that could fall on or towards you.
It’s also good to know what wildlife is known to frequent the area you will be collecting in and to have the appropriate safety equipment with you.
If you are doing anything in an area with a campfire, pay attention to fire bans and dry seasons and always make sure your fire is properly extinguished before you leave the area.
Similarly, properly dispose of cigarette butts.
Walker Valley is one site not to miss as a rockhounder and it is an easily accessible site as well.
Hopefully, this list will be of some help and may your gem hunting be fruitful.
Please remember to be courteous wherever you go rock hounding and abide by collection rules for the area as well as federally.
Make sure to fill in your divots and close the gates behind you if you open them. Know the rules and hound within them!
In general, we don’t recommend that people invest or spend much (if any) money to enjoy rockhounding. Much of what you need to know you can access online.
That being said, when you are planning on going out into the woods or off the cell-tower grid, you are going to need to have information in hard copy.
If you are experienced and know where you are going, simply having a physical map of the area where you are driving/hiking can make all the difference.
If you are a beginner (or unfamiliar with the area), we suggest that you check out a book called Gem Trails of Washington.
(This is an Amazon affiliate link. As an Amazon affiliate, I may earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you).
Written by an avid rockhounder and geologist, this particular publication has easy to understand maps with collecting locations all throughout Washington, some of which you won’t find mentioned on the internets.
We’ve created an ultimate guide to gifts for rockhounds with helpful links directly to Amazon to make looking for and checking out potential gifts quick and review easy!
You might also like: