Black Hills Rockhound area- Arizona

Filed under: Rockhound Travel — Gary January 24, 2010 @ 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.

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