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Nevada Rockhounding Location Guide & Map

Nevada Rockhounding Location Guide & Map

Nevada is a fantastic state for rockhounding, both for the uniqueness of the specimens which can be found here and for the sheer number of prospective rockhounding sites. The history of commercial ore production is long and well documented, and the many mining districts across the state provide a great number of collecting sites for rockhounds if they can gain access. There are far too many old mines and prospects to list, some of which operate to this day.

In addition to these metal ores, there are many opportunities for rockhounds searching for gemstones and crystals. Nevada is well regarded for its high-quality opal which is some of the most valued in the entire world. If you know where to look, there are many rockhounding opportunities for enthusiasts to explore all over the state.

The best places to rockhound in Nevada are the mines and prospects across the state which contain ores of precious metals. The most popular sites are in Virgin Valley where several opal mines operate and are open to the public. Other notable rockhounding sites are Garnet Hill and Black Rock Desert.

State Symbols
State MineralSilver
State RockSandstone
State GemstoneBlack Fire Opal and Turquoise
State FossilShonisaurus popularis
Nevada: Source
Opal
Opal

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 in Nevada:

  • Virgin Valley – This area is world-famous for its amazing, high-quality fire opal specimens. There are a handful of mines open to the public where, for a small fee, you can spend a day digging through tailings and finding fantastic opal specimens.
  • Black Rock Desert – Nearly the entire area of the Black Rock Desert has the potential to yield fire opal and opalized wood.
  • Garnet Hill – This public recreation area offers everyone the chance to search for garnet (and other minerals) absolutely free of charge. Try searching the exposed rhyolites all over the area to find high-quality, deep red garnets.
  • Fish Lake Valley – The large area of Fish Lake Valley is well known for yielding opalite specimens (among other great finds).
  • Royston Turquoise Mine – If you’re searching for turquoise and want to give yourself the best shot at finding some, then the Royston Turquoise Mine is the place to go. It is one of a select few mines open to the public in the U.S. where turquoise can be found.
  • Aurora Ghost Town – The washes, draws, and gravels in the area surrounding this old ghost town have historically contained quartz crystals, jasper, and other quartz minerals.
  • Agate Point – This appropriately named hill is known to produce nice specimens of semiprecious gemstones including agate, chalcedony, chert, flint, jasper, and other quartz-family minerals.
  • Tuscarora– The area all around Tuscarora contains citrine and rose quartz crystals, as well as wondestone. Try searching in gravels and in the talus of area outcrops.
  • Walker Lake – If you walk the shores and the area surrounding the lake you may find a nice variety of specimens including agate, chalcedony, petrified wood, and turquoise.
  • Valley of Fire State Park – This fantastic state park to the northeast of Las Vegas has several locations where rockhounds can find nice specimens of wonderstone and chalcedony.

Due to Nevada’s complex geology and mountainous terrain, the state has a long history of industrial precious metal production and continues to produce ores of copper, gold, iron, silver, and other metallic minerals to this day. Nevada is still commercially focused on those commercial ores, but other interesting minerals are available for rockhounds to find including a wide variety of precious and semiprecious gemstones and crystals.

The most commonly found minerals in Nevada are:

  • Turquoise
  • Opal
  • Garnet
  • Variscite
  • Precious metal ores
  • Wonderstone
  • Jasper
  • Petrified wood
  • Quartz
  • Agate
Turquoise
Turquoise

Through quite a bit of research and cross-referencing of available literature, I have compiled this list of some prospective locations in Nevada which I would recommend to people looking to do some rockhounding. These are mostly comprised of 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. 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 Nevada

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

I’ll break up the state into the four regions shown below for ease of reference and so that I can discuss the rockhounding sites in each area bit more in-depth.

Northeastern Nevada Rockhounding Locations

Some of the best rockhounding sites in the state are in northeastern Nevada. Much like the rest of the state, there are countless mines and metamorphic veins (many more than could possibly be listed here) which produce a wealth of precious metallic minerals such as gold, copper, and silver, along with their many associated minerals. The most notable rockhounding locations in northeastern Nevada are in Virgin Valley where many opal mines are open to the public for digging. Other great rockhounding sites include the Black Rock Desert and Agate Point where you can find specimens like opalized wood, geodes, agate, and jasper.

LocationRocks & Minerals
Copper King Mine, near CarlinTurquoise (Faustite, green variant)
Cobre, E of town in quartzites and limestonesCopper, Lead Iron
Elko County, many area mines in metamorphic veinsCopper, Gold, Lead, Silver, Platinum, and Zinc minerals
Mountain City, area minesAzurite, Malachite, other Copper minerals
Gold Creek near Island Mountain, in placers and veinsGold, Platinum, Silver
Tuscarora, area surfaces, gravels, and outcropsCitrine, Quartz (rose quartz), Wonderstone
Mineral Hill, in veinsCopper, Lead, Silver, and Zinc minerals
Mt. Hope, area minesLead, Silver, and Zinc minerals
Beowawe, area minesCinnabar
Eureka, mines of several nearby mining districtsArsenic, Copper, Gold, Lead, Silver, and Zinc minerals
Rainbow Ridge Opal MineOpal (precious, black fire, common), Opalized wood, Rhodonite
Virgin Valley, area on E sideAgate, Chalcedony, Chert, Flint, Jasper, Opal, Silicified lignite, Opalized wood, Petrified wood
Greenfire Opal MineOpal (gem-quality, black, fire, common)
Golconda, veins and area minesGold, Copper, Iron, Lead, Manganese, Tungsten, and Zinc minerals
McDermitt, area veins and minesCopper, Lead, Silver, Gold, and Lead minerals, Agate (purple sagenitic)
Willow Creek near Orovada, in placers and veinsGold, Platinum, Silver
Agate PointAgate, Chalcedony, Chert, Flint, Jasper, etc.
Paradise Valley, area mines, placers, and veinsGold, Platinum, Silver
Black Rock Desert, area surfacesOpalized wood, Petrified wood, Agate, Fire Opal, Geodes, Gypsum, Obsidian, Tourmaline, Malachite, Epidote, Barite, Azurite
Sulphur, area minesAntimony, Copper, Mercury, Gold, Lead, and Silver minerals
Winnemucca, area mines, veins, and placersCopper, Gold, Silver, Zinc, Lead, Platinum, and Silver minerals
Lander County, nearly all regional washes, draws, surfaces, etc.Chalcedony, Jasper, Opal, Opalite, etc.
Austin, area mines and veinsGold, Silver, Copper, Lead, and Antimony minerals
Battle Mountain, area mines, placers, and veinsArsenic, Copper, Gold, Lead, Silver, Zinc, Antimony, and Platinum minerals
Fox Mine and other nearby minesTurquoise
Golconda, area creek beds and gravelsChalcedony, Petrified wood
Silver Could Mine, in dumpsCinnabar
Little High Rock Canyon, headwaters areaObsidian nodules
Bald Mountain, mines and placersCopper, Mercury, Platinum, Silver, Tungsten
Snake Range, E flank mines and veins near UtahSilver and Tungsten minerals
White Pine County, many regional mines and veinsCopper, Mercury, Platinum, Silver, Tungsten, Gold, Lead, and Manganese minerals
Little Antelope Summit, area surfacesWonderstone
Garnet Hill, in area rhyolitesGarnet
Goose Creek, area gravels and surfacesPetrified wood

Northwestern Nevada Rockhounding Locations

Northwestern Nevada is home to many rockhounding sites that contain a wide variety of rocks and minerals including agate, chert, jasper, wonderstone, turquoise, and precious metals. In addition to the many mines that dot the landscape (far too many to list in their entirety) the best places to rockhound in northwestern Nevada are Walker Lake, Aurora Ghost Town, Lahontan Reservoir, and the slopes of several nearby mountains.

LocationRocks & Minerals
Buckskin, the Mt. Siegel mining districtCopper, Gold Iron, and Palladium minerals
Pine Nut Mountains, pegmatite outcrops in S endThulite, Topaz
Gardnerville, veins in area minesGold Copper, Silver
Mt. Siegel, area placersGold, Platinum
Genoa, E of town on mountain slopes, in placersCopper, Gold, Silver, Platinum
Fernley Hills, area surfacesAgate, Chert, Jasper
Tallapoosa MinesCopper, Silver, and Gold minerals
Churchill Butte, area on SE sideTungsten minerals
Silver City, are mines, veins, and placersGold, Iron, Platinum, and Iron minerals
Singatse Mountains, area minesChalcanthite (bluestone)
Broken Hills, mining district to SGold, Lead, and Silver minerals
Thorne, area hills and minesGold, Lead, Silver, Thulite
Walker Lake, shores and surrounding areaAgate, Chalcedony, Fossils, Petrified wood, Turquoise
Basalt, area veins and minesCopper, Gold, Lead, Silver, and Zinc minerals
Aurora Ghost Town, area draws and washesJasper, Quartz crystals
Aurora, area mines and veinsGold and Silver minerals
Mina, area mines in all surrounding hillsCopper, Gold, Lead, Magnesium, Silver, and Tungsten minerals.
Excelsior Mountain, area on E sideWonderstone, Turquoise, Variscite
Carson City, area mines E of Carson RiverArsenic, Copper, Gold, Mercury, and Silver minerals
Nellie SpringOpalite
Vya, area 30 mi. S on Rte. 34Opal (common opal), obsidian
Fernley, area S on both sides of roadAgate
White Lake, area surfaces to SEChrysocolla, Malachite
Luning, foothills to EAzurite, Malachite
Smoke Creek Desert, Deep Hole area in placersGold
Gerlach, surrounding areaAgate, Silicified wood
Nightingale Mountain Range, E flanksGarnets
Star Peak, E sideGeodes, Nodules (gem-quality)
Lincoln Hill, W flankDumortierite (blue, pink)
Pershing County, many regional mines in veinsAntimony, Copper, Gold, Silver, Lead, Mercury, Platinum, and Tungsten minerals
Mining district E of Humboldt LakeAntimony, Lead, and Silver minerals
White Cloud Canyon area, in metamorphic veinsCopper, Iron, Silver, and Zinc minerals
Silver Hill area, in veinsCopper, Gold, Lead, and Silver minerals
Desert Queen & other area minesGold, Hematite
Eastgate, area minesGold, Lead, and Silver minerals
Sand Springs, area minesGold, Silver
Lahontan Reservoir, area by NE shoreAgate, Chalcedony, Jasper, Petrified wood
Sparks, area draws and washesAgate, Garnet, Idocrase, Obsidian
Castle Peak MineMercury
Virginia City, veins in surrounding areaCopper, Gold, Lead, Mercury, and Silver minerals

Central Nevada Rockhounding Locations

There are hundreds of mines in central Nevada that can make for great rockhounding destinations, but this part of the state also contains many sites that are more readily accessible. Some of the best places to rockhound in central Nevada are Alkali Flat, Coaldale, Fish Lake Valley, Gold Mountain, and Yucca Mountain. You can find the usual precious metals like copper, gold, lead, and silver and their accessory minerals, but there are also high quality specimens of gemstones like agate, opal, jasper, and turquoise.

LocationRocks & Minerals
Alkali Flat Hot Spring, area thermal depositsCalcium, Magnesium carbonates, Halite, etc.
Monte Cristo Range, mines and surfaces of E flankVariscite
Lone Mountain, area mines and veinsCopper, Gold, Lead, Silver, and Zinc minerals
Coaldale, area draws and washesAgate, Chert, Opal (hyalite), Jasper, Turquoise
Fish Lake, area on W sideApache tears
Rock Hill, area minesVariscite
Fish Lake Valley, areaCinnabar, Opalite
Goldfield, local mining dumpsAlum, Pyrite, Quartz crystals, Copper, Gold, Lead, Manganese, Silver, and Zinc Minerals
Montezuma Peak, area to SChalcedony, Chert, Jasper, Quartz crystals, Obsidian, Opalized wood
Esmerelda County, many regional mines and veinsGold, Lead, Platinum, Silver, and Zinc minerals
Tokop, area mines and placersCopper, Gold, Lead, Platinum, and Silver minerals
Gold Mountain, area surfacesCitrine, Quartz crystals
Sugar Loaf Peak, areaTurquoise
Caliente, area mines and veinsGold, Silver, Lead, Copper, and Manganese minerals
Panaca, area surfacesChalcedony, Chert, Flint
Pioche, area veins and minesCopper, Gold, Lead, Manganese, Silver, Tungsten, and Zinc minerals
Yucca Mountain, area surfaces to NGeodes, Nodules
Beatty, area mining dumpsCinnabar, Opalite, plus Copper, Gold, Silver, Lead, Mercury, and Platinum minerals
Stokes Mine near GabsIron minerals
Gabbs, many area minesCopper, Gold, Silver, Lead, Mercury, and Tungsten minerals
Scotty’s Junction, area 6 mi. SEArrowheads, Obsidian, Apache Tears, Pumice
Tonopah, area ~11 mi. EPetrified algae, Jade
San Antonio Mountains, area ~12 mi. N of TonopahJade, Petrified wood, Wonderstone
Tonopah, many surrounding mining districtsCopper, Gold, Lead, Silver, Platinum, Mercury, and Tungsten minerals
Beatty, foothills area to SEQuartz (blue), Marble, Phyllite
Veterans Memorial Highway, washes and area to NAgate, Petrified wood, Chalcedony

Southern Nevada and Las Vegas Rockhounding Locations

Las Vegas and southern Nevada are home to some fantastic rockhounding locations and an exciting assortment of rocks and minerals. There are many mining districts in the surrounding area that have historically produced precious metals, but the best rockhounding locations lie elsewhere. The best rockhounding locations in the Las Vegas area are White Basin, Las Vegas Wash, the Black Canyon, the south side of Crescent Peak, and the Valley of Fire State Park. These locations turn up a wide variety of minerals including ulexite, amethyst, garnet, wonderstone, and turquoise.

LocationRocks & Minerals
White Basin, in depositsUlexite (fibrous)
Black Mountain, area minesIron and Manganese minerals
Gold Butte, in veins outside park boundariesCopper, Gold, Silver, and Zinc minerals
Henderson, area hills and surfaces SW of townChalcedony, Jasper, Onyx
Jean, area mines 8 mi. NW of town, in veinsHydrozincite, Antimony, Cobalt, Copper, Gold, Lead, Nickel, Palladium, Platinum, Radium, Silver, and Zinc minerals
Las Vegas Wash, area gravelsAmethyst
Las Vegas, mining district ~20 mi. SEManganese minerals
Las Vegas, mining district ~40 mi. NWLead, Silver, and Zinc minerals
Nelson, 7 mi. E in Black Canyon gravelsGarnet (almandine)
Gass Peak, veins in area minesGold, Silver, and Zinc minerals
Searchlight, veins in area minesCopper, Gold, Lead, and Silver minerals
Crescent Peak, S side in prospectsTurquoise, Copper, Gold, Lead, Molybdenum, Silver, and Vanadium minerals
Valley of Fire State Park, areaWonderstone, Chalcedony

Where to Find Opal in Nevada

Opal
Opal

Opal is probably the gemstone that Nevada is most well known for, and some of the varieties found in Nevada are among the most valued in the entire world. Many varieties can be found in the state, but the most sought-after and famous variety is fire opal. Rock and mineral collectors flock to the state in search of their own opal specimens, but even though it is (relatively) common in the state you need to know where to look. In addition to raw opal, you can find opalized wood in select locations. There are several opal mines that are open to the public, which are probably your best bet for finding your own opal specimens.

The best places to find opal in Nevada are:

  • Rainbow Ridge Opal Mine – One of the most popular opal mines in the state. Open from Memorial Day to mid-September.
  • Bonanza Opal Mines – Claims to have the brightest opals in the world. Open for public digging on weekends from late May through Labor Day.
  • Kokopelli Opals – A lesser-known but enjoyable opal mine open to the public, nearby other notable mines.
  • Royal Peacock Opal Mine – A very well-known and popular opal mine open to the public from May through the summer, with lodging available.
  • Opal Negra Mining – Another opal mine in the area, open to the general public to dig for your own opal specimens for a fee.
  • Black Rock Desert – Nearly the entire area of the Black Rock Desert has the potential to yield fire opal and opalized wood.
  • Lander County – Opal and opalite can be found on almost any surface in Lander County. Try searching in washes and draws, especially.
  • Nellie Spring – Try searching in the gravels and washes around Nellie Spring, where opalite (common opal) is commonly found.
  • Coaldale– The washes and draws in the area surrounding Coaldale contain hyalite, an especially clear variety of opal.
  • Fish Lake Valley – The large area of Fish Lake Valley is well known for yielding opalite specimens (among other great finds).
  • Montezuma Peak – If you’re looking for opalized wood, the area directly to the south of Montezuma Peak is the places to search.

Where to Find Geodes in Nevada

Geodes are some of the most sought-after rocks regardless of location, and Nevada is no exception. While Nevada isn’t particularly well known for its geodes, there are still plenty of places where you can search and have a reasonable chance of finding your own. These geodes form from minerals precipitating out of water seeping through the voids in volcanic flows.

The best places to find geodes in Nevada are:

  • Black Rock Desert – You may be able to find geodes in almost the entirety of the Black Rock Desert.
  • Star Peak – The area on the E side of Star Peak has been known to contain geodes.
  • Yucca Mountain – Try searching around Yucca Mountain, particularly the area to the north.
  • South Black Rock Range – The South Black Rock Range is particularly notable for its geodes.
Geode
Geode

Where to Find Turquoise in Nevada

Turquoise is an extremely popular gemstone with collectors and rockhounds, and Nevada is the perfect place to find your own. There are many locations known to produce turquoise, and some of them are more accessible than others. Some of the best places to search are in the tailings of old mines and in the float of draws and washes in select areas.

The best places to find turquoise in Nevada are:

  • Copper King Mine – The Copper King Mine is known to contain Faustite, which is a beautiful green variant of turquoise.
  • Fox Mine – Try searching the tailings of the Fox Mine and other old mines in the area.
  • Walker Lake – If you walk the shores and the area surrounding the lake you may find turquoise.
  • Excelsior Mountain – The gravels and float on the east side of Excelsior Mountain area a great place to search.
  • Coaldale – Washes and draws surrounding the town may contain turquoise.
  • Sugar Loaf Peak – Try looking all around the area of Sugar Loaf Peak
  • Crescent Peak – Look for prospects on the south side of the mountain.
  • Royston Turquoise Mine – A mine open to the public for a small fee.
Turquoise
Turquoise

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

Where to Find Crystals and Gemstones in Nevada

Nevada is mostly known for its metallic minerals from an economic standpoint, but there are also many locations where rockhounds can find gemstones and crystals. In addition to opal and turquoise, you can find gemstones like citrine, quartz, wonderstone, agate, and garnet. Since much of Nevada is public land open to public use, there are many locations where you can easily go searching for your own crystals and gemstones.

The best places to find gemstones and crystals in Nevada are:

  • Virgin Valley – This area is world-famous for its amazing, high-quality fire opal specimens. There are a handful of mines open to the public where, for a small fee, you can spend a day digging through tailings and finding fantastic opal specimens.
  • Royston Turquoise Mine – If you’re searching for turquoise and want to give yourself the best shot at finding some, then the Royston Turquoise Mine is the place to go. It is one of a select few mines open to the public in the U.S. where turquoise can be found.
  • Garnet Hill – This public recreation area offers everyone the chance to search for garnet (and other minerals) absolutely free of charge. Try searching the exposed rhyolites all over the area to find high-quality, deep red garnets.
  • Tuscarora– The area all around Tuscarora contains citrine and rose quartz crystals, as well as wondestone. Try searching in gravels and in the talus of area outcrops.
  • Agate Point – This appropriately named hill is known to produce nice specimens of semiprecious gemstones including agate, chalcedony, chert, flint, jasper, and other quartz-family minerals.
  • Little Antelope Summit – The area all around Little Antelope Summit is a great place to search for gemstones, most notably wonderstone.
  • Aurora Ghost Town – The washes, draws, and gravels in the area surrounding this old ghost town have historically contained quartz crystals, jasper, and other quartz minerals.
  • Excelsior Mountain – The gravels and float on the east side of Excelsior Mountain area a great place to search for wonderstone, turquoise, and variscite.
  • Nightingale Mountain Range – You may be able to find nice garnets on the flanks of the entire east side of the Nightingale Mountain Range.
  • Gold Mountain – Try rockhounding all around this mountain to find specimens of citrine and quartz crystals.
  • Las Vegas Wash – A quick drive from Las Vegas, this wash area has long been a favorite of rockhounds looking for amethyst crystals.

Nevada 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 Bureau of Land Management’s Nevada State Office Information Access Center.

Private Land Resources

As with most states, each county in Nevada 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 Nevada, 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: