Massachusetts isn’t particularly well known for its rockhounding, but for a relatively small state it packs quite a few good rockhounding sites and interesting minerals within its borders. The geology of the state is dominated by vast basalts cut by the Connecticut River, resulting in the exposure of many interesting finds such as agate and jasper. The high-quality beryl and rhodonite found in the western part of Massachusetts will be particularly desirable for any aspiring rockhound in the area. One of the first things people always wonder about collecting rocks and minerals is where to look? I have compiled a list and made a map of many sites to get you started rockhounding in Massachusetts.
The best places to rockhound in Massachusetts are privately owned mines such as the Betts Rhodonite Mine and Reynolds Mine, the ocean beaches of Massachusetts Bay, and pegmatite veins near many towns like Goshen and Plainfield in the western part of the state.
|State Rock||Roxbury Puddingstone|
|State Fossil||Dinosaur Tracks|
This article will dive deeper into the many great rockhounding sites across the state (along with maps), but I’d like to highlight a few standouts here. The top 10 rockhounding sites for gems and minerals in Massachusetts:
- Betts Rhodonite Mine – For a small fee you and your family can enjoy a day at the Betts Mine where you can find nice specimens of garnet, magnetite, and pyrite along with the rhodonite the mine is famous for.
- Middlesborough – Just south of Middlesborough in a vein that extends all the way south towards Rochester is a vein that will often yield nice agate and chalcedony specimens.
- Sandwich – The beaches to the northwest of Sandwich area a great place to search for Jasper. This trend continues most of the way up the coast along the beaches of Massachusetts Bay.
- Monument Mountain – Try searching in and around any rock exposures near Monument Mountain for smoky quartz crystals.
- Pittsfield – The entire area to the southeast of Pittsfield makes for a great spot to search for an uncommon green variety of quartz. Look in stream gravels and near pegmatite veins for your best chances.
- Deerfield – The entire area surrounding Deerfield contains some of the best rockhounding opportunities in Massachusetts. Search the gravels of the Deerfield River for agate, jasper, and chalcedony, and request access to area quarries for amethyst and geodes specimens.
- Chester – Old mines and pegmatite outcrops surrounding the town of Chester produce an impure variety of corundum known as emery. You can also find specimens of minerals like jasper, pyrrhotite, serpentine, and chromite.
- Plainfield – The area surrounding the town of Plainfield is a great place to search for almandine and spessartine garnets, quartz crystals, hematite, chalcopyrite, and rhodonite.
- Goshen – Pegmatites veins all around the town of Goshen are famous for containing high-quality specimens of beryl – most notably a clear variety known as goshenite. Look for a pegmatite just north of Lily Pond to start you off.
- Reynolds Mine at Beryl Hill – This family-owned mine will let you (for a small fee) search your own specimens of beryl, smoky quartz crystals, and muscovite.
For being a relatively small state, Massachusetts offers quite a nice variety of rocks and minerals to be collected. The usual quartz family minerals like agate, jasper, and smoky quartz can be found in locations all across the state, but more unique minerals like rhodonite, beryl, and several varieties of garnet are also commonly collected. It would take quite a bit of time to find quality specimens of some of the minerals listed here but with enough effort and luck, you can add quite a few pieces native to Massachusetts to your collection.
The most commonly found and collected gemstones and minerals in Massachusetts are:
- Smoky quartz
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.
You can also read through my free rock identification guide and mineral identification guide which are filled with useful information and tools.
Through quite a bit of research and cross-referencing of available literature, I have compiled this list of some prospective locations in Massachusetts which I would recommend to people looking to do some rockhounding. These are mostly comprised of beaches, old mining prospects, 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 many rockhounding clubs in Massachusetts but I’d specifically recommend the Boston Mineral Club. 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 Massachusetts
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.
If you live in the Boston area or anywhere in eastern Massachusetts, some of the best rockhounding sites are in the sands and gravels of ocean beaches. It is common to find jasper (often with epidote) in beach gravels extending from Barnstable all the way north to Glouchester along Massachusetts Bay. In particular, the beaches near Sandwich, Cohasset, and Marshfield are know rockhounding locations for jasper specimens.
For a bit more variety you can try the shore near Gay Head for specimens of alum and amber. Look on the beaches near deposits of green sand for your best chances.
|Location||Rocks & Minerals|
|Sandwich, beaches to NW||Jasper|
|Gay Head, shore near green sand deposits||Alum, Amber|
|Cohasset, on beaches||Jasper, Epidote|
|Marshfield, on beaches||Jasper (pebbles)|
Eastern Massachusetts is relatively lacking in promising rockhounding sites compared to the rest of the state. Still, there are several locations that are definitely worth checking out that offer a variety of rocks and minerals including agate, chalcedony, amazonite, pyrite, and jasper.
The best area to rockhound in eastern Massachusetts is just south of Middlesborough in a vein that extends all the way south towards Rochester. Searching along this vein will often yield nice agate and chalcedony specimens. Metamorphic outcrops of slate near Malden and Westfield are also known to contain less common minerals such as novaculite and chiastolite.
|Location||Rocks & Minerals|
|Middlesborough, in vein extending S||Agate, Chalcedony|
|Malden, in area slate exposures||Novaculite|
|Westfield, in area slate exposures||Chiastolite crystals|
|Rockport, area quarries||Amazonite|
|Newburyport, area mines||Chalcopyrite, Galena, Pyrite, Sphalerite, Siderite, Tetrahedrite|
|Rowley, general area||Jasper|
The hills of Berkshire County are quite possibly the best place in Massachusetts to find quartz crystals. The area around Monument Mountain contains smoky quartz crystals, while the area just to the southeast of Pittsfield is a great place to search for unique looking specimens of green quartz. Mines and quarries all around the county (but particularly near Dalton) are fine places to find talc and asbestos.
|Location||Rocks & Minerals|
|Dalton, area mines and quarries||Asbestos, Talc|
|Monument Mountain||Quartz (smoky quartz)|
|Pittsfield, SE of town||Quartz (green quartz)|
Franklin County is the best area of Massachusetts for rockhounding, both for the number of localities and the wide selection of rocks and minerals to be found. The Deerfield area in particular has several sites where you can find specimens of agate nodules, amethyst, and even the occasional geode. Mines and quarries all throughout the county produce a variety of minerals including chalcopyrite, hematite, beryl, and fluorite. As always, make sure to gain permission before searching or collecting on private property.
|Location||Rocks & Minerals|
|Conway, area gravels and streams||Agate|
|Deerfield River||Jasper, Agate, Chalcedony|
|Deerfield, in area basalt sills||Agate (nodules)|
|Deerfield, in area quarries||Fluorite|
|East Deerfield, area quarries||Amethyst, Geodes (chalcedony, prehnite)|
|Leverett, area mines||Chalcopyrite|
|Montague, area mines||Chalcopyrite, Hematite|
|Northfield, area quarries||Fluorite, Garnet, Beryl (golden)|
|Davis Mine, Rowe||Chalcopyrite, Pyrite|
|Warwick, area exposures||Hematite|
|Zoar, area mines and quarries||Talc|
The pegmatites and other outcrops in Hampden County make for great rockhounding sites. This part of Massachusetts is one of the best in the state for finding high-quality beryl specimens. Many of the mines and quarries in the area are historically known to produce minerals like beryl, galena, amethyst, and prehnite, but they may be difficult to gain access to. Joining a local rockhounding club and trying to organize a group trip is usually your best bet for these sorts of locations.
One particularly notable rockhounding site in Hampden County is the area around Chester. There are very famous old mines and outcrops here, collectively known as the Chester Emery Mines. Emery is an impure variety of corundum and can be found along with other minerals like jasper, pyrrhrotite, serpentine, and chromite.
|Location||Rocks & Minerals|
|Blandford, area pegmatites & quarries||Beryl, Feldspar|
|Chester, old mines and outcrops||Emery, Diaspore, Jasper, Pyrrhotite, Serpentine, Chromite|
|Montgomery, area mines and outcrops||Galena|
|Norwich, area pegmatite outcrops||Beryl (gem-quality)|
|Lane Quarry, W of Springfield||Amethyst, Datolite, Prehnite|
Hampshire County is the best area in all of Massachusetts to find gemstones. A wide variety of precious and semiprecious gemstones can be found here including agate, amethyst, prehnite, beryl, garnet, and rhodonite.
There are many great rockhounding sites in Hampshire County, but the most popular by far is the Betts Mine. For a small fee, you can mine your own garnets and high-quality rhodonite which is often used for cabbing and jewelry. The area surrounding the town of Goshen is also famous for a colorless variety of beryl known as goshenite.
|Location||Rocks & Minerals|
|Amherst, area gravels and streams||Agate|
|Lane Trap Rock Quarry||Amethyst, Prehnite, Datolite|
|Chesterfield, area quarries and pegmatites||Beryl (gem-quality), Kyanite, Staurolite|
|Betts Mine (fee)||Rhodonite, Garnet, Magnetite, Pyrite, Chalcopyrite|
|Plainfield, general area||Ankerite, Garnet, Quartz crystals, Rhodochrosite, Rhodonite, Hematite, Chalcopyrite|
|Goshen, area pegmatites||Beryl (gem-quality), Goshenite (colorless beryl)|
|Lily Pond, pegmatite dike to N||Emerald, Goshenite (colorless beryl), Quartz crystals (smoky), Tourmaline|
|Barrus Mine pegmatite outcrop||Tourmaline, Lepidolite, Spodumene|
|Loudville, area mines||Chalcopyrite, Wulfenite, Cerussite|
|Norwich Bridge, area pegmatites||Beryl (gem-quality)|
|West Chesterfield, W in roadcut||Quartz (smoky quartz)|
Worchester County has a few great rockhounding sites, several of which are more accessible and family friendly than is commonly found. Head to the Bolton Lime Quarry search for large pink scapolite crystals, or the west side of Rollstone Hill where you can find a pegmatite which contains beryl. The Reynolds Mine at Beryl hill is a great place to take your family where, for a small fee, you can find beryl, smoky quartz crystals, and muscovite.
|Location||Rocks & Minerals|
|Bolton Lime Quarry (fee)||Scapolite (large pink crystals)|
|Rollstone Hill, in pegmatite on W side||Beryl|
|Reynolds Mine at Beryl Hill||Beryl, Quartz crystals (smoky quartz), Muscovite|
|Sterling, area slate exposures||Chalcopyrite, Siderite|
Where to Find Garnet in Massachusetts
As far as collecting goes, garnet is a fairly common mineral in Massachusetts. The variety in coloring and different species (along with its inherent aesthetic appeal) make it one of the more sought-after gemstones by rockhounds. Lucky for you, there are several places where you can hope to collect your own garnet specimens.
The best places to find garnet in Massachusetts are:
- Northfield Mountain – If you search the area around Northfield Mountain you will likely come across deposits where you can find high-quality garnets. These specimens are reportedly even suitable for gem cutting.
- Betts Rhodonite Mine – For a small fee you and your family can enjoy a day at the Betts Mine where you can find nice specimens of garnet along with the rhodonite the mine is famous for.
- Plainfield – The entire area surrounding Plainsfield is worth scouring for garnets as well as other minerals like ankerite, rhodonite, and quartz crystals. Try searching in stream gravels and any rocky exposures.
Where to Find Geodes in Massachusetts
Geodes are some of the most collected and sought-after specimens by rockhounds no matter where you live, and Massachusetts is no exception. While Massachusetts certainly isn’t known for its geodes, there are some locations where it is possible to find them. The best places to find geodes in Massachusetts are the quarries near East Deerfield in Franklin County.
In general, any area in which you find agates is a good place to look for geodes since the means by which they are produced are similar. You’ll want to look in areas near (and downstream of) basalt exposures. The geodes found in Massachusetts can be very beautiful, containing crystals of amethyst, agate, or chalcedony.
Tip: Not sure if the rock you’ve found is a geode? Check out my article about how to identify a geode.
Where to Find Rhodonite in Massachusetts
Rhodonite is the Massachusetts state gemstone, so if you’re rockhounding in the area it’s probably one of the minerals you’re most interested in collecting. This beautiful pink mineral is a manganese inosilicate and is a favorite amongst collectors for its potential to create high-quality cabochons. Even though it’s the state gemstone it is only found in very specific locations in Massachusetts.
Rhodonite is only found in the town of Plainfield, particularly at the Betts Rhodonite Mine just southwest of town. High-quality rhodonite specimens can be collected here along with magnetite, pyrite, chalcopyrite, and garnets. Reservations must be made in advance, so be sure to call ahead.
Tip: Check out my Complete Rock Tumbling Guide to make your rocks and gemstones really shine!
Massachusetts 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 Massachusetts’ Public Lands Viewer web app.
Private Land Resources
As with most states, each county in Massachusetts will have records of who owns each piece of property. Massachusetts makes it uniquely easy relative to most states to find who owns a piece of land by way of their official interactive property map. You can also usually get the landowner’s name and address by visiting the county records 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: