Louisiana is a fairly limited state for rockhounding, due in large part to the relatively young age of the sedimentary rocks which make up the entirety of its surface topography. Still, rockhounds have plenty of places where they can get out and find worthwhile specimens of a limited array of rocks and minerals. These collectible varieties are almost exclusively members of the microcrystalline quartz family like agates, jasper, carnelian, and petrified wood. The many streams and rivers in Louisiana do provide plenty of places where these rocks can be found, but it’s helpful to know which places are the most likely to have what you’re looking for.
The best places to rockhound in Louisiana are stream and river gravels, particularly those of the Ouachita River near Monroe and the Amite River near Baton Rouge. Petrified wood is often found in Vernon and Rapides Parishes, while rare ‘Louisiana Opal’ can be found near Leesville.
Louisiana is one of the worst states in the U.S. when it comes to varieties of rocks and minerals to be found. It is almost completely lacking in gemstones and crystals with the notable exception of agates and petrified wood. Most of the exposed rocks on the surface are carbonates, with plenty of outcrops of limestone, gypsum, and marl. Rockhounds won’t find much in the way of ‘hard rock’ or pegmatite minerals like quartz crystals or garnet, for example.
The most commonly found and collected rocks and minerals in Louisiana are:
- Petrified palm wood
- Opalized wood
- Oyster Shells
- Louisiana Opal
Through quite a bit of research and cross-referencing of available literature, I have compiled this list of some prospective locations in Louisiana which I would recommend to people looking to do some rockhounding. These are mostly comprised of beaches, washes, 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. Joining up with a local rockhounding club for a group trip can often get you access to otherwise off-limits locations like privately owned mines and quarries. There are several rockhounding clubs in Louisiana so you can most likely find one you like nearby.
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 Louisiana
Rockhounding locations in Louisiana are almost completely limited to the gravels and bars of the state’s many streams and rivers. While almost any stream will have the potential to contain agates or petrified wood, there are some areas which are much more likely to have what you’re looking for. The Baton Rouge area and the entire Amite River Valley are probably the most well known areas for agate hunting in the state. If you’re looking for petrified or opalized palm wood then your best bet is to look in the northern part of the state.
For a bit more variety in your rockhounding adventures you can try hunting for oyster shells in the lakes and beaches along the coast. Locally known as ‘Lapearlite’, these shells are often turned into cabochons for jewelry and decorations. You may also try searching for outcrops of the Catahoula Sandstone near Leesville where you could get lucky enough to find ‘Louisiana opal’. This unique looking rock is actually a sandstone which has been cemented by opal. It’s not as pretty as boulder opal but it is an entirely unique specimen that can be cut and polished.
|Location||Rocks & Minerals|
|Gulfport, creek beds to NW||Jasper, Petrified wood|
|Livingston Parish, regional stream gravels||Carnelian|
|Tangipahoa Parish, regional stream gravels||Carnelian|
|Ouachita River, in gravels S of Monroe||Agate, Petrified wood, Opalized wood|
|Pollock, regional gravels, and streams||Agate, Petrified wood|
|Rapides Parish, regional stream gravels||Silicified palm wood (Palmoxylon)|
|Sabine Lake Public Oyster Area||Oyster Shell (Lapearlite)|
|Lake Chien & many other public oyster areas||Oyster Shell (Lapearlite)|
|Vernon Parish, regional stream gravels||Silicified palm wood (Palmoxylon)|
|Tangipahoa River & all tributaries, in gravels||Agate|
|Leesville, a large area to W, E, and N||Petrified wood|
|Amite River Valley||Agate|
|East & West Feliciana Parishes||Agate|
|Toledo Bend, general area||Petrified palm wood|
|Baton Rouge, area stream and river gravels||Agate|
|Leesville, in outcrops of Catahoula Sandstone||‘Louisiana Opal’ (sandstone with opal cement)|
|Bogue Chitto River, in bars and gravels||Agate|
|Old Pearl River, in bars and gravels||Agate|
Where to Find Geodes in Louisiana
Geodes are extremely popular specimens with rockhounds wherever you are in the world, and Louisiana is no exception. Unfortunately, there are no known locations where geodes can be found in Louisiana. The regional geology of the state isn’t conducive to their formation. If you want to get your hands on your own geode you’ll have to travel to another state or order some online.
Where to Find Crystals and Gemstones in Louisiana
There is nothing quite like uncovering a quartz crystal with a perfect termination or finding a beautiful agate that has been waiting in a river bank for you to come along and take it home. Gemstones are some of the most enjoyable specimens that rockhounds can find, but it’s not always easy to know where to look. Unfortunately, it is extremely unlikely that you will find any crystals like quartz (or something more exotic) in Louisiana because the sedimentary rocks on the surface are far too young to allow for the types of gemstones typically sought after by collectors.
Tip: Check out my Complete Rock Tumbling Guide to make your rocks and gemstones really shine!
While Louisiana certainly isn’t the best state in the U.S. for crystal hunting there are definitely plenty of places where you can search with a reasonable chance of finding something worthwhile.
The best places to find gemstones in Louisiana are the gravels of the Ouachita River and the Amite River, particularly near Baton Rouge. Try searching in gravel bars, especially a few days after a rain when fresh material is likely to have been exposed and water levels have had a chance to recede.
Where to Find Fossils in Louisiana
Because the surface geology Louisiana is almost entirely comprised of relatively young sedimentary rocks and so much of the area is a collecting place for rivers covering millions of square miles, it is no wonder that fossils are astonishingly abundant in Louisiana. As little as 25 million years ago (a blink of an eye, geologically speaking!) much of Louisiana was underwater, which means that it was teeming with life. The remnants of plants and animals which lived in and near the ocean at that time were fossilized and are eagerly waiting for you to pick them up!
The best places to find fossils in Louisiana are river gravels and bars, particularly near the Tunica Hills Wildlife Area and the Clark Creek Natural Area. Streams beds and other gravels across the state often contain fossils like brachiopods, crinoids, petrified wood, and corals.
Louisiana 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 for every location 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 Louisiana Office of State Lands.
Private Land Resources
As with most states, each parish in Louisiana will have records of who owns each piece of property. You can also usually get the landowner’s name and address by visiting the parish records office. I would probably start by contacting the assessor in whatever parish you’re interested in and getting whatever contact information you can for the landowner.
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: