Rockhounding In Colorado: Where To Find Geodes

Where To Find Geodes In Colorado

You’re out for a hike and something on the path catches your eye. You see a small fossil, a shiny stone or a glimmering crystal and, naturally, you pick it up. Soon, the ground becomes a treasure trove of things to be looked at, turned over, scrutinized and pocketed. Once this happens, there’s no turning back. Rock-hound fever has struck.

For inveterate hikers and trekkers who explore Colorado’s mountains and forests regularly, these surprises add another dimension to the experience: That pretty, little green stone may be jade or amazonite; what looks like glass that washed out of a hillside might be a quartz crystal; the round, rough-hewn rock could be a geode.

how to find geodesColorado offers an abundance of minerals, gemstones, crystals and fossils to anyone willing to go out and look for them. For the casual collector or the obsessed amateur, there’s a little something for everyone, just about everywhere. It’s a matter of paying attention.
Once the newbie hound is hooked, it helps to understand the terms rock and mineral, and how the two are related.

First, there’s no such thing as “just a rock.” A rock is more than an aggregate of minerals. Rocks are the history books of ancient geologic times. They include limestone, granite, sandstone and shale, as well as gravel beds, clay and even — can you believe? — the permafrost of Siberia. In fact, any deposit that makes up the Earth’s outer crust. And rocks are the preservers of fossils that once lived when Colorado was a vast sea.

But what about those other treasures hidden in rocks — the minerals that are at the heart of a collector’s expedition? A mineral is a naturally occurring, inorganic solid, and has its own characteristic crystalline structure. Gems, then, are the flowers of the minerals that have ornamental value because of their beauty, durability and, occasionally, some degree of rarity.

Colorado ranks among the most strongly mineralized areas in the world, and it’s especially noted for alabaster, amethyst, lapis lazuli (blue sapphire), topaz and turquoise. Its most characteristic gem is amazonite, the bright green mineral that is often mistaken for jade. But, hey, you don’t know what’s going to turn up when you’re out in the woods.

The Colorado landscape has changed dramatically in the last 10 years, with public lands becoming private, claims being staked and roads leading to closed gates. But the fun is still there if you know where there is public access. And one of the best resources is membership in the Colorado Mineral Society (CMS).

rockhounding near me
Colorado has a variety of gemstones and minerals.

CMS has access to areas not always available to the beginner going it alone, and can help guide newbies as to where to go and what to look for. After a few field trips with seasoned explorers, you will discover how to recognize crystal- and gem-bearing rocks, as well as learn about local geology and topography.

Top 5 Rockhounding Spots In Colorado

Wolf Creek Pass: US 160, also known as Wolf Creek Pass, can be a challenging drive. To get to Wolf Creek Pass, the driver must be wide-awake as the road can deceive you. Always be alert of your speed. The area is remarkable for those searching for rocks. Extensive lava flows cover much of the southwestern Mineral County. If you travel four miles west of Wolf Creek Pass, you will discover an outcrop of zeolite.

Whitewater: Whitewater is one of the few locations where you can find geodes in Grand Junction. They are generally lighter brown in colored mounts that line the hillside. You might need to work to find your geodes, as you will probably need to dig to find unbroken pieces. You will discover this rock paradise 10 miles south of Grand Junction.

Felch Creek: Felch Creek will provide you with agate, geodes, and jasper. It is one of the few locations where true botryoidal fluorite specimens can be found. This stream is close to Oil Well Flats.

Houselog Creek: Houselog Creek is located in Saguache County at a distance of 12 miles from Saguache. Houselog Creek usually offers its diggers great rewards, so be sure to take your digging tools and large buckets for your haul. Your reward will be a treasure trove of agate and chalcedony. The site has received an overall rating of eight out of 10 from collectors.

Garden Park: Garden Park is located near Canon City in Fremont County. You will find the area rich in geodes and quartz. The area also has an interesting history. It was formed by the erosion of sedimentary rocks. The uplift of the Rocky Mountains has caused some distortion. The formation has basically divided the area into a lower and upper unit. The lower is composed mostly of green and gray mudstones. The upper is composed mainly of red mudstone, with lesser amounts of yellowish, often tabular sandstone.

The five sites noted will offer the beginning rock collector and the more advanced collector significant discoveries to add to their collection.

What You Need to Get Started

The great thing about rockhounding is that it doesn’t require much in the way of equipment or supplies. All you really need is a good pair of hiking boots, a backpack, and a few basic tools. A hammer and chisel will come in handy for breaking open rocks, while a magnifying glass will help you get a closer look at specimens. You might also want to invest in a good field guide so you can identify the rocks and minerals you find.

Where to Look for Rocks and Minerals

Now that you have the supplies you need, it’s time to start looking for rocks and minerals. A good place to start is your local state park or forest service office. They can provide you with maps of the area as well as tips on where to find interesting specimens. You can also check online resources like, which is a comprehensive database of minerals from around the world.

How to Collect Rocks and Minerals

Once you’ve found a good spot to start rockhounding, it’s time to start collecting! The best way to collect rocks and minerals is by using a hammer and chisel to break them open. This will help you avoid damaging the specimens. Once you’ve collected some rocks and minerals, it’s time to clean them up. The best way to do this is by using a soft brush and water. Once they’re clean, you can put them on display or add them to your rock collection!

Rockhounding is a great hobby for people of all ages. It’s a great way to get outdoors, explore new places, and learn about geological history. Plus, it’s a lot of fun! If you’re interested in getting started with rockhounding, all you need is a good pair of hiking boots, a backpack, and a few basic tools. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start rockhounding!


What Are The Rockhounding Laws In Colorado?

Rockhounding laws require individuals to obtain permission from landowners to search and collect on private property. Public land rockhounding is governed by specific regulations that vary based on the type of land (e.g., state parks, national forests). It’s crucial to research and adhere to the rules of the specific area you plan to explore, as regulations can differ widely. Always ensure you’re collecting legally and responsibly to protect Colorado’s natural resources and heritage.

What is Gem Mining in Colorado? Gem mining in Colorado involves the recreational activity of searching for gemstones and minerals in their natural or semi-natural settings. It can be done in several ways, including:

  • Pay-to-Dig Mines: Some mines in Colorado allow visitors to pay a fee to access designated mining areas where they can search for gems. These mines often provide tools and equipment for digging and sifting through materials like dirt and gravel in search of gemstones.
  • Rockhounding: Colorado offers numerous public lands where rockhounding enthusiasts can search for gems and minerals. This typically involves exploring riverbeds, mountains, and other natural areas to find gems and minerals in their native environment.
  • Prospecting: Serious gem hunters may engage in prospecting, which involves researching geological formations and mining history to locate areas likely to contain valuable gemstones.

Is There a Colorado Gemstone Map? Yes, there are geological maps and resources available that can help you identify areas in Colorado where you might find gemstones and minerals. The Colorado Geological Survey (CGS) and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) provide geological maps and information about the state’s geology and mineral resources. These maps can be useful for rockhounding and prospecting.

Additionally, local rock and mineral clubs often share information and knowledge about gemstone and mineral locations in Colorado. You can find books, websites, and forums dedicated to Colorado gemstone and mineral hunting that may provide location information and tips.

What Are the Best Colorado State Minerals? Colorado has several official state minerals, each with its unique beauty and significance. Some of the best-known Colorado state minerals include:

  • Aquamarine: Colorado’s state gemstone, aquamarine, is a stunning blue-green variety of beryl. It’s often found in the mountainous regions, especially in areas like Mount Antero and the Mount White area.
  • Rhodochrosite: Colorado’s state mineral, rhodochrosite, is known for its vibrant pink to red coloration. The Sweet Home Mine near Alma is famous for producing some of the world’s finest rhodochrosite specimens.
  • Marble: Colorado’s state rock is Yule marble, renowned for its pure white color and high quality. The marble from the Yule Quarry near Marble, Colorado, has been used in numerous famous buildings and sculptures, including the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
  • Coloradoite: Coloradoite is a rare telluride mineral that was discovered in Colorado. It has a metallic silver color and is known for its association with gold ores.

These state minerals represent the geological diversity and natural beauty found in Colorado and are highly regarded by collectors and enthusiasts alike.


  • Amethyst geodes: Amethyst is a type of quartz that is known for its deep purple color. Amethyst geodes are found in many parts of the world, but they are most common in Brazil, Uruguay, and Mexico.
    Amethyst geode
  • Quartz geodes: Quartz is the most common mineral in the world, and quartz geodes can be found in a variety of colors, including clear, white, pink, and yellow. Quartz geodes are often found in the United States, especially in the Midwest and South.
    Quartz geode
  • Agate geodes: Agate is a type of chalcedony that is known for its banded pattern. Agate geodes can be found in many parts of the world, but they are most common in Brazil, Mexico, and the United States.
    Agate geode
  • Calcite geodes: Calcite is a type of carbonate mineral that is known for its variety of colors, including white, yellow, orange, and blue. Calcite geodes are often found in the United States, especially in the Midwest and South.
    Calcite geode
  • Speleothem geodes: Speleothem geodes are formed when minerals precipitate from groundwater. They can be found in caves all over the world, and they often have a variety of shapes and sizes.
    Speleothem geode
  • Lepidolite geodes: Lepidolite is a type of mica that is known for its pink or purple color. Lepidolite geodes are found in many parts of the world, but they are most common in Russia, Brazil, and the United States.
    Lepidolite geode

Geodes are a fascinating and beautiful natural phenomenon. They are formed when minerals precipitate in cracks and cavities in rocks. The minerals can be a variety of colors and shapes, and they often create stunning patterns. Geodes can be found all over the world, and they are a popular collectible.

When choosing a geode, it is important to consider the size, shape, and color of the geode. You should also consider the type of mineral that is present in the geode. Some geodes are more valuable than others, so it is important to do your research before making a purchase.

If you are interested in learning more about geodes, there are many resources available online and in libraries. You can also visit a local gem and mineral shop to see a variety of geodes in person.

valuable rocks in your backyard
Geodes have been found near Wolf Creek Pass and Garden Park.

Did You Know?

Colorado’s state mineral is rhodochrosite (well-known areas are near Alma).

The state gem is aquamarine, found on the lofty reaches of Mount Antero (Chaffee County).

The state rock is marble from Yule.

The state fossil is the Stegosaurus.

Apache Tears, properly known as black obsidian (Ruby Mountain in Chaffee County), were named for the Indian legend that they are the petrified tears of Apache women mourning the slaughter of their men in battle.

Garo Park in Park County, still plentiful in blue agate and jasper, was the site of the last Ute Indian battle.

Garden Park near Cañon City, rich in geodes, quartz and fossils, is world-famous for its Jurassic dinosaurs and the role the specimens played in the infamous bone wars of the late 1880s. The dinosaur sites now form the Garden Park Paleontological Resource Area overseen by the Bureau of Land Management.

If you’re prospecting on Devil’s Head Mountain (Douglas County) in August, you’ll join millions of ladybugs for their annual gathering on the summit.

More Resources:

Here Are Some Good Books:

How About Some Local Resources: