Rockhounding is the collection and study of rocks, minerals, precious & semi-precious gems, petrified wood, and fossils. Also called
Amateur Geology, rockhounding can be a fascinating recreation. Many collectors have large collections of vast varieties of mineral specimens.
I rememeber as a child growing up in Arizona having my own 'rock collection.' Every time we traveled in the state or in surrounding states, I was always on the lookout for good-looking rocks, even if I didn't know the names or any other significant information. Endless walking along desert washes, river banks, and ocean beaches taught me attention to detail, persistance, and responsibility. Although I don't formally collect anymore, I'm still on the lookout for good-looking rocks whenever I'm outdoors. In fact, walking along the Scott River in Northern California, I picked-up a fist sized piece of Happy Camp Jade, so-called because it's found 30 miles farther down river in the Happy Camp area of California. Some locals told me that it's not found along the Soctt River. Well, I found it, and I still have it. I also found a diamond in the Klamath River while cleaning out my gold dredge. I still have that one, too.
As with most hobbies, rockhounding can be as expensive or inexpensive as you want. It costs nothing (save the gas it takes to get you there) to walk along a riverbed. With a few more tools (pick, chisel, magnifying glass, collection bag) you can spend literally hours in a small area searching for the elusive "Ellensburg Blue," "Sunstone," Apache Tears," or Peacock Copper." Add in pry bars, shovels, buckets, screens, UV lights, and many other optional equipment choices, and you ncan have an almost professional setup.
Rockhounding can be enjoyed by whole families, who take day trips, weekend trips, and even whole vacations to search for good-looking specimens of their target mineral, like smokey quartz, topaz, pertrified wood, turquoise, agates, or some invertebrate fossils. In fact, gold, silver, platninum, and copper are all considered 'rocks' from an income standpoint until you sell it (just like another other rock).
You can go out on your own to the local river or creek, mountains or deserts and search for anything interesting, or specific specimens of a particular mineral. You can also visit one of the hundreds of "pay sites" that exsist around the United States. Some of these allow you to search for Sunstonme, Sapphires, and even Diamonds.
Check out our supply of books and references on rockhounding in your local area, or areas you may already have plans to visit. From there, you can start planning rockhounding trips to specific destinations for rare specimens. You can also join a local rockhounding club. A good way to find one is to checkout our Clubs & Organizations page.
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