Central Montana Prospectors
Central Montana Prospectors

Exploring Rock Sites

Destination Where?

      OK, you got the weekend, just where might you go in Montana to look for unique rocks under the crust? Two recent destinations: Tobacco Mountains and Pryor Mountains.

       What might you look for? Crystals are always lurking down below, but agates in the Pryor? Is that a bum steer or what? Mark Amundson goes walking down riverbeds to snag those dandies, but then again, high atop the hills out of White Earth Campground in Winston, there be agates just popping out of the side of cliff or under your feet as you scale the mounds. 

     You just gotta set a destination, explore a little possibilities and do it!!

Gem Mountain Getaway

     Planning on heading out this 4th of July weekend? Think about heading to Phillipsburg for your taste of Montana sapphires.

     You can hit the mine 12 miles out and have the family and kids process gravel in water troughs and then search for those dandy gems through the flipped-up squares on picnic tables all around on the compound.

     Or you can do the same thing in town at their store on main street with many other shops offering similar experiences. Either way you will be among many other tourists who flock to this town for the best experience in sapphire hunting.

     Then the next question posed to you would be, "Just where do I get my gems cut? And who gets my dandies?" You will figure it out. Good luck!! Been there, done that, searching in my backyard for the same thing. Lifestyles differ, but sapphires don't change. They're good.

Garnets of Montana

      When gold was discovered in southwestern Montana, along in the area came the garnets as well. Those red beauties are still sought after in tourist traps along the highway towards Nevada City at the Red Rock Mine, as well out in the hills around Alder. Plus one can get some gravel buckets along Ruby Reservoir to add variety in your search.

     Flipping that wet box of gravel can show up a great gathering of red garnets which is so different from the multicolored sapphires. The glint of the red color to the eye brings happiness to the hearts of the rock nut. People stand in the road, look down and pick up garnets right out of the dusty dirt. They are everywhere in the area, high up on the hills and down in the creek beds.

      When Steven was asked where he gets his gravel for garnets, he responded, "In the bottom of the creek across the road." One can snag rocks from all over the world too there; who sets limits on rocks. Twenty dollars for a bucket brings you lots of fun finding garnets back home.

Scheduling a Rock Hounding Trip

     What ya going for this time? How about lining up a trip to southwestern Montana and digging for those burgundy garnets. They are all over the hills of Ruby Reservoir.

     One has to ask yourself, would the rubies be found on the shore of the water when it is down, or up in the hills in those draws of the Sauerbier Ranch? Some gem and mineral groups know the routine and take their entire group there to dig.

     If you are lucky those Montana sapphires can be found there as well. You might get lucky and get two kinds of stones at the same dig site.

     There is a new name to the mine in Alder that gathers the garnets aplenty in the area as they sell them for abrasives. Garnets are not just for jewelry, so you can amass some dandies too with gracing the land out of Alder with your buckets and shovels. Head on out soon. 

Rocks For Sale

      It's fun when people Instant Message you from another city that in your own town there are buckets of rocks for sale on the online Marketplace.  When the early bird gets the worm, fast action means one can get 6 or more buckets of rocks from Scott Howard in Great Falls with finds from all over creation. Suckerhead Creek in Oregon hand picked thunder eggs were part of the collection for sale. Anyone can get ahold of him on facebook to get your hands on coprolite, petrified wood, and all kinds of other rocks of the fabulous kind.

     You might not need to go to a rock shop when you have a garage loaded with rocks and the owner puts on a sale in the summer and the winter. Catch up when you in town and fill more than just your pockets. You might not need to travel too far to get some of the dandiest rocks or pay for overhead for a store to stay in business. Online rock shopping works. 

Black Opals: Where did you dig them?

      Perfect question asked of Julie Squires at High Tech Automotive in Great Falls. She said she dug them in Nevada.  Hmm...I want to do that. With a quick search of the internet there are sites there that have it set up so one can mine them yourself.

     It's never too late to set your calendar for next year. A trip to northern Nevada would be perfect for Memorial Day weekend or Labor Day when there is a three day openness. 

      Her issue today was where to store them or what to do with them now. Organization of your rocks is a big issue with women who like rocks. Many are still in my car and kids entering it admire them. They are like scenes of mystery and interest. I bet this is a much better trip than hitting up Spencer, Idaho. Check out this website for further information. http://nevada-outback-gems.com/Rockhound/Nevada_opal_virgin.htm   This destination might be a good one for planning 2019 prospecting ideas.

Instrumental Videos

An Array of Exciting Rock Sites




Click Each Photo For Link To Site




Sapphire Miners Collect the Unusual Stones

     When owners of sapphire mines daily see unusual rocks come across their piles, they start collecting. Wherever there is gold there is hematite. All kinds of unusual hematite can be found at Blaze N' Gems Sapphire Mine out of York. 

     The hematite jug Blaze had was full of the unuusual looking specimens. Sometimes they resemble body parts like a kidney or a liver. I love the weight of them and the deep, dark purple color. They are heavy like a bullet or a shot.  

     It's a wonder what you can compare and find interesing to talk about when it comes to the search for sapphires, because often it means talk of other stones as well or the breakup of friendships over stones. We've seen and heard of that. Stones, rocks and hematite are attractive for sure. 




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© Central Montana Prospectors Coalition, Site Created & Written By Alma Winberry