Alabama is a surprisingly prolific state for rock and mineral collecting. The state can be divided into two primary regions: the northeastern part of the state which is mountainous and structurally complex, and the rest of the state which is mostly a relatively flat coastal plain.
The surface rocks of the northeastern part of the state are largely comprised of metamorphic rocks like schist, slate, phyllite, quartzite, and marble. This geologic setting makes it a great source of all sorts of pegmatite minerals. The southern part of the state, while less geologically exciting, can still produce great specimens of gem-quality minerals.
The best places to collect rocks in Alabama include the areas around Tuscaloosa, Ashland, Rockford, Alexander City. You can also pan for gold and gems at the Alabama Gold Camp. These locations offer a diverse array of rocks and minerals such as agate, jasper, petrified wood, quartz, and garnet.
If you’ve already found a rock and you’re not sure what it is, I would highly recommend checking out my Practical Rock Identification System. This bundle of information includes a book, videos, and online tools. It is, simply put, the most comprehensive and easy-to-understand rock identification system you’ll find anywhere.
Through quite a bit of research and cross-referencing, I have compiled this list of some prospective locations in Alabama which I would recommend to people looking to do some rockhounding. These are mostly comprised of old mines, mineral prospects, and historically known rock and mineral collecting sites. For additional reading, I’d highly recommend the book Southeast Treasure Hunter’s Gem & Mineral Guide: Where & How to Dig, Pan and Mine Your Own Gems & Minerals which you can find on Amazon.
Please remember that rock collecting locations are constantly changing. Specimens may become depleted from other collectors, the location may have been built on or altered, locality information in literature may be inaccurate, and property ownership may have changed hands. Though there are many locations listed here, this list is far from exhaustive. A location’s listing here is not a guarantee of accuracy. Be safe, never go underground, and make sure to get permission from the landowner to search for and collect specimens.
If you’re planning on heading to the field, make sure you have all the gear you’ll need! To get started, you can check out my recommended gear page. That page contains my full reviews for every Geologist’s favorite rock hammer and the best hiking backpack I’ve ever owned.
Alabama Rockhounding Locations
Important Disclaimer: I have not been to these locations myself, and I do not know if they are currently open for collecting. Use this resource as a guide to get you started. Follow posted signage and always get permission from the landowner to collect.
NOTE: All the GPS coordinates listed in these tables are clickable, and will take you to the location on Google Maps.
The area surrounding Ashland in Clay County contains quite a few great collecting spots for a variety of rocks and minerals. If you know where to look you can find all sorts of mineral specimens including apatite, garnet, smoky quartz, garnet, kyanite, and tourmaline. There are also several pegmatite outcrops in the area containing nice books of muscovite. Here are some of the best places to collect rocks and minerals in the Ashland, AL area.
|Rocks & Minerals
|M & G Mine
|Apatite, Garnet, Smoky Quartz
|Garnet, Kyanite, Magnetite, Tourmaline
|Pleasant Grove Road
|Buzzard Creek & tributaries
|Chlorite, Green Quartz
In Rockford and the surrounding area there are many documented finds of mica, beryl, aquamarine, cassiterite, and many other gem-quality crystals and minerals. These are mainly found in pegmatite veins in the schists and gneiss outcrops of the area. The area is riddled with old mines and nice outcrops containing an abundance of relatively high-quality rocks and minerals if you know where to look. Here are a few places to collect rocks and minerals near Rockford, AL.
|Rocks & Minerals
|Excavations in the SE limits of Rockford
|Many pegmatite outcrops N of Rockford
|Cassiterite, Feldspar, Muscovite, Quartz
|Near Pond Mine, 1 mi. W of Rockford
|Feldspar, Garnet, Moonstone, Quartz, Tourmaline
|Millsite Tin Mine, 1 mi. NE of Rockford
|Albite, Apatite, Cassiterite, Epidote, Garnet, Lepidolite, Topaz, Tourmaline, Sillimanite
|Bently Tin Mine, 1.5 mi. W of Rockford
|Cassiterite crystals, Tantalite, Tourmaline
|Pond Mine, 2 mi. W of Rockford
Alexander City, AL
Tallapoosa County, in which Alexander City is located, has a history of gold mining (albeit fairly uneconomic). There are many active and inactive quarries in this area producing a very wide variety of gems and minerals. High-quality specimens of epidote, feldspar, hematite, quartz, and even some corundum are relatively common in the area. Many of the best places to search are around nearby Lake Martin.
|Rocks & Minerals
|Outcrops on W shores of Lake Martin
|Epidote, Actinolite, Bronzite, Feldspar, Hematite, Quartz crystals
|Access areas on E shores of Lake Martin
|Actinolite, Feldspar, Quartz crystals, Unakite
|S of Lake Martin along river
|Corundum (ruby, sapphire)
|Hog Mt., NE of Alexander City
|Arsenic, Arsenopyrite, Galena, Gold, Graphite, Pyrite, Pyrrhotite, Sphalerite
Erin is hardly even a town – according to my research, it is (or was) a stop along a railroad. Still, there is a lot of good rockhounding to do in this area, with a wide variety of rocks and minerals to find. Railroad cuts and old mining prospects offer quite a few places to search. Depending on where you choose to search, you can hope to find specimens of turquoise, apatite, beryl, albite, chlorite, garnet, and many others.
|Rocks & Minerals
|W side of Gold Mines Creek
|Apatite, Beryl, Albite, Microcline, Rhodolite, Almandine, Muscovite, Tourmaline
|E side of Gold Mines Creek, in boulders
|Actinolite, Chlorite, Olivine, Pyrope, placer Gold, Sillimanite, Talc
|Bob Lee Mine
|Just S of Pleasant Grove Church
|Copper minerals, Turquoise
There are few great places to search for nice rocks and minerals in and around Tuscaloosa. I’d especially recommend looking in creek beds in the area, but there are also some old strip mines and mining dumps that may still be productive. You can hope to find some nice specimens of some of my favorite rocks and minerals here including agate, chalcedony, jasper, kyanite, quartz, and petrified wood. You can even find some fossils in this area if you’re lucky.
|Rocks & Minerals
|Mines & pits along Black Warrior River between Brookwood & Peterson
|Agate, Chalcedony, Fossils, Jasper, Kyanite, Steatite, Vivianite
|Strip mines ~4 mi. W of Brookwood
|Hematite, Quartz crystals, Siderite, Agate, Petrified Wood
|S of Tuscaloosa
|Abundant, gem quality Silicified Wood
|Strip mine area NE of Tuscaloosa off Highway 216
|Quartz, Petrified Wood
Alabama Gold Camp
If you’re in the mood to do some gold panning, or just to have a more structured environment in which you can do some rockhounding, I’d recommend checking out the Alabama Gold Camp. This is a pay-to-dig site in Lineville, AL, where you can pan for gold. According to their website, you can also find garnets, fossils, and citrine on the property. You can rent a ‘prospecting shack’ on the property for $75 a night.
Tip: Check out my Complete Rock Tumbling Guide to make your rocks and gemstones really shine!
Alabama Rockhounding Laws & Regulations
One of the most common questions rockhounds have is whether or not they are allowed to collect at a certain location. It is the responsibility of each rockhound to obtain permission from a landowner to search and/or collect on a piece of property.
The ownership and status of land can and does change frequently, making it impossible to document accurate information on this page. However, I have compiled a list of resources here so that you may investigate and obtain permission for any locations (found here or elsewhere) for yourself.
Public Land Resources
I have written entire articles which cover the rockhounding laws and regulations for nearly every type of public land you can think of. I encourage you to check them out if you are curious about the legalities of rock and mineral collecting.
- Rockhounding on Public Land: Laws and Regulations
- Can You Collect Rocks in State Parks? All 50 States Answered
To determine what type of public land a particular location is on, I would recommend starting with this map from the Arkansas Public Lands Database which keeps accurate maps of every kind of public land in the state.
Private Land Resources
As with most states, each county in Alabama will have records of who owns each piece of property. Unfortunately for rockhounds, the law prohibits them from publishing their names or contact information online. You can get the landowner’s name and address by visiting the county records office. This site contains links to each County Assessor’s office where you can look up any information you need.
Sources & Further Reading
The locations and information contained in this article are primarily derived from academic papers, online resources, and other outside sources. If you would like to read some of the source material for yourself I have listed them below. The majority of these locations are my interpretation of Robert Beste’s A Location Guide for Rock Hounds in the United States. Other sources include: