Blue Topaz is the state gem of Texas, so naturally, I was wondering where it could be found in the Lone Star State. It turns out there are a few places that are known for their topaz finds.
In Texas, topaz is only found in centrally located Mason County. 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.
Each one of these places is a great choice for your very own topaz search. Knowing a bit more about them might help you choose which is right for you and make your excursion more rewarding.
Where To Find Topaz in Texas
Seaquist Ranch is a great place to begin your hunt for topaz. Originally built in 1919, the ranch became open to the public in the 1970s.
Reservations: You’re required to make a reservation at least 2 days before you plan to arrive, and they only take reservations by phone. Call Mike Seaquist at 325-347-5413 to plan your excursion today!
Location: The owner will provide more accurate directions for a meeting place when you make your reservation, but the ranch is located on US Route 377 just west of Old Junction Road. The GPS coordinates are 30.771151, -99.325821.
Cost: They charge $20/person for anyone over 12, $10/day for children ages 7-12, and children under the age of 7 are free.
Hours: The ranch is closed from November through January, so if you’re trying to search in the Winter you’ll need to make other plans. In the months they are open, they are open 7 days a week. You’re allowed to hunt from 8 am to sunset, which is plenty of time to satisfy that topaz fever.
Equipment: They don’t have any equipment available to rent, so make sure to bring along a wire mesh sifter, a sturdy shovel, and a bucket or bag to store any samples you find.
Bar M Ranch
Bar M Ranch is a very popular destination for topaz hunters. Mark Hahn, the owner, is very helpful and will help point you in the right direction to get you started.
Reservations: A reservation is required at least 2 days prior to your arrival. You can make a reservation either through text (830-203-1611) or email ([email protected]).
Cost: They charge $15/person for the day. I am not aware of any discounts for children. You can also rent a shovel and wire mesh screen for $6/day, so this is a great option if you don’t have your own equipment.
Location: Their address is 5309 Old Junction Rd, Mason, TX 76856, about 5 miles west of downtown Mason. According to the owner it takes about 1:45 to get there from Austin and San Antonio.
Hours: You will check in with the owner at one of two times – 8:30 or 9:30, and then you are free to hunt all day, 7 days a week! Like the other ranches in the area, they are closed for topaz hunting from November through the end of January due to deer hunting season.
Equipment: There is basic equipment available to rent! For $6/day you will get a medium-sized shovel and a wire mesh screen to assist you in your hunt.
Lindsay Ranch might be the most popular destination in Texas for topaz hunting, due in no small part to the variety of lodging options available on site.
Reservations: Reservations are required – call 325-347-4052. You can also make arrangements to stay in a guest house or camp at the ranch!
Cost: Lindsay Ranch charges $20/person for adults, $10 for children ages 12-18, and allow free admission to children under 12.
Location: Their address is 460 Lindsay Ranch Rd. Mason, TX 76856. This is just to the northeast of the other two ranches in the area, about 4 miles north of downtown Mason, TX.
Hours: Like the other ranches in the area, gem hunting is not allowed from the beginning of November to the end of January. While you are are hunting, however, you are welcome to search from dawn until dusk.
Equipment: They do not provide gear or have any available to rent, so be sure to come prepared with your own gear. A shovel, wire mesh sifter, and a bag or bucket to keep your samples are going to be essential to a successful excursion!
What To Bring With You
You’ll want to be well prepared for your trip into the field! Making sure you have all of the necessary equipment is going to make for a much more enjoyable search and increase your chances of finding the treasures you seek. You can check out my article about the best tools & equipment to take with you to the field.
The most essential tools that you’ll require are a sturdy, medium-sized shovel, a wire mesh sifter, and a container to keep your samples in. If you need a shovel you can check out my personal recommendation here. These items are available to rent at the Bar M Ranch but if you have your own I’d recommend you bring them since rental equipment tends to be well-worn.
If you have a good rock hammer that’s always a bonus! The ranch owners likely won’t want you busting up their outcrops, but a rock hammer always comes in handy when searching. In order to preserve your better specimens I would recommend bringing some newspapers or cloth towels to wrap them in.
You’ll also definitely want a good day pack (preferably with a camel-back for water) to keep all of your supplies. Enough water and food are obvious musts, but there are several other items that you’ll definitely want to bring along.
Most guests to report that the insects, particularly honeybees, are very bothersome. Make sure to bring along some bug spray and to check any drinks for thirsty bees that may have crawled in while you were busy digging!
Sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat are also essential to beating the Texas heat. If you can stand the weight I also like to bring a compact folding camping stool to use while sifting through the dry creek beds.
How Do I Search For Topaz?
The hosts at each ranch are very knowledgeable and will give you plenty of pointers before they send you on your way, but it’s nice to have a good idea of what to expect before you show up.
Topaz hunters have generally had the most success searching the dry creek beds that weave through the granite outcroppings in the area. If possible, try to plan your trip shortly after a good rain that may disturb and reveal the beautiful gems you’re searching for.
Searching for topaz (or really any minerals) will involve quite a bit of digging. I suggest concentrating your efforts near the base of granite outcroppings, near the roots of trees, or on the outer edges of any bends in the dry creek beds. These areas tend to be where water slows down and allows any heavier debris (topaz!) to settle.
Most of the topaz specimens found in the area are small – less than 1″ in size. Many larger samples have been found, however, so don’t count yourself out!
You’re looking for whitish or translucent crystals – of if you’re really lucky you may find some with the bluish tinge that the area has become famous for. These crystals are easily mistaken for quartz (of which there is also plenty in the area) but they can be distinguished by their crystal structure, hardness, and density. Topaz will scratch quartz since it has a hardness of 8, compared to that of 7 for quartz.
As with any mineral hunting, be sure to respect the environment and leave it in good shape. Fill in any holes that you dig once you’re done, and pack out any trash you generate.
What Other Minerals Can I Find?
Topaz isn’t the only thing to look for while you’re digging! There have been many reports of searchers discovering tourmaline, quartz, and garnet. If you’re looking to expand your rock collection there are limestones, granites, sandstones, and schists in the area.
Lindsay Ranch has also reportedly been host to the discoveries of arrowheads, petrified wood, and fossils.
All of these ranches allow you keep anything of interest that you find, so keep your eyes open!