33 Excellent Spots To Find and Dig For Crystals In Arizona In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

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33 Excellent Spots To Find and Dig For Crystals In Arizona In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD


Arizona is rich in mineral deposits, making it a popular destination for crystal hunters. However, without proper knowledge of where to look and what to look for, the search for crystals can be frustrating and fruitless.

That’s why we’ve gone all over our state to find the best spots to find crystals in Arizona— Agua Fria River, Neptune Mine, Burro Creek, Ellison Creek, and Oxbow Mine. We based these recommendations from our own experiences as well as from recommendations of other experienced collectors and enthusiasts. All these to help make your journey as a crystal hunter as fun and successful as can be!

How We Picked The Best Places To Find Crystals in Arizona
We spent a lot of time determining which of the many options for digging and mining for crystals that we have available would be recommended. We wanted to have a good mix of locations for experienced and novice crystals hunters in a variety of settings. Here are the main factors we used when determining the recommendations we set out :

  • The extensive local experience and understanding of our team
  • Input from multiple local crystal hunters and crystal collecting groups
  • The accessibility of the crystal mining locations
  • Safety and potential hazards when collecting
  • Private and public locations
  • A desire to include locations for both experienced crystal hunters and those who are just starting out

Using these weights we think we’ve put together the best list out there for those who love finding new crystals for our collections!

The Types of Arizona Crystals You Can Find

A beautiful sample of green Peridot crystals

Crystals are natural mineral formations that grow into a range of unique shapes and colors, admired for their beauty and symbolism for centuries. And Arizona is home to a rich variety of crystals, making it a popular destination for crystal mining. Below are some of them:

Rare crystals found in Arizona

  • Amethyst
  • Azurite
  • Peridot
  • Turquoise
  • Vanadinite
  • Wulfenite

More common crystals found here

  • Agate (Fire)
  • Aragonite
  • Calcite
  • Chalcedony
  • Chalcopyrite
  • Chrysocolla
  • Celestite
  • Copper
  • Covellite
  • Epidote
  • Fluorite
  • Galena
  • Hematite
  • Jade
  • Jasper
  • Malachite
  • Opal
  • Pyrite
  • Serpentine
  • Sunstone

The Best Locations For Crystal Mining in Arizona

Beautiful deep orange to red Vanadinite crystals

We’re sharing our top 5 recommended places for crystal hunting in Arizona. During our visit, these are where we had the best success finding crystals, and we’re hoping you’ll experience the same, too!

Always Confirm Access and Collection Rules!

Before heading out to any of the locations on our list you need to confirm access requirements and collection rules for both public and private locations.

These requirements are subject to change without notice and may differ from what we state below.

Always get updated information directly from the source ahead of time to ensure responsible rockhounding.

Agua Fria River is Our Favorite Crystal Mine in Arizona

The beautiful rock formations and waters of Agua Fria River

Avondale, AZ

The Agua Fria River has a rich history, having been inhabited by various indigenous groups for thousands of years. Today, it’s a popular spot for outdoor enthusiasts and rockhounds looking to explore its diverse geology. In fact, it’s one of the best places to mine gems in Arizona.

The river flows for approximately 120 miles through central Arizona, with its headwaters located in the Bradshaw Mountains. The river runs through a variety of landscapes, including desert canyons, riparian forests, and grasslands. It’s this diverse geography that makes it a great spot for rockhounding, as you can find a wide variety of minerals and crystals.

Just take note that the area can be challenging to navigate, so it’s a good idea to bring a map or GPS device if you’re visiting. And, as always, make sure to follow Leave No Trace principles and respect the natural beauty of the area.

Where we found crystals around the Agua Fria River

You can find amazing samples of Agate, Chalcedony, and Jasper crystals if you travel on the road from Castle Hot Springs south along the Agua Fria River. From there, you can prospect anywhere on both sides of the river.

Rock pick being used

The tools every crystal hunter will need

When you're out looking for crystals having the right tools for the job is very important. You don't need a lot for most trips but there are a handful that are critical and will make your life a lot easier.

We get asked a lot about the equipment we use. Over the years we've found a handful of tools that we recommend to both new and experienced crystal miners which we outline in great detail in our complete rockhounding tools guide. These are quality options that also happen to be relatively inexpensive.

Below are the basic tools that make your life so much easier and save you a ton of time. Check out the full guide to see everything we recommend bringing. One quick note, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases but we try very hard to only recommend gear we would use ourselves and often recommend brands you can't find on Amazon.

At a minimum you should have:

1 - Sturdy rock hammer: The Estwing Rock Pick is our standard

2 - Rugged chisels: Try Kendo' 3-piece Chisel Set

3 - Compact shovel: The Koleiya 28-inch shovel works well

4 - Rock screen pan: The Wazakura Soil Sieve Set fits the bill

5 - Eye protection: DeWalt Safety Glasses are cheap and comfortable

6 - Head protection: Malta's Safety Helmet has been our go-to

7 - Jewelers lens with at least 20x magnification: Jarlink's Jewelers Loop is perfect

The crystal-finding books that we use most

There are also a few books that have been extremely helpful in the search for gems. These books have great recommendations and tips:

National Audubon Society Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals: North America 

Southwest Treasure Hunter's Gem & Mineral Guide 

Earth Treasures: The Southwestern Quadrant 

We provide links to find these tools on Amazon but some can also be found at your local hardware stores. For more recommendations check out the link to our full tool guide above.

Neptune Mine

Rock formations at the Neptune Mine

Pima County, AZ

The Neptune Mine is located in the Mineral Mountains of western Arizona and was originally discovered in the early 1900s. It was primarily a copper mine, but also produced other minerals such as silver, gold, and lead. The mine was active until the 1970s, and since then has become a popular spot for rockhounding and crystal collecting.

The Mineral Mountains, where Neptune Mine can be found, are part of the larger Basin and Range Province of our state. This area is characterized by rugged terrain, deep canyons, and arid landscapes. It’s rich in different varieties of minerals, making it a prime spot for crystal hunting.

In fact, you can find a wide diversity of crystals here, including some rarer ones, that you can uncover through surface collecting and digging. So if you want to visit here, be sure to bring along some basic tools like a rock hammer, chisel, and gloves. And don’t forget to dress appropriately for the desert terrain— you can’t have fun if you’re not prepared for this!

Where we found crystals at Neptune Mine

If you’re here, chances are you’re near crystals. That’s because Neptune Mine abounds with them. You can specially find Fluorite crystals if you explore the different areas of the mine. Know more about crystal prices by checking out our article!

Burro Creek

An aerial view of the beautiful Burro Creek with its bridge

Wikieup, AZ 85360

Burro Creek is a must-see for rockhounds here! A tributary of the Bill Williams River, the creek is located in western Arizona. Its rich mining history dates back to the 1800s when gold was discovered in the region. The Burro Creek was an important water source for early miners and settlers, and today it is a popular destination for rockhounding and crystal collecting.

Since it’s located in the Sonoran Desert, which is characterized by rugged mountains, deep canyons, and a unique variety of flora and fauna, the geology of the creek is diverse with a mix of sedimentary and volcanic rocks. This makes it an ideal place for crystal hunting!

When visiting here, be sure to bring along some basic tools like a rock hammer, chisel, and gloves. We don’t want to explore this fantastic place without the right tools after all.

Where we found crystals at Burro Creek

We had the best of time finding Arizona crystals when we explored 15.75 miles southeast on US-93 to the bridge over Burro Creek. We collected a variety of these natural wonders downstream to the Black Canyon Mouth.

Ellison Creek

The scenic falls, waters, and rock formation surrounding Ellison Creek

Gila, AZ 85541

The beautiful Ellison Creek is known for its stunning crystal formations, making it a popular spot for rockhounding enthusiasts. It’s located in the Tonto National Forest and was once a vital water source for the Native American tribes that lived in the area. Today, the creek is a popular spot for outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and, of course, rockhounding.

Ellison Creek is a tributary of the East Verde River and it flows through a beautiful canyon surrounded by towering cliffs. The area’s geology is primarily sedimentary, with layers of sandstone and shale that have been uplifted and eroded over time. The rocks in this area are rich in minerals and crystals, too.

Suffice to say, Ellison Creek is a rockhound’s paradise with an abundance of beautiful crystals and minerals waiting to be discovered!

Where we found crystals at Ellison Creek

You can find great specimens of Agate, Jasper, and other mesmerizing crystals if you explore the area around Ellison Creek.

Oxbow Mine

A look at the hills and rock formations within the Oxbow Mine

Gila County, AZ

The Oxbow Mine is located near the town of Safford. It was first discovered in the 1960s and was primarily used for copper and turquoise mining. However, in recent years, it has become known for its incredible mineral and crystal specimens.

The mine is situated in the Gila Mountains, which are a part of the larger Basin and Range Province. The area is characterized by its steep, rugged terrain, and unique geology. The rocks in this area are primarily volcanic, with layers of ash and tuff that have been weathered and eroded over time. This has resulted in the formation of stunning crystal deposits that can be found throughout the mine.

With this, the Oxbow Mine is a hidden gem for rockhounding enthusiasts because of its abundance in stunning minerals and crystals. If you’re visiting here, it’s important to note that the mine is located on private land, so it’s essential to obtain permission before exploring the area.

Where we found crystals at Oxbow Mine

We recommend that you explore the area copper mines of Oxbow Mine if you’re looking to find Copper, Epidote, Fluorite, and other equally stunning crystals here.

Our Other Favorite Places For Crystal Hunting

A piece of shiny, gold Chalcopyrite crystals

With a place as big and as rich in natural resources as ours, it’s no surprise that there are tons of other places for crystal mining here. In fact, you can even find Arizona geodes in some of these locations. Check these out:

Where you can find crystals for free in Arizona

For sure you know that, in most cases, the best sites to find crystals require some fee. However, there are equally amazing areas that you can explore without spending a dime. Here are some of them:

County Location
Apache In the Chinle Formation at Echo Cliffs
Coconino Downstream in Rogers Draw to Sand Creek
Gila Southwest 2½ miles at Peridot Mesa
Graham Along the Deer Creek Basin
Greenlee North on US-666 to the first canyon on the left on Upper Eagle Road
Mohave In the Cerbat Mountains, 1 mile east of Mineral Park on the slopes of Ithaca Peak
Navajo Upstream in Oraibi Wash
Pinal Downstream on the south bank of the Gila River
Yavapai About 500ft. from the entrance of Cathedral Cave

Other great places to dig for crystals

If you’re good with spending a few bucks to find and dig for Arizona crystals, we’ve also compiled some of the best recommendations here. Make sure to reach out out to first before visiting as the fees may vary depending on the season (or they may be free on certain seasons, who knows?!).

County Location
Cochise At the Copper Queen Mine, Shattuck Mine, Arizona Mine, old Tiffany Turquoise Mine, Lucky Cuss Mine, and area mines of Gleason-Courtland District
Gila At the Apache Mine, Global area copper mines, No. 79 Mine, Inspiration Mine, Keystone Mine, Live Oak Mine, Castle Dome Mine, Phillips Mine, Chrysotile Mine, and Silver Butte Mine
Greenlee At the Detroit Mine and Manganese Blue Mine
Maricopa Area of surrounding washes, draws, hillsides of Arizona Agate Mine
Mohave Many area old mines like Little Kimball Mine
Pima In the copper mines and pits especially in the New Cornelia Open Pit
Pinal On dumps of Mammoth Mines and at the Olsen Mine
Santa Cruz Many area mines of Duquesne, Patagonia District, Ruby, and Washington District
Yuma Area mines of Castle Dome District

How to find crystals in Arizona

A piece of beautiful bluish-green Chrysocolla and Malachite crystal

A handful of our recommended places above cover fairly large areas, so to help you focus your search, here are some of the usual locations that abounds in crystals. We highly recommend visiting these places first in your explorations:

Mines and Mine Dumps

Mines and mine dumps are locations where mining activity has taken place in the past. These sites are often rich in mineral deposits, which can be found in the form of crystals and gemstones. When miners extract minerals from the ground, they often discard the leftover material in a pile, known as a mine dump. These dumps can contain a wealth of minerals that were not of interest to the miners, making them a great place to search for crystals.

Streams and Creeks

Streams and creeks are natural waterways that flow through the landscape. As water travels through the earth, it can pick up minerals and carry them downstream. This can result in crystals and gemstones becoming deposited in the streambeds, making them a prime location for crystal hunting. Searching for crystals in streams and creeks can be so rewarding because, essentially, the water has done the hard work for you!

Rivers and River Banks

Rivers are natural waterways that often flow through mineral-rich regions. As water travels through the earth, it can dissolve and carry minerals with it. Over time, the water can deposit these minerals, including crystals, in the riverbed. This means that searching in rivers and riverbeds can lead you to some amazing crystal finds. And just like in streams and creeks, the water in rivers can help to uncover crystals that are buried in sediment or hiding under rocks.

Arizona Crystal Mining Laws And Regulations

Crystal mining is legal in Arizona, but it’s crucial to always abide by the local collecting laws of our state, especially the ones imposed by the Arizona Department of Mines and Mineral Resources (ADMMR) on public lands. Also make sure to obtain any necessary permits or permissions from concerned government offices or private individuals like the owner of any private land that you will explore. By respecting these local guidelines, you are helping ensure the sustainability of crystal mining in our state.

The Best Crystal Shops In Arizona

A look at the available items in the showroom of Everything Just Rocks

Crystal hunting isn’t exactly for the faint of heart, so if you prefer the chill way to find crystals here, better visit the local crystal shops here. What’s amazing about this is that you can often find rich varieties of crystals— including rare ones— in these shops:

Additional places to find crystals in nearby states

If you’ve already tried all of our recommendations above or are planning a trip out of the state, you should check out our guides for neighboring states:

If you have any recommendations we haven’t covered, please leave them in the comments below!

About Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

Keith Jackson is an avid rockhound who is constantly exploring new sites to expand his collection. He has worked as a professional Geologist for over 20 years and holds a PhD in Geology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a Masters Degree in Geology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and a Bachelors Degree in Geology from the University of Connecticut.

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