Texas is not especially well known for its rockhounding but, despite its lackluster reputation in this area, there are still hundreds of prospective rockhounding locations to be explored. Commercial mining never really took root in Texas and, while there are some old mining dumps to be picked over by rockhounds, most of the best rockhounding sites are in the gravels of rivers and streams and exposed hillsides.
Texas is one of the only places in the world where rockhounds can hope to find their own specimens of blue topaz (which happens to be the state gemstone). Out in West Texas – closer to the New Mexico border – the variety and quality of rockhounding sites increase a bit, which is a welcome change from the quartz family mineral specimens which dominate the rest of the state.
The best rockhounding locations in Texas are the gravel beds of the Rio Grande, the area around Big Bend, Mason County in central Texas, and a wide stretch of land stretching from south Texas to the Louisiana border. North Texas and the panhandle are relatively devoid of good rockhounding sites.
|State Stone||Petrified Palmwood|
|State Gemstone||Blue Topaz|
|State Fossil||Paluxysaurus jonesi|
Given the enormous size of the state, Texas is surprisingly lacking in its variety of minerals. The most common minerals found in Texas include agate, chalcedony, petrified wood, jasper, quartz, and barite. Blue topaz can be sparingly found in central Texas. The agates of West Texas and South Texas are notable for their ‘pompom’ and ‘bouquet’ varieties.
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.
Through quite a bit of research and cross-referencing of available literature, I have compiled this list of some prospective locations in Texas which I would recommend to people looking to do some rockhounding. These are mostly comprised of beaches, 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.
Texas Rockhounding Locations
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.
For ease of reference and to break things up a bit, I’ll refer to six distinct geographical regions defined by the map below.
NOTE: All the locations listed in these tables are clickable, and will take you to the location on Google Maps.
Texas Panhandle Rockhounding Sites
Even in a state that is not well known for its rockhounding, the Texas Panhandle is relatively lacking in rockhounding locations and varieties of rocks to be found. The area around Palo Duro Canyon is the most promising site in the region for rockhounding. Collectors can hope to find agatized wood, flint, and alabaster.
|Location||Rocks & Minerals|
|Along Plum Creek, W of Lake Meredith||Flint (Alibates Flint)|
|Palo Duro Canyon, outside State Park boundaries||Agatized wood|
|Prairie Dog Town Fork of Red River, in banks and gravels||Agatized wood|
|Between Red River and US 62, in area deposits||Alabaster|
North Texas Rockhounding Sites
North Texas doesn’t contain many well known rockhounding destinations, but what sites there are provide a nice opportunity to find fossils that aren’t usually found in other parts of the state. The best places to rockhound in North Texas include creek beds near Alvord and the northeast side of Lake Bridgeport, where collectors can hope to find fossils including crinoids and trilobites.
|Location||Rocks & Minerals|
|Just NW of Midlothian, sides of US 287||Fossilized shark teeth|
|Sides of creek, N & S of US 287||Pyrite (pyrite roses)|
|S side of US 287, in shale formations||Fossil leaf prints|
|Gravel bars of creek beneath bridge 1.8 mi. SE of Alvord||Pyrite cubes|
|NE side of Lake Bridgeport||Fossils (crinoids, trilobites)|
West Texas Rockhounding Sites
The best places to rockhound in West Texas are the areas around Big Bend, Alpine, Van Horn, and Sierra Blanca. Rockhounds can hope to find all manner of quartz-family minerals including several varieties of agate, jasper, and petrified wood, as well as less common specimens like geodes and turquoise. This part of Texas is the best place in the state for rockhounding, both for its variety of minerals and the sheer number of prospective locations.
|Location||Rocks & Minerals|
|10 mi. N of Alpine, area gravels||Moonstones|
|W side of Glass Mountains, area||Agate (moss, plume), Chalcedony, Jasper, Quartz crystals|
|6 mi. SW of alpine in valley, area||Agate, Geodes|
|16 mi. S of Alpine, area lava flow||Agate (moss, plume), Chalcedony, Jasper, Quartz crystals|
|Agua Fria Ranch, area draws, flats, slopes||Agate, Agatized wood|
|Stillwell Ranch N of Big Bend Natl Park, area||Agate|
|Area E, SE, & NE of Dog Canyon||Barite|
|The Solitario, area mines||Galena|
|Needle Peak, broad area||Agate|
|Terlingua, area mines||Calcite, Calomel, Cinnabar, Fluorite, Mercury, Terlinguaite, Agate (pompom), Aragonite crystals|
|Seven Hearts Gap, area||Barite (in limestone)|
|NE side of Carizo Mts, area||Limonite, Turquoise|
|5 mi. W of Van Horn, area prospects||Turquoise|
|Plata Verde Mine||Anglesite, Barite, Bromargyrite, Malachite, Microcline, Quartz, Azurite, Chrysocolla, etc.|
|Bonanza Mine||Chalcopyrite, Galena, Sphalerite|
|Road cuts along Rte. 375||Garnets, Mica, Serpentine (pink banded)|
|S edge of Quitman Mts, area||Agate, Amethyst, Carnelian, Chalcedony, Jasper, Petrified wood, etc.|
|Eagle Flat||Augite (with black Spinel)|
|Sierra Blanc, area mines and prospects||Turquoise|
|Bishop Ranch, S of Marfa||Agate (Texas bouquet agate)|
|Along US 67, both sides from Marfa to Presidio||Agate (Texas bouquet agate)|
|Lobo valley, area||Agate (Texas plume agate)|
|Chinati Mts, area||Agate, Chalcedony, Jasper|
|Btwn Marfa and Ft. Davis, all area||Agate, Chalcedony, Jasper|
|Chinati Mts, area mine dumps||Fluorite, Galena, Argentite, Cerargyrite, Pyrite, Sphalerite, Chalcopyrite, Smithsonite|
|N & E sides of Balmorhea Lake||Agate (Balmorhea blue agate)|
|Area ~17 mi. W of Pecos (ranch roads)||Agate, Petrified wood|
Central Texas Rockhounding Sites
The best rockhounding locations in Central Texas are the areas surrounding the towns of Mason, Llano, and Fredericksburg. Particularly of note are the pegmatites and stream beds in Mason County, where rockhounds flock for a chance to find blue topaz. Central Texas contains a fairly wide variety of rocks and minerals including agate, petrified wood, calcite, celestite, quartz crystals, and topaz.
East Texas Rockhounding Sites
The best rockhounding locations in East Texas include the areas north of Lake Livingston, around McGee Bend dam, and surrounding the town of Bedias. East Texas is one of the few places where rockhounds can hope to find tektites, and it also probably the best part of the state to search for petrified palm wood (the state stone).
|Location||Rocks & Minerals|
|Broad area around Bedias, from meteorite||Tektites (bediasites, black diamonds, fire pearls)|
|Gibbons creek, area creek beds||Tektites|
|Large area between Crockett, Trinity, and Groveton||Jasper, Agatized wood, etc.|
|McGee Bend dam, area||Agatized wood|
|E of New Caney, in area creek beds and banks||Jasper, Petrified palm wood|
|Road cut N of road, 4 mi. W of Douglass||Pyrite, Selenite|
|Large area btwn Camden and Chester||Petrified palm wood (white lime coating)|
|N of Lake Livingston, large area||Petrified palm wood|
|Btwn Groveton & Trinity, all surrounding area||Agate, Chalcedony, Jasper, Petrified wood, etc.|
South Texas Rockhounding Sites
Rivaled only by West Texas, South Texas is perhaps the best part of the state for rockhounding. The best rockhounding locations in South Texas are generally associated with the gravels of the Rio Grande, but locations further inland towards San Antonio should also be considered. Minerals found in South Texas are almost exclusively in the quartz family, most notably several varieties of agate, petrified wood, amethyst, citrine, jasper, and chalcedony.
Where to Find Blue Topaz in Texas
Blue topaz is relatively rare, and Texas is one of the only places in the world where it can be found naturally. Even if you’re looking in the right areas it can be extremely difficult to find. I actually wrote an entire article about how and where to find it, which I’d suggest you check out:
Article: Where to Find Topaz in Texas
In Texas, blue topaz is only found in centrally located Mason County, particularly the towns of Mason and Grit. There are three ranches in the area which are open to the public for topaz hunting – Seaquist Ranch, Bar M Ranch, and Lindsay Ranch, all of which are fairly close to one another.
Where to Find Agates in Texas
Agates can be found in most parts of Texas, especially in West and South Texas. The gravels of the Rio Grande and its tributaries, as well as the surrounding washes and hillsides are all prime locations for agates. Many varieties of agates can be found in Texas including highly desirable ‘pompom’ and ‘bouquet’ specimens.
Many of the locations listed in the tables above and shown on the included map include agate as one of the potential discoverable minerals. Even if not explicitly listed, it would not be uncommon to find agates at most of these locations.
Tip: Check out my Complete Rock Tumbling Guide to make your rocks and gemstones really shine!
Texas 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. Given Texas’ reputation for defending private property, this is probably even more important than it is in most other states!
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 Texas Parks and Wildlife Hunting Maps.
Private Land Resources
As with most states, each county in Texas will have records of who owns each piece of property. Unfortunately for rockhounds, the law prohibits them from publishing their names or contact information online. You can get the landowner’s name and address by visiting the county records office. This site linking to each county assessor’s office would be a great place to start.
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: