Georgia is a surprisingly great state for rockhounding, both for the sheer number of prospective collecting sites and the large array of rock and mineral specimens that can be found here. Home to the first true gold rush in the United States, Georgia’s complex and varied geology provides the perfect environment for rockhounding. Many of the best collecting sites occur in the northern part of the state, where the Appalachian Mountains terminate and a wide variety of pegmatite gemstones occur in abundance. Some of Georgia’s most sought-after specimens include corundum, ruby, quartz, amethyst, staurolite, and even diamond.
The best places to rockhound in Georgia are the creek beds and gravels that contain pegmatite minerals, the many mining dumps across the state, fee-to-dig mines, lakeshores, and hillsides. Georgia’s most popular rockhounding sites are public mines such as Graves Mountain Mine and Hogg Mine.
|State Fossil||Shark Tooth|
This article will dive deeper into the many great rockhounding sites across the state, but I’d like to highlight a few standouts here. The top 10 rockhounding sites in Georgia:
- Graves Mountain Mine – Found in eastern Georgia, this fee-to-dig mine offers rockhounds the opportunity to dig for crystal specimens including lazulite, rutile, and pyrophyllite. This is one of the most popular rockhounding sites in the entire state.
- Hogg Mine – This fee-to-dig mine in La Grange is another extremely popular destination for Georgia rockhounds. For a small feel, collectors can dig for a large variety of minerals including amethyst, aquamarine, beryl, garnet, mica, quartz, and tourmaline.
- Jackson Crossroads Amethyst Mine – Only open on some Saturdays, this fee-to-dig mine is famous for its spectacular amethyst crystals. Be sure to check for open dates, especially if you plan on bringing the family since children are only allowed on a few select dates.
- Turkey Hill – To the south of the University of North Georgia is Turkey Hill, where there are many old mining dumps and prospects. This area is historically known to produce a variety of minerals including garnet, gold, ruby, staurolite, tourmaline, and zircon.
- Garnet Hill – The area around Garnet Hill, sometimes called Garnet Ridge, is well known for producing gem-quality garnets.
- Chatuge Lake – Near the state border with North Carolina is Chatuge Lake, where you can spend some time scouring the beach gravels for your own specimens of many minerals including corundum, garnet, kyanite, quartz, and rutile.
- Chattahoochee River – Spanning almost the entire length of Georgia, the gravels of the Chattahoochee River contain many collectible minerals along most of its length. Depending on where you look, you may be able to find specimens of chalcedony, chert, flint, jasper, opal, opalized wood, quartz, petrified wood, and selenite.
- Dodge County – Tektites are exceedingly rare finds but, in Georgia, you may be able to find your own specimens in Dodge County and even the counties surrounding it. Since tektites form from meteorite impacts, they are strewn over a very large area. For your best chances, try searching recently tilled fields after a light rain.
- Sharp Mountain – If you’re searching for staurolite, Georgia’s state mineral, your best bet will be in northwestern Georgia. There are many great locations to search but you might want to begin at Sharp Mountain, particularly on the eastern slopes.
- Withlacoochee River – In southern Georgia, particularly in the gravels of the Withlacoochee River, you can sometimes come across agatized coral and other fossils. Northern Florida is more well known for agatized coral, but you don’t need to travel that far to search for your own.
Georgia boasts a wide variety of rocks and minerals thanks to its diverse geology and abundance of pegmatites. The area has long been mined for minerals such as gold, beryl, mica, and kyanite. Staurolite, Georgia’s state mineral, can be found in relative abundance especially in the northwestern part of the state. Gem-quality specimens of quartz and amethyst crystals are present over a wide portion of Georgia, as are banded agates and jasper.
The most commonly found minerals in Georgia are:
Through quite a bit of research and cross-referencing of available literature, I have compiled this list of some prospective locations in Georgia which I would recommend to people looking to do some rockhounding. These are mostly comprised of old mining prospects, streams, and historically known rock and mineral collecting sites. For additional reading, I’d highly recommend these books 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 which contains my full reviews for every Geologist’s favorite rock hammer and the best hiking backpack I’ve ever owned.
Rockhounding Sites in Georgia
NOTE: All the locations listed in these tables are clickable, and will take you to the location on Google Maps.
For ease of reference, I’ll break up the state into the regions shown on the map below. Each region will have its own list of rockhounding locations with an accompanying map.
Northwestern Georgia Rockhounding Locations
The northwestern region of Georgia contains many rockhounding sites and is particularly notable for the many locations where staurolites can be found. In addition to the many mines and quarries which dot the landscape, some of the best rockhounding locations in northwestern Georgia are the hillsides and stream gravels where an abundance of minerals can be found including barite, agate, jasper, garnet, quartz crystals, and even geodes.
Northeastern Georgia Rockhounding Locations
Northeastern Georgia is probably the most prolific region of the state for rockhounding. Numerous mineral varieties can be found here including beryl, quartz, ruby, kyanite, agate, amethyst, and corundum. Most of the best rockhounding sites in northeastern Georgia are in exposed pegmatites, the gravels of stream beds, or the tailings of the many mines throughout the area.
Columbus & Western Georgia Rockhounding Locations
Western Georgia and the Columbus are contain many rockhounding locations which produce a diverse array of rock and mineral specimens including agate, jasper, amethyst, quartz, mica, and kyanite. While there are many old mines in the area which offer great opportunities for collectors, the best rockhounding sites in western Georgia tend to be in road cuts, tilled fields, stream gravels, and hillsides. The gravels of the Chattahoochee River and its tributaries are particularly notable.
|Location||Rocks & Minerals|
|Milledgeville, state farm area||Jasper|
|Macon, area quarries and pits||Agate|
|Middle Georgia Regional Airport, area to N||Beryl|
|Hillsboro, area road cuts||Amethyst, Quartz crystals (blue, rose, smoky, clear), Mica, Vermiculite|
|Monticello, plowed fields along Rte 83||Quartz crystals (gem), Beryl|
|Round Oak, area||Agate, Jasper, Petrified wood|
|Milner, area to the SW||Mica books, Quartz (milky, smoky)|
|Warm Springs, area along railroad||Agate, Chert, Jasper, Opal (common opal)|
|Pine Mountain Valley, area||Quartz (rose quartz), Beryl|
|Culloden, area mines and prospects 4 mi. N||Mica, Muscovite, Biotite, Feldspar, Quartz|
|Chattahoochee River and tributaries, in gravels||Chalcedony, Chert, Flint, Jasper, Opal (common opal), Opalized wood|
|Bull Creek near Columbus||Petrified wood|
|Vaugh, along both sides of road||Beryl (gem-quality), Quartz (rose quartz), Tourmaline (black)|
|Hogg Mine, La Grange (fee)||Amethyst, Aquamarine, Beryl, Garnet, Mica, Quartz, Tourmaline|
|Hurricane Creek near Crest, in gravels||Beryl, Kyanite, Quartz|
|Thomaston, mines in a broad area||Kyanite, Mica, Citrine, Corundum, Garnet|
|Dolly Cherry Property||Kyanite (gem-quality), Staurolite (nice twinned crystals)|
|Herron Mine near Yatesville||Apatite, Beryl crystals, Mica, Quartz|
|Lake Tchukolaho shores||Agate, Jasper, Opalite, Chalcedony|
Atlanta & Eastern Georgia Rockhounding Locations
The best rockhounding locations near Atlanta and eastern Georgia are mining dumps, prospects, select creek beds and gravels, and Graves Mountain. Quite a large variety of minerals can be found across this region including ‘Savannah River agate’, quartz crystals, amethyst, corundum, and even diamond. The best and easiest rockhounding location to access from Atlanta is the Graves Mountain Mine where, for a small fee, rock collectors can hope to find crystals of lazulite, rutile, and pyrophyllite.
|Location||Rocks & Minerals|
|Girard, area on GA side of state border||Agate (‘Savannah River’ Agate), Chalcedony, Quartz crystals, Silicified oolite|
|Athens, many area mines and prospects||Quartz (blue, gem-quality), Beryl (lime-green, gem-quality)|
|Morrow, area creek beds||Diamond|
|Dewy Rose, area creeks and exposures||Amethyst, Aquamarine, Quartz crystals|
|Elberton, mines on N side of Coldwater creek||Aquamarine, Garnet, Quartz crystals, Tourmaline, Beryl|
|Autry Mill Nature Preserve||Corundum|
|Sparta, area fields, gravels, streams, etc.||Carnelian, Chalcedony, Jasper|
|Lake Sinclair, along shores||Quartz crystals|
|Graves Mountain mine (fee)||Lazulite crystals, Rutile (gem-quality, deep red), Pyrophyllite crystals|
|Hard Labor Creek & tributaries, in gravels||Corundum, Rutile, Sapphire (pink), Spinel|
Albany & Southwestern Georgia Rockhounding Locations
Southwestern Georgia is not as prolific for rockhounding as the northern part of the state. The regional geology changes significantly throughout the state, and unfortunately most of the best rockhounding sites lay to the north. Still, there are some easily accessible and prospective rockhounding sites in the area. The best rockhounding sites near Albany are in the gravels of creeks and streams, particularly the Flint River and streams in Chattahoochee County. The collectable rocks and minerals found in southwestern Georgia tend to be in the quartz family, including chert, petrified wood, silicified wood, moss agate, and jasper.
|Location||Rocks & Minerals|
|Chattahoochee County, area streams, road cuts, and gravels||Chert, Quartz (pastel), Petrified wood, Pyrite, Selenite crystals|
|Columbus, area near Randall Creek||Silicified wood|
|Cordele, area streams, fields, gravels, etc.||Agate (Moss agate), Jasper|
|Albany, in Flint River gravels||Jasper (red)|
Southeastern Georgia Rockhounding Locations
Southeastern Georgia is an exciting place to rockhound. What it lacks in number of sites and variety of specimens it more than makes up for with the uniqueness of the finds that can be acquired here. Southeastern Georgia is one of the few places in the United States where you can find tektites (glassy fragments of Earth thrown up from a meteorite impact) and agatized coral. The best places to look for tektites in Georgia are in Dodge County and Osierfield, particularly in exposed and recently tilled fields. For agatized coral, the Withlacoochee River near Clyattville is the place to start your search.
|Location||Rocks & Minerals|
|Dodge County, fields over a large regional area||Tektites (translucent, bottle-green)|
|Osierfield, general area||Tektites (gemmy)|
|Withlacoochee River, near Clyattville||Agatized coral|
|River Road, both sides||Agatized fossils|
Where to Find Staurolite in Georgia
If you’re collecting rocks and minerals in Georgia, chances are you’ll want to find at least one staurolite specimen of your own. It’s the state mineral, and they are undeniably very cool looking finds. Unfortunately, staurolite isn’t very easy to find unless you’re looking in the right place, and even then you may need some good fortune in order to find a specimen worth keeping. There are quite a few sites which in Georgia which you can find staurolite, especially in the northwestern part of the state.
The best places to find staurolite in Georgia are:
- Sharp Mountain
- Ball Ground
- Bluff Creek
- Fannin County
- Cole’s Crossing
- Windy Ridge and Mineral Bluff
- Turkey Hill
- Dolly Cherry Property
Where to Find Gemstones in Georgia
Georgia is a surprisingly great state when it comes to searching for gemstones, primarily due to the many pegmatites found in the northern part of the state. These pegmatites produce high-quality gemstones of a wide variety of minerals including quartz, amethyst, garnet, beryl, kyanite, and rutile. You can’t find gemstones just anywhere, though. Many of these minerals can be found all over the state, but for the highest quality finds you’ll have the best luck searching in a select few localities.
Tip: Check out my Complete Rock Tumbling Guide to make your rocks and gemstones really shine!
|Vaugh||Beryl, Quartz, Tourmaline|
|Dolly Cherry Property||Kyanite, Staurolite|
|Graves Mountain mine||Lazulite, Rutile|
|Jackson Crossroads Amethyst Mine||Amethyst|
|Hogg Mine||Amethyst, Aquamarine, Beryl, Garnet, Quartz, Tourmaline|
Where to Find Geodes in Georgia
Geodes are some of the most sought-after rocks regardless of location. Unfortunately, even though Georgia is a fantastic state for rockhounding it isn’t particularly well known for its geode finds. Still, there are some places in northwestern Georgia where you can go searching with the hope of finding crystal-lined geodes.
The best places to find geodes in Georgia are:
- Cartersville, in area pits and mines
- Emerson, in pits near the US 41 bridge
- Rome, in the Rice Springs area
Where to Find Agates in Georgia
Agates are among the most common and the most beautiful specimens collected by rockhounds, so if you’re looking to collect some you’re not alone. Luckily, there are many locations in Georgia where agates are found so you can take your pick. The colors and varieties will vary with the location, and you can even find some agates with the beautiful characteristic banding patterns that make them so attractive.
The best places to find agates in Georgia are:
Georgia 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 the Georgia Department of Natural Resources interactive land maps.
Private Land Resources
As with most states, each county in Georgia will have records of who owns each piece of property. Unfortunately for rockhounds, the law in most states prohibits them from publishing their names or contact information online. You can usually get the landowner’s name and address by visiting the county records office. In Georgia, I would recommend starting with the County Assessor’s office.
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: