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Rocks from Around Nevada

Rocks from Around Nevada

Fire season here got a little hard to handle for awhile, so I decided near the end of August to take a little run around Nevada for awhile.  I decided to head for Wells, drop from there to the Ruby mountains, continue on down to Ely, then take hwy 50 back.

In the Wells area, the wind was formidable. It surprised me, as I would not have expected it to be that windy, especially not in late summer. Along with the wind was incredible dust.  I like to travel with windows down, but after just a few minutes of back roads I decided to roll the windows up. Too late. The inside of the rig was dusted – thickly, and closing the windows just sent the dust into the air in choking clouds. So I figured out which windows to open and how far to keep the dust out of my face and things went a little better.

I headed toward back roads to do some exploring.  There were a few that were pretty well maintained.  The offshoot 4WD roads were not as well kept. Many were washed or pitted enough that I couldn’t drive them. There was a lot of jasper (a NV usual no matter where ya go).  I’ll spare the usual pic of a red and yellow jasper and show you a few of the lively greens from the area.


The one in the middle is actually blue rather than green. It’s also got a strange texture to it. It’s almost as opalite like as jaspery. In the long run, though – it’s jasper.  The big green chunk to the right of it really excited me for a minute.  It looks like wood. It’s not, though.  It’s just the way it layered in the mountain that gives it that look.  Still a nice chunk of jasper, though, so I was pleased with it.


There was a lot of opalite up there.  One location had a lot of this pink opalite. This piece is about 6 inches across. Some of the opalite is very brittle and will shatter easily. Some is rather hard – this piece has a fracture or two but it basically a hard piece.



There was a lot of obsidian up there.  There were also a lot of Apache tears – many were the size I’m holding. And yeah – I do know my hands are dirty.  Playing with rocks does that.  I’m thinking anyone interested in this article probably spends as much for soap and emery boards as I do. One of the hazards of the field.



While I did spare you all another pic of the red and yellow jasper which seems to appear almost every place you go in NV……at least Northern NV – I did feel it proper to add a picture of the Nevada agate from there, which also seems to be scattered across the upper part of this state. This was a pretty common find, but had some patterning that seemed might be pretty when cut.



After leaving Wells, I descended south to the Ruby Mountains.  When you get back up into those mountains, you’ll find some absolutely beautiful scenery.  Even during the late summer, these mountains were very green and, in spots, actually lush. There’s a lot of lakes in the upper regions.  There’s also a lot of pegmatite.  I was hoping to find a little beryl when I was up there, but that didn’t happen.  I did go to two locations where beryl has been found, but one would have taken digging, and the other was just expansive. I did hike around and found a few rocks with garnet type crystals in them, but didn’t see any beryl.  I’m pretty sure a few more days in the area might have turned up some, though.

The rock in one of the areas was almost more granite than pegmatite.  It was a blue green, though, that would be perfect coloration for beryl. This is from the location that I thought digging might reveal some crystal.  As you can see, the smaller sample actually looks more like massive beryl than quartz. Haven’t really tested it yet, but don’t need to test to see that it will make a nice cab.



The pegmatite from the other area a few miles north of this one is laced liberally with mica. I picked up a few small mica books around an inch across or so. Not huge, but nice chunks for decorating gardens.  Not sure if you can see the little crystals in the following pic or not, but they seem to be low grade garnet. I could be wrong.  I would think anyone in that area that puts in the time might come up with some nice crystals of some sort or other.



The next day found me in Ely at Garnet Hill. I proceeded to the park area at the top of the hill where I was incensed by what I found. I’m amazed that this area is still open to the public. The top of the hill is covered with digging holes. Many, many trees have been rooted and people have left the holes without filling them back in.  Really – people that careless should not be allowed off of sidewalks.  What they think they’re doing is way beyond anything I can fathom.

Anyway – I walked around for a few minutes, shaking my head at the mess. The whole top of the hill is  nothing but rock fragment, and underneath just rocks to chip at. I stopped at one beautiful little tree that had been rooted and filled the hole back in.  I did find one fairly nice garnet while filling the hole up, so got a little reward for trying to save the little tree.  Then I proceeded downhill and hunted via my usual method for finding garnet. I got a relatively nice score. While the pic doesn’t show the color, these are an intensely deep wine red.  I might be able to get the color to show after cleaning off matrix rock and cleaning them up a bit. As you can see, they’re generally nice sized garnets even if the beautiful color doesn’t show up.



