Official Government Website

Rockhounding

Idaho is truly the Gem State. Since the origin of the earth, geologic processes combined to make the rocks of Idaho a mineral collector’s storehouse. This, coupled with the beautiful forests and streams, makes Idaho the place where the rock collector’s dreams come true.

Gemstone information is available for the following counties. Information comes from Gemstones of Idaho by Alice Allebaugh.

ADAMS – Rubies and pink garnets are found at Rock Flat near New Meadows. Several diamonds have been found in this same area. Sapphires and corundum crystals that sometimes show asterism also have been found in the Rock Flat area.

BLAINE – Amethyst is found near Hailey; copper, silver, lead and zinc minerals are abundant.

BOUNDARY – Opal and opalized wood.

CUSTER – Clear quartz, amethyst and citrine are found. Large geodes are common. Banded, red and yellow agate is scattered over the area. A forest of petrified wood is near Challis. Near the East Fork of the Salmon River is an excellent collecting locality where a variety of cryptocrystalline quartz is found in blood red sandstone. Near Challis a rare zeolite is found in greater abundance and better specimens than in any other known locality. Copper, silver, lead and zinc minerals are abundant.

GEM – Fire opal is found in the lava beds of Squaw Butte near Emmett. The opals are salmon pink or cherry red in color and display great brilliance. Most are very small, but some have been large enough to cut into fine stones. Near the opal deposits agates of light blue color abound. Willow Creek has deposits of agatized and opalized wood of high quality as well as massive opal that ranges in color from deep red to salmon pink to white and pale blue.

GOODING – Internationally famous “horse” fossil beds near Hagerman; opal and opalized wood.

IDAHO – Nationally famous flora beds near Whitebird.

LATAH – Common and fire opals have been found in the vesicular basalts. The internationally famous garnet diggings on Emerald Creek afford the collector an opportunity to find gem and star garnets in remarkably large sizes and quantities. Fossil plant remains can be found in many localities in the siltstone of the interbeds between basalt layers.

LEMHI – Copper, silver, lead and zinc minerals are abundant.

LINCOLN – Opal and opalized wood.

OWYHEE – Areas that yield red, yellow, green and mossy jasper of unexcelled quality. The area is nationally known for its pink and white plume agate and for its opal, both common and fire, which occurs in vesicles in the volcanic rocks. Banded, scenic, dendritic and sagenitic agates, as well as polka dot, smokey and moss agates are also found. Succor Creek on the western edge of the county yields red and green agates in a rich two-tone combination and a round shaped nodule, which is called “thunder egg.” These are often found to be geodes with the center filled with fluids. In some the hollow center is lined with quartz crystals.

SHOSHONE – Copper, silver, lead and zinc minerals are abundant.

WASHINGTON – Agates of many colors abound. The most highly prized agates are those that show an iridescence when cut into thin slabs. Petrified wood from Mann Creek northwest of Weiser is particularly beautiful. The grain of the wood is very prominent and the color is yellow, resembling natural oak. In the Beacon area west of Weiser the famous “Beacon Hill” nodules abound. These nodules are particularly beautiful because of the scenic or dendritic patterns. In some the interior is hollow and crystal lined.

Information comes from Gemstones of Idaho written by Alice Allebaugh.

GEMSTONE OR ROCK NAMECOUNTYLOCATION
AGATES - NODULES
Cryptocrystalline Quartz
CUSTER
  • Lime Creek 12 miles south of Challis along US 93A

  • Iris along Willow Creek Road off US 93A south of Challis
OWYHEESquaw Creek
AGATES - PLUME
Cryptocrystalline Quartz
OWYHEEGraveyard Point southwest of Homedale (private mine) west of US 95 near Idaho-Oregon border
AGATES - GREEN & GREEN MOSS
Cryptocrystalline Quartz
BLAINE9 miles north of Muldoon, south of Cary, along Little Wood River
LEMHIParker Mountain near Salmon
AGATES - BANDED & SCENIC
Cryptocrystalline Quartz
LEMHISouth of Meyers Cove
AGATES - LIGHT BLUE
Cryptocrystalline Quartz
GEMNear Emmett
AGATES - RED
Cryptocrystalline Quartz
CUSTER3 miles west of Challis
AGATES - RED & GREEN
Cryptocrystalline Quartz
OWYHEEEastern fringe of Succor Creek
AGATIZED WOODCUSTER12 miles south of Challis along US 93A
WASHINGTONHog Creek 8-10 miles northwest of Weiser
AMETHYSTBLAINEPole Creek
CUSTERLost River
OWYHEEWar Eagle Mountain near Silver City and "Indian Bathtub" area
VALLEYPaddy Flat and Big Creek area near Cascade
ANALCITE
isometric zeolite mineral; last zeolite to be deposited
BLAINEGolden Bell Mine in head of gulch containing Minnie Moore Mine near Bellevue
CUSTERSouth of Challis
APATITE
Calcium phosphate
CUSTERBlackbird Mining District
AQUAMARINEELMOREAbove Atlanta
AZURITE
Copper carbonate
ADAMSSeven Devils Mining District
CUSTERAlder Creek and Bayhorse Mining Districts
LATAHHoodoo Mining District
SHOSHONELittle North Fork area near Kellogg and Mullan
OWYHEESouth Mountain area
BERYL - GREENLATAHIn pegmatites of the Levi Anderson, Muscovite and other mica mines near Avon
BERYL - DARK BLUEELMOREIn primitive area near Atlanta
CALCITE - FLUORESCENT
Calcium carbonate
CUSTERAlder Creek, Bayhorse and Yankee Fork Mining Districts
CALCITE - RHOMBOHEDRONS
Calcium Carbonate
ADAMSWhite Mountain Mine, Seven Devils Mining District
BLAINEHailey (Mineral Hill) Mining District
CALCITE - MASSIVE / GRANULAR
Calcium Carbonate
SHOSHONESunshine, Bunker Hill, Hypotheek, Hecla, Standard-Mammoth and Hercules Mines, Coeur d'Alene Mining District
CASSITERITE
Tin Oxide
LEMHI
  • Silver Creek
  • Panther Creek near junction of Moyer Creek, Cobalt area
OWYHEEAlong Jordan Creek near Silver City
CEYLONITE
Spinel
BLAINEWild Horse Canyon east side of Hyndman Peak
ADAMSRocky Flat area near New Meadows and Seven Devils Mining District
CHABAZITE
Form of Zeolite
ADAMSBlue Jacket Mine, Seven Devils Mining District
BOISEWarm Springs Creek area east of Boise
ELMORE5 miles below Glenns Ferry
CHALCEDONY - FLUORESCENTTWIN FALLSRabbit Springs on Idaho-Nevada border US 93
CHALCEDONY - VARIETIESCUSTER
  • Willow Creek Road south of Challis off US 93A
  • Mahogany Creek in Pahsimeroi Valley and near North Fork of Lost River
OWYHEEWar Eagle and Florida Mountain areas near Silver City
BLAINEPole Creek Summit near Galena and south of Carey along Little Wood River
LATAHPotato Hill
LEMHIParker Mountain Mining District
VALLEYYellow Pine Mining District
CHRYSOCOLLABENEWAHAlder Creek
ADAMSArkansas Mine, et al., Seven Devils Mining District
LATAHHoodoo Mining District
SHOSHONECoeur d'Alene Mining District
CINNABARCUSTERAlder Creek Mining District
VALLEYYellow Pine Mining District
WASHINGTONNear Weiser
CRYSTALS - COBALTLEMHIBlackbird Mining District
OWYHEESilver City area
CRYSTALS - QUARTZCUSTERNear Bayhorse and in Yankee Fork Mining District
BENEWAHCrystal Peak northeast of Fernwood
IDAHOMcKinley Gulch in Slate Creek and Ruby Meadows
OWYHEELong Gulch south of Silver City
VALLEYNorthwest of Donnelly
CORUNDUMOWYHEENear Silver City
CLEARWATERAlong Rhodes and Orofino Creeks near Pierce
VALLEYAlong Gold Fork Creek northeast of Donnelly
ADAMSRock Flat gold placers near New Meadows
IDAHONear (Resort) Burgdorf
DIAMONDSADAMSLittle Goose Creek area near New Meadows
DOGTOOTH SPAR
Calcite Crystals
IDAHOAdjacent to US 95 midway between Riggins and Lucile
EPIDOTEADAMSPeacock, Queen, Copper Boy and other mines, Seven Devils Mining District
CLEARWATERPierce area
CUSTERNear Park Creek
LEMHIMackinaw and Carmen Creek Mining Districts
OWYHEENear Silver City
VALLEY
  • North of Paddy Flat Road northeast of Donnelly
  • Deep Creek north of McCall
FELDSPAR - MOONSTONECAMASNear Fairfield
FELDSPAR - PALE YELLOWBOISEShafer Creek
FELDSPAR - CLEARFREMONTCrystal Butte 18 miles north of St. Anthony
FELDSPAR - VARIETIESLEMHIBlackbird Mining District
OWYHEESilver City area
FLUORITE - PURPLECUSTEREmpire Mine, Alder Creek Mining District
LEHMISouth of Meyers Cove
VALLEYStibnite
FOSSILS - SEE ZOISITE  
GARNET - STARBENEWAHPurdue Creek, vicinity of Bovill and Clarkia and along East Fork of Emerald Creek (US Forest Service fee)
GARNET - LIME SILICATEADAMSSeven Devils Mining District
BEAR LAKELanes Creek (NW 1/4, Section 9, Township 8 S, Range 43 E, BM)
CUSTER
  • Phi Kappa Canyon near head of Big Lost River
  • Copper Basin at head of East Fork of Big Lost River
  • Alder Creek Mining District near Mackay
GARNET - ROSE-RED
BROWN-RED
CLEARWATER
  • Rhodes Creek, Orofino area, near Clearwater River
  • Pierce area
NEZ PERCEClearwater River near Lewiston
GARNET - REDSHOSHONECanyon Creek
Purdue Creek
GARNET -
PURPLE-RED
OWYHEESilver City area
GARNET -
YELLOW-GREEN
WASHINGTONIron Mountain northeast of Weiser
GARNET -
RED-PINK
ADAMSWhite Monument, Peacock and Copper Key mines near Kinney Point
IDAHOOn main Salmon River 10 miles above Riggins
HEDENBERGITE & ILVAITEOWYHEESouth Mountain Mining District
HEMATITE -
PEBBLES
BANNOCKLane's Creek gravel bars
BOISEBoise Basin placers
HEMATITEADAMSRock Flat on Goose Creek
CUSTERIn dumps of copper mines, Alder Creek Mining District
LATAHIron Mountain 20 miles north of Moscow
WASHINGTONIron Mountain
JADEFREMONTBitch Creek north of Tetonia
JASPER -
RED WITH GREEN MALACHITE
BEAR LAKEHummingbird Mine area in Paris Canyon near Montpelier
JASPER -
BRUNEAU
OWYHEE50 road miles south of Bruneau in Bruneau River Canyon
JASPER -
VARIETIES
BLAINESouth of Carey along Little Wood River
CUSTER• Crane Creek Reservoir area, 12 miles south of Challis along US 93A

• Alder Creek Mining District near Mackay
OWYHEEWest of US 95 south of Homedale near Idaho-Oregon border
WASHINGTON• Signal Light 10 miles northwest of Weiser

• Beacon Hill near Weiser
KYANITESHOSHONEGoat Mountain and Blackdome Peak area
MALACHITEADAMSSeven Devils Mining District
BEAR LAKEHummingbird Mine in Paris Canyon
CUSTERAlder Creek Mining District
FREMONTSkull Canyon area two miles east of Kaufman
LATAHHoodoo District
SHOSHONECoeur d'Alene and adjacent mining districts
MARCASITELEMHI1 mile south of Salmon
OWYHEEAssociated with silver mines near Silver City
SHOSHONEIn the Gold Hunter Mine, Coeur d'Alene Mining District
MORDENITECUSTER15 miles south of Challis
LEMHINear Salmon
MYRMEKITEVALLEYYellow Pine Mining District
NAUMANNITECUSTERYankee Fork District
LEMHIParker Mountain Mines, Gravel Range Mining District
OWYHEEDeLamar Mine on Florida Mountain near Silver City
OPAL -
FIRE
CLARKSpencer Opal Mine near Spencer (private - fee charged)
GEMLava beds of Squaw Butte, Emmett area, and Black Canyon Dam
LATAH5 miles south of Forney on Opal Creek
OWYHEENear Givens Hot Springs, Oreana and on the west side of Squaw Creek
OPAL -
BANDED
CUSTER3 miles west of Challis
OWYHEESquaw Creek
OPAL -
HYALITE
NEZ PERCENear Lewiston area

OPAL -
COLORED

GEMRed to salmon-pink to whites and pale blues along Willow Creek near Emmett
OPAL -
VARIETIES
LEMHIPahsimeroi Valley near May
OPAL -
COMMON
CUSTERPoison Creek
LATAHMoscow Opal Mines
LEMHI• Panther Creek

• Pahsimeroi Valley near May
NEZ PERCEClearwater River Valley
OWYHEE• 17 miles south of Marsing

• Castle Creek

• Mule Springs

• Givens Hot Springs area
OPALIZED WOODGOODINGClover Creek area
LATAHPotlatch River Canyon, Kendrick area
OWYHEEFew miles southeast of Hwy 95 at Idaho-Oregon state line in Coal Mine Basin (black opalized wood found in sandstone formation)
PROUSTITEBLAINEPilgrim Mine near head of Beaver Creek
BOISEBanner Mining District
BUTTEHub Mine, Lava Creek Mining District
OWYHEEWar Eagle Mountain and Florida Mountain area near Silver City
SHOSHONEBig Creek area
PETRIFIED WOODCUSTER• Willow Creek Road south of Challis off US 93A

• Malm Gulch area
LINCOLN• Clover Creek
OWYHEE• West of DeLamar off Jordan Valley Road

• Middle reaches East Fork of Bruneau River

• 9 miles south of Bruneau east of US 51

• Sands Basin
WASHINGTON• Manns Creek area near Weiser

• Sage Creek near Weiser

• Crane Creek area
PETRIFIED WOOD - BLACKOWYHEE• Coal Mine Basin on US 85 south of Marsing

• Middle reaches East Fork Bruneau River 9 miles south of Coal Mine Basin on US 85 south of Marsing

• Clover Creek area
WASHINGTONSage Creek northwest of Weiser
PYRITEBLAINEHailey Gold Belt
BOISEQuartzburg area
LEMHIMackinaw Mining District
SHOSHONECoeur d'Alene Mine District
QUARTZ -
CRYSTALS
BLAINEPole Creek tributary of Little Wood River
IDAHONear Warren
OWYHEEAt mines near Silver City
SHOSHONEOn O'Donnell Creek near Stocking Meadows
VALLEYGreen Mountain area
QUARTZ -
CLUSTERS
SHOSHONEGem, Burke, Murray and Delta areas
QUARTZ -
SMOKEY
ELMOREDismal swamp northwest of Rocky Bar
LEMHIAlong Bandy Creek
VALLEYPaddy Flats, Big Creek near Cascade
QUARTZ -
GEODES
CUSTERUpper Valley of Lost River
OWYHEEDeLamar Silver Mine area
WASHINGTONNorthwest of Weiser
QUARTZ -
PSEUDOMORPHIC
BUTTELava Creek Mining District
OWYHEEWar Eagle and Florida Mountain areas near Silver City
RHODOCHROSITEKOOTENAIConjecture Mine south of Lakeview (REMARKS: PINK)
LEMHIBlackbird Mining District and Kitty Burton Mine in Indian Creek District
RHODONITEADAMSSouth of New Meadows
RUBIESADAMSPlacer deposits near New Meadows in Adams and Valley counties
CLEARWATERClearwater Drainage near Pierce
OWYHEEDeLamar - Silver City area
VALLEYPlacer deposits near New Meadows in Adams and Valley counties
SAPPHIRESADAMSRocky Flat area near New Meadows
CLEARWATER• Rhodes Creek near Pierce

• Orofino Creek near Pierce
VALLEYEast slope of Brundage Mountain
SILLIMANITE
Fibrolite
LEMHISalmon River below Salmon
NEZ PERCE• Clearwater River Valley above Lewiston

• Big Eddy of Clearwater River above Spaulding
STAUROLITEBENEWAH5 miles up Carpenter Creek from junction with St. Maries River
SHOSHONESt. Joe Basin and along St. Joe - Clearwater Divide
STILBITEADAMSBlue Jacket Claim, Seven Devils Mining District
BLAINEMinnie Moore Mine near Bellevue
CUSTERNorth side of Galena Summit
THULITE
Pink-colored Zoisite
ADAMSSeven Devils Mining District
THUNDER EGGS -
AMETHYST LINED
WASHINGTONBeacon Hill, Hog Creek, Weiser area
THUNDER EGGS -
QUARTZ LINED
BUTTEAntelope Creek, Arco area

Road Creek, Arco area
TWIN FALLSRabbit Springs, US 93 Idaho-Nevada border
TOPAZELMOREDismal Swamp 9 1/2 miles northwest of Rocky Bar
TOPAZ -
BLUE
VALLEY• Along tributary of Paddy Creek in Paddy Flat area on Gold Fork Creek

• Donnelly area
TOPAZ -
YELLOW
CLARKCamas Creek
TOURMALINEBLAINESouth flank Hyndman Peak
BOISEBoise Basin area
CLEARWATERPierce area
LATAHAvon area
LEMHIBlackbird Mining District

VALENCIANITE


Adularia

CUSTERYankee Fork District
LEMHIGravel Range and Parker Mountain District
OWYHEEWar Eagle and Florida Mountain near Silver City
WILLOWHITEADALonghair Mine north of Eagle

ZEOLITES

CUSTER• Various locations
An interesting group of hydrated aluminous silicates.  Occurs as amygdular fillings in vesicles in basalt or amiosite flows; also as geode filling.  Thought deposited by hot waters at time of cooling of magmas.  Various locations in Owyhee and Custer counties.
OWYHEEVarious locations
ZIRCONIDAHOStreams draining Idaho batholith, principally the American River near Elk City
ZOISITE (FOSSILS)ADAMSSeven Devils Mining District
ZOISITE (FOSSILS)

CAMBRIAN
BONNER In limy rock along southeast side of Pend Oreille Lake
GOODINGWest rim of Snake River Canyon near Hagerman
ZOISITE (FOSSILS)

MARINE
OWYHEE9 miles south of Bruneau and to right of US 51
ZOISITE (FOSSILS)

TEMPSKYA
BONNEVILLE13 miles northwest of Hermans on Willow Creek
ZOISITE (FOSSILS)

TRILOBITE
VALLEYSouth Fork of Gold Creek
ZOISITE (FOSSILS)

GRAPTOLITES AND INVERTEBRATES
BLAINETrail Creek east of Sun Valley
CUSTER• Shelves of Lost River Range

• Bayhorse area north of Clayton
ZOISITE (FOSSILS)

MOLLUSKS
CUSTERBayhorse area
ZOISITE (FOSSILS)

FISH
CUSTERLost River Range near Mackay
ZOISITE (FOSSILS)

MASTODON & MAMMOTH
LATAHIn sediments of Snake River Plain as far north as Palouse Hills

Rockhounding on State Endowment Trust Land

All state endowment trust lands are open to casual exploration for gemstones and mineral specimens, provided the lands are not under a valid exploration location or mineral lease. Information regarding status of state endowment trust lands can be obtained from the IDL field offices.

Mineral Leases and Exploration Locations

mineral lease allows you to mine and remove larger amounts of minerals from state endowment land.

An exploration location gives you the exclusive right to explore and prospect for gold and other locatable minerals on state endowment trust lands not already under location or lease. Exploration locations may also be filed on the beds of navigable rivers and streams between the ordinary high water marks. Read more about Mineral Exploration Locations.

Rockhounding on Public Land

Rockhounds are welcome to collect rocks and gemstones from most public land administered by the U.S. Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management, but there are some exceptions. Contact the agencies directly for more information.

Contact

Department Contact – Boise Staff Office

Mike Murphy
Mineral Leasing Program Manager
Minerals Leasing Program
(208) 334-0290
mmurphy@idl.idaho.gov

For questions specific to a location, please contact the nearest Supervisory Area


Additional Resources

Maps

Idaho Geological Survey

ver: 3.4.0 | last updated: