I will be taking a short trip to Alpine, AZ (about halfway between
Phoenix and Albuquerque) in October-- one of my daughters is there,
working on wolf re-introduction. I have had only one opportunity
ever to go rock-hounding (in Tennessee) but I loved it, and am
wondering whether anyone can tip me off to opportunities in that
general area. What types of stones might I find there? Is there a
guide that would help me recognize them?
I hope to get to Santa Fe, so I have all the posts about great
places to see there, but any other suggestions for the region would
Noel, you will be in agate country. To the east, you have Luna Lake,
home of the Luna Blue agate. You are near Mulligan Peak, home to some
outstanding purple fortification agate. Fire agate is found at
various locations throughout the area. There is St. Johns agate to
the north, as well as petrified wood.
To the south a ways are Clifton and Morenci, home to a good deal of
azurite and malachite. But the rockhounding there, I think, is best
done with the “silver pick,” as the stuff comes from active mines and
is not found as float.
There is really too much to list with brevity and specificity. I
really recommend that you pick up a guide to Arizona Rockhounding as
a jumping off point.
As PS, fire agate is beautiful stuff, but it is hard to discriminate
between fire agate and brown chalcedony, and the material is pure
hell to cut correctly. If you want some nice pieces to bring home, I
would go for the fortification agates.
Morenci is not far south. Famous turquoise. Amazing huge mine!
Earth’s Upper Crust
4047 W White Mountain Blvd Lakeside AZ
Petrified Wood Co
147 Us Highway 180 Holbrook AZ=
Rainbow Rock Shop
101 Navajo Blvd Holbrook AZ
Stewart’s Petrified Wood And Meteorites
140 Exit 303 N Holbrook AZ
The Rock Factory
Exit 303 Holbrook AZ
1111 W Us Highway 60 Superior AZ
Copper City Rock Shop
566 E Ash St Globe AZ
745 Fegan St Globe AZ
We are a long days drive west, but it is one fine ride through
One of the best rockhounding books I can recommend is “Arizona Roadside Geology” by Halka Chronic. We have a well used copy in the
truck for our all-too-rare-lately road trips.
There’s also an Arizona Gem Trails available, though I don’t know
who the author or publisher are.
Depending on the locality, you can find anything from quartz
crystals, zebra jasper, azurite, dolomite, fossils such as
trilobites and horn corals, chert, sandstone, limestone, basalt,
rhyolite, amethyst (some of the best amethyst known comes from the
Four Peaks mine in AZ).
I believe there is also a “New Mexico Roadside Geology” book but I’m
not sure if it’s by Chronic. VERY generally speaking, the geology of
NM and AZ are very similar. If you e-mail me off list, I’ll get my
copy of Chronic’s book out of the truck and I’ll give you more
If you get near the Phoenix area, give us a call or come by and see
Deb (dredging this up from my “seems like a long time ago”
avocational paleontology in AZ memories)
Having lived in the magical state of AZ, I can help! It’s a great
place to find all sorts of stones! There is a lovely little book,
paperback, called the “Gem Trails of Arizona”. I think it’s available
thru Amazon. We bought this little book when we lived there and
checked out many places near Phoenix including a fantastic 2 hour
trip over 12 miles of ranger trail to get to a place called Agate
Mountain. Good thing we had a 4x4 - couldn’t have done it otherwise.
We arrived at the designated area, got out of the car and promptly
fell down; slid on piles of agate slabs! I’d love to go back someday.
The other place that I remember dearly was labeled as one at which to
find geodes. And find geodes we did, piles of them. It looked as
though they’d rained from the sky! Mind you, they’re coarse, not
very prettily crystalled - calcite I think. But the directions in
this book are clear and everything was right on. The book covers the
whole state so there should be something in there that would fill the
bill. Rockhounding is one of my favourite things - enjoy yourself!
As several of the replies have suggested, use the internet to check
out the links others have provided and also search for Arizona Gem
and Mineral clubs. You might be able to attend a field trip put
together by a local club and benifit from the wealth of information
their members can share. I was able to meet with a southern Colorado
Gem and Mineral club several years ago for a 4-wheel drive trip to
the top of Mt. Antero to search for Aquamarine. On the way up the
mountain the club ran into two men who had just finished working two
weeks at an (obviously) undisclosed location and showed us the
results of their work - dozens of Aquamarine crystals the size of your
fingers and just as many smokey quartz spears over an inch in
diameter and six inches long. Must have been a beautiful pocket of
minerals they discovered!
Travel with a club if you can arrange it! Get advice from them for
safety, tools, and what to expect.
I was born in New Mexico, lived there on and off over the years. I’ve
said many times that when you live there you just learn geology by
infusion. I remember one place (near Picacho Peak) where there was a
beautiful basalt crystal formation, 30 feet away was a cave full of
gypsum crystals, like a gigantic geode, and on the hillside one could
get 2 pounds of fossils in about an hour of picking. There are many
sources, but I would echo another writer - Gem Trails of whichever
state you want. There is Gem Trails of Arizona. They have been in
print since the 30’s or 40’s. They’re dirt cheap, and they’ll say,
“There’s a rose quartz deposit here, it’s public property.” and
there’ll be a hand drawn map with dirt roads and cattle guards and
stuff listed. They really get you down into the back places where few
people even know exist. There’s a wealth of sources, of course, but
Gem Trails will lead you right to the very spot.
I would like to add just one caveat here – there are lots of “Gem
Trails”-type books around. If you can find a recently published one,
chances are it will have good info. Older ones have what was good
info – until they got all worked out by previous visitors using the
book. One other good way to find good stuff is to check with local
rock shops. The can usually give you good
Also be aware that a 4X4 with high clearance is very often required
to reach the ones with good material.