As I was leaving a family with two little girls had parked and were just starting the hunt. These little girls were extremely excited and there was no way they were going to be digging in that hard rock above, so I showed them how to hunt for the stones on my way out.  I hope they got a few nice ones.

I left Ely to continue my trip via hwy 50.  My next stop was Eureka, and I found I hadn’t brought my information on the area.  I wanted to hunt for the trilobite fossils in the region.  So, I stopped in town to ask around. I talked to several people but nobody seemed to know what the heck I was talking about. For some reason I can’t quite put my finger on I found the place a little eerie and opted out of staying for the night and continuing my hunt there in the morning.  Someday I might go back when I am not traveling on my own and have my information about the area with me. At any rate, I headed for Austin.

It was almost dark when I reached Austin and there was only one room left in town.  I was considering taking it, when someone had heard me say I’d camped all nights but one on my trip.  She asked me if I knew there were hot springs there.  Hot springs? Oh yeah – I’d rather do that!  She gave me the directions and I spent most of the night sleeping on top of my rig where I fell asleep watching that spectacular sky out there in the middle of nowhere, parked by a nice hot tub of running water.

The next morning found me in a little cafe in Austin having a chat about blue agates with an interesting man with sharp intelligent eyes, and a long silver pony tail. He reminded me of Gandolf and I immediately liked him. After lunch and some stimulating conversation, I headed out to look for Airy Mt agates……….which are not on Mt Airy. Go figure.  I’d never have found them with just the information I had.  The man at the cafe had over-estimated my eyesight when he gave me a landmark to look for, but at least I was on the right road.

Not seeing the landmark, I doubled back and saw something out in the distance that I thought might be what I was told to look for. So I headed down a 4WD path.  I got up even with the marker, but saw I was on the wrong path. Still – I wasn’t planning on staying on the road anyway, so got out of the car.  I immediately picked up two blue agates off the path and decided that whether I was in the exact location or not, I was close enough and did a little hiking……….and a little picking up rock.  I had pulled these out of a bucket of water take the pic so the cement is a little wet, but the agates are basically dry in the pic.


When I had had enough hunting, I made my way back to the rig, and as I got ready to leave, I suddenly saw the landmark that I’d been told to begin my search at.  The next time I go out to the Austin area I will know where to start my hunting. And I will go back there.  I will also be studying up to see what else can be found in the vicinity.  With a hot springs and blue agates, I’ve got at least one night and one day covered.

So all in all, I had a pretty great trip.  There were a few disappointments and a lot of very great views and great rocks and hot springs to offset them. I’m hoping the weather holds long enough for the next trip I want to take to explore the Black Rock Desert.


Until next time;

Life’s short –  Rock hard

Trip Report – Exploring Central Oregon

Trip Report – Exploring Central Oregon

Having someone hand you info about a rock site is nice – but it doesn’t happen that often.  As more and more land gets shut down, people are becoming more and more cagey about giving info to just anyone about any of their favorite locations.  All too often, when word gets out on a great site, you can count on either someone going in and commercially harvesting or just a lot of low lifes getting in there and throwing trash, digging holes they don’t fill, and generally causing enough damage that the land gets closed down.

Those with those special sites also get sick of people with the “we’re going to the mall” mentality about rock and gem hunting.  It’s not like that.  You don’t just go to a spot, “shop”, and then expect it to be restocked for you later.  There’s a very important keyword in the phrase “rock and gem hunting” — and that word is “hunting”.

When you’re first starting out, you might need a little help to identify what you’re seeing, but once you know what the stones look like, the trick is to stop asking for site locations and start to go hunting for some of your own.  Sites not in the books that just anyone with 10 bucks to spring on a guide are going to know about.   It takes longer and you strike out sometimes, but once you hit a good spot – you’ve hit paradise.  It’s a feeling that you are never going to get following the guidebooks.

So, needless to say, sometimes I just head out to see what I can dig up on my own volition.  I try to mix a location that I am familiar with along with the exploration so even if I don’t find anything new and exciting, I don’t go home skunked.  And so it was with this hunt.

I first went to an area near Paulina that is fairly well known and has been a meetup place for a few of us on RHS1.   I was a little disappointed getting in to my favorite spot there and finding the surface all but completely cleaned out.  Like I said above – that happens when sites get too well known.   So, after an afternoon of hunting and turning up relatively little, I packed on to areas a little further Southeast that I had always wanted to explore but never had gotten the chance.   I did have a nice little chunk of limb cast that will slice well that’s quite similar to one I posted not too many entries back on the Gazette:

Limb Cast Petrified Wood This one didn’t clean up all that well but well enough for me to see the green mossy inclusions that got it dropped into the “slice” bucket.

