The 42 Certified Ways To Find And Dig For Crystals In Idaho In 2024

By Keith Jackson - Geologist

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The 42 Certified Ways To Find And Dig For Crystals In Idaho In 2024

By Keith Jackson - Geologist


Idaho’s ancient rock formations, volcanic landscapes, and other geological features make it a haven for crystal seekers. As you explore here, you’ll be mesmerized by the astonishing variety of crystals you’ll find— from brilliant opals to quartz with soothing energy.

There’s no shortage of locations where you can find crystals here, such as Little Wood River, Gold Hill Mine, Ima Mine, Mica Queen Mine, Rock Flat, Sunshine Mine, and many more. With abundant resources and a welcoming community of fellow enthusiasts, you’ll see why Idaho is the perfect crystal-hunting destination.

How We Picked The Best Places To Find Crystals in Idaho
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 Crystals We Found

A sharp and lustrous red crystal of Rhodonite
Rhodonite crystal photo provided by @finemineralphotography and László Kupi collection

Rockhounding in our state will prove to you that it lives up to its name as the Gem State. It offers a wealth of both rare and common crystals to hide within its vast expanse:

Rare crystals found in Idaho

  • Aquamarine
  • Azurite
  • Beryl
  • Chrysocolla
  • Diamond
  • Epidote
  • Galena
  • Kyanite
  • Malachite
  • Muscovite
  • Onyx
  • Rhodonite
  • Ruby
  • Topaz
  • Tourmaline

More common crystals found here

The Best Locations For Crystal Mining We’ve Found

A sky blue double terminated sapphire crystal
Sapphire photo provided by Weinrich Minerals

Here are a few of Idaho’s best places for crystal hunting. We’ve found some of the most amazing crystals by exploring them, and we have great faith that you will, 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 directly with the location. We haven’t personally verified every location and the access requirements and collection rules often change without notice.

Many of the locations we mention will not allow collecting but are still great places for those who love to find beautiful rocks and minerals in the wild without keeping them. We also can’t guarantee you will find anything in these locations since they are constantly changing. 

Always get updated information directly from the source ahead of time to ensure responsible rockhounding. If you want even more current options it’s always a good idea to contact local rock and mineral clubs and groups

Little Wood River

Aerial view of the Little Wood River and its surrounding landscapes

Blaine County, ID

Historically, the Little Wood River wasn’t known for its mining like other parts of our state. Instead, it was cherished for its agricultural and natural beauty. But for those in the know, it’s always been a secret spot for finding pretty unique crystals.

The area around Little Wood River is quite diverse. You’ll find a mix of volcanic rocks and sedimentary layers here. Over time, the river has eroded layers of rock, exposing quartz veins and other mineral deposits.

Getting to this river is pretty straightforward. It’s located in the south-central part of our state, not too far from the town of Shoshone. You can take the US Highway 20 to reach the area. From there, smaller roads and trails lead you closer to the river.

Where we found crystals at the Little Wood River

You can search for crystals in the gravels of Little Wood River. Specifically, you can find agate, chalcedony, and jasper here.

Gold Hill Mine

An area at Gold Hill Mine where you can look for crystals

Boise County, ID

One of the reasons Gold Hill Mine is a must-visit for crystal hunters is its impressive array of minerals. Its unique geological setting has given rise to various crystals. If you’re keeping tabs, you can include this place in your list of gem-hunting places in Idaho.

The story of Gold Hill Mine began in the 1860s when prospectors, lured by the promise of gold, flocked to the region in search of fortune. Over the years, the mine expanded its scope, shifting its focus from gold to other valuable minerals, including lead, silver, and zinc.

Today, the mine’s rich geological legacy continues to captivate visitors who are looking for its crystals.

Where we found crystals at Gold Hill Mine

In the mine dumps and placer trailing of Gold Hill Mine, we have collected various crystals, including garnet and quartz.

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 supplies 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 

Northwest Treasure Hunter's Gem & Mineral Guide 

Earth Treasures: The Northwestern 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.

Ima Mine

A pretty landscape with hills and trees at Ima Mine

Lemhi County, ID

Ima Mine is a former mining site that serves as a gateway into our state’s mining heritage while presenting the chance to find crystals.

Ima Mine’s history can be traced back to the early 20th century when miners, enticed by valuable minerals, began extracting tungsten, gold, and silver from the site.

Over the years, the mine has seen the rise and fall of mining activities, leaving an enchanting legacy that continues to enthrall modern-day crystal hunters.

Where we found crystals at Ima Mine

The area at Ima Mine is a good place to look for chalcopyrite and galena crystals. You can determine how much is crystal worth through this article we’ve made.

Mica Queen Mine

A hillside at the Mica Queen Mine where crystals are found

Adams County, ID

Mica Quee Mine was once a bustling hub for mica mining, dating back to the early 1900s. It was named for the abundance of mica found there, a mineral once highly sought after for its unique properties in electrical insulation and more.

Over the years, though, as the demand for mica waned, the mine was left to the hands of time and nature, transforming it into a rockhound’s paradise. It’s characterized by a blend of granite and pegmatite formations. These are known for hosting a variety of minerals, including quartz, feldspar, and of course, mica

The pegmatites, though, are the real stars here, as they’re often associated with large crystal formations and rare minerals.

Where we found crystals at Mica Queen Mine

We mostly found muscovite crystals all through the area of Mica Queen Mine.

Rock Flat

A picturesque view of a crystal hunting area at Rock Flat

Adams County, ID

While the history of Rock Flat may not be as intimately tied to mining as some other locations in our state, its geological features have long attracted rockhounds and mineral collectors.

This place is a top destination if you’re looking to expand your knowledge of crystals because it has an astounding range of crystals.

It’s abundant with quartz crystals, some beautifully clear and others tinged with various colors due to mineral impurities. You might also stumble upon jasper, agate, or even the occasional opal.

Where we found crystals at the Rock Flats

Many diamond, garnet, rhodonite, ruby, sapphire, and topaz crystals can be located on the gravels of the Rock Flats.

Sunshine Mine

A photo of a statue marker of the Sunshine Mine

Shoshone County, ID

Originally established in the early 1900s, the Sunshine Mine was a powerhouse for silver production. Over the years, it became one of the most prolific silver mines in the country.

Situated in the heart of the Coeur d’Alene Mining District, this area is renowned for its geological structure, primarily consisting of Precambrian rocks and various mineral deposits. This is a result of ancient hydrothermal systems, which means it’s not just rich in silver but also in a variety of crystals.

Sunshine Mine is located near the town of Kellogg. You can reach it by taking Interstate 90 and exiting towards Big Creek Rd. The mine itself is not open to the public for underground tours, but its surrounding areas are.

Where we found crystals at Sunshine Mine

We had the best luck finding garnet and kyanite crystals at the Sunshine Mine.

My Other Favorite Places For Crystal Hunting

A unique blue-green chrysocolla specimen on black matrix
Chrysocolla photo provided by Collector’s Edge Minerals – @collectorsedgeminerals

Besides our top recommended places, you can also search for crystals in other equally breathtaking spots. If you’re lucky, you might also find geodes in these areas:

Where you can find crystals for free

Below are some locations where you can find crystals without spending money on fees:

County Location
Adams At the Seven Devils in limestones in contact zones where copper is mined and along the gravels of Little Goose Creek Canyon for epidote and diamond
Benewah At Emerald Creek and its East Fork, Ruby Gulch for garnet
Boise At the pegmatite outcrops of Garden Valley for aquamarine
Butte In the Lava Creek and Big Piney Mountain for agate and tourmaline
Butte In the veins of Wildhorse Canyon on the east side of Hyndman Peak for quartz
Clearwater Rhodes and Orofino Creeks for epidote and sapphire
Custer At the area stream gravels of the Stanley Basin for sapphire
Fremont Island Park Calder for agate
Gem Squaw Butte, Horseshoe Bend, and up Black Canyon for agate and opal
Idaho Little Salmon River, Salmon River sands and gravles for agate, chalcedony, garnet, and jasper
Idaho Slate and McKinsey creeks for agate, chalcedony, and jasper
Jefferson Camas Creek for opal and topaz
Latah Emerald and Ruby Creeks for garnet
Latah Boulder Creek for garnet
Lemhi Parker Mountain for agate and chalcedony
Nez Perce Clearwater River and all regional streams for agate, aquamarine, garnet, jasper, and quartz
Owyhee Graveyard Point, Castle Creek, Indian Bathtub, and Long Gulch for agate, opal, and quartz
Owyhee Bruneau Desert and Bruneau Canyon for agate, chalcedony, and jasper
Owyhee Brace Brothers Ranch and Squaw Canyon for chalcedony, opal, and onyx
Shoshone The divide between headwaters of St. Joe and Clearwater River for kyanite
Washington Grouse and Hog Creeks, Peacock Claum, and Nutmeg Mountain for agate, chalcedony, garnet, opal, and pyrite

Once you find your crystals, don’t let the confusion get the best of you when identifying them. Our user-friendly guides are here to assist you in differentiating between similar-looking crystals:

Other great places to dig for crystals

If you’re willing to spend money, there are more places you can look for crystals. The fees of these places change with the seasons, and occasionally they offer their entrances for free! You must contact them first before visiting to be sure.

County Location
Adams Regional old mines and dumps for azurite and malachite
Bear Lake The Hummingbird Mine for quartz
Custer Copper mines and dumps for azurite, chalcopyrite, chrysocolla, malachite, and pyrite
Latah Levi Anderson and Muscovite for beryl and muscovite
Owyhee Black Jack and Trade Dollar mines for chalcopyrite

My tips for finding crystals

Three pieces of cut and polished black onyx
Onyx photo provided by 𝗛𝗲𝗿𝗛𝗲𝗮𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗴®️ LA

Here are a few areas you can prioritize to maximize your crystal hunting time:

Mines and mine dumps

Mines frequently host a variety of unique crystals and minerals. Mine dumps, the byproducts of mining operations, can also be treasure troves, as they often contain overlooked or discarded specimens.

When crystal hunting in mines and mine dumps, there are a few considerations you should keep in mind. Among these is that you should be aware of the site’s property rights and local regulations. Some mines may require permits or restrict access, so obtaining the necessary permissions is crucial before venturing.

Rivers and riverbanks

Exploring rivers and riverbanks is a fantastic way to discover crystals. With its erosive power, the constant flow of water exposes and transports minerals from their original locations, depositing them along riverbanks, sandbars, and gravel beds.

On top of this, rivers frequently flow through areas with diverse geological compositions, enhancing your chances of finding various crystals.

Streams and creeks

Streams and creeks’ regular water flow is a sorting mechanism that exposes crystals and minerals worn and eroded from their original positions.

Crystals are frequently discovered along the banks of these watercourses, in the gravel, sand, rocks, and the actual streambed. The water’s ebb and flow produce a constantly shifting scene that’s inviting for exploration.

The Mining Laws And Regulations You Should Know

In Idaho, recreational rockhounding is generally permitted on public lands managed by the Idaho Bureau of Land Management (BLM)). However, certain restrictions may apply. It’s crucial to check with the local BLM office for specific rules and regulations regarding collecting crystals and minerals in a particular area.

On public lands, casual collectors can gather reasonable amounts of crystals and minerals for personal use without a permit. However, commercial collecting and the use of mechanized equipment may be prohibited or require a permit.

Always seek permission from the landowner before collecting crystals on private property. Trespassing and unauthorized collection are illegal and can result in penalties.

The Best Crystal Shops In The Area

You can look for various crystals and buy unique specimens for your collection at the Gem State Crystals in Idaho

If you want to add small pieces to our collections without having to search for them in the wild, below are some of our favorite crystal stores:

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 Keith Jackson - Geologist

Keith Jackson is an avid rockhound who is constantly exploring new sites to expand his collection. He is an active Geologist with a wealth of experience and information from across the country that he loves to share with the Rock Chasing crew.

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