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  1. Default Rockhounding: Places to Visit or Collect in Southwestern USA

    Places to Visit or Collect in the Southwestern United States
    (Re-posted by RTA editors on this Trip Advice Forums by permission from the author.)

    These are places I visited or were recommended to me while traveling in the Southwest for my book. I mostly visited rock related places and ground open to collecting.

    Weather wise, October may be the best time to travel the Southwest, followed by May.

    It is impractical to visit every place you want to go because day after day you will find certain stores, mines, and museums closed.

    Traveling Monday through Thursday is especially tough, my advice is to prospect or collect on those days and then try to visit businesses and museums closer to the weekend.

    You will have to return to the Southwest to visit places closed on your first travel. I envy you.

    Arizona (and one exception in Utah)

    James Mitchell’s Gem Trails of Arizona is dated but essential.

    Anyone traveling extensively off-pavement in Arizona should get an Arizona State Trust Land Permit. $15.00 for an individual. Rockhounding on Arizona State Trust Land is prohibited but stopping at any point on these lands constitutes a “use” and that use demands a permit. Determining where these properties exists while driving is impractical, most are managed grazing land outside of small towns or settlements. Rather than guess, it may be easier just to get a permit.

    Washington County (Utah)
    BLM Arizona Strip Office
    345 E Riverside Dr.
    St. George, UT 84790
    37°04.986' N 113°34.611' W

    This office is physically present in Utah but manages Arizona land. They manage the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, a no collecting area, and the Virgin River Recreation Management Area in northwest Arizona, a noted rockhound area. The office has some nice rock and mineral displays.
    On my last visit they requested that I fill out a rockhound permit when I asked about collecting areas. This form applied to casual use, not commercial operations which is usually what demands a permit. Many BLM and USFS offices act as their own fiefdoms, drawing up practices and procedures to fit their particular area.

    Apache County (St. Johns)
    Petrified Forest National Park (Apache and Navajo Counties)
    1 Park Road, AZ
    34°48.016' N 109°53.120' W (First Entrance)
    34°48.923' N 109°51.941' W (Rainbow Forest Museum)

    A must stop with no collecting permitted.

    Petrified wood here exhibits brilliant colors of white, red, brown, black, purple, and blue from trace elements. The vast amount of petrified wood here resulted from a logjam of trees which occurred in an ancient river in the Late Triassic Period, some 200 million years ago.
    The Painted Desert Inn Visitor Center’s lower floor reveals how the building was constructed with petrified tree logs.

    The Petrified Forest National Park stretches north and south between Interstate 40 and Highway 180, with an entrance at each end. Near the south entrance is a fee-dig site for petrified wood. This is the DoBell Ranch, listed further under entries for Navajo County.

    The Navajo Nation Museum and Library
    Highway 264 and Loop Road
    Window Rock, AZ 86515
    Mailing Address:
    P.O. Box 1840
    Window Rock, Arizona 86515
    35°39.843' N 109°03.308' W

    The Navajo Nation Museum and Library is located in Window Rock, Arizona. Despite its name, the Museum is located in Apache County. This facility has historic jewelry fashioned by native people. Jewelry sold at the gift shop is done by American Indians, some sourced from local and
    Southwest material.

    Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests
    Supervisor’s Office
    30 S. Chiricahua Drive
    Springerville, AZ 85938
    34°07.912' N 109°16.507' W

    Two woodlands managed as a single forest. This East-Central Arizona territory looks like an upside-down “L”. The forest covers parts of Coconino, Navajo, Apache, and Greenlee counties, some 2.76 million acres. These are two Apache-Sitgreaves Ranger Districts in in Apache

    Springerville Ranger District
    165 S. Mountain Ave.
    Springerville, AZ 85938
    34°07.868' N 109°17.261' W

    Alpine Ranger District
    42634 Hwy. 180/191
    Alpine, AZ 85920
    33°50.958' N 109°08.823' W

    Cochise County (Bisbee)

    Sunshine Gallery and Gifts
    1313 North Highway 80
    St. David, Arizona, 85630
    31°55.770' N 110°16.865' W

    Destination rock shop, if not for the rocks and minerals, then for Rolf himself. Rolf is a mineral authority with vast personal and professional experience. His fascination with everything rock related began in Germany when he was nine. He knows all about the Bisbee area and
    Tombstone. Plan a trip. Tell him Thomas said “Hi” and that I plan on visiting soon.

    Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum
    No. 5 Copper Queen Plaza
    Bisbee, Arizona 85603
    31°26.537' N 109°54.969' W

    Bisbee was known as the “Queen of the Copper Camps’. It lies in southeast Arizona, a world class location noted for copper and a variety of other minerals. Occupying a historical mining setting, the museum complex features exhibits and an underground mine tour. Read more about
    Bisbee’s copper connection in the August, 2019 edition of Rock&Gem Magazine.

    BLM Safford Field Office and BLM New Mexico’s Las Cruces Field Office

    711 S 14th Ave.
    Safford, AZ 85546
    32°49.926' N 109°43.446' W

    BLM’s Safford Field Office manages areas in Cochise, Graham, Greenlee and Pinal, Counties.

    Coconino County (Flagstaff)

    Grand Canyon National Park
    South Rim
    Grand Canyon, AZ 86023
    36°03.558' N 112°06.583' W (South Rim Visitor Center)

    One of the great natural wonders of the world. A UNESCO World Heritage site. “Unique combinations of geologic color and erosional forms decorate a canyon that is 277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep. Grand Canyon overwhelms our senses through its
    immense size.” Viewable from sites at both North and South Rims as well as Grand Canyon East and West.

    Grand Canyon – Parashant National Monument (North Rim)
    Public Lands Information Center
    345 East Riverside Drive
    St. George, UT 84790
    36°11.958' N 112°03.153' W (North Rim Visitor Center)

    The North Rim has many overlooks at the end of challenging, lengthy 4WD roads. Seasonal road closures. No services. Permits required for overnight stays. Inquire at the Public Lands Information Center in St. George, which also doubles as BLM’s Arizona Field Strip District
    Office. No collecting allowed. The North Rim visitor center is open May 15th through October 15th.

    Museum of Northern Arizona
    3101 North Fort Valley Road
    Flagstaff, AZ 86001
    35°14.094' N 111°39.934' W

    “Celebrating the Colorado Plateau.” A must stop for anyone visiting Flagstaff and beyond. The 1935 building is a beautiful work of art and geology. Its walls are principally malpais basalt fieldstone and its interior courtyard and many paths are lined with native sandstone pavers. A
    geology collection of note, with many mineral, rock and meteorite samples.

    Downtown Flagstaff
    Flagstaff Visitor Cent
    1 East Route 66
    Flagstaff, AZ 86001
    35°11.860' N 111°39.098' W

    Walking Tour of Flagstaff’s Downtown Stone Buildings
    Self-guided tour. Recommended book: Stone Landmarks: Flagstaff’s Geology and Historic Building Stones by Marie D. Jackson. Piedra Azul Press. 1999. May be available in town at Starrlight Books. Call ahead. 928-774-6813.

    Flagstaff’s stone buildings are to that city what Victorians are to San Francisco. Here, a rockhound can look and touch a variety of materials while visiting a colorful and historic downtown. Building stones are all local. They include moenkopi sandstone, malpais basalt, kaibab limestone, and olivine laced basaltic lava. The Babbitt building, a highlight of the walking tour, was built of what Jackson calls pumiceous dacite, “a frothy, silica rich volcanic rock” produced by an explosive eruption from nearby Mount Eden a half a million years ago.

