Places and Resources for Rockhounding

Places and Resources for Rockhounding

by Ritika

Rock hounding as a hobby often starts in the most innocuous of ways. Generally it starts with you finding something on the ground and it turns out to be a gemstone or a very pretty example of a colored rock. Soon you get tempted to find another and another and if you hit a lucky patch you could get addicted to the activity. But a newcomer must keep in mind that every day is not a Sunday and after that first lucky hit there may be periods of lull where you get nothing. Don’t give up, take the time out to study and learn all about rocks, their recognition and identification.

Resources you can use

Rock hounding as a hobby often starts in the most innocuous of ways. Generally it starts with you finding something on the ground and it turns out to be a gemstone or a very pretty example of a colored rock. Soon you get tempted to find another and another and if you hit a lucky patch you could get addicted to the activity. But a newcomer must keep in mind that every day is not a Sunday and after that first lucky hit there may be periods of lull where you get nothing. Don’t give up, take the time out to study and learn all about rocks, their recognition and identification.

Recognition of gemstones and mineral is a very important requirement. You could have all the facts of geology at your fingertips but if you cannot identify and recognize what is in front of you then all your knowledge is of not much use. You could then just walk by a very rich outcrop of rock and lose out on some interesting pieces. Stones in the rough are very different from the finished products that we see. Learning all the visual signs of rockhounding are a very important aspect of this hobby.

RockhoundingGet your hands on all the resources which will teach you about gemstones and minerals and the thousand other varieties out there in the rocks. One of the most thorough resources you could find is the Audubon Society Field book which has lots of pictures of gemstones. Everyone has heard of jaspers and rubies, sapphires, agates and emeralds but have you heard about chabazite and orpiment? Surf the net and you will find lots of mineral stone and gem stone galleries which are happy to provide you with visual pictures of every possible rock and mineral documented by man. Try to look for stones in their original state rather than the polished version. Educate yourself on how they look so if you chance upon one you can recognize it.

Museums are another good resource which will give you all the information you need on rocks, gemstones minerals. Here you may find samples in their original raw form and there will be information on where the sample was collected from. People host talk shows and interactive sessions where they recount their experiences and this is vital to your hobby as each rock hounders experience is worth its weight in gold. Wherever you go rockhounding, ensure that you visit the local museum, the local Rockhounding clubs, the tourist information centers and the shops for detailed information. Every place has different features of rocks. If you found garnets in Colorado’s, Ruby hills, remember that in Idaho, the garnet bearing rocks may not look the same due to geographical influences. It basically means you cannot use one place as a reference for another, each place has its own unique features and terrains.

With the study of rocks, their recognition and identification, their features you need to look out for etc all under your belt you can now take the research out in to the wild. Out there in the open you will not see gemstones winking at you in the sun, what you will see are rocks and outcrops that have gemstones and minerals pieces big and small hidden inside them. You must be able to identify external signs on a rock that will tell you if this is a potential find or not.

Places you could start with

Across the world there are lots of places where you can start your hobby of rockhounding. Of course the best place would be your local state or areas in the regions nearby. Most places have paid sites for digging or even free sites which allow for prospecting. There are maps and guide available for sale but for newcomers it is advised that you start off with an established dig and then as you grow in experience you can venture out on your own.

Join the local gem and rock clubs where you can interact with rock hounders who have been in this business for decades. They have all the tricks of the trade up their sleeve and they can give you important guidelines and handy hints. Most will have personal gemstone and mineral collections and tales to tell about each. Rock clubs also organize field trips and you can benefit a lot from these. Once your eyes are trained to spot a potential find and your brain knows what to look for, you will find that your rock hounding trips are very fruitful and enriching in experience and content.

For more information

On the internet you will find there are detailed sites for individual places giving you information on the best sites etc. There are specific books pertaining to specific regions which contain loads of details, for example, the book, Gem Trails of Southern California which has fantastic pictures and important details on the where, how and why of rock hounding. There are others in the series like Gem Trials of Northern California, Oregon, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Washington etc which are all excellent resources of information on rockhounding.

There is a rockhound handbook that contains all you need to know about rockhounding. Besides information there are some logistic requirements like tools, equipment and other basic things. You can learn about the formation of rocks and minerals, the how and the why, learn about what you should look for, how to prepare for a successful trip, how to identify commonly seen gems and minerals, preparation and storing of specimens collected etc.

Besides the US, there are books on prospective rock hunting in the rest of the world also. The list is exhaustive; the places plenty so if you are an avid traveler, adventurer and keen rockhounder then the possibilities are endless, the resources are at your fingertips and all you need to do is pack your kit, your enthusiasm and your sense of adventure and you are ready for some serious gemstone hunting.

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