In addition to being useful, agates are of interest to many collectors.
The entire state of Alabama is very rich from a geological perspective, this makes it an ideal state for rock hunting.
Where To Find Agates In Alabama: A 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.
Introduction To Agates In Alabama
The best places to rockhound are in the central and north-eastern portion of Alabama called Piedmont Upland.
Blue quartz can also be found throughout the Piedmont formation in Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia.
Other places to search in Alabama also include Tuscaloosa, Rockford, Ashland and Alexander City.
Within these cities you will find old mines, mineral prospects, and historically known rock and mineral collecting sites.
These locations offer a diverse assortment of rocks and minerals including agate (also known as quartz), jasper, petrified wood, and garnet.
For those who still suffer from gold fever, one may also find interest in panning for gold and gems at the Alabama Gold Camp.
Whether you’re new to rockhounding Agates in Alabama or a pro at it, this guide will help you feel confident in knowing what locations to search and when.
Alabama’s state mineral is Hematite, the official state rock is marble, and star blue quartz is the state’s official gemstone since 1990.
There is much more to this beautiful state’s geology.
You can find a wide selection of interesting rocks and minerals, including agates, if only you know where to look.
Rockhounding Basics in Alabama
Most of the prime rockhounding sites in Alabama are concentrated in the eastern part of the state within the Appalachian Mountain range and forests.
Because these locations are within high altitude and structural complex regions, it is important to note that extreme heat, heavy snow or rain aren’t practical weather conditions to go looking for agates, or any gemstones, for that matter.
Fortunately, Alabama typically has milder weather conditions than other mountainous regions.
As such, rockhounding season is considered to be from early March to late November.
A good pair of hiking boots, a backpack, gloves and either a weather-appropriate jacket or sun block and insect repellant will really make or break your rockhounding experience.
Make sure to check the weather forecast the night before and morning of your venture.
Locations to Search
With around 60 sites for gem collecting already marked, Alabama is a surprisingly prolific state for rock collecting.
With the ample opportunities the state provides, it’s all about choosing which sites are most convenient for you and which interest you the most.
Who knows, you may be the next explorer to mark a new site of your own along the way!
Buzzard Creek & tributaries GPS coordinates 33.325114, -85.928315
At the southern edge of the Appalachian Mountains, nestled within 392,567 acres of the Talladega National Forest lies Buzzard Creek.
Here, thanks to the U.S. Forest Service, rock and gemstone collecting is permitted.
This highly mineralized and geologically complex mixed terrain forest has several locations where you can find wonderful specimens all within Clay County!
On the eastern cusp of the forest, along the banks of Buzzard Creek, using simple tools like a short-handled shovel, a geologist’s pick and a bucket, you may be able to find Chlorite and Green Quartz.
The best places to search are where water slows down and forms an alluvial deposit.
To arrive here from Talladega, you will follow Ashland Hwy, which turns into Alabama State Road 77 for approximately ten miles until you reach Porters Gap.
Here you will turn left on to Horns Lake Rd, which turns into Idaho Rd for 5 miles. Make a left onto Newbury’s Rd and you will immediately intersect with Buzzard creek.
Follow northward along the Creek about 1 mile using the above GPS coordinates and you will find your destination.
Pleasant Grove Road GPS coordinates 33.323598, -85.685992
Running parallel along the eastern edge of the Talladega National Forest, just a short 16 miles directly east of Buzzard Creek is Pleasant Grove Road.
At this location, also in Clay County, just past Fox Creek Drive, you may find beautiful Quartz crystals.
To get here from Buzzard Creek, you will simply take Mountain View Rd east, go right on Clay County 31, left on Skyview Dr, left on Tyson Rd, which turns into Talladega St. Head east through Lineville then take Coach Jack Stewart Memorial Hwy to Pleasant Grove Rd.
The total drive from Buzzard Creek is less than 30 minutes.
Millsite Tin Mine GPS coordinates 32.899736, -86.206301
If you are feeling adventurous and think you might want to venture out just a bit further, one hour south of Pleasant Grove and just one mile NE of Rockford is a third spot to explore, Millsite Tin Mine.
Here in Coosa County, you will find a hot spot for gems, including Quartz crystals as well as Albite, Apatite, Cassiterite, Epidote, Garnet, Lepidolite, Topaz, Tourmaline and Sillimanite.
To get here from Pleasant Grove, you will take Pleasant Grove Rd back to Lineville. Take Highway 9 south for approximately 30 miles through Ashland, continue south through Goodwater, turning West on AL-22 leading you into Rockford.
A right on Main St and another right on Martha Lane and you will arrive at Millsite Mine.
If you’re looking to be able to hit multiple spots in one day, or maybe you are looking to make a weekend out of it, Buzzard Creek, Pleasant Grove and Millsite Mine are the ultimate Alabama rockhounding destination trio, all within a fifty-mile radius of each other.
Things to Remember When Searching for Agates in Alabama
Always remember that rock collecting locations are constantly evolving.
Specimens may become depleted over time from over collecting, locations may have been built on or altered, locality and name information in literature may be inaccurate, and property ownership may have changed.
There will be different legalities of rock and mineral collecting on public land depending largely on which of four federal agencies owns it.
Land designated as national parks are areas of land that are protected from damage and therefore, rockhounding is widely not permitted.
Public land owned by U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) usually allows for collecting of rocks and minerals with limitations.
Joining a local rockhounding club such as Alabama Mineral & Lapidary Society for a group trip can often get you guided access to otherwise off-limits locations like privately owned mines and quarries.
You may also obtain a scientific research permit which allows for more rock collecting in otherwise restricted areas.
It may be important to note that the cutting of live vegetation is never allowed.
Rockhounding is restricted to surface collection only.
Be safe and never go underground.
Arizona Rockhounding Resources
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