    This downtown tour enlarges on the experience one will have at the Museum of Northern Arizona and at the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. Parking is limited in the downtown district and card-based meters are in effect. The visitor center does provide 30 minutes of free parking, allowing enough time to at least see nearby Leroux Street, which has three buildings featured in the book.

    Next up: More from Flagstaff and beyond.
    Last edited by Tom_H007; 04-24-2023 at 12:00 AM. Reason: added link to author's blog

  2. Default Flagstaff to Safford, Arizona

    Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument
    6082 Sunset Crater Road (Visitor Center)
    Flagstaff, AZ 86004
    Mailing Address:
    Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument
    6400 U.S. 89
    Flagstaff, AZ 86004
    35°22.149' N 111°32.610 W (Visitor Center)

    “Sunset Crater Volcano was born in a series of eruptions sometime between 1040 and 1100.
    Powerful explosions profoundly affected the lives of local people and forever changed the
    landscape and ecology of the area. Lava flows and cinders still look as fresh and rugged as the
    day they formed. But among dramatic geologic features, you'll find trees, wildflowers, and signs
    of wildlife – life returns.”

    Meteor Crater, also known as Barringer Crater
    Interstate 40
    Winslow, AZ 86047
    35°01.633' N 111°01.350' W (Visitor Center)

    Five miles off I-40 on Meteor Crater Road, past the RV Park.
    Driving Directions
    From Flagstaff, AZ: Head east on I-40 about 35 miles. Take the Meteor Crater Road exit (exit
    233) and turn right. Drive about five miles to the Visitor Center parking lot.

    From Winslow, AZ: Head west on I-40 about 18 miles. Take the Meteor Crater Road exit (exit
    233) and turn left. Again, drive about five miles and you will come to the parking lot.
    Admission required. Pay whatever they want, it is worth it.

    The Meteor Crater may be America’s greatest natural wonder in private hands. Highly
    recommended. It is awesome to behold such a sight. While inside viewing is provided behind a
    panoramic sheet of glass, the best experience is outdoors in the sun and wind. Walking tours of
    the crater’s rim are also available, inquire before visiting. Photographers should bring a tripod in
    case they want to take panoramic shots of the crater. Which they will want to do.

    The crater’s interior is only viewable from platforms accessed by paying an admission fee at the
    Visitor Center. That fee includes entrance to their well-done museum featuring displays about
    meteorites and asteroids. There are also exhibits on space, the solar system and comets. A gift
    shop also exists, however, be careful about buying any rock labeled as a meteorite or meteorite
    related. Demand authenticating paperwork.

    The Meteoritical Society, a group of academics, earth science professionals, and enthusiastic
    amateurs, prefers to call The Meteor Crater by another name. They use the title Barringer Crater, in honor of Daniel Barringer. He labored for decades to prove that the crater was the result of a meteor and not a volcano.

    Gila County (Globe)

    Diamond Rim Quartz Collecting Site (USFS) Near Payson
    Diamond Rim is near Payson in the Tonto National Forest. It is located on the Tonto National
    Forest Map, but the best way to get there is to collect directions from multiple sources.
    Get to Tonto Village before going further. Diamond Rim is on USFS Road 65, but the access
    road to 65 goes by many names: Forest Road 64, Fire Control Road, Control Road, and Tonto
    Village Road. When they are open, the Payson USFS Ranger District Office in Payson may help
    with directions. The Tonto National Forest produced by the USFS is comically big, nearly four
    feet wide, but invaluable.

    Collecting rules are posted at the site. Surface collecting only for most of the year. Digging is
    allowed from October 1st until February 28th, when the ground is often snow-covered. supplied coordinate:
    34°17.250' N 111°11.533' W

    USFS Payson Ranger District
    1009 E. Hwy 260
    Payson, Arizona 85541
    34°14.538' N 111°18.361' W

    Gila County Historical Museum
    1330 North Broad Street
    Globe, AZ 85501
    33°24.592' N 110°47.720' W

    “The Gila County Museum is in the old Mine Rescue Station, which was opened in 1920. As
    you walk through the Museum you will experience the workings of the Mine Rescue Station.
    From photographs to equipment, it is on display.”

    Crick’s Gems and Minerals
    549 W Ash Street
    Globe, AZ 85501
    33°23.406' N -110°47.270' W

    Peridot Dreams
    Stevie Joey
    P.O. Box 539
    Peridot, AZ 85542
    33°21.064' N 110°27.591' W

    Apache tribal member Stevie Joey’s has peridot claims on the San Carlos Reservation. Peridot is
    also known as gem grade olivine, a green stone thrown out of the earth by ancient tectonic
    activity. The coordinates listed mark San Carlos, not the claims themselves. Contact Stevie
    through his website to arrange a visit. He also sells beautiful jewelry as well as rough stones and
    cabs. Be patient when corresponding, he may be traveling to shows or working hard at his claim.

    The town of Peridot is in southeastern Gila County and northwestern Graham County.
    “Take stones and ashes and thorns, with some scorpions and rattlesnakes thrown it, dump the
    outfit on stones, heat the stones red hot, set the United States Army after the Apache, and you
    have San Carlos.” An unknown Apache of the time.

    Graham County (Safford)

    Peridot Dream Claims. See Gila County
    Eastern Arizona Museum & Historical Society of Graham County, Inc.
    2 North Main
    Pima, AZ 85543
    928-485-3032 (Alternative number)

    A small but notable display of rocks, minerals, and ore. Open limited days.

    Black Hills Rock Hound Area — BLM managed

    Black Hills Rock Hound Area lies 17 miles north of Safford in the northern part of the Peloncillo
    Mountains. These mountains span Cochise, Graham and Greenlee Counties.
    32°52.438' N 109°23.697' W

    BLM’s Safford Field Office manages areas in Cochise, Graham, Greenlee, and Pinal Counties.
    See their contact information under the Cochise County entry.

    Greenlee County (Clifton)

    Greenlee Historical Museum
    299 Chase Creek
    Clifton, AZ 85533
    33°03.368' N 109°18.257' W

    Early mining. Museum located in the Chase Creek Historical District.

    Rock-A-Buy: Rocks and Gifts
    809 SE Old West Highway
    Duncan, AZ 85534
    32°42.791' N 109°05.921' W

    Doug Barlow is the affable owner of this east-central Arizona rock shop. Fire agate is the big
    draw in this area and Doug will show you samples of what to look for. He will even provide a
    map of promising locations for anyone who comes into his shop and signs his guest book. The
    nearby Round Mountain Rockhound Area, listed below, is close and Doug has advice for anyone
    heading out. Ask, too, about Black Hills, another BLM rockhounding area. Call to make certain
    Barlow’s shop will be open when you visit. He’s a great guy. He gave me a piece of calcite he
    had named the “The Volcano.” Gifted it, mind you. It glows beautifully under short wave. I
    treasure that piece.

    Round Mountain Rockhound Area — BLM managed
    BLM: 32°32.632' N 109°05.389' W
    Google Maps: 32°28.593' N 109°04.528' W

    BLM directions: “From Highway 70 east of Safford approximately 50 miles, travel into New
    Mexico to just beyond milepost 5. Take the dirt access road on your right for 12 miles, following
    the signs to the Rockhound Area.”

    BLM’s Safford Field Office manages areas in Cochise, Graham, Greenlee, and Pinal Counties.
    See their contact information under the Cochise County entry.

    More to come...
    Last edited by Tom_H007; 05-05-2023 at 04:08 AM. Reason: updated Black Hills link

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri


    Great resource for those that are rockhounds!


  4. Default Parker, Quartzite, Phoenix, Chandler, Mesa and area

    La Paz County (Parker)

    Bouse Assay Office and Museum
    44362 East Main Street
    Bouse, AZ 85325
    33°56.001' N 114°00.188' W

    “There is a very small historical museum in Bouse that used to be the Assay Office and has rocks as well as mining items.” Diane Hilliard.

    Quartzsite comes alive in winter. January sees a gathering of rock, gem, and mineral collectors
    and sellers from all over the world. I’ve written about this extensively at my blog. See you there in January.

    Quartzsite Museum
    161 West Main St
    Quartzsite, AZ 85346
    33°39.971' N 114°13.182' W
    Located in the Tysons Well Stage Station. Mining artifacts, assay office. Seasonal hours.

    Hardies Beads & Jewelry
    1250 W. Main St
    Quartzsite, AZ 85346
    33°39.754' N 114°14.256' W
    Outstanding rock, gem, and mineral collection on display. Most material collected locally. Not
    many rocks for sale, mostly things bead related. A Quartzsite institution. Seasonal hours.

    Maricopa County (Phoenix)

    Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve Center for Archaeology and Society
    3711 W. Deer Valley Road
    Phoenix, AZ 85308
    33°40.648 N 112°09.156' W
    Rock art! “The Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve is an archaeology museum and 47-acre Sonoran
    Desert preserve, and home to the largest concentration of Native American petroglyphs in the
    Phoenix area.” Fee charged.

    Huhugam Heritage Center
    21359 South Maricopa Road
    Chandler, AZ 85226
    33°15.250' N 111°58.426' W
    Natural history museum with AZ collections. “In the Ancestral Lands exhibit see the master
    work of our Huhugam ancestors: pottery, jewelry, carved stone bowls and tools.”

    Four Peaks Mining Company
    9500 E Via De Ventura, Suite D-110
    Scottsdale AZ 85256
    Retail, high end store. Amethyst mine owners.
    33°33.355' N 111°52.621' W

    Arizona Museum of Natural History
    53 North Macdonald
    Mesa, AZ 85201
    33°25.476' N 111°50.034' W
    Special geology collections viewable by appointment, among them an Arizona Mine Collection,
    featuring mines primarily within a fifty-mile radius of Mesa. Museum as a whole excellent for
    children. Fee charged.

    Arizona State University
    Interdisciplinary Science & Technology Building IV
    781 S Terrace Rd, Tempe, AZ 85287
    33°25.095' N 111°55.703' W
    Arizona State University R. S. Dietz Museum of Geology — no longer operating
    An internet search for Arizona geology museums returns dozens of references to the R. S. Dietz
    Museum of Geology at ASU which no longer exists. Its collection is mostly in storage.

    Karin Valentine, Media Relations and Marketing Manager for Arizona State University, explains
    that while they are considering what to do with the collection, “Some pieces are on display in
    ISTB4 and in some of our other facilities, and we are working on displaying some of the rest in
    the newly renovated Bateman Physical Science Building F-wing. We hope to have much of the
    collection together again on display. We do have geology and planetary science exhibits
    available in ISTB4.”

    Saddle Mountain — Dispersed BLM camping area and Collecting Site
    Unless otherwise prohibited, BLM permits camping on much of their managed land in the
    Southwest. Saddle Mountain is a dispersed camping area, allowing stays of up to 14 days for no
    fee. It is popular with Snowbirds who camp their RVs on the flat desert in spring to enjoy the
    mountain backed setting.

    Saddle Mountain’s popularity rest with rockhounds who for decades have found fire agate
    “rough” to a greater or lesser degree. Its accessibility to nearly any kind of vehicle adds to its
    reputation, as comfortable camping near any productive ground is rare. An extended stay lets a
    rockhound put in the hours necessary to find something.
    Numerous web pages and YouTube videos exist about Saddle Mountain. This is one.

    YouTube has videos from both the RV and rockhound point of view. Look for key words like
    these on YouTube: Saddle Mountain / BLM Dispersed Camping / Tonopah AZ. /fire agate
    Saddle Mountain.
    Mitchell’s Gem Trails of Arizona contains specific road directions to Saddle Mountain.

    BLM Phoenix District Office
    21605 North 7th Avenue
    Phoenix, AZ 85027
    33°29.471' N 112°05.002' W
    The Phoenix District Office is composed of two Field Offices. One is the Lower Sonoran Field
    Office, covering a significant part of Maricopa County, including Saddle Mountain. The other is
    the Hassayampa Field Office, which manages almost one million acres north of Interstate 10.

    Tonto National Forest
    Supervisor’s Office – No public services
    2324 E. McDowell Rd.
    Phoenix, AZ 85006

    Cave Creek Ranger District
    40202 N. Cave Creek Rd.
    Scottsdale, AZ 85262
    33°50.940' N 111°50.118' W

    Mesa Ranger District
    5140 E. Ingram St.
    Mesa, AZ 85205
    33°26.965' N 111°43.268' W
    38 mineral districts were established over the years in the Tonto Basin. Mines recovered
    everything from lead to gold. Many other commodities were pulled from the Tonto’s heavily
    mineralized ground. The Tonto NF includes the Diamond Rim Quartz Collecting Site near
    Payson in Globe County.

    Next up: More from Kingman and beyond.
    Last edited by Tom_H007; 04-24-2023 at 12:40 AM. Reason: removed inactive links

  5. Default Chloride, Kingman, Petrified Wood and more

    Mohave County (Kingman)

    Elkhart Avenue
    Chloride, Arizona 86431
    Contact the museum through:
    Chloride Chamber of Commerce
    PO Box 268
    Chloride, Arizona 86431
    35°24.835' N 114°11.968' W (Near center of town)
    A onetime silver mining camp in Mohave County, Arizona, Chloride is considered the oldest
    continuously inhabited mining town in the state. It’s somewhat confusing to drive the backstreets of the city as land ownership is uncertain to visitors. Nearby ground is well claimed, research before going.

    Merle Anderson, Chamber of Commerce Secretary, says that, “We do have some rocks and
    minerals on display in our museum, but we are a very small museum, so only have a few. Many
    specimens are available in our area by ATV though, and lots of rock and mineral buffs come
    here and go exploring in the desert to find them, especially since we are surrounded by BLM
    land. There are many old mines in the area accessible by ATV, and the Kingman Turquoise
    Mine (not accessible to the public) is right up the road with a very nice shop where they sell the
    turquoise. Chloride is a fantastic place to mention for rocks and minerals. Our town is a
    veritable museum of old mining equipment, and history in itself. Chloride was specifically
    formed because of the ‘rocks’ in the immediate area. So, you can see, that one can get much
    more here in Chloride than just a look at rocks and minerals.”
    Seasonal hours.

    Mohave Museum
    400 West Beale Street (Extremely close to Historic Route 66)
    Kingman, AZ 86401
    35°11.423' N 114°03.694' W
    This museum is all about Mohave County. In Arizona, Mohave is spelled here with an “H,”
    whereas in neighboring California, it is most often spelled with a “J.” The museum has a number
    of rock and gem displays featuring local materials. An especially nice case features turquoise
    carvings commissioned by S.A. Colbaugh and his wife. Colbaugh founded Colbaugh Processing,
    still in business, their material Kingman turquoise. The museum has a terrific railroad caboose in
    back without “Keep Off” signs.

    BLM Kingman Field Office
    2755 Mission Boulevard
    Kingman, AZ 86401
    35°11.394' N 114°00.864' W
    The BLM Kingman Field Office is part of the BLM Colorado River District. it manages the
    Burro Creek Campground and surrounding BLM land, including the Burro Creek Wilderness

    Questa Fire Agate Mine
    Don Nelson
    9049 (Old Route 66) West Oatman Highway
    Golden Valley, AZ 86413
    35°02.241' N 114°20.539' W

    These coordinates locate the rugged dirt driveway to Don Nelson’s private property. From his
    land he directs rockhounds to his nearby claims. Take the driveway for a few hundred yards until it forks. Bear right. No trailers or RVs should go down that road. Little turn around room exists at his house where people receive an orientation and pay their fee. Open year round but it is vital to call first to make arrangements. Nelson’s driveway is easy to find if coming from Kingman. It’s just a few miles from the store at Cool Springs, a Route 66 landmark.

    If coming from Laughlin, on the other side of the hill, head south to Boundary Cone Road. Take
    that road which eventually hooks up with the Oatman Highway. Using only the physical street
    address for Nelson’s driveway may lead to complete confusion for any navigation device when
    coming from the west. The area approaching Oatman lacks cell coverage and most smartphone
    navigating apps will stop working. Use GPS coordinates instead with a dedicated nav unit. A
    hardcopy atlas or road map is also helpful, unfortunately, most are too big in scale to show
    smaller roads like Boundary Cone. Do not take any off-pavement roads to the claim area.

    Back to the fire agates. They are a type of chalcedony, broadly speaking, quartz. At this location
    they are found within rhyolite, the matrix or host rock. And there is hard clay all around. A
    rockhound generally searches for large pieces of rock which might contain a fire agate. At the
    bench, a collector must cut away the matrix toward a promising bit of calcedony. The hope is
    that their stone will eventually reveal a display of colors or fire. This gemstone, therefore, does
    not come out of the ground fully presented. Instead, it takes a talented lapidarist to bring out the stone’s beauty. Rough pieces, however, have a charm and beauty by themselves and many are left uncarved because of that. Their bubbly shape is called botryoidal.

    Don Nelson is an engaging personality, delighted to explain all about fire agates and the long
    history of the claims. He and a helping miner named Al, usually work side by side with
    rockhounds to coach them on the best way to recover the agate. At the time this author visited,
    work centered around a specific hole that had been dug by hand over the last two years. There
    was no need to wander the claims, looking for a promising spot. That spot had already been
    found. Nelson also sells rough and finished material. Bring cash in small bills, for any purchase
    or the dig fee.

    The United States Geological Survey reports that, “Arizona is the only State currently to have
    commercial production of fire agate. Fire agate is a form of chalcedony which contains inclusion
    of iron oxides that result in a play of colors much like that of precious opal. Eleven operations in
    Arizona report either commercial production of fire agate or dig-for-fee production. The material
    is produced in Graham, Greenlee, Maricopa, Mohave, and Yuma Counties.”

    Burro Creek Recreation Site
    Burro Creek Campground

    Burro Creek Campground Road
    34°32.163' N 113°27.112' W Coordinates for BLM campground
    34°32.02667' N 113°25.935 W Coordinates for preferred intersection of Burro Creek
    Campground Road and Highway 93
    BLM’s Burro Creek Recreation Site, known to rockhounds as Burro Creek, is frequented mostly
    for agates. It is approximately 60 miles northwest of Wickenburg. Wikeiup is Burro Creek’s
    nearest town, with gasoline and limited supplies available. Rock and Gem Clubs from as far as
    Utah make field trips to Burro Creek, sometimes each year. It is a beautiful area.

    For your first visit, go with a group to find the best spots. People camp at BLM’s Burro Creek
    Campground since there are no local hotels. Fee charged. Most collecting is done on the other
    side of Highway 93. Consult Gem Trails of Arizona if nothing else.

    The Kingman Field Office manages the area as well as the nearby Upper Burro Creek
    Wilderness Area.
    Inquire about the group campground of somewhat small size. A nasty barbed wire fence encloses the campground, a few fence breaks allow creek access.

    Navajo County

    Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Company
    147 Highway 180
    Holbrook, AZ 86025
    34°53.433' N 110°09.581' W
    Self-billed as the largest rock shop in the world, this store may qualify as such. Located on the
    way to the Petrified Forest National Park, the outside rock yard contains tons of petrified wood, a veritable forest of its own. Inside, polished pieces present themselves in all forms, from table
    tops to book ends.

    DoBell’s Curios/Rhonda's Petrified Wood Dig at Dobell Ranch
    P.O. Box 691
    9274 Highway 180
    Holbrook, AZ 86025
    34°47.521' N 109°53.611' W
    Facebook: Search for “Rhonda’s Petrified Wood-dig at Dobell-Ranch”
    Rhonda DoBell operates this petrified wood fee-dig operation. The driveway is right before the
    road to the south entrance of the Petrified Forest National Park, 19 miles from Holbrook. The
    rockhound is close if the Petrified Forest Gift Shop is in view.
    The dig site is three miles from the house with the highway signboard. Call Rhonda when you
    get to the signboard or before. The operators may be at the dig.

    Crystal Forest Museum and Gifts
    Highway 180
    Holbrook, AZ 86025
    34°47.530' N 109°53.476' W
    You can’t miss this shop. Its sign must be a hundred feet across. It’s at the corner of Highway
    180 and Petrified Forest Road.

    Petrified Forest Gift Shop
    6492 Petrified Forest Road
    Holbrook, AZ 86025
    34°47.586' N 109°53.545' W
    Another gift shop on the way to the National Park.

    Pima County (Tucson)

    Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
    2021 North Kinney Road
    Tucson AZ 85743
    32°14.692' N 111°09.986' W
    Major natural history museum and accompanying grounds. Holds kid’s programs. “We have an
    extensive Sonoran Desert region gem, mineral, and fossil collection totaling 14,095 catalogued
    specimens, some of which are on display at the Earth Sciences Center. Our relatively new
    vertebrate paleontology collection contains the first and only significant dinosaur skeleton from
    Southern Arizona.”

    The University of Arizona Gem and Mineral Museum
    Old Pima County Courthouse
    115 North Church Ave
    Tucson, AZ 85701
    32°13.407' N 110°58.522' W

    World-wide collection but emphasizes Arizona and Mexico minerals. Meteorites. “The University of Arizona Gem & Mineral Museum is dedicated to providing public education
    and the preservation of minerals and meteorites while also serving the research needs of
    professionals, students and collectors. The collection is world-wide in scope, but with specific
    emphasis on minerals from Arizona and Mexico.”

    The Coronado National Forest
    Supervisor's Office
    300 W. Congress St.
    Tucson, AZ 85701
    32°13.333' N 110°58.546' W
    Vast national forest in many parts. 1.78 million acres across the mountains of southeastern
    Arizona and southwestern New Mexico.

    The Asarco Mineral Discovery Center
    1421 West Pima Mine Road
    Sahuarita, AZ 85629
    31°59.883' N 110°59.737 W
    Large open-pit copper mine tour. Small fee charged. Visitor center is free, includes excellent
    exhibits on copper recovery and copper mineral examples. Great place to visit in February if in
    Tucson for the shows. Call ahead for reservations. 15 miles south of Tucson. The nearby Desert
    Diamond Casino has bathrooms and food.

    Arrive an hour before a tour begins to allow time to visit the gift shop, exhibits, and outdoor
    garden which is arrayed with mining equipment. The Visitor Center has impressive copper
    mineral displays and short movies explaining the mining and milling process. The gift shop may
    have copper ore rough from the mine for sale.

    Take a telephoto lens for shooting the maneuverings of distant haul trucks. Overlook positions
    have fence openings that allow photography. With the quick pace of the tour, a monopod is the
    fastest way to set up.

    Arizona’s official motto is “The Copper State” and mines like this power that statement. The
    mine processes tons of so-called overburden to recover minute amounts of copper and other
    minerals. But that amount adds up quickly with fleets of haul trucks carrying 240 tons or 340
    tons of material at a time. One ton of ore eventually produces 13 pounds of copper. 189 tons of
    ore concentrate leaves the Mission Mine every day for ASARCO’s smelter in Hayden, Arizona.
    It then goes to their Amarillo, Texas refinery. The pit area from which all of this comes
    represents what’s known as the Mission ore body.

    The Mission ore body originated from volcanic and tectonic activity 60 to 100 million years ago.
    Metal-bearing fluid expelled from cooling magma pushed up from the earth's interior, leaving
    the present ground rich in sulfide minerals. Sometimes called a skarn deposit, the dominant
    mineral is chalcopyrite, the chief ore of copper. It is finely disseminated through the rocks of the
    complex, which include argillite, arkosite, quartzite, and limestone. To the author’s eye, it
    looked like a bottomless pit of caliche and alluvium. Other minerals found here include galena,
    pyrite, silver, molybdenite, and sphalerite. Precious metals tend to follow copper through
    flotation recovery and eventual smelting. This can contribute significantly to a mine’s revenue.
    Indeed, in 2016, the Mission Mine produced 1.3 million ounces of silver.

    Upon leaving, make sure to pick up the pamphlet at the visitor center entitled “Your Visit to
    ASARCO GRUPO MEXICO Mineral Discovery Center.” $4.00.

    Next up: More from Florence and beyond.
    Last edited by Tom_H007; 06-08-2023 at 01:27 AM. Reason: updated Questa link again

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Phoenix, Arizona

    Default This is Great!

    Welcome to the Forum, Thomas, and thank you for posting what appears to be a great resource! My wife's parents were hard-core Rockhounds here in Arizona, beginning back in the 1950's. They spent quite a lot of time in the places you're referencing, and they enjoyed themselves immensely. Rockhounding is a better excuse than most for getting off the beaten path; it's nice to see that the hobby is still alive and well!

    Rick Quinn

  7. Default Finishing up Arizona (Florence, Jerome, Nogales and Yuma)

    Pinal County (Florence)

    BLM’s Safford Field Office manages areas in Cochise, Graham, Greenlee, and Pinal Counties.
    See their contact information under the Cochise County entry.

    Santa Cruz County (Nogales)
    Pimeria Alta Historical Society and Museum
    136 North Grand Avenue
    Nogales, Arizona 85621

    Duquesne Ghost Town Area
    Duquesne, Arizona serves as the central point for any fee/dig activities that might occur in this
    long-closed area. Green garnets, milky quartz crystals, secondary copper minerals and
    outcroppings of Japan Law twins are noted here.

    Schwartz Fine Minerals has been trying to arrange fee digs in Duquesne. Contact them through
    their website or through their Facebook page. They respond by FB Messenger. Or call Rick and Jill Pitrone at 520-860-0219. Even if digs have been cancelled, we should thank these people for
    trying to arrange them.

    Yavapai County (Prescott)

    Jerome Historical Society Mine Museum
    200 Main Street
    Jerome, AZ 86331
    34°45.057' N 112°07.093' W
    The Douglas Mansion has been a landmark in Jerome since 1916 when James S. Douglas built it on the hill above the Little Daisy Mine. This converted home presents Jerome area history along with photographs, artifacts, and minerals.

    Yuma County (Yuma)

    Castle Dome Museum
    Castle Dome Road
    Yuma, AZ
    33°02.807' N 114°10.679' W
    Museum with a ghost town setting that preserves Castle Dome City’s history. Associated with the Hull Mine. The Hull Mine has an outstanding fluorescent wall, a natural occurrence of fluorescent minerals. Book ahead for mine tours.
    Fee charged. Seasonal hours. Call first.

    BLM Yuma Field Office
    7341 E 30th St.
    Yuma, AZ 85365
    32°40.408' N 114°30.426' W
    Manages campsites near Quartzsite, variously called Dome Rock Road and Dome Rock Mountain. The Dome Rock Mountain Camping Area allows 14-day stays.

    Next up: California and beyond.
    Last edited by Tom_H007; 04-24-2023 at 12:02 AM. Reason: removed inactive links

  8. Default Northern and Central (western) California


    This section lists important fee digs, open collecting ground, and various rock related sites and
    attractions in California. Otie Braden’s Gem Trails of Southern California is an essential
    accompaniment, along with Rockhound Barstow by Justin Zzyzx. (Both first and second
    editions) As with all collecting spots, even those mentioned below, proceed with care. Leave
    gates as found, respect claim markers, keep off tribal land, and diligently work to avoid private

    Inyo County

    Nopah Range Wilderness Area and South Nopah Range Wilderness Area
    Trilobite collecting site and general exploration area
    Tecopa Road /Old Spanish Trail
    35°53.070' N 116°03.881' W —Roadcuts for trilobite
    Roadcuts here on the Old Spanish Trail Highway yield partial trilobite specimens. The
    coordinates above fix on the parking area for the site, essentially a wide road pullout. The
    Highway is also known as the Tecopa Road and the area itself is southwest of Pahrump, Nevada.

    Digging locations in the shale are obvious as the area has been worked for decades. Brick
    hammer recommended as always for splitting shale. Handsome country, the area returns beauty
    and tranquility if not a complete bug. Blue colored lichen on some rocks.

    This highway marks the dividing line between these two similarly named Wilderness Areas. As
    these areas allow casual collecting, day hiking and wandering from the highway may reward
    rockhounding. The Nopah are marine mountains, mostly limestone, shale, a little slate, much
    quartzite. BLM’s Barstow Field Office manages these WAs.

    Kern County (Bakersfield)

    Fee/Dig: Bakersfield area fossils
    The Ernst Quarries
    Round Mountain Road
    Bakersfield, CA 93308
    Directions at their website, no street address for the gathering point
    35°26.779' N 118°53.924' W
    The coordinates above are for the staging area but do not rely upon them. They were not
    provided by the operator of the quarries. I took them at the meeting point. Follow the complete
    driving directions at their website.
    “The Ernst Quarries, located near Sharktooth Hill, California, are home of the largest deposit of
    Miocene marine fossils in the world. The property sprawls over 260 acres and comprises three
    distinct quarries. Each quarry yields fossil specimens of various colors and varieties. Together,
    they offer a unique natural history experience not found anywhere else.”

    This 150-million-year old collecting site is a fascinating visit. Shark teeth are the big draw and in
    small sizes are plentiful to collect off the ground with patient looking. Larger sizes require
    digging and screening. The dig site is in isolated hills, so bring everything needed for the day:
    food, water, sunscreen, gloves, and so on. Not open after big rains or in the summer. Late April
    or early May maybe the driest months but there is no guaranteeing the weather.

    Jeff Ernst is the gracious guide and thoughtful owner of the quarries. He provides frequent
    updates on his website about hill conditions and if a dig will proceed on schedule. Visitor
    signups are through his website. Bring cash or a check to the staging area. Download the
    information package beforehand and fill out the release form before arrival. This is very
    important for visitors coming from long distances who may not have a printer at their hotel.

    There are alabaster or gypsum rocks on the hill and selenite crystals, also in rock form. Ask Jeff
    if you can go poking around. Look, too, for marine vertebrae when you dig, not just shark teeth.
    On my visit I picked two off the ground without digging. Jeff said they could belong to anything
    from a junior whale to a sea lion, the identity now lost to time. Interestingly, he said that close
    examination of anything like this material eventually reveals tooth marks. It was not an easy life
    in the ancient seas.

    In case of a rainout, a rockhound can see pieces from the quarries by visiting the Buena Vista
    Museum of Natural History and Science
    in Bakersfield. Visiting before a dig is an excellent way
    to get oriented. The museum is at 2018 Chester Ave. Bakersfield, CA 93301.

    Desert Discoveries Rock Shop
    12131 Boron Ave
    Boron, CA 93516
    35°00.076' N 117°39.003' W
    A must-stop rock shop, especially before or after visiting the nearby Rio Tinto Borax Mine.
    Located off State Route 58 between Barstow and Bakersfield, this shop in Boron always has a
    good selection of desert minerals and local advice. The 20 Mule Museum is nearby in case the
    rock shop is closed. Call ahead as the proprietor is often off rockhounding. You can’t expect
    small businesses like this to stay open every when only two or three people might stop in.

    The Rio Tinto Borax Mine
    14486 Borax Rd (Headquarters’ Office, not open to the public)
    Boron, CA 93516
    Visitor Center
    35°01.805' N 117°41.245' W
    Borax and related mineral mining goes on near Boron at the largest open pit mine in California.
    Great views from the free Visitor Center. The parking lot has room for RVs, trailers, and buses.
    No plant or mine tours but good photography possible from the overlooks. Bring a tripod for
    panorama shots.

    The visitor center has wonderful displays of desert minerals commonly extracted from the mine.
    These include colemanite, ulexite, kernite, and borax. Free postcards with samples of these
    minerals attached are available. These materials may be available in bigger sizes from piles at the far end of the visitor center parking lot. Selection varies throughout the year. No food available at the center but water and bathrooms are provided.

    A Center highlight is a life-size fiberglass twenty-mule team in harness. A perfect background
    for pictures with mules that will never bite or kick.

    Leave State Route 58 at exit 196 west of Boron. From the freeway, head north on Borax Road
    for three miles. The visitor center is high on a hill. Drive past the unattended guard shack at the
    facility’s main entrance and continue on an unpaved road up the hill.

    Rand Desert Museum

    161 Butte Ave
    Randsburg, CA 93554
    35°22.080' N 117°39.323' W
    Editor, Historian, Lay Curator: J. Bart Parker
    Only 22 miles from Ridgecrest, this living ghost town makes an interesting stop when their
    stores and attractions are open. Do not arrive too early in the morning. The Rand Desert Museum is manned by volunteers and only open on weekend unless other arrangements are made. Mining history is a main focus.
    “A visit to Randsburg, California is a visit to the past, when the mining camps of the Mojave
    were boomtowns and gold was being dug out of the hills. The community has survived the many
    perils the desert mining camps faced, and some of its residents still work the land for its hidden
    riches. It is a living ghost town, a working mining town that likes having some — but not too
    much — company. There are no stoplights, gas stations or malls here; just an unpretentious,
    quiet little town that enjoys its place in desert history.” Len Wilcox, DesertUSA
    Open weekends. Call ahead.

    Minerals Unlimited
    127 N Downs Street
    Ridgecrest, CA 93555
    35°37.425' N 117°41.271'

    Next to a Salvation Army thrift shop sits one of the finest rock and mineral stores in the
    Southwest. It’s operated for seventy years and has a great selection of minerals inside and plenty of rough outside. I have developed most of my rare earth mineral reference collection from this store.

    A rockhound or collector can check the store’s website but a visit is best. It makes a great stop
    when visiting either the Kern River Canyon Area or when going toward Death Valley. It is a
    treat meeting Wendi, the woman owner and operator. Call her Ace. But telephone first.

    Bureau of Land Management
    Ridgecrest Field Office

    300 S Richmond Road
    Ridgecrest, CA 93555
    35°37.103' N 117°38.858' W
    Manages a wide swath of land in Kern and Inyo County, including much in the Highway 178

    Highway 178 Kern County/Inyo County
    This highway corridor is a treat in spring and fall, although summer weather is good at its higher
    elevations. The highway runs through a mix of the Sequoia National Forest, BLM managed
    lands, and private holdings. Quite a bit through the Kern River Canyon. Good rockhounding
    opportunities on both USFS and BLM lands. Respect claims if noted.

    Roadcuts are amazing throughout the area. You might think you are looking at granite with black looking splotches. You’re most probably looking at granodiorite with inclusions called xenoliths.

    After randomly pulling over by the side of the road, I came up with a rock that when broken
    revealed black tourmaline, known as schroll. Not gem quality, but it was tourmaline and it was
    now mine. Toward Bakersfield is the Kern River Uranium Area, whose boundaries can be
    looked up online. Having a roadside geology book for this area is an excellent thought, although
    just looking around and exploring is extremely worthwhile. No heavy commercial truck traffic,
    although two or three of these vehicles might be encountered in an hour.

    The Kern river is popular for swimming and rafting and it routinely kills people.

    Maturango Museum
    100 East Las Flores Ave
    Ridgecrest, CA 93555
    35°37.848' N 117°40.158' W
    Guided tours go in spring and fall from Ridgecrest to visit Little Petroglyph Canyon. The
    Museum is the only group that can arrange accessed. At Little Petroglyph, rock art images by the thousands were etched into canyon walls and boulders by native people long ago. The canyon is on the property of the China Lake Naval Air Station. The NAS suffered considerable damage in a recent earthquake and may not be currently allowing visitors. Call or look online for current information on this bucket list tour.

    Riverside County (Riverside)

    Wiley’s Well Campground
    33°29.610' N 114°53.286' W
    Newly renovated by BLM, Wiley’s Well Campground sits in the lower Colorado Desert in
    eastern Riverside County. The Hauser Geode Beds, if they still exist, and the now closed Opal
    Hill Fire Agate Mine are in the vicinity by way of 4WD roads. Many trails and areas to collect
    are here along with the Bradshaw Trail National Scenic Byway.

    Nearest intersection is Wiley’s Well Road and the Bradshaw Trail. Administered by the Palm
    Springs South Coast Field Office. Proceed with caution using the Owlshead website described
    under San Bernardino County.

    Bureau of Land Management
    Palm Springs South Coast Field Office

    1201 Bird Center Drive
    Palm Springs, CA 92262
    33°50.414' N 116°30.318' W

    San Bernardino County (San Bernardino)
    San Bernardino County is the largest county in the United States. It incorporates the western end of the Mojave Desert whose total area covers 47,000 square miles. Two major highways run east and west across it.

    I-15 connects Los Angeles to Las Vegas and beyond. I-40 starts in Barstow, then goes 155 miles
    through California’s Mojave Desert to Needles, California. It then crosses into Arizona and
    eventually winds up in North Carolina. I-40 parallels much of old Route 66. It is from these two
    highways that most rockhounding trips begin.

    Desert driving in California and elsewhere is always full of surprises, especially in navigating.
    California’s BLM offers assistance by contributing to this website.

    The site above tries showing every California BLM road and trail but their suggested routes are
    deceptively simple. The many twists, turns, and hazards of desert roads are not well represented.

    Take multiple copies of maps or electronic navigation aids when going off-pavement. Be ready
    for washouts, hardpacked dirt roads turning into sand bogs, non-existent signposts, illegal gates, closed roads without any indication of same, and on and on. This website will surely improve but for right now, check multiple maps.

    San Bernardino

    Valley Prospectors of San Bernardino, Inc. ,
    1729 East Base Line Rd.
    San Bernardino, CA 92410
    34°07.280' N 117°14.978'
    Known as Valley Prospectors, this well-respected non-profit has been in operation for decades.
    They have multiple claims in different areas, including northern ground near Downieville in
    Sierra County. The address above is for club meetings. Join.

    Afton Canyon – Collecting area 27 miles west of Baker
    BLM’s Afton Canyon Campground
    35°02.346' N 116°22.971' W
    The Afton Canyon area is open to rockhounding. Jaspers, agates and such. BLM’s campground
    is a few miles off I-15 from the Afton Road exit. The Mojave River there is usually dry enough
    to walk across. The road descending to the main campground can get blown out by rain. The
    group campground on top of the hill is always accessible. Check with BLM’s Barstow office for
    road conditions. Rockhound Barstow contains more information on Afton Canyon and
    surrounding areas.


    Bureau of Land Management
    Barstow Field Office

    2601 Barstow Road
    Barstow, CA 92311
    34°52.363' N 117°01.240' W

    The Desert Discovery Center
    831 Barstow Rd
    Barstow, CA 92311
    34°53.468' N 117°01.330' W
    Cooperative venture by several agencies to present information about California desert life. Free
    admission. Hands on viewing of the Old Woman Meteorite, second largest meteorite in the
    United States. It weighed 6,070 pounds when discovered in 1975 in San Bernardino County. A
    block away is the Mojave River Valley Museum, featuring mineral and rock displays.

    Mojave River Valley Museum
    270 E. Virginia Way
    Barstow, CA 92311
    34°53.284' N 117°01.561' W
    Free admission to a great museum. A long block from the Desert Discovery Center. San
    Bernardino County history, including mining and local geology.

    Diamond Pacific Tool Corporation
    2620 W. Main Street
    Barstow, CA 92311
    34°53.13167' N 117°04.76167' W
    Lapidary equipment manufacturer and rock shop. Anyone who has made a cab knows the name
    Diamond Pacific. Their machines are now sold in over fifty countries and they still come from
    this one factory. Their rock shop features a good selection of local rough, slabs, and some
    finished stones. Topo maps. Source for buying Rockhound Barstow, the only book for collecting the Mohave anywhere near Barstow or farther out into the Mojave. That book is described below. But, first, more about Diamond Pacific.

    “We welcome you to visit our retail store. Retail shop hours vary, please call for current
    information. Closed on holidays and Saturday preceding Monday holiday. Please call to verify
    Saturday hours.” Plant tours may be available. Call first. Go early in the day, they shut down
    close to three or four unless they know someone is coming.

    With luck you may meet Bill Depue, Founder and President of Diamond Pacific. He founded the
    company in 1973 and they have been in continuous operation ever since. In good times and bad,under Bill's management, they have never missed a payroll.

    Bill began rockhounding before he was ten and can talk authoritatively on all aspects of Mojave
    rocks and stones in general. He works up cabs to this day. But never using a template. When I
    last visited, I was running late and yet they held the store open for me. Though I had been in
    before, I hadn’t met Mr. Depue, who was waiting for me behind the counter and gave me a great price on an agate slab. As well as a tour of the facility.

    Rockhound Barstow 2nd Edition
    Justin Zzyzx, illustrated by Brandy Zzyzx

    The best collecting guide to California’s Mojave Desert. Available at certain rock shops or at
    Amazon, which offers a Kindle book option. Get it before traveling anywhere in the Mojave
    from Hesperia to Baker and beyond. Nothing in this book can possibly better describe the
    Mojave than Rockhound Barstow. If you can, hunt out the first edition as well.

    Big Bear

    Gems of the West Rock Shop
    40847 Big Bear Boulevard
    Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
    34°14.618' N 116°54.640' W
    Not visited but intriguing and certainly worth a stop. Just a few miles from San Bernardino itself.

    Mojave Trails National Monument
    Near Amboy, California.
    Located between Barstow and Needles along Route 66, this 1.6-million-acre National Monument
    features everything from rough-hewn mountains to sand dunes and even lava flows. Includes a
    350,000-acre Wilderness Area within its borders. BLM managed. Rockhounding allowed. No
    visitor center.

    Amboy Crater is the Monument’s most prominent feature, with no collecting permitted at the
    actual site. Parking lot and trailhead are at the end of Crater Road, accessed by Highway 95.
    A caution in this area. At least one rest area has water but it is not potable. Make sure to always
    have enough water whenever going into the desert, even if you are simply touring by day in a
    Parking lot coordinates are approximate:
    34°33.441' N 115°46.866' W

    BLM Marble Mountain Fossil Bed Collecting Site
    34°31.572' N 115°28.401' W — Center of area
    34°31.511' N 115°29.453' W — Marble Mountain campground
    The Marble Mountain Fossil Beds lie in a 60-feet thick shale formation which dates back over
    550 million years. Trilobites are said to be numerous but whether a full bug can be had is

    Jim Boone’s site,, has the best map to this area. He calls the site the Cadiz Trilobite Quarry.

    Chambless Rock Collecting Area
    Chambless lies at the southern boundary of the Trilobite Wilderness. Hematite and magnetite
    may be found there, in the reddish dirt or tailings near abandoned mine entrances. Green epidote might be located in washes. Small garnets and some epidote reported in nearby canyons. Fossils possible in a gray ridge of limestone in the area.

    Once again, has the best map to Chambless, with GPS coordinates for every
    turn in the road. Location photos, too. Ask BLM in Needles for current directions, and for further information. The Needles’ BLM office is very helpful and
    responds to e-mails.

    Mining Supplies and Rock Shop
    16808 F Main St.
    Hesperia, CA 92345
    Located in the Stater Brothers Shopping Center
    34°25.301' N 117°17.778' W
    A woman-owned rock shop featured in two articles of Rock&Gem Magazine, Mining Supplies
    supports rock and gem and prospecting clubs in Hesperia and Victorville. Field trips have been
    conducted and they offer lapidary classes for a small fee. I made my first and only rock carving
    there, a key fob out of jade. It was a great experience. A nice selection of rocks, minerals and
    slabs. The shop, unfortunately, may be in the process of being sold. Check before going.


    Bureau of Land Management
    Needles Field Office

    1303 South U.S. Hwy 95
    Needles, CA 92363
    Manages the Marble Mountain Rock Collecting Area and several other recreation areas including
    the Mojave Trails National Monument.

    Next up: More from Southern California and beyond.
    Last edited by Tom_H007; 04-24-2023 at 12:02 AM. Reason: removed inactive links

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Phoenix, Arizona

    Default Missing Section?

    Hello again:

    What happened to:

    "Next up: More from Kingman and beyond."

    I was looking forward to that section, since it includes some of my late in-laws favorite rock hounding sites. Was it excluded accidentally?


  10. Default The Southern Mother Lode of California (San Diego County)

    San Diego County (San Diego)

    The Collector Fine Jewelry/Pala International Inc
    912 South Live Oak Park Road
    Fallbrook, CA 92028
    33°22.471' N 117°12.556' W
    A one-of-a-kind jewelry and rare mineral store specializing in tourmaline. The Collector is only
    a few miles from the Pala Mining District. The owner is Bill Larson, known world-wide as a
    geologist and authority on gems and rare minerals. He has made more than 150 overseas trips in
    his pursuit of minerals and colored stones. With any luck, Bill may be around and you will
    discover how little you know. I don’t mean that despairingly, only with humor. Larson is
    someone you learn from, someone who honors you with his time.

    The store’s central show room emphasizes jewelry, however, there is a marvelous gem pegmatite
    pocket exhibit off the main floor. It took four months to recover the pocket intact. If personnel
    and time permit, a rockhound may be shown other areas featuring displays of extremely rare
    minerals and high-end gems. These equal or surpass any museum or Tucson exhibit.

    Fallbrook Gem and Mineral Museum
    123 W Alvarado St B
    Fallbrook, CA 92028
    33°22.946' N 117°15.125' W
    Few gem and mineral clubs have a museum or gift shop, let alone one of this quality. It’s an
    outstanding effort of the Fallbrook Gem and Mineral Society, containing examples of San Diego
    County minerals and gems and a fluorescent mineral room. Many local specimens for sale,
    including three-dollar grab bags of local materials, each small mineral duly described.

    The Ocean View Mine and the Pala Chief Mine
    37304 Magee Rd, Pala, CA 92059
    Jeff Swanger, Owner and Chief Operator
    $75 a person
    Special instructions to reach the mine at their website and also discussed below. Oceanview Mines, LLC offers two fee/dig experiences in the Pala Mining District. Commonly found are tourmalines, kunzites, and morganites, along with other sparkly things like pink
    lepidolite. The Pala area, a pegmatite mining district, has been actively worked for gemstones
    since the turn of the 19th century.

    A screen and wash activity is held three times a week in season throughout much of the year. Online videos produced by Jeff Swanger and crew show the entire process. This easy-to-do activity will return attractive stones.

    The second experience is held twice a month for part of the year. Bring your own tools. The Pala Chief fee/dig allows rockhounds to search through old tailings and mine dumps, along with hacking at the side of Chief Mountain itself. At some point the mine operator might work an
    excavator, digging a six-foot deep trench to bring up fresh dirt and rock for searching. Anything found can be kept.

    Follow website directions to the mine with care. Their directions start in Pala. First, get to Magee Road using Highway 76; the mine’s entrance road is a few miles from there. Only Magee’s south entrance from Highway 76 should be attempted. In Pala there is a Magee Place that is not Magee Road. If Magee Road is not in one’s navigation device, try looking for the Pala Raceway. Magee Road is further east on 76.

    The mine property road is rough but this author did see a Mini Cooper negotiate its entire length. Staff will happily load people and gear into a buggy if a driver does not wish to drive the road. Bring sunscreen even if it is overcast, snacks, and tools if you are doing the Pala Chief. Full
    details at their website. Driest weather month may be May. Resist taking too many photographs, instead, dive into digging or screening as long as you can and as hard as you can. You are going to find something wonderful. Oh, and if you can’t go, you can order a bag of pay dirt if they are still offering it. I found enough nice things in what they sent me to convince me to go to the mine in person.
    Magee Road and Highway 76 coordinates:
    33°21.830' N 117°03.440' W

    Himalaya Mine
    c/o/ Lake Henshaw Resort
    26439 Hwy 76
    Santa Ysabel, CA 92070
    33°14.166' N 116°45.823' W
    This is another screen/wash activity located at the Lake Henshaw Resort. It’s on the road to Julian, with other rock related attractions along the way. Rockhounds go through tailings from the famous Himalaya Mine. Open year-round, generally Thursday through Sunday from 10 AM
    to 3 PM. Call ahead to confirm details.

    The screen and wash is out of view in back. To get there, go into the market on the property and get a gate pass code. Drive through the gate to the fee/dig. $75 for an adult. Minerals found may be pink and green tourmaline, black tourmaline, quartz crystals, spessertine garnet, lepidolite, and clevelandite. Keep anything found.

    Crossroads Treasures
    30219 CA-78, Santa Ysabel, CA 92070
    33°06.521' N 116°40.501' W
    Rock shop and birding. Thursdays through Sundays. Seasonal hours. Near the intersection of Highways 76 and 79, making it a convenient stop on the way to Wynola and Julian. Minerals and Places to Visit or Collect in the Southwestern United States gems from the Himalaya, Cryogenie, and Pala Chief Mines. The tri-colored blackbird, the western tanager and the black-headed grosbeak frequent the grounds.

    Julian Mountain Gems & Minerals
    2015 Main Street, Suite B
    33°04.653' N 116°36.068' W
    Seasonal days and hours. They are generally open Thursday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. “While we do specialize in mostly quartz, fluorite, and tourmaline, we also carry other crystals and minerals.” Check them while heading to the Eagle and High Peak Mines just a mile or two away.

    Eagle and High Peak Mines
    2320 C St
    Julian, CA 92036
    33°04.926' N 116°35.710' W
    1000’ feet of hard rock tunnel on old gold mine property. Guided tour. Low headroom and a steep stairway at the two-thirds mark. Call to see if a mobility-challenged person can be accommodated for the first stretch. There’s much to see before that stairway. Great introduction
    to a hard rock mine. After the tour, visitors can chat with their guide about local rockhounding.

    $10 charge. Gold panning taught. Visitors can’t keep the gold but learning to pan is worth more than any colors found. Impressive non-working stamp mill on the property along with other gold mining related equipment. Gift shop with rocks from different countries. Tip your tour guide if you can afford to. These are nice people.

    The Julian area has been called the Southern Mother Lode of California.

    Goffs Schoolhouse
    37198 Lanfair Road (Near Goffs Road and Lanfair Road)
    Goffs, CA 92332
    34°55.281' N 115°04.026' W
    Restored ore crushers including a working 10-Stamp Mill. To see it in operation, one must attend
    a scheduled event when the mill is in operation. E-mail or check their website to see if any such
    events are scheduled.

    Next up: Southern Colorado and beyond.
    Last edited by Tom_H007; 04-24-2023 at 12:02 AM. Reason: removed inactive links

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