The 28 Best Spots For Gem Hunting In Arizona In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

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The 28 Best Spots For Gem Hunting In Arizona In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD


Arizona is a gemstone hunter’s paradise! With its diverse and abundant geological formations, our state is home to a variety of gems that can be found in different locations.

From the depths of its canyons to the tops of its mountains, there are plenty of options to explore. If you’re looking for the best spots to mine here, you’ve come to the right place.

From the well-known areas in every county to the hidden gems of each city, there are plenty of places here to mine for gems. Whether you’re an experienced hunter or a newcomer to the hobby, you’ll find plenty of spots to satisfy your gem-seeking desires. So pack your shovel, pick, and buckets, and get ready to explore!

The best places to mine gems here are in the creeks, mountains, springs, dams, rivers, roads, and mines. Some of our favorite places include Round Mountain Rockhound Area, Peridot Mesa Mountain, Meadow Creek Pass, Four Peaks Mining Co., and Gold King Mine Ghost Town, which we’ve covered in much more detail below.

How We Picked The Best Places For Gem Mining in Arizona
In order to find the absolute best places in Arizona for gem mining, we had to consider a lot of things. It can be really tough to find good information, so it took us a long time to put together a solid list like the one below. The main inputs to our recommendations are as follows:

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

Overall, we’ve been able to put together a great list that anyone can use to locate a lot of beautiful gems.

The Gemstones Found In Arizona You Can Mine

Several turquoise stones found around Arizona

Our state possesses such diverse varieties of gemstones and gem hunters who get to visit here are lucky to have the chance to do so. We’ve also created guides to help you discover gem mines near you, no matter where you are planning to do gem hunting in. You will see just how rewarding this activity can be if you have the right knowledge and just a bit of luck!

Rare gemstones found in Arizona

  • Amethyst
  • Azurite
  • Jasper
  • Malachite
  • Opal
  • Peridot
  • Turquoise
  • Vanadinite
  • Wulfenite

More common gemstones found here

  • Agate
  • Andradite
  • Aragonite
  • Azurite
  • Bornite
  • Calcite
  • Carnelian
  • Chalcedony
  • Chrysocolla
  • Cuprite
  • Epidote
  • Fluorite
  • Hematite
  • Onyx
  • Pyrrhotite
  • Pyrite
  • Quartz
  • Shattuckite

Our Favorite Places For Gem Mining In Arizona

The beautiful gems of our state are not confined to one location, so we prepared a list of our favorite places where adults and children can experience the thrill of gem mining. For adults, these locations prove to be the best venues for real gem hunting. For kids, we selected places where they can be encouraged to start and continue their gem mining journey at an early age.

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.

Round Mountain Rockhound Area

A red Fire Agate found on the ground while gem mining in the state

711 14th Avenue, Safford, AZ 85546

Located in the western part of our state near Yuma, Round Mountain Rockhounding Area is known for its abundance of different kinds of gems. The area has a rich history that dates back to the 1800s when prospectors first discovered gold in the area.

Today, it remains to be a great place to discover the state’s most precious gems. You are allowed to collect up to 25 pounds of rocks and minerals per day, as long as they follow the rules and regulations of the area.

Be cautious when driving or walking around while visiting since some areas may be off-limits due to environmental concerns.

The Types of Gems Found In The Round Mountain Rockhound Area

This location is among the top of mind places for people wanting to search for gems. It is known for having an abundance of the following:

  • Fire Agate
  • Chalcedony
  • Jasper
  • Turquoise

The Best Time To Visit Round Mountain Rockhound Area

If you wish to visit, the best time to do so is during the cooler months of October through April, when the weather is generally cooler and more conducive to outdoor activities.

Additionally, the area is not as crowded as it can be during the peak tourism months, making it easier to access the area and enjoy your experience without interruption.

Rock pick being used

The tools every gem hunter will need

When you're out looking for gems it's very important that you bring the right tools with you. 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 gem miners which we outline in great detail in our complete rockhounding tools and kit 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 gem-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.

Peridot Mesa Mine

Green Peridot on a grey stone found at the Peridot Mesa Mine

San Carlos Reservation, AZ 85550

Peridot Mesa Mine is a large gem mining site located in the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation. It was initially discovered by miners from the nearby Globe area who were looking for gold and silver.

However, they soon realized that the site was rich in peridot and began to produce it commercially.

The mine has been in operation since the early 1900s and is still producing today. It’s one of the few places where peridot can be found naturally occurring, making it an invaluable resource for gemstone collectors and enthusiasts alike. Aside from this, Peridot Mesa Mine is also one of the best places to find Arizona crystals.

The Types of Gems Found In The Peridot Mesa Mine

This place is known for its high-grade peridot gems, which are found in abundance at the mine.

The Best Time To Visit Peridot Mesa Mine

The best time to visit this location is in the late fall through early spring, from October through April. The weather is mild and the days are long, allowing for plenty of time to explore the mine and search for gems. While the days are usually sunny and warm, it can get quite hot during the afternoon hours so make sure to come prepared.

Meadow Creek Pass

Light purple grape-looking Agate discovered while gem hunting at the Meadow Creek Pass

Mohave County, AZ 86413

Meadow Creek Pass is a popular gem mining area located in the White Mountains of the state. The history of Meadow Creek Pass dates back to the 1800s, when prospectors first began exploring the area in search of valuable gems and minerals.

Since then, many have made their way to this place in hopes of striking it rich. The area has been popular with rockhounds and miners, becoming known to produce some of the finest gemstones found throughout the state.

The Types of Gems Found In The Meadow Creek Pass

This location has plenty of different kinds of gemstones, but the most abundant of these are the following:

  • Chalcedony
  • Fire Agate
  • Grape Agate
  • Jasper

The Best Time To Visit Meadow Creek Pass

If you are planning to visit, the best time to be at this place is from October to March or April. The weather during this period is usually mild and dry, making it an ideal time for outdoor activities such as gem mining. Also, be sure to check the weather forecast before visiting.

Four Peaks Mining Co. – Great for kids

A kid and an adult sorting gemstones from the mine cart of Four Peaks Mining Co.

9500 East Vía de Ventura Suite D-110, Scottsdale, AZ 85256

Four Peaks Mining Co. specializes in providing an educational experience to you through interactive gem mining adventures. Kids can try their hand at digging for gems here. The company also sells a wide selection of gemstones, including necklaces and jewelry crafted from the ones they find during their adventures.

The Types of Gems Found In The Four Peaks Mining Co.

This place is great for kids to be introduced to different kinds of gems, but this area is most well-known for having the following:

  • Amethyst
  • Hematite
  • Quartz

The Best Time To Visit Four Peaks Mining Co.

The best time to visit is during the cooler months of October to May when temperatures are mild and the weather is generally sunny. This is when you will be able to find the most gems and have the best experience.

Gold King Mine Ghost Town – Great for kids

Kids enjoying the interactive tour at Gold King Mine Ghost Town where they get to do gold panning

1000 Perkinsville Rd, Jerome AZ 86331

Gold King Mine Ghost Town is an abandoned mining town that dates back to the late 1800s, when it was one of the most productive mines in the area. The town was home to a bustling mining industry, which produced gold and copper until it was abandoned in 1953, when the mine shut down due to a lack of ore.

Today, Gold King Mine Ghost Town is a popular tourist destination for those who are interested in exploring the history of mining in the region.

You can take guided tours through the ruins of old buildings, pan for gems and minerals at nearby gem mining sites, and learn about the history of gold and copper production in Jerome. You can also take part in educational programs designed to teach you about our state’s rich mining history.

The Types of Gems Found In The Gold King Mine Ghost Town

As the name of the place implies, this area is most abundant in gold that you can pan for experience.

The Best Time To Visit Gold King Mine Ghost Town

The best time to visit is late fall through early spring. The weather is usually mild during this time and the area has a lot of daylight hours. Avoid visiting during the summer months, when temperatures can reach over 100°F (37°C) in this area, and make sure to plan accordingly.

Other Great Options For Real Gem Mining in Arizona

An intricate, light blue Chrysocolla found while gem mining

As a gem hunter’s paradise, our state is rich in different places for this activity. Aside from our favorite areas, we also made a list of the other great locations that adults will have a blast exploring.

  • Cave Creek – Agate, Jasper, Magnetite, Quartz
  • Ajo – Agate, Chalcedony, Jasper
  • Bisbee – Aragonite, Azurite, Bornite, Calcite, Chrysocolla, Cuprite, Malachite, Shattuckite
  • Bouse – Agate, Quartz
  • Skunk Creek – Pink Chalcedony
  • Peloncillo Mountain – Fire Agate
  • Castle Hot Springs – Agate, Chalcedony, Feldspar, Garnet, Jasper, Quartz, Tourmaline
  • Bullhead City – Agate, Chalcedony, Jasper
  • Coolidge Dam – Agate, Andradite
  • Black Mountain – Chalcedony, Fire Agate
  • Agua Fria River – Agate, Chalcedony, Jasper, Quartz
  • Plomosa Road – Epidote, Quartz
  • Burro Creek – Pink Agate
  • Copper Queen and King Mine – Azurite, Chrysocolla, Pyrrhotite
  • Neptune Mine – Fluorite
  • Go John Mine – Blue Quartz, Red Jasper
  • Meadow Creek Pass – Chalcedony, Fire Agate, Grape Agate, Jasper
  • Emerald Isle Mine – Chrysocolla

The Top Public Gem Mining Locations in Arizona

A family gold panning together at the Goodenough Silver Mine

If you are looking for family-friendly locations, where kids can enjoy the experience of gem mining be it their first time or not, below are our best suggestions.

Arizona Gem Mining Laws And Regulations

To ensure the safety and enjoyment of recreational gem miners, our state has put in place the Arizona Department of Mines and Mineral Resources (ADMMR) Regulation 8-2012, which is the main regulation governing recreational gem mining.

Under ADMMR Regulation 8-2012, gem miners must obtain a permit from the ADMMR prior to engaging in any activities. In addition, you must have appropriate safety equipment such as hard hats, eye protection, and gloves. You must also follow all applicable laws regarding water rights, land use, and environmental protection when conducting their activities. Finally, all gems recovered during any mining activities must be reported to the ADMMR within 30 days of recovery.

For more information on the state’s gem mining laws and regulations, visit the Arizona Department of Mines and Mineral Resources’ link above.

Additional places to mine for gems in nearby states

Check out the guides we made for the places we think you should visit once you’ve explored each of the places we listed above to find gems in 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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