geodes in the Black Rock Desert

Rockhounding

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Collecting minerals and common invertebrate fossils can be enjoyed almost everywhere in Black Rock-High Rock Country. If you’re up for more adventure, geodes, agates, opal, jasper, petrified wood, and rarer fossils could be your prize.

Rules for Rockhounds

To protect mineral deposits and ensure long-term opportunities for collection within the NCA and its Wilderness Areas, the following regulations apply:

  • Only hand tools may be used to dig for minerals and fossils. Using motorized equipment for collection purposes is prohibited.
  • All rock and mineral collection is limited to 25 pounds plus one piece per person per day, with a maximum collection of 250 pounds per year.
  • Common invertebrate fossils such as plants, mollusks and trilobites may be collected for personal use in reasonable quantities, but may not be sold or bartered.
  • Petrified wood may not be traded or sold without a permit issued by BLM.
  • Vertebrate fossils such as dinosaurs, mammals, fishes, and reptiles, and uncommon invertebrate fossils may be not collected.  Only trained researchers, under a BLM permit, may extract these resources.  These items are placed with museums or other public institutions after study.
  • Hanging Rock Petrified Forest and Charles Lund Petrified Forest are closed to rock hounds.
  • No new mining claims are allowed in the NCA or wilderness areas, but a few claims that predate Congressional designation remain valid.
  • All minerals found on an existing mining claim belong to the claim holder and permission must be obtained to rock hound there. Records of claims can be viewed at BLM offices or County Recorder Offices.
  • Using motorized equipment for collection purposes is prohibited.

 

What You May Find

Sandstone, limestone and granite formations all occur in the Black Rock-High Rock Country. Minerals and gemstones of interest (in alphabetical order) include:

  • Agate
  • Arsenopyrite
  • Azurite
  • Barite
  • Cinnabar
  • Epidote
  • Fire opal
  • Geodes
  • Gypsum
  • Magnetite
  • Malachite
  • Marcasite
  • Miargyrite
  • Obsidian
  • Petrified wood
  • Stibnite
  • Topaz
  • Rhyolite
  • Tourmaline

Where to Look

The Rainbow Opal mine is no longer in official operation but still offers great opportunities for opal mining.

Another popular destination for rock hounds is the Black Rock Range geode mine. Geodes can be found virtually throughout the southern reaches of the Black Rock Range.

Your best chance to find geodes is in the vicinity of the abandoned mine located on the east slope of the South Black Rock Range. You will need a four-wheel drive vehicle to travel the old mining road to the mine.

Petrified Canyon in the Calico Mountains is a source for petrified wood deposits.

Learn more about what else you’ll find in the 10 Wilderness Areas »