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South Carolina Rockhounding Location Guide & Map

South Carolina Rockhounding Location Guide & Map

If you’re looking to do some rockhounding in South Carolina, you’re in for a great time! While often overlooked by the rockhounding community for its neighbor to the north, South Carolina is home to countless fantastic rockhounding sites and a wide variety of rocks and minerals. It is probably most famous for its high-quality amethyst specimens which come from the northwest counties, but there is much more to be found here.

The bulk of the interesting collectible material in South Carolina will be found in the northwest, where pegmatites and metamorphic rocks have produced beautiful mineral specimens. Old mines dot the landscape, and you can often find nice crystals of amethyst and smoky quartz in rivers and stream gravels. As you move east to the coastal plain, the rock and mineral variety quickly fades away, as does the number of prospective rockhounding locations. Eastern South Carolina rockhounding is highlighted by the agates and shark teeth that can be found in relative abundance along the coast.

The best place to rockhound in South Carolina is the northwest corner of the state, particularly in gravels and mines such as the Diamond Hill Mine which is known for its smoky quartz. The beaches and tidal rivers of the Atlantic Coast are also popular locations to search for Megalodon teeth.

State Symbols
State Mineral
State RockBlue Granite
State GemstoneAmethyst
State FossilColumbian Mammoth
Source

Amethyst
Amethyst

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 rocks and minerals in South Carolina:

Rocks and Minerals Found in South Carolina

There is almost no limit to the number of rock and mineral varieties you can find in South Carolina. Particularly in the northwest part of the state, the pegmatites and metamorphic rocks exposed at the surface are a boundless source of interesting crystals like tourmaline, kyanite, quartz, and amethyst. A collector in South Carolina will likely never grow bored of the material the state has to offer.

The most sought-after and famous mineral from South Carolina is undoubtedly its state gemstone, amethyst. This beautifully purple-colored variety of quartz can be found in abundance all over the northwest part of the state. In fact, some of the best amethyst specimens ever found have come from this area.

The most commonly found and collected rocks and minerals in South Carolina are:

  • Amethyst
  • Quartz
  • Petrified wood
  • Agate
  • Garnet
  • Aquamarine
  • Tourmaline
  • Kyanite
  • Megalodon Teeth
  • Barite
Aquamarine
Aquamarine

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

Greenville & Northwestern South Carolina Rockhounding Sites

The northwestern region of South Carolina has some of the best rockhounding sites on the east coast. The Inner Piedmont region in the extreme northwest corner of the state is part of the same band of the Appalachian Mountains which makes North Carolina such a great rockhounding destination. This general area is famous for its world-class amethyst specimens, of which there are several on display in museums like the American Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

You can find gemstones like amethyst, quartz, and garnet all over northwestern South Carolina, but the best place to go rockhounding is the Diamond Hill Mine which is open to the public. Here, for a small fee, you can search through local mine tailings for your own specimens of amethyst, smoky quartz, beryl, garnet, and more. You many also be interested in Henry’s Knob which is an old abandoned mine known for its kyanite and lazulite. Area gravels and streams all over this region are fantastic places to rockhound but many local landowners have long ago disallowed rock hunting on their land. As always, make sure you gain permission before searching on someone’s property.

LocationRocks & Minerals
Abbeville County, all regional stream gravels, road cuts, etc.Beryl, Corundum, Epidote, Jasper (blue)
Diamond Hill MineAmethyst, Quartz crystals (smoky quartz), Beryl, Garnet, Epidote
Donalds, area 4 mi. SEAmethyst
Dorn MineGold
Savannah River bank, NW of Big Generostee CreekAquamarine, Beryl (golden)
Iva, area exposures from Anderson to Due WestAmethyst
Anderson, area to WBeryl crystals (clear)
Anderson, area to EAquamarine, Beryl, Garnet (almandine), Limonite, Mica, Quartz crystals (clear, smoky), Tourmaline (black)
Iva, various privately owned farmsCorundum, Garnet, Quartz, Zircon (orange, brown), Amethyst, Beryl (golden, clear)
Piedmont, S to Pelzer in pegmatite outcropsAquamarine, Tourmaline
Cherokee County, E side in gravels and prospectsBarite, Hematite, Kyanite (gem-quality), Sillimanite, Corundum, Sapphire
Bowens River and tributaries, in gravels and slate exposuresCorundum, Garnet, Sapphire, Emerald, Quartz crystals, Topaz, Zircon, Amethyst, Rutile
Gaffney, area minesCassiterite, Feldspar crystals, Kyanite, Quartz crystals, Pyrrhotite
King’s Creek, area minesBarite, Chalcopyrite, Galena, Kyanite, Quartz crystals, Pyrite, Sillimanite, etc.
Paris Mt. State Park, the Boling ProspectBeryl, Garnet, Quartz crystals (clear, smoky), Sillimanite, Tourmaline
Shoals Junction, area to SAmethyst, Quartz crystals
Saluca, W shore of Lake GreenwoodUnakite, Amethyst
McCormick, area creek sands, in placersGold
Hawe Creek, area just NW of bridgeLimonite (cubes)
Oconee County, area mines and placersGold, Graphite, Pyrite
Spartanburg County, countywide stream gravels, in placersGold, Diamond (rare)
Henry’s Knob, in rocky exposuresAndalusite, Kyanite (gem-quality), Lazulite, Staurolite, Tourmaline
Hickory Grove, area 4 mi. SWAndalusite, Kyanite, Lazulite, Staurolite, Tourmaline
Smyrna, several gold mines S to Hickory GroveCalcite, Galena, Gold (nuggets), Sphalerite, Tourmaline

Columbia & Central South Carolina Rockhounding Sites

Central South Carolina and the area surrounding Columbia are loaded with many fantastic rockhounding locations. The gravels of creeks and rivers are great places to search for petrified wood, and you can find myriad outcrops and old mines which can yield minerals like amethyst, quartz, rutile, and zircon. There are a few mining districts that at one time produced a decent quantity of gold, and you may still be able to find some gold in nearby placer deposits.

LocationRocks & Minerals
Silver Bluff, in alluvial depositManganese, Cobalt
Clearwater & Herse Valley, in gravels and floatAmethyst, Chalcedony, Ilmenite, Monazite, Quartz crystals (clear, smoky, rutilated), Rutile crystals, Zircon
Jefferson, area mines to NTopaz
Darlington, area E to Pee Dee RiverPetrified wood
Bellyache Creek, near HartsvillePetrified wood
Sleepy Creek, several gold mines to EGold
Turkey Creek, near Highway 25Serpentine
Fairfield County, countywide sands and gravelsPetrified wood
Lake Murray Dam, in nearby outcropsGarnet, Kyanite crystals
Haile Gold MineGold, Pyrite, Quartz, etc.
Flat Creek, area mines and placersGold, Pyrite, Sericite
Liberty Hill, gravels of Catawba River tributariesQuartz (smoky, gem-quality), Zircon
Blenheim, in sands 4 mi. SPetrified wood
Prosperity, general areaBarite (crystal masses)
Columbia, area surfaces near Lake MurrayAmethyst
Fork of Big Creek & Little Saluda River, the Cultbreath MineAmphibolite, Chalcopyrite, Chlorite, Gold, Hornblende crystals (green), Magnetite, Pyrite

Charleston & Southeastern South Carolina Rockhounding Sites

Compared to the rest of the state, the coastal region of South Carolina falls short when it comes to rock and mineral collecting. The best places to rockhound near Charleston are Atlantic beaches like Myrtle Beach and Kiawah Island where you can sometimes find quartz-family minerals like agate and chalcedony. The tidal rivers and Atlantic beaches all along the coast are also famous for the fossilized shark teeth, most notably the impressively sized Megalon teeth.

LocationRocks & Minerals
Folly BeachMegalodon teeth
Florence County, all gravels, streams, exposures, etc.Petrified wood
Kiawah Island, in sands and gravelsMegalodon teeth, shark teeth, agate
Morgan RiverMegalodon teeth
Myrtle Beach, in gravelsAgate, Chalcedony, Quartz, Fossilized shark teeth, Megalodon teeth
Cooper RiverMegalodon teeth
Morris IslandMegalodon teeth
Edisto BeachMegalodon teeth

Where to Find Crystals and Gemstones in South Carolina

Amethyst
Amethyst

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. Luckily, the South Carolina landscape is riddled with tons of locations where you can find crystals and gemstones.

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

Most of the best gemstone and crystal hunting locations are located in the northwest part of the state where the topography is dominated by the Appalachian Mountains. The complex geological history of mountain building and erosion has exposed pegmatites containing desirable minerals like amethyst, quartz, garnet, agate, and topaz. Further to the east, you can also find quartz family minerals like agate and petrified wood in the float and gravels of South Carolina’s rivers and streams.

The best places to find crystals and gemstones in South Carolina:

Where to Find Megalodon Teeth in South Carolina

Megalodon Tooth
Megalodon Tooth

If you’re into collecting rocks and minerals, the odds are pretty good that you’ll also get a kick out of finding fossils like Megalodon teeth. Lucky for you, South Carolina is one of the very best places in the world to find Megalodon teeth! The amazing specimens can be as big as your entire hand and make a great addition to any collection.

The best places to collect Megalodon teeth in South Carolina are the sands and gravels of Atlantic beaches like Myrtle Beach, Folly Beach, and Edistoo Beach. You can also find Megalodon teeth in the banks of the Morgan and Cooper Rivers and other tidal rivers near the coast.

For the best chances of finding your own Megalodon tooth, try searching along the beaches and tidal rivers at low tide when more area is exposed. You can improve your luck even more by searching shortly after a storm when increased wave activity churns up more fresh material. Some of the areas most well known for Megalodon teeth are notoriously muddy, so be sure to dress appropriately and bring your boots!

South Carolina 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.

To determine what type of public land a particular location is on, I would recommend starting with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resource’s public lands maps.

Private Land Resources

As with most states, each county in South Carolina will have records of who owns each piece of property. You can also usually get the landowner’s name and address by visiting the county records office. I would probably start by contacting the assessor in whatever county 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: