Rockhounding in Wyoming is a great way to get out and enjoy the state’s expansive landscapes and beautifully unique terrain. Wyoming happens to be among the best states in the entire country for rockhounding thanks to the sheer volume of prospective collecting sites and the impressive array of rocks and minerals to be found.
Wyoming is perhaps most well known for its world-class National Parks like Yellowstone and Grand Teton. While you can’t collect rocks within those parks, the fantastically complicated and gorgeous geology found within their borders is a testament to the complex geological history of the area.
The relatively recent volcanic and metamorphic activity in Wyoming has given rise to many desirable and sought-after rocks and minerals, but it helps to have an idea of where to look and what to search for.
The best place to rockhound in Wyoming is Fremont County where you can find nephrite jade and Turritella agates in relative abundance. The gravels of streams and rivers like the Sweetwater and Wind Rivers are great places to search for rocks and minerals like quartz, agate, and petrified wood.
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. Here are 10 of the best rockhounding sites for rocks and minerals in Wyoming:
- Fremont County – Agate, Chalcedony, Jasper, Jade
- Split Rock – Ruby, ‘Sweetwater’ Agate
- Sweetwater County – Agate, Quartz crystals, Chert
- Rock Springs – Silicified wood, Agate, Jasper
- Box Elder Canyon – Geodes, quartz crystals
- Wamsutter Agate Beds – Turritella agates
- Kemmerer – Petrified wood, Agate, Chert, Jasper
- Laramie Mountains – Agate, Chalcedony, Jasper
- Lovell – Fossils, Dinosaur bones, Gastroliths
- Sweetwater River – ‘Sweetwater’ Agates
Rocks and Minerals Found in Wyoming
If you’re doing some rockhounding in Wyoming, you won’t be lacking for rocks and minerals to find. Wyoming is home to a large array of rocks and minerals that will be of interest to the collector, some of which are fairly unique to the area.
Some of the more unique specimens you may be interested in are Turritella agates and nephrite jade which can both be found in relative abundance if you look in the right places. Many other varieties of agates, jasper, petrified and opalized wood are also very commonly found in gravels and washes all over the state.
If you’re looking for gemstones and crystals, Wyoming is home to quite a few that will make good additions to your collection. Select locations – particularly the tailings of old mines – are prime spots for specimens of minerals like azurite, malachite, beryl, tourmaline, and garnet.
The most commonly found and collected rocks and minerals in Wyoming are:
- Petrified wood
- Quartz crystals
If you’ve already found a rock and you’re not sure what it is, I’d highly recommend that you go take a look at my rock identification guide which is filled with useful information and tools.
Rockhounding Sites in Wyoming
Through quite a bit of research and cross-referencing of available literature, I have compiled this list of some prospective locations in Wyoming 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. 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 Wyoming 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. There is plenty of BLM and National Forest land to collect on in Wyoming which is, in general, open for public use. Still, 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.
Western Wyoming Rockhounding Sites
Western Wyoming is hard to beat if you’re a rockhound. While much of the region is difficult to access, a large portion of the land is managed by the National Forest Service and is largely open to the public for collecting. This land is filled with hundreds of prospective rockhounding sites where you can find a nice variety of rocks and minerals including nephrite jade, azurite, quartz crystals, and unique varieties of agates.
Wyoming’s state gemstone, nephrite, can primarily be found in Fremont County, particularly in the large area centered around the towns of Lander and Atlantic City. Stream gravels, washes, and draws all over this region will have the potential to contain nephrite jade as well as agates and petrified wood.
|Location||Rocks & Minerals|
|Red Gulch, in beds of red shales||Gypsum|
|Greybull, area washes and draws btwn Big Horn River and Mountains||Gastroliths, Petrified dinosaur bones, Fossils|
|Hyattville, area outcrops||Gypsum, Dinosaur bones, Gastroliths, Fossils|
|Lovell, hogbacks for Little Sheep Mt.||Gypsum, Fossils|
|Lovell, E to Big Horn Mountains in draws and washes||Fossils, Ammonites, Dinosaur bones, Gastroliths|
|Big Horn River, near Montana border||Concretions, Agate (‘dry head’ agate’)|
|Sweetwater River, in gravels||Agate|
|Fremont County, all regional washes and draws||Agate, Chalcedony, Jasper|
|Copper Mountain, area mines to S||Uranium minerals|
|Granite Mountains, area to NW||Chalcedony|
|Atlantic City, area stream gravels, draws, etc.||Agate, Chalcedony, Gold, Nephrite jade, Jade, Jasper, Muscovite, Quartz crystals, Agatized wood, Opalized wood, Tourmaline|
|Fort Washakie, area 10 mi. N||Agate (moss agate), Chalcedony, Jasper|
|Green Mountain, S of Jeffrey City||Agate (banded, moss), Aventurine, Garnet, Sapphire|
|Fremont County, washes and draws in extreme SE corner||Agate (‘Sweetwater agate’), Nephrite jade, Jade|
|Sweetwater, large area to SE of Lander||Agate (‘Sweetwater agate’)|
|Wind River and tributaries, in gravels near Riverton||Agate, Chalcedony, Jasper|
|Shoshoni, area pegmatite outcrops||Aquamarine, Beryl, Feldspar crystals, Muscovite|
|South Pass City, area mines||Gold|
|Warm Springs, area draws and hills over a large area||Agate, Chalcedony, Jasper, Jade, Nephrite jade, Quartz crystals, Silicified wood|
|Cedar Mountain, E flank near Cody||Travertine|
|Rattlesnake Mountain, area N of Shoshone River||Anhydrite|
|Meeteetse, gravels of Greybull River||Agate, Jasper|
|Kirwin Mine, SW of Meeteetse||Azurite, Barite, Chalcopyrite, Cuprite, Galena, Gold, Limonite, Malachite, Pyrite, Quartz crystals, Sphalerite, etc.|
|Sweetwater County, all area outcrops of Green River formation||Agate, Chalcedony, Chert, Jasper, Petrified wood, Silicified wood, Quartz crystals, Agate (‘Turritella’ agate)|
|Eden Valley, area washes and draws||Silicified wood|
|Farson, gravels of Big Sandy River||Agate, Chalcedony, Chert, Jasper, Quartz crystals, Silicified wood|
|Granger, in gravels near buttes to S||Agate (‘Turritella’ agate)|
|Green River, washes and draws to W||Agate, Chalcedony, Jasper, Silicified wood|
|Red Desert||Agate, Chalcedony, Chert, Jasper, Quartz crystals, Silicified wood|
|Rock Springs, washes and draws over large area to E||Agate, Chalcedony, Chert, Jasper, Quartz crystals, Silicified wood|
|Steamboat Mountain, general area||Agate, Chalcedony, Jasper, Petrified wood|
|Bitter Creek, SW of Wamsutter||Stechemigite|
|Wamsutter, area to S in agate beds||Agate (‘Turritella’ agate)|
|Thorofare Wilderness, in stream gravels||Agate, Jasper, Opalized wood, Silicified wood|
|Blacks Fork Creek, NE corner of Uinta County||Silicified algae, Agate (‘Turritella’ agate), Chalcedony, Jasper, Quartz crystals, Petrified wood|
|Fort Bridger, area gravels, streams, washes, etc.||Agate, Jasper, Silicified agate|
|Ten Sleep, in exposures to NW||Gypsum|
|Worland, area washes and draws||Agate, Chalcedony, Jasper (red, yellow), Quartzite|
|Kemmerer, all washes and draws over a large area||Agate (‘Turritella agate’), Chalcedony, Chert, Jasper, Quartz crystals, Petrified wood, Silicified wood|
|Owl Creek, in placers SE of Washakie Needles||Gold|
|Lander, area surface over a very large region||Agate, Jasper, Nephrite|
|Thermopolis, mines in area to SW||Copper minerals, Limonite|
|Thermopolis, in bluffs to W||Selenite crystals, Travertine|
Eastern Wyoming Rockhounding Sites
Rockhounding in eastern Wyoming offers a lot of opportunities to find a wide variety of rocks and minerals. Most of the collectible material in the area is in the quartz family. Cryptocrystalline quartz varieties like agate, jasper, chalcedony, and petrified wood are prevalent over much of the region.
The entire region boasts many outcrops of bentonites, which are ash clay layers left over from ancient volcanic activity. You can also find quite a few more interesting minerals like amazonite, tourmaline, and beryl in the tailings of old mines scattered across the hills and mountain ranges.
Where to Find Geodes in Wyoming
Everyone enjoys the prospect of finding their very own geodes out in the wild, and it’s easy to see why. Cracking them open reminds me of opening a Kinder-Egg with a surprise toy inside. You never know what type of crystals or patterns you’re going to find inside and it makes them incredibly exciting.
Despite the otherwise impressive rockhounding in Wyoming, geodes are a fairly rare occurrence in the state. Still, if you know where to look you may be able to find one for your collection. Most of the geodes in Wyoming tend to be lined with chalcedony, and more rarely with microcrystalline quartz.
The best place to find geodes in Wyoming is in Box Elder Canyon near the town of Glenrock. They are most commonly found in gravels and the clays lining nearby streams. Geodes can also reportedly be found in gravels in the southern reaches of the Absaroka mountain range.
Tip: Not sure if the rock you’ve found is a geode? Check out my article about how to identify a geode.
Where to Find Agates in Wyoming
I love finding agates because you never know what sort of beautiful patterns and colors they might contain. They are some of the most popular rocks to tumble, and it’s easy to see why with their intricate banding and unique designs.
Agates also happen to be some of the most commonly collected rocks in the United States, including Wyoming. In fact, Wyoming is home to a unique variety of agate called ‘Turritella agate’ that is extremely popular with local collectors. You can also find other types of agates like moss agate and ‘Sweetwater agate’, another variety that is unique to the state of Wyoming.
If you’re looking to start collecting rocks in Wyoming, agates are a great place to start. They are widespread and fairly easy to find if you have a general idea of where to look.
In general, the best places to find agates in Wyoming are in gravels and washes, particularly in Sweetwater County, Fremont County, and along the Sweetwater and Wind Rivers. Turritella agates are most commonly found in southwest Wyoming, especially near the town of Granger.
Where to Find Crystals and Gemstones in Wyoming
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.
Tip: Check out my Complete Rock Tumbling Guide to make your rocks and gemstones really shine!
Luckily, Wyoming is a prime spot for hunting your own crystals and gemstones. The many mountain ranges and associated volcanic activity throughout the state have created a perfect geologic environment for the creation of many interesting gemstones that you can now find in countless locations across the region.
In general, the best places to find crystals and gemstones in Wyoming are washes and draws across the western half of the state, particularly near Kemmerer, Atlantic City, and Rock Springs. Quartz crystals can also be found northeast of Buffalo and in Box Elder Canyon.
The most commonly found gems and crystals in Wyoming are quartz and feldspar, but you can also find many others including garnet, tourmaline, and opal. And of course, nephrite jade can be found in such abundance that it is Wyoming’s state gemstone.
Wyoming 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 Wyoming Game & Fish Department’s Public Access Summary.
Private Land Resources
As with most states, each county in Wyoming 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: