Vermont is a very unique, if often overlooked, state when it comes to rockhounding. It isn’t particularly well known for gemstones but there are some high-quality varieties of metamorphic rocks like marble and serpentine that make for great additions to any collection and are highly sought-after for their lapidary qualities. These metamorphic rocks also contain interesting minerals like garnet, tourmaline, and quartz-family minerals.
Vermont also once played host to a small gold rush, and you can still pan for gold in many areas all around the state. The gold is almost exclusively found in placer deposits and will generally be found in small but satisfying amounts.
The surface geology of Vermont is mostly ancient mountains and hills comprised of igneous and metamorphic rocks. In this region, that has typically translated into more gem-grade metamorphic rocks than it has interesting pegmatites and gemstones, but there is quite a bit of opportunity for rockhounding all over the state.
In general, the best places to rockhound in Vermont are road cuts and old quarries which expose metamorphic rocks containing interesting minerals like garnet and tourmaline. Quarries producing high-quality marble and serpentine are also very popular, and you can pan almost any river and stream for gold.
|State Rock||Granite, Marble, Slate|
|State Gemstone||Grossular Garnet|
I’ll dive deeper into the types of material you can find here and exactly where you can being your search, along with a handy map and some additional resources to help you along the way.
Rocks and Minerals Found in Vermont
Vermont isn’t particularly well known for its selection of rocks and minerals, but it is home to quite a bit of high-quality material that could be of interest to collectors. You won’t find a lot of locations where you can collect traditional gemstones but the area has a long history of mining metamorphic rocks in sizeable quarries.
When it comes to rockhounding, Vermont is most well known for its marble, serpentine, and other metamorphic rocks. ‘Verde antique’ is a highly gem grade variety of serpentine that is highly sought after by lapidary artists and collectors, and the marble harvested out of some Vermont quarries is of exceptional quality.
The rivers and streams that cut through the Vermont hillsides are known to contain a decent amount of placer gold. You almost certainly won’t be turning a profit by prospecting around here, but you can certainly find a lot of places to spend some time panning for gold and coming up with some color.
You can, of course, also find more common material in the quartz family like quartz crystals, agates, and jasper. There is nothing particularly notable about these specimens in Vermont but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth seeking out. Some of the agates have really nice color and it’s always fun to find a nice quartz point.
The most commonly found and collected rocks and minerals in Vermont are:
Where to Rockhound in Vermont
Through quite a bit of research and cross-referencing of available literature, I have compiled this list of some prospective locations in Vermont 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. Please note that I have not been to these locations. I have found records of these rockhounding sites over a variety of sources and offer these locations as a place to start searching. I cannot personally attest to the accuracy of the given locations or the quality of the material there.
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 several rockhounding clubs in Vermont so you can most likely find one you like nearby.
I have tried to take care not to list locations within National Park boundaries since collecting is illegal there, but please remember that it is up to you to make sure you have permission to collect wherever you are. Even if you are on land that is generally open for public use there may be privately owned mining claims inside those boundaries and you’ll need to get permission to collect on that location.
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.
Many of the best rockhounding sites in Vermont are privately owned. Many are commercially operated mines and quarries, and gaining permission to collect on any of these properties is, as always, absolutely essential. Some are open to the public for collecting at select times of the week, often on weekends. I will have more information on how to check property ownership status later in this article.
Vermont Rockhounding Sites
Many of the best rockhounding sites in Vermont are in or around the Missisquoi and Lamoille Rivers. There are many old quarries along their banks which have historically produced rocks and minerals like dolomite, marble, agate and chert.
Almost any decently sized stream or river in Vermont has the potential to turn up some gold, but in particular you can try certain stretches along the Lamoille, Missisquoi, Little, and Gihon Rivers. See below for additional streams and rivers to check out.
Tip: Check out my Complete Rockhounding Guide for tips on planning your rockhounding trip and getting the most out of your time in the field!
Most of the other notable rockhounding locations in Vermond are in the form of road cuts and outcrops in the mountainous terrain. These exposures reveal large swaths of metamorphic rocks containing interesting minerals like garnet, feldspar, tourmaline, and serpentine. Some of these rocks, most notably the high-quality varieties of serpentine, make for fine cabbing materal.
The large surrounding Grand Isle is a great place to hit up several potential collecting sites in a relatively short amount of time. There are several old quarries and gravel areas to check out which may yield a variety of specimens, but in particular are a good place to find quartz-family minerals like agates.
|Location||Rocks & Minerals|
|Bennington, in road cut E of town||Quartz (blue, cabochon material), Garnet, Feldspar, Biotite, Hornblende|
|Lamoille River, in road cut on US 2||Dolomite crystals, Chalcopyrite|
|Niquette Bay, area gravels and outcrops||Agate, Chert, Jasper|
|East Fletcher, area N to Bakersfield, in gravels and outcrops||Pyrite|
|Swanton, old quarries and dumps S of Missisquoi River||Marble (Swanton ‘red marble’), Dolomite (‘Dunham dolomite’)|
|Richford, in boulders of Lucas Brook||Actinolite, Talc, Fuschite, Magnetite|
|South Alburg, shores of Lake Champlain||Quartz|
|Quarry NE of Isle La Motte||Marcasite, Fossils (gastropods, nautiloids)|
|Grand Isle, just S of W end of Sand Bar Bridge, in gravels and outcrops||Quartz crystals, Calcite crystals, Pyrite concretions|
|Little River, in placer deposits||Gold (placer)|
|Gold Brook, in placer deposits||Gold (placer)|
|Lamoille River, in placers near Johnson||Gold (placer)|
|Gihon River, in placers near Eden||Gold (placer)|
|Eden, area quarries near Belvidere Mt.||Asbestos, Vesuvianite, Serpentine, Garnet, Epidote, Diopside, Calcite, etc.|
|White River, in placers near Braintree||Gold (placer)|
|Ely Mine, near Vershire||Chalcopyrite, Pyrrhotite, Pyrite, Sphalerite, Tourmaline, Actinolire, Calcite, Garnet, Hornblende, Malachite|
|Elizabeth Mine, near South Strafford||Chalcopyrite, Pyrrhotite|
|Missisquoi River, in placers in Orleans County||Gold (placer)|
|Jay Peak, in outcrops and rubble from ski lift construction||Malachite, Chlorite, Feldspar, etc.|
|Lake Willoughby, in outcrops on E side||Muscovite, Beryl, Garnet, Idocrase crystals|
|Devil’s Den (general area) in schist outcrops||Quartz crystals (smoky, clear), Pyrite, Ilmenite|
|Fairhaven, many quarries to S||Pyrite, Bornite, Chalcopyrite, Quartz, Calcite|
|Proctor, several area quarries||Marble|
|Round Hill, on N side in saddle||Aventurine (green)|
|Mad River, in placers near Warren||Gold (placer)|
|Adams Brook, in outcrops N of South Newfane||Serpentine, Quartz, Agate (red, orange, green), etc.|
|Gassetts, in outcrop near Williams River||Quartz, Garnet, Tourmaline, Staurolite, Kyanite crystals, Actinolite, Diopside, Calcite, Sphene, Pyrite|
|Ludlow, in road cut to E||Tourmaline, Pyrite, Talc, Calcite, Diopside, metamorphic rocks|
|Perkinsville, just E of Springfield Dam||Pyrite, Pyrrhotite, Chlorite, Ilmenite, Quartz (smoky), Calcite, Actinolite, Biotite|
Vermont 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.
- 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 state lands maps from the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation.
Here are some additional resources to help you check on land ownership and mineral claims:
- US Forest Service Interactive Map
- BLM’s Mineral Land and Records System – to check for mineral claims
Private Land Resources
As with most states, each county in Vermont 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 doing a property records search 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:
- Mineral Resources Data System
- Vermont Agency of Natural Resources
- Vermont Geological Survey
- Mineral Collecting in Vermont, Grant
- Rockhounding in Vermont
- Vermont Mineral Locality Index
This post is part of my State-By-State Rockhounding Guides series. Please check out more states for thousands of additional sites to go rockhounding!