Traveling In The USA
The Rock and Mineral Section
Interested in collecting your own minerals from the earth? No mater where you live rocks and minerals are all around you. You might even have a major mineralogical find in your backyard. But, most of us are not that lucky, so, join your local Rock and Mineral Club; get the guidance you need.
If you have rocks you have personally collected you are already a field collector. Perhaps you brought home a rock with tiny crystals in it or have an agate you found at the beach.
One of the best ways to do field collecting is to join a local Rock and Mineral Club. Most clubs do field trips several times a year to areas where interesting minerals, rocks and fossils can be located. Many clubs are also active in the lapidary area of the hobby, so rock collecting is often focused on materials that can be used for jewelry, art, home and do-it-yourself projects, in addition to specimen collecting.
The rock and mineral collecting community moans the lost of field collecting sites yearly. Some sites are closed to collecting due to the behavior of field collectors; others have been lost due to commercial development and environmental considerations.
It is not always easy to find places to collect minerals, locally or when traveling. It is possible to tease out collecting sites off the internet but you need to be creative in your search terms. Mindat.org offers a mine data base, it is a place to start. Many Geological Societies, due to community considerations and liability, are not providing information on local collecting sites as they might have done in the past.
Once you locate a potential collecting site, how do you know if it is currently available to the public? Even if the site is listed in a book for “Field Collecting Rocks in *insert state*” how do you know you can still legally collect there? In some states no trespassing is assumed, the owner is not required to put up a sign. On some public land, how you intend to collect, and what you plan to do with what you collect, can determine if you can legally collect rocks from the land. The laws and regulations on Federal lands leave a lot of room for interpretation which makes it even more difficult to know if you can legally collect. Some public lands are always off-limits for rock and mineral collecting. Public land administrators can set their own, more restrictive, rules for rock collecting from a specific spot or region. The only way to know if you can collect from a public (or private) location is to ask the administrator (or owner).
Asking permission from the land administrator or land owner is a lot of work. Why is there not a website I can just go to and get a listing of public rock collecting sites? My guess, liability and the fear that a well publicized, good collecting site today will becomes a poor rock collecting site tomorrow.
Dig your own rock and minerals - who knows what you will find.
The little copper tree to the right was found by me in the Northwestern Mine dump pile.
updated in 2018
DIGGING YOUR OWN MINERALS
Rocks and Minerals are all around us!
Note - When it comes to field collecting caves are off limits. Unless you do all your collecting with a camera.