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Arizona Rockhounding Location Guide & Map

Arizona Rockhounding Location Guide & Map

Arizona is one of the most prolific and exciting states in the country for rock and mineral collectors. Famous for its turquoise and copper deposits, Arizona is one of the first destinations everyone thinks of when it comes to rockhounding. Thousands of old mining dumps, productive stream beds, and pegmatite veins continue to draw collectors and adventurers from all over the country.

Arizona is incredibly geologically diverse. The northern part of the state is part of the Colorado Plateau and is home to the world famous Grand Canyon. Most of the state is desert, and slopes gradually down to near sea level. Wherever you are in the state you aren’t far from some interesting geology and prospective collecting sites.

The best places to collect rocks in Arizona include the areas around Phoenix and Tucson, as well as smaller towns such as Cave Creek, Clifton, Morristown, and Kingman. These locations offer a diverse array of rock and mineral specimens such as agate, jasper, petrified wood, turquoise, and copper.

State Symbols
State MineralWulfenite
State MetalCopper
State GemstoneTurquoise
State FossilPetrified wood
Arizona: Source

Turquoise

Through quite a bit of research and cross-referencing, I have compiled this list of some prospective locations in Arizona 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 these book from 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.

Arizona Rockhounding Locations

NOTE: All the locations listed in these tables are clickable, and will take you to the location on Google Maps.

Phoenix, AZ

The entire area around Phoenix is ripe with great rockhounding locations, but north of the city along the Black Canyon Highway is particularly prolific. The rivers and streams around the city are well known for producing quality specimens of agate, chalcedony, jasper, and gem quality copper-associated minerals. Note that the last location I list in this table has an especially rough GPS location, and my research indicates that it is very difficult to access (including an ~18 mile hike).

LocationRocks & Minerals
Skunk Creek, W of Black Canyon FreewayPink Chalcedony
Streams in the New River areaAgate, Chalcedony, Jasper
Diggings just SE of Rock SpringsGem-quality copper stained minerals
Gravels of the Agua Fria RiverAgate, Chalcedony, Jasper
San Domingo WashPlacer gold
In loose dirt W of base of second peak from S in Four Peaks, elevation ~6500′High-quality gem Amethyst

Tucson, AZ

The Tucson area is a great place for anyone looking to do some rockhounding. There are a wide variety of minerals available to collect if you know where to look, including copper minerals, pyrite, fluorite, calcite, and azurite. The Twin Buttes area just to the southwest of Tucson is a particularly prospective location for rockhounds, especially if you’d like to try some nighttime searching for fluorescent minerals.

LocationRocks and Minerals
Area just S of Yuma MineWillemite crystals
Old mine dumps in the Twin Buttes areaAzurite, Copper, Chalcocite, Chrysocolla, Malachite, fluorescent minerals, Calcite, Pyrite, Marcasite, etc.
Old mine dumps in the Sierrita MtsMelanterite, Copper, Pyrite
Neptune Mine near Grays SpringFluorite, in veins
Dumps near Esperanza MineCopper, Molybdenum

Cave Creek, AZ

Just to the northeast of Phoenix, the Cave Creek area offers some of the best rockhounding you can find in a small area in Arizona (and that’s saying something). There is a great mix of rocks and minerals to find here, including agate, jasper, quartz, precious metals, and even thundereggs. This would be a great place to spend a day or two enjoying the sights while adding to your rock & mineral collection. Note that it appears this area has been recently developed quite a bit so some of these locations may no longer be useful or accessible.

LocationRocks & Minerals
Red Rover mineChalcocite, Tetrahedrite
Hill to W of Cave CreekRed Jasper
Area around Go John MineGold, Silver, Copper, Red Jasper, Blue Quartz
~4 mi. SW of Cave Creek townAgate, Gold, Jasper, Quartz
Seven Springs-Bloody Basin RoadAgate, Jasper
2 mi. S of road on way to Bartlett ReservoirFluorite
Quartz outcrop off of jeep roadNodules, Thundereggs
Area S of Horseshoe DamAgate

Clifton, AZ

Northeast of Tucson near the New Mexico border lies Clifton, AZ, a small town with big rockhounding prospects. If you ask around locally you may be able to get the scoop on some locations to search, but I’ve compiled quite a few historically known places below that have produced specimens of many minerals including agate, nodules, turquoise, chalcedony, fire agate, geodes, and jasper.

LocationRocks & Minerals
Limestone GulchGem-quality Agate
N of Mulligan PeakPurple Agate
W of Mulligan PeakNodules
Ward CanyonRed Agate
Mine dumps along Coronado TrailChrysocolla, Turquoise
1 mi. N of old Three-Way drive-in theaterFire Agate, Chalcedony
Both sides of Mule Creek RoadChalcedony Geodes
York AreaFire Agate, Banded Agate, Carnelian, Jasper
Foothills of Sunset PeakAgate, Jasper (blue and black)
Canyon to N of road 1 mi. S of Apache Nat. ForestBlue Agate, Carnelian

Morristown, AZ

Just to the northwest of Phoenix is the town of Morristown, where you can easily spend a day doing some rockhounding. You can find specimens of many rocks and minerals such as calcite, quartz, mica, garnet, feldspar, tourmaline, jasper, and agate. Be careful when wandering around this area however, as it’s covered in cholla cacti. Don’t get pricked when reaching for that pretty specimen that catches your eye!

LocationRocks & Minerals
In pegmatite outcrops on area roadsidesMica, Garnet, Hornblende, Feldspar, Black Tourmaline
All along both sides of road from Morristown to Castle Hot SpringsAgate, Chalcedony, Chert, Jasper, Schorl
Area around hotel, in stream bed and nearby drawsJasper, Agate, Quartz crystals
Road along Agua Fria RiverQuartz family gemstones

Kingman, AZ

The area around the city in western Arizona is littered with old mines and prospects. There is an even greater variety of minerals here than in other parts of the state. There are also quite a few pegmatite veins that have yielded specimens of minerals like bismuth, beryl, and microcline. If you choose to check out any of these old mining locations be sure to, as always, get permission from landowners, don’t go underground, and exercise caution at all times.

LocationRocks & Minerals
Emerald Isle MineGold-colored Chrysocolla, Tenorite
BiMetal Gold MinePlacer Gold
Kingman Feldspar MineAllanite, Microcline, Quartz crystals
15 mi. NW of Kingsman, multiple minesArsenopyrite, Dufrenoysite
Golden Gem & Vanderbilt MinesGalena, Pyrite, Sphalerite, Stibnite
Area of Mineral Park & CerbatKaolin minerals & Turquoise
Area near Meadow Creek PassFire Agate, Grape Agate, Chalcedony, Jasper

Congress, AZ

The area of Congress junction is one of the best places in Arizona to collect rocks and minerals. You can find some nice specimens of minerals like agate, jasper, fluorite, and garnet. The area was once known to produce gold nuggets and placer gold, and although they are very likely depleted you may still be able to make some lucky finds if you search in the right places. Many of the old mines and mining camps are privately owned, so make sure to get permission to search and collect on their property.

LocationsApprox GPSRocks & Minerals
On top of steep hill, 4.5 mi. east of US 8934.153681, -112.763663Fluorite, Garnet, Pyrite
Area of old Stanton mining camp34.156873, -112.736218Fluorite, Garnet, Gold, Pyrite
On surface around Rich Hill34.172805, -112.710444Gold nuggets
Area of old Octave mining camp34.141709, -112.690082Gold
Congress Mine34.199190, -112.853469Gold, Pyrite
Under Burro Creek Bridge, Hwy 9334.544811, -113.443189Pink Agate
Date Creek area34.212639, -113.049795Agate, Garnet, Jasper, Limonite, Quartz crystals

Payson, AZ

Right smack dab in the middle of Arizona and surrounding by National Forest, Payson is a great place for rockhounds to spend some time searching for specimens. There is a nice variety of rocks and minerals to find, including fluorite, agate, jasper, quartz, and even geodes. Many of these locations are on National Forest land but some (especially the mines) are likely private property, so be sure to do your research and get permission beforehand.

LocationRocks & Minerals
Oxbow & Silver Butte MinesCopper minerals, Epidote, Fluorite, Dioptase
Along North Creek Trail, on both sidesAgate, Jasper, Septarian nodules
Area around Diamond Point LookoutRock crystal (quartz)
Area around Ellison CreekAgate, Jasper, Geodes
Area of Natural BridgeGem serpentine

Tip: Check out my Complete Rock Tumbling Guide to make your rocks and gemstones really shine!

Arizona 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.

To determine what type of public land a particular location is on, I would recommend starting with the Arizona State Land Department.

Private Land Resources

As with most states, each county in Connecticut 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 usually get the landowner’s name and address by visiting the County Assessor’s website, such as this one for Maricopa County.