By the time I got out of the area I had only enough time to pick out where to spend the night and headed out the next morning.  Before too long I found a road into an area I wanted to explore.  It was a pain in the butt, to be nice about it.  Very rocky, but not steep so it wasn’t a challenge – just a major headache.

Before too far, and after making a few lucky choices in which road branches to take, I found a dry stream bed running beside the rig.   I slowed to a crawl and scanned the stream bed.  After just about 50 feet or so I saw a red and yellow flash and knew I had spotted agate so stopped to get the prize.  It wasn’t until I got home and washed this one up that I realized I had found a nice chunk of limbcast:

Central Oregon Petrified limbcast

This find, of course, had me pulled off the road and into hunting mode.  The creek rendered a few other beauties, and the surrounding area was jam packed full of agates and wood.

This little green and orange beauty was a delight – I’m hoping on my next trip there that I can find much similar but larger:

Green Petrified Wood – Central Oregon

The other side is less green, but still beautiful:

Reverse side green petrified wood

There was plenty of yellow/clear/white agate, jasper, and jaspagate.  Some of it is quite mossy, some has a more banded pattern, but the pictures don’t show it too well.  As you can see, though, there were a few other earth-tone stones in the mix.

Yellow Jaspagate

The wood was mostly normal but nice petrified wood – solid enough to cut and some very colorful while other pieces fairly muted, but good banding,  All of it was highly agatized:

Petrified wood Central Oregon

And there was green all over, too.  Some I just mistook for agate until I got it home and washed it up and found wood banding in spots.  Unfortunately the sun was giving out by the time we got this pic taken, but I think it still is good enough to get the general idea from:

green wood

I didn’t get as much exploring in as I wanted.  I got enough to bring home a few prizes, but the weekend had turned into one of the hottest of the year, and I started to get a little disoriented after two days of  it,  so decided it was time to head home with a promise to myself that I would be back once the hundred degrees finally dropped back into the 80’s – and the satisfaction of finding an awesome location all on my own that will be fun to share with a few friends.    I can hardly wait to actually do some intense hunting in this area instead of just the light browsing the heat reduced me to.

After the Meet-Up – West of the Owyhee Reservoir Trip Report

After the Meet-Up – West of the Owyhee Reservoir Trip Report

Having a few days to spare after the Succor creek meet-up, I spent that Monday West of Lake Owyhee (also known as Owyhee Reservoir).   It was hot and sunny and  a beautiful day for it.

The scenery is much the same there as it is in the Succor creek region – rolling sage covered hills with frequent rock outcrops and ledges.

My fear, after checking some of my old hunting spots during the meet, was that my favorite hunting area for plume agate would be hunted out.  I got a very pleasant surprise when I found that it had remained, or at least looked, untouched after all these years.

I found several nice – and very large – plume agates almost immediately when I parked and got out of the rig. A few of these were even better than I had found before because I could see they were plume without having to guess as I had to with the ones I picked up last time — and they were bigger!

Many of you from the forum are familiar with this picture of the last plumes I had cut.  This is what I went back after this time:

Owyhee yellow plume

Here’s a pic of a few of the agates I picked up this time around.

This pic is for a size reference for the stones I was picking up.

Owyhee Plume Agate

Below are the close ups.

These two agates are very obviously brown and yellow plume (obvious at least when you are right here holding them).

Owyhee plume1

Owyhee plume2

This next one looks like it will be mostly  white plume when cut – there is a little yellow/brown showing though.  Should make awesome slabs.

Owyhee wiite plume

Here’s another that should be a splendid mix of white and yellow plumes.

Owyhee Plume agate4

After seeing some of my favorite hunting spots wiped out – these agates were such a welcome sight.  I was able to visit my pink plume spot briefly but it was getting late and I was tired and had another tire issue to attend.  I did pick up one relatively close to the size of these, but maybe a little too milky to be really wonderful when cut despite the pink tint here and there. Unfortunately,  I had to head out and didn’t get much time to look around.

I was disappointed to have to forgo the areas I still wanted to hunt a few miles further west – Apache tears, crystals, wood, etc.  but very heartened after finding these agates that I will be able to go there next time and still have a great hunt ahead of me.  So for all of you who were too tired to stay for the hunt Monday, or just didn’t have any more time……..there’s still area out there for us to get together again and hunt!