How To Find Rocks
Where Do You Find Rocks?
The simplest answer, and the most true is that
rocks are found where they are found...
With that said, there are certain areas that
should be checked whenever you come across them...
The first is
Even if the whole
rest of the countryside is covered in clay, mud, or
vegetation, there will usually be a gravel bar in
the river, or on the beach.
because the softer stones get worn away by the wave
action, and the harder stones are left behind. The
rocks in a gravel bar tend to be smoothed off already
by the waves so if you are tumbling them they round up lots easier.
Streams provide a good means of prospecting for rocks,
because if you find a nice type of rock in a stream bed,
you can follow the stream uphill looking for the source
of the rock. If a small stream has several tributaries,
you can travel up each tributary and see where the stone
of interest comes from. I located a petrified wood forest
by this means.
Gravel bars are not necessarily located on the shores
of today's waterways. There were many Pleistocene
lakes and rivers that created gravel bars which have
since dried up or changed course, especially in the
great basin, the missoula basin, around the great
lakes, and near rivers. If you have a gravel pit nearby, you might
check around the neighborhood, even if you can't
collect in the gravel pit itself, there might be
collecting opportunities nearby.
The next best place to look for rocks is on the top
of a hill, because rain tends to wash away the soil
and expose more rocks, and the rocks that are left
there tend to be harder and heavier than those that
readily wash away, and more suitable for polishing
in a rock tumbler.
Glacial moraines are a great place to look for
tumbling rocks, because only the most durable
stones survived the grinding action of the glacier:
The stones in a moraine are very round. During the last ice age,
glaciers covered much of the great plains, and most
of the Rockies at elevations higher than 7000 feet,
so there are plenty of opportunities for poking around
in moraines. An easy way to spot moraines is if there
are lots of very round boulders from about soccer
ball size to orange box size laying around.
One of my favorite places to find rocks is in road
cuts, because they are easy to get to, and easy to
haul back to the truck. I have found lots of really
nice rocks in road cuts:
My favorite tool to use while rockhounding is a large
screwdriver. It fits in my back pocket, and allows me
to pry rocks out of the soil, or to do a little bit
of digging if necessary.
Oh, and if possible, park your vehicle at the bottom
of the collecting area. It's a lot easier to carry
a bucket of rocks down the hill than up the hill.