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Texas Rockhounding Location Guide & Map

Texas Rockhounding Location Guide & Map

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 Symbols
State MineralSilver
State StonePetrified Palmwood
State GemstoneBlue Topaz
State FossilPaluxysaurus jonesi
Texas: Source

Blue Topaz

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.

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

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.

LocationRocks & Minerals
Along Plum Creek, W of Lake MeredithFlint (Alibates Flint)
Palo Duro Canyon, outside State Park boundariesAgatized wood
Prairie Dog Town Fork of Red River, in banks and gravelsAgatized wood
Between Red River and US 62, in area depositsAlabaster
Texas Panhandle Rockhounding Locations (click to go to map)

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.

LocationRocks & Minerals
Just NW of Midlothian, sides of US 287Fossilized shark teeth
Sides of creek, N & S of US 287Pyrite (pyrite roses)
S side of US 287, in shale formationsFossil leaf prints
Gravel bars of creek beneath bridge 1.8 mi. SE of AlvordPyrite cubes
NE side of Lake BridgeportFossils (crinoids, trilobites)
North Texas Rockhounding Locations (click to go to map)

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.

LocationRocks & Minerals
10 mi. N of Alpine, area gravelsMoonstones
W side of Glass Mountains, areaAgate (moss, plume), Chalcedony, Jasper, Quartz crystals
6 mi. SW of alpine in valley, areaAgate, Geodes
16 mi. S of Alpine, area lava flowAgate (moss, plume), Chalcedony, Jasper, Quartz crystals
Agua Fria Ranch, area draws, flats, slopesAgate, Agatized wood
Stillwell Ranch N of Big Bend Natl Park, areaAgate
Area E, SE, & NE of Dog CanyonBarite
The Solitario, area minesGalena
Needle Peak, broad areaAgate
Terlingua Creek, in beds and banksAmber, Agate, Chalcedony, Jasper
Terlingua, area minesCalcite, Calomel, Cinnabar, Fluorite, Mercury, Terlinguaite, Agate (pompom), Aragonite crystals
Seven Hearts Gap, areaBarite (in limestone)
NE side of Carizo Mts, areaLimonite, Turquoise
5 mi. W of Van Horn, area prospectsTurquoise
Plata Verde MineAnglesite, Barite, Bromargyrite, Malachite, Microcline, Quartz, Azurite, Chrysocolla, etc.
Bonanza MineChalcopyrite, Galena, Sphalerite
Road cuts along Rte. 375Garnets, Mica, Serpentine (pink banded)
S edge of Quitman Mts, areaAgate, Amethyst, Carnelian, Chalcedony, Jasper, Petrified wood, etc.
Eagle FlatAugite (with black Spinel)
Sierra Blanc, area mines and prospectsTurquoise
Bishop Ranch, S of MarfaAgate (Texas bouquet agate)
Along US 67, both sides from Marfa to PresidioAgate (Texas bouquet agate)
Lobo valley, areaAgate (Texas plume agate)
Chinati Mts, areaAgate, Chalcedony, Jasper
Btwn Marfa and Ft. Davis, all areaAgate, Chalcedony, Jasper
Chinati Mts, area mine dumpsFluorite, Galena, Argentite, Cerargyrite, Pyrite, Sphalerite, Chalcopyrite, Smithsonite
N & E sides of Balmorhea LakeAgate (Balmorhea blue agate)
Area ~17 mi. W of Pecos (ranch roads)Agate, Petrified wood
West Texas Rockhounding Locations (click to go to map)

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.

LocationRocks & Minerals
Area surfaces all around SmithvilleAgate, Petrified wood
Creek beds & hill slopes between Caldwell & Somerville, areaPetrified wood, Agatized wood
Limestone road cuts, SE of GatesvilleAgate (turritella agate)
Limestone road cuts, SW of OglesbyAgate (turritella agate)
Rabb’s Creek, in beds and surrounding areaPetrified wood, Opalized wood
Lampasas, surrounding areaCalcite (fluorescent)
5 mi. N of Lampasas, in limestone exposureCelestite crystals
Little Lucy Creek, in beds and banksCelestite
Llano county, all area pegmatite exposuresTopaz, Ziron
Babyhead to Miller Mt, area dikesLlanite (gemmy granite), Opal-quartz
Moss Ranch area near Enchanted Rock (fee)Epidote crystals, Feldspar (pink), Quartz crystals (clear, smoky)
N of Cross, area fields, banks, cuts, washes, etc.Petrified wood
Ranches W of Mason, area pegmatites (fee)Amazonite, Felspar crystals, Quartz crystals, Topaz (blue, colorless), Tourmaline (black)
Banks of Llano River, in gray/black limestoneCrinoid stem sections
Streeter, areaAmazonite, Feldspar crystals, Quartz crystals (smoky), Topaz (blue, colorless), Tourmaline
Hinton Creek, in gravelsChalcedony, Chert
Central Texas Rockhounding Locations (click to go to map)

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).

LocationRocks & Minerals
Broad area around Bedias, from meteoriteTektites (bediasites, black diamonds, fire pearls)
Gibbons creek, area creek bedsTektites
Large area between Crockett, Trinity, and GrovetonJasper, Agatized wood, etc.
McGee Bend dam, areaAgatized wood
E of New Caney, in area creek beds and banksJasper, Petrified palm wood
Road cut N of road, 4 mi. W of DouglassPyrite, Selenite
Large area btwn Camden and ChesterPetrified palm wood (white lime coating)
N of Lake Livingston, large areaPetrified palm wood
Btwn Groveton & Trinity, all surrounding areaAgate, Chalcedony, Jasper, Petrified wood, etc.
East Texas Rockhounding Locations (click to go to map)

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.

LocationRocks & Minerals
New Braunfels, area stream beds, fields, excavations, etc.Petrified wood
15-18 mi. W of Freer, areaPetrified palm
SW of Freer, general areaAgate, Silicified wood
Road cut on E side of US 87Fossils
Area 9 mi. NNW of Willow CityBarite, Serpentine, Soapstone
Amethyst Hill on Althaus RanchAmethyst, Citrine
Stream gravels around Fredericksburg, areaAlmandine garnets
Peach Creek, in bed and banksAgate, Petrified wood
Gravel pits hear Rio GrandeAgates (Rio Grande), Jasper, Agatized wood
Erdman Farm (small fee)Petrified palm wood, Opalized wood, Fossils
Tessman Farm (small fee)Agatized palm wood (golden)
Moulton, area creek beds, gravels, fields, etc.Agate, Petrified wood
Nails Creek Park, in draws and farm fieldsTektites
H.D. House Ranch area (fee)Agatized fern buds, Jasper, Chalcedony
Eagle Pass, areaAgate, Amber, Chalcedony, Jasper
Mathis, area road cuts, stream gravels, etc.Agate (moss agate)
Rio Grande, in gravels S of Rio Grande CityAgate (Rio Grande agate), Chalcedony, Jasper
E of Austin, area cuts, draws, washes, fields, etc.Agatized wood, Petrified palm wood, etc.
Under bridge on E side of Pecos River, in limestoneFossils (turritella)
On slope just E of Pecos RiverBarite
River bars and tributaries of Rio Grande, S of LaredoAgate, Agatized wood, Chalcedony, Jasper, Agatized wood
Lopeno, W of US 83, area surfaces, hills, etc.Agate, Agatized wood, Chalcedony, Jasper
E of Falcon Lake, areaAgate, Agatized wood, Jasper, etc.
South Texas Rockhounding Locations (click to go to map)

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.

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 Connecticut 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.