The 39 Best Kept Secrets To Find And Dig For Crystals In South Dakota In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

| Updated

The 39 Best Kept Secrets To Find And Dig For Crystals In South Dakota In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

Updated

Crystal hunting is a great pastime, and South Dakota offers an unparalleled treasure trove for enthusiasts. These crystals’ beauty is mesmerizing, with their captivating colors and intricate geometric patterns. Each crystal carries its unique charm, waiting to be discovered and admired by those with a keen eye for natural wonders!

South Dakota’s diverse landscape provides an ideal haven for stunning crystals. These geological gems can be found nestled within the rugged terrain, hidden in plain sight. As you embark on this captivating journey, you’ll be amazed at the sheer number of fascinating crystal specimens awaiting your discovery!

How We Picked The Best Places To Find Crystals in South Dakota
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 South Dakota Crystals You Can Find

A stunning pink lepidolite with black and white spots

It should be noted that finding crystals can be a little risky. There are times when you’ll come into a treasure trove of crystals, and then there are occasions when you might not. Yet all of it is enjoyable. Half the reason crystal hunting is such a well-liked hobby is the thrill of the chase!

Rare crystals found in South Dakota

  • Apatite
  • Carnelian
  • Fluorite
  • Galena
  • Jade
  • Kunzite
  • Pyrite
  • Rose Quartz
  • Wulfenite

More common crystals found here

  • Agate
  • Amethyst
  • Aquamarine
  • Beryl
  • Calcite
  • Chalcedony
  • Garnet
  • Jasper
  • Lepidolite
  • Opal
  • Quartz
  • Selenite
  • Tourmaline

The Best Locations For Crystal Mining in South Dakota

Two dazzling tiny purple kunzite with an irregular shape

Here are a few of the best crystal-hunting places in South Dakota. We have no doubt that you will have the same success exploring them and discovering unique crystals as we have!

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

Beecher Lode

Unique rock formations at the Beecher Lode

The Beecher Lode area has attracted numerous crystal hunters, enticed by the prospect of uncovering captivating quartz and feldspar specimens. These crystalline treasures embody the earth’s geological wonders with their intricate structures and alluring beauty. As you explore this fascinating site, you’ll follow in the footsteps of those captivated by these natural marvels for generations. This should also be at the top of your list when looking for gems in South Dakota.

The diverse geological makeup of the Beecher Lode provides crystal enthusiasts with a unique opportunity to find a wide range of captivating specimens. If you’re searching for stunning crystals, this historic site should be at the top of your must-visit list. Not only will you be able to unearth these gorgeous treasures, but you’ll also be delving into a rich and storied past.

Where we found crystals at Beecher Lode

At the Beecher Lode, we have gathered various crystals, such as beryl, lepidolite, and tourmaline.

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.

Bob Ingersoll Mine

A mine tunnel at Bob Ingersoll Mine where you can locate crystals

The Bob Ingersoll Mine is renowned for its impressive array of crystals, including quartz, feldspar, and mica. With its geological diversity and historical significance, this intriguing destination will leave a lasting impression on any crystal hunter.

Visiting the Bob Ingersoll Mine is like stepping back in time as you immerse yourself in the rich history of this storied location while simultaneously unearthing some of nature’s most exquisite creations. This fascinating site is an absolute must-see for those seeking a crystal hunting adventure with a historical twist.

Where we found crystals at Bob Ingersoll Mine

At the entire Bob Ingersoll Mine, beryl, garnet, lepidolite, quartz, and tourmaline crystals have been found. Crystal prices can be found in this helpful guide about crystals.

Etta Mine

A tranquil area full of trees at the Etta Mine

The Etta Mine was originally a source of spodumene, a lithium-bearing mineral once highly valued for use in ceramics, glass, and enamels. As time went on, the mine gained recognition not only for its spodumene deposits but also for its abundant crystal formations.

Visiting the Etta Mine is a delightful journey into a world where history and geology collide in the most captivating way. As you explore this extraordinary site, you’ll have the chance to delve into its storied past while simultaneously unearthing a treasure trove of sparkling gems. With a wealth of crystal formations waiting to be discovered, the Etta Mine is an adventure that’s too good to miss.

Where we found crystals at Etta Mine

Lepidolite and kunzite crystals are primarily found at the dumps of Etta Mine.

Spearfish Canyon

A nice waterfall at the Spearfish Canyon

Spearfish Canyon is protected as part of the Black Hills National Forest, ensuring its timeless beauty remains unspoiled for generations. The Canyon’s storied past began with the indigenous peoples who once inhabited the area, followed by gold miners seeking their fortunes during the Black Hills Gold Rush.

For crystal enthusiasts, Spearfish Canyon offers an unrivaled opportunity to explore a wealth of geological treasures. The canyon’s exposed limestone cliffs and creek beds provide a unique hunting ground for these stunning formations, allowing crystal hunters to uncover nature’s glittering gems in a truly remarkable setting.

Where we found crystals at the Spearfish Canyon

The Spearfish Canyon area contains amethyst and chalcedony crystals.

Teepee Canyon

An enormous area full of rocks and gravels at the Teepee Canyon

Teepee Canyon is an enchanting geological wonder tucked away in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota. This location is a treasure trove for history enthusiasts and crystal hunters alike. It boasts an intriguing past, as it was once home to indigenous peoples who left their mark on the landscape with ancient petroglyphs and cultural artifacts.

For crystal enthusiasts, Teepee Canyon is a veritable playground of glittering geological gems. The area is renowned for its wealth of agate formations, which showcase a kaleidoscope of mesmerizing colors and patterns. These alluring stones are nestled among the canyon’s rugged outcrops and hillsides, enticing crystal hunters to embark on a thrilling quest for nature’s dazzling masterpieces.

Where we found crystals at Teepee Canyon

We had the best luck finding agate, beryl, garnet, lepidolite, and tourmaline crystals at the diggings along the highway leading up to the Teepee Canyon.

Our Other Favorite Places For Crystal Hunting

A few pieces of gorgeous little aquamarine crystals

Inherently, the state has many amazing locations where you may search for crystals and dig for geodes in South Dakota. Below is a list of more areas worth considering:

Where you can find crystals for free in South Dakota

Let’s start by discussing a few places you can look without paying. Some places are free to visit, even if many attractive places require an entrance fee.

County Location
Bon Homme River banks, stream beds, breaks, excavations, and regional road cuts in Scotland to Wagner for Selenite
Campbell Regional hillsides, ridges, cut banks, and tributary gravels west to Missouri River for opal
Corson Area ridges, slopes, and stream beds for opal
Custer Stream gravels, cut banks, breaks, hillsides at Buffalo Gap for agate
Custer Deer Camp road to Tin Mountain area for garnet, quartz, and tourmaline
Custer Jewel Cave National Monument and up north to Hell Canyon for agate, jade, and jasper
Custer Pleasant Valley Creek in Red Canyon for agate, jade, jasper, and rose quartz
Douglas Stream banks, road cuts, and gravel beds at Corsica for selenite
Fall River Badland breaks for agate, jasper, and chalcedony
Fall River Area quarries at Hot Springs for calcite and chalcedony
Harding Regional gravel bars of the Little Missouri River and all tributary creeks for agate
Lawrence Ragged Top Mountain District for fluorite
Lawrence In gravel bars and banks of Whitewood Creek for amethyst and chalcedony
Meade At the badlands region for chalcedony
Minnehaha All regional stream gravels, cut banks, gravel pits, and excavations for agate and jasper
Pennington Bear Butte Creek, Box Elder Creek, and Warrens Gulch for amethyst
Shannon Fall River Creek for agate, chalcedony, and jasper
Shannon Cheyenne River for agate, chalcedony, jasper
Ziebach Rattlesnake Butte for calcite

Other great places to dig for crystals

These other fantastic locations are terrific places to look for crystals if you don’t mind spending money on them. Seasonal variations in the cost and potential free periods are both possible. Before going to these places, get in touch with them.

County Location
Lawrence Broken Butte Gold Mine for galena and pyrite
Lawrence Homestake Gold Mine for galena and pyrite
Lawrence Iron Hill and area mines for fluorite, galena, and wulfenite
Lawrence Ulster Mine for fluorite
Pennington Peerless Mine and regional pegmatite outcrops for apatite, aquamarine, and beryl

How to find crystals in South Dakota

A big chunk of clear selenite that has a square shape

Here are some additional tips to help you identify crystals and maximize your time in a specific location. The following are some of the best places to search:

Mines and mine dumps

Mines and mine dumps are fascinating locations for crystal hunters, offering a unique opportunity to explore areas rich in geological treasures. When minerals are extracted from the earth, the mining process often exposes hidden pockets of crystals, creating a perfect hunting ground for enthusiasts in search of nature’s sparkling wonders.

Mines and mine dumps offer crystal enthusiasts a unique and intriguing way to unearth nature’s stunning geological masterpieces. By exploring these sites and adhering to safety guidelines, you’ll open up a world of potential discoveries, revealing the hidden beauty that lies beneath the earth’s surface. Just remember to prioritize safety and respect any rules set forth by the mine operators, ensuring a memorable and rewarding crystal hunting experience.

Quarries

Quarries, often overlooked in the world of crystal hunting, offer a unique and exciting opportunity for enthusiasts seeking nature’s sparkling treasures. These sites are formed through the extraction of various rocks and minerals, resulting in the exposure of geological formations that are ordinarily hidden beneath the earth’s surface. This exposure provides crystal hunters with a rare glimpse into the world of buried geological wonders.

When searching for crystals in quarries, it’s essential to keep safety in mind. Be sure to wear appropriate protective gear such as gloves, safety goggles, and sturdy footwear. Additionally, always seek permission from quarry owners or operators before entering the site, as some quarries may be privately owned or have restricted access.

Rivers and riverbanks

Rivers and riverbanks are prime locations for crystal hunters, offering a unique and dynamic environment where nature’s glittering treasures can be uncovered. As the water flows, it erodes the surrounding rocks and soil, releasing crystals that have been hidden for millennia. Over time, these beautiful specimens are transported downstream, becoming accessible to those with a keen eye for nature’s geological wonders.

The appeal of searching for crystals along rivers and riverbanks lies in the variety of specimens that can be discovered. These waterways can reveal a diverse assortment of captivating crystals. You may find these them nestled among pebbles on the riverbed, tucked within exposed rock formations, or lying along the riverbank, waiting to be claimed by a lucky crystal hunter.

South Dakota Crystal Mining Laws And Regulations

National forests, state parks, and other public lands are often popular locations for crystal hunting. When exploring these areas, ensure you abide by any rules and regulations in place governed by the South Dakota’s Game, Fish, and Parks Department, including permit requirements, designated collecting areas, and limits on the quantity of specimens that can be collected.

Always seek permission from the landowner before entering private property to search for crystals. Respect the landowner’s wishes and adhere to any guidelines they may provide.

Prioritize your safety and that of others by wearing appropriate gear, following any posted signage, and being aware of your surroundings, especially in active quarries and mines. Practice responsible crystal hunting by minimizing your impact on the environment. Avoid disturbing wildlife or plant life, and leave the area as you found it.

The Best Crystal Shops In South Dakota

Ken's Minerals and Trading Post in South Dakota where you can find and purchase various crystal specimens

Many of us enjoy to make little purchases to complete our collections because the state offers such a vast array of crystals. If you’re searching for rare and beautiful specimens, these crystal shops are the best we could discover.

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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