Safety Rules / Tips for Rockhounds

Filed under: how to? — Gary January 24, 2010 @ 1:05 pm

Download this pamphlet put out by the Arizona State Mine Inspector’s Office- Safety Tips For Rockhounds – Abandoned Mines-

Click Here To Download PDF Pamphlet


Many rockhounding sites require driving and/or hiking to remote areas, largely on dirt, sand or rocky roads where there is a good possibility of getting stuck. It is always a good idea to travel in a group and to bring plenty of drinking water with you when traveling, especially in hot, dry climates. If you must travel alone, be sure to let someone know of your plans.

It is advised to use safety goggles whenever rocks are struck, whether breaking open small stones or chipping a piece off a large boulder. Flakes of stone can seriously injure the eyes. Also, be aware that the dust that comes from chipping and cutting rock can be extremely hazardous to the lungs. If necessary, use a mask or respirator.

    Collection Gear

  1. Rockhounds need various tools to collect rocks and minerals. Rock hammers have a blunt end on one side and a chiseled end on the other. The blunt end is use to break off a piece of rock while the chiseled end can be used for prying. Rockhounds carry mallets and small chisels as well for finer, more delicate collection work. A pocket knife is a good instrument to test mineral hardness. Rockhounds also use hand lenses to magnify the minerals for identification purposes. A cloth, sample containers and a bucket or backpack are all helpful in rock collection.
  2. Safety Gear

  3. Rock collecting requires the use of safety gear. Eye protection is necessary to protect your eyes from flying debris as you break pieces of rock off outcrops. Heavy gloves protect your hands from sharp pieces of rock that break off samples as they are collected. If the rock collecting is done on an outcrop that is taller than you or has an overhang, the use of a hard hat becomes necessary to protect yourself from falling debris. A first aid kit is helpful for any cuts, bruises, or injuries that may be sustained during the exhibition.
  4. Nature Safety

  5. Rockhound exhibitions often occur in remote locations in nature. Prepare for the trip by putting on bug spray and sunscreen. Make sure that you are aware of your surroundings as you work. Know what poison oak, poison ivy, and poison sumac look like so that you can avoid them. Be careful when working around brush as many snakes like to take shelter there. Make sure that you bring plenty of water and snacks to avoid dehydration.
  6. Safety Techniques

  7. Avoid collecting from a steep slope with loose material. Disturbing the slope may cause a landslide which could lead to injury. Avoid collecting from an outcrop that has a overhang. Striking the rock could lead to less stability in the outcrop and may cause falling debris. Be aware of sharp fragments you create as you collect the rocks. Remove these sharp fragments to keep fellow collectors and animals safe.
  8. Collection Tips

  9. Place each sample in a collection container as you collect them. The collection containers may be a plastic baggie, a piece of newspaper, or a plastic collection jar. Label each sample as you collect them. Note that you do not have to identify the rock on the collection container, but you should be specific into where each sample was found. This ensures that samples do not get mixed up when you return home.

Black Hills Rockhound area- Arizona

Filed under: Rockhound Travel — Gary @ 12:33 pm
Fire Agate- Black Hills

Fire Agate- Black Hills

Traveler Description:

From the intersection of Highway 70, east of Safford, travel 10 miles north on Highway 191 to Black Hills Rockhound Area. Follow the dirt road 2 miles…… more » From the intersection of Highway 70, east of Safford, travel 10 miles north on Highway 191 to Black Hills Rockhound Area. Follow the dirt road 2 miles to the center of the rockhound area. 

Attraction type: Geological formation, Landmark/point of interest, Nature trail

Address: Safford Field Office
711 14th Ave Safford, AZ 85546
Tel: (928) 428-4040

Black Hills rockhound area is located on the north side of Arizona route 191, between Safford and Clifton, about 18 miles north of Safford. This page is provided to recreationists interested in rockhounding to use as a guide in preparing for your adventure. You will find information to help identify local materials and tips to keep your visit safe, productive and enjoyable.

General information and tips

The road beyond the registry station is not regularly maintained, and use by passenger car or travel trailer is not recommended.  Water is not available!  Livestock and wildlife water has been developed at several locations, but human consumption is not advisable.

Rockhounds, both as individuals and collectively as members of clubs, pride themselves on their good manners in the field. They know that maintaining their good reputation is important in order to keep the welcome mat out at many popular “digs.”  Demonstrate individual and club pride by complying with the rules and practicing  good rockhound ethics.

Fire Agate

Agate, probably the most common and valuable gemstone, is a variety of silica formed by volcanic activity.  A multitude of shapes and colors are caused by mineral impurities in the silica.  It is these impurities which make the fire agate distinctive.  fire agate is considered a gemstone because of the play of the colors beneath its surface that is formed much as a pearl is formed in an oyster.  Volcanic water seeps into cracks and crevices below the earth’s surface. The impact of the water drops separate some minerals from the water; the mineral stays and the agate grows. Fire agates are said to offer all the fiery color of gem opals, are less costly, are superior in hardness, and will not fade.

Be careful with fire!

Although lighting causes many fires on public land, often the most disastrous and damaging fires to resources and property are those caused by careless persons.  Rangelands can be destroyed by thoughtlessness or indifference on the part of anyone – hunter, camper, local resident or traveler.  It’s up to all of us to protect our lands from fire. So, please crush out your smokes and drown your campfires.


Rockhounding, like most other outdoor activities, is not without certain hazards.

Rattlesnakes may be found in certain areas during the warm months. Watch out for them in rock slides and around damp areas, under old buildings and ledges. Prompt medical attention is always advisable if bitten.

Rockhounds may unknowingly create hazards through careless digging. Deep or steep sided pits or trenches should be filled in upon completion of digging, as they pose a hazard to both man and beast.

Safford Rockhound Map

Safford Rockhound Map


If you’re looking for jewelry-grade fire agate, you’ll probably find very little. However, the agate in the area is beautiful. If you don’t have a rock tumbler, this would be the time to invest in one because the agate is very striking when tumbled.
I see rock-hounders who dig for agate, but there is so much on the surface that you won’t need to do that. As far as I can tell, you don’t find much more with the digging.
If you take the time to go to Black Hills, I strongly recommend also making a trip to Round Mountain, which is east of Duncan (about an hour from the Black Hills area). This place has these great little egg-shaped agates which tumble up beautifully, and often are hollow with crystals inside.
Take PLENTY of water, decent shoes and long pants.

Great Fire Agates found here. Be careful of the rapid changing weather.

Rockhound Vacations – Campground

Filed under: Rockhound Travel — Gary @ 11:46 am

Since I travel a lot I and I find myself seeking this kind of knowledge, I thought I would make a new category for rockhounding vacations / travel.  As well if you have a special place you like to stay and rockhound please email me and I will post  Pictures are appreciated as well.

Rockhound Travel

Rockhound Travel

Rockhound State Park and Spring Canyon Recreation Area
Established in 1966, Rockhound State Park consists of the main park and the Spring Canyon Recreation Area. The main park includes a 30-site campground, hiking trails and a visitor center on the west slopes of the Little Florida Mountains. The Spring Canyon Recreation Area is a day-use area located across the valley in the foothills of the Florida Mountains and includes picnic sites and hiking trails.

Take a Hike
The park’s Thunderegg Trail (1.1 miles) and the Jasper Trail (.5 miles) provide access to spectacular wildflower displays in spring, mild autumn weather, and scenic views year-round.  Scattered along the trails and throughout the park are assorted volcanic rocks and silica minerals including quartz, chalcedony, agate, and common opal.

Desert Alive!
Every April, Rockhound State Park hosts Desert Alive!, a springtime celebration of the Chihuahuan Desert and the rocks, plants and animals found here. Join nature walks, take in displays and exhibits and learn all about natural and cultural history of this special place.

Getting There
To get to Rockhound State Park from Deming, take N.M. 11 south for five miles, and then go east on N.M. 141 for about nine miles.

Rockhound State Park lies in the Little Florida Mountains southeast of Deming, New Mexico (Fig. 1). It was established in 1966 as the first park in the United States that allowed collecting of rocks and minerals for personal use. Each visitor is allowed to collect as much as 15 lb of rocks and minerals from the 1,100-acre park; mineral dealers are not allowed to collect for sale. Rockhound State Park actually consists of two separate units, the main park and Spring Canyon Recreation Area (Fig. 1). Spring Canyon lies in the northern Florida Mountains, south of the main park, and is open for day use only from Easter through November.

Figure 1 – Location of Rockhound State Park.

Figure 1 – Location of Rockhound State Park.

The main park provides excellent views of the surrounding mountain desert. Basin and Range topography is easily seen in the distance. On a clear day the smokestacks of the Hurley smelter can be seen to the northwest. The Cobre Mountains form the far northern horizon behind the smokestacks. The Burro Mountains lie to the west-northwest; the Victorio Mountains lie to the west-southwest. The Florida Mountains lie directly to the south of the main state park; Florida Gap separates the two ranges. The Cedar Mountains lie to the south-southwest. The dark mountain north of Deming is called Black Mountain. Spring Canyon in the Florida Mountains is a sheltered canyon and offers solitude common to many canyons throughout the desert Southwest.

The Florida and Little Florida Mountains are typical of the mountain desert throughout southern New Mexico and Arizona. Elevations range from 4,400 ft along the foothills, where the state park is located, to 7,448 ft at Florida Peak in the Florida Mountains. Water is scarce and limited to wells and hidden springs, but be careful of thunderstorms and flash floods during the summer months! Despite the dry, seemingly inhospitable environment, life abounds. The area is home to many lizards and snakes, deer, antelope, coyotes, and small mammals such as prairie dogs, rabbits, badgers, and many birds. Mountain lion and desert bighorn sheep may be seen at the higher elevations of the Florida Mountains. A variety of plants thrive in this environment, including yucca, prickly pear cactus, barrel cactus, ocotillo, creosote bush, mesquite, and hackberry; juniper and scrub oak are common in the canyons.


Paleozoic through lower Tertiary sedimentary rocks overlie a Cambrian granitic to syenitic pluton in the northern Florida Mountains (Clemons and


Perfect domain for a rockhound website for sale.

Filed under: regular postings — Gary April 28, 2009 @ 8:26 pm

ROCKHOUNDS.ORG  is for sale.

Excellent name for a website/club or anything to do with Rockhounding.  Email for inquiries.


Giant Quartz And Sphalerite From Mont. St-Hilaire Quebec, Canada. Rockhounding

Filed under: regular postings — Gary November 3, 2008 @ 7:17 am


Pebble terrace and Opal Hill Mine and Black Hills Thunder Egg Mine – story and 6 SIX videos!

Filed under: Video,field trip reports,regular postings — Gary April 21, 2007 @ 10:03 am

Thanks Dick for the trip report, pictures and video to the mines! Dick mixes off-roading with rockhounding- Pretty good combo :)   AT the bottom of post is 6 videos, check them out!


Rock Hound Run Report 4-13-07 to 4-17-07

We had another great trip, found lots of rocks, a few geodes and two big geodes. There were 7 rigs

Loren and his 2 sons and his father-in-law Mac, Jeep Unlimited.

Rainer and Marianne, F250

Paul and Elise, Rubicon Unlimited

Cara and Bob, Jeep

Jason in Gary’s Jeep

Morris, Pinzgauer

Ronnie and I, Jeep

On Friday it was Rainer and Marianne, Ronnie and I and Loren we hunted for orange agate and chalcedony on the Bajadas just east of camp. Loren went up to the Opal Hill mine and saw a movie crew there shooting a documentary for the discovery channel. Friday night Paul came in and also Morris. Later in the night Cara and Bob and Jason got there. Saturday we headed for Carlson View after some wrong turns we finally found it, what a great view of the desert to the south, one of Loren’s sons found a geode the size of a football with a large clump of druse crystals in the center, about the size of a baseball, right next to the trail. We also stopped at the southern end of the Hauser geode Beds and then took a trail a guy said that was impassable back to the main trail and then back to camp. Later that day early evening before dark Gary and his wife and son arrived. After dinner we all (the Jeeps) went out for a night run and had a blast.

Sunday morning Rainer and Marianne headed for home. Morris also headed for home, before we got up. The rest of us headed down the Bradshaw Trail stopped at the Roosevelt Mine and looked around then on to Pala Verde and Kinney’s Rock Shop. From there we took the east trail to Pebble terrace and picked up some agate and Jasper and then on to Opal Hill Mine, everyone had fun checking out the mine and looking for some Fire Opal. After getting back to camp Cara and Bob, Jason and Wife, Gary and Wife headed for home. Loren and Group headed for home as well.


Jalama rockhounding trip- Agate, Jasper, Petrified Whale Bone, Travertine Onyx, Fossils

Filed under: Coming Events,regular postings — Gary April 3, 2007 @ 7:30 pm
Thanks Robert for letting me post your upcoming field trips, they sound like a lot of fun!
April Field Trip:
Jalama Beach, April 21st 2007, Sat. 10am
General Information:
Come for the day or camp overnight, Deb and I will be camping overnight Sat, possibly
Friday. Day use $6.00, camping $18.00, with Elec hookups $25.00

From Ventura head north on 101, past Santa Barbara, just past Gaviota as the 101 goes
inland take the State Hwy 1 turn off, marked Lompoc/Vandenberg. Go north approximately
13.5 miles to Jalama Beach County Park turn off. Turn left, west, drive approximately 15
miles to Jalama Beach County Park. Approximately 122 miles from Thousand Oaks, 2.5-3
hour drive time – rockhounding for kids of all ages!

Filed under: interviews(new),regular postings — Gary March 31, 2007 @ 10:57 pm
Was started in December 2003 by Jessica Chekal and her mother, Sherri Chekal. Jessy now maintains the site herself, since she’s learning how to use web designing software in her studies.
Jessy is a homeschooled kid who began a normal unit study in rocks and minerals in her Earth Science class and just really got bit badly with the rockhounding bug.
She went to a Rock and Mineral show with her family and was given $10 to buy a few specimens. By the time she had left the show, she was hooked.

Interesting rockhounding find – Heart shaped rocks sent in by reader

Filed under: Great Finds-specimens,regular postings — Gary February 25, 2007 @ 12:08 pm

Thought I would share this neat rock I found recently.  Enjoy!!!  :)


Melissa and My Furry Friends, Reba, Tiger, Lucas and Jagger as well as Cally, Mick and Bufford

On-Line Blue Agate Newsletter for Needles CA. Gem and Mineral Club

Filed under: Club Rollcall (hello's),Coming Events,regular postings — Gary February 9, 2007 @ 12:45 am

Mike from Needles gem and mineral club stopped by and said hello, I checked out their club blog that posts their field trips and articles and found it to be quite interesting, check it out…  If you are in the Needles CA area, check the club out, they seem to have great field trips such as their next one-

Field Trip February 24, 2007 Saturday Ludlow Area for Zoisite (massive green and pink Thulite) 4WD High Clearance Vehicle Advised, Meet at Ludlow (off I-40 West) in the Dairy Queen-76 Station parking lot at 9 AM PST 10 AM MST 

Pictures from a recent trip, read about it and many others-