While this just might be the best state in the nation to do it, finding geodes in Kentucky isn’t always easy! This is a BIG state and not every county or location is great for this. Fortunately, we’ve put together the best list of locations to find Kentucky geodes that you will find.
Nothing really beats the thrill of spending time outdoors and finding that perfect geode that you’ve been searching for all these years. After spending many days with both great success and striking out we’ve figured out how to make the most of your time searching.
Whether you’re a hiker who likes grazing as you go or someone who prefers digging for geodes we’ve got some recommendations that will help.
What Are Kentucky Geodes Anyway?
A geode is a spherical or egg-shaped rock that is hollow on the inside. The hollow core is usually lined with crystals of quartz, amethyst, agate, or other minerals. The crystals form in a variety of shapes and colors, giving each geode its own unique appearance and can range in size from a few inches to several feet in diameter.
We have also put together a guide on how to identify a geode if you’re looking for a more in-depth explanation.
Geodes are formed when hot volcanic ash or sediment is trapped inside of a gas bubble which slowly cools and hardens over time. As the bubble cools, minerals from the surrounding rock seep into the bubble and form the crystals that line the interior of the geode. The unique geology of Kentucky makes geode formation pretty easy.
The Types Of Geodes Found In Kentucky
There are several different types of geodes found around the world. What it looks like and what a geode is worth depends a lot on what type of crystal it’s made from. Here in Kentucky, you will be able to find:
- Calcite geodes
- Chalcedony geodes
- Quartz geodes
The Best Places To Find Geodes in Kentucky
To start things off we’re going to share our absolute favorite places to find Kentucky geodes. There are plenty of great places to mine gems in Kentucky but only a few of them are great for what we’re after. Some of these places are not very well known but they have been consistently good options when we’ve been searching.
The Green River is a 733-mile long tributary of the Ohio River that flows through Kentucky. It is one of the most important rivers in the state, providing drinking water for over one million people, and serving as an important transportation route for industry and recreation. It’s also one of the best places we’ve found to find geodes.
It has also been designated a National Wild and Scenic River which means there are plenty of places to explore that haven’t been developed. Pay particular attention to the banks and bends of the river, especially when they have dried out, when searching for geodes. The river’s watershed supports a variety of industries such as coal mining, timber harvesting, tourism, and agriculture which often include activities that dig up the ground and expose geodes.
Before you bring anything home with you make sure that you’ve read up on the most recent collection guidelines from the State of Kentucky.
Where we found geodes on The Green River
Pay special attention to any dry areas near the banks and bends of the river. The river is constantly digging up and redepositing new geodes. The best times to find them can be after big rains and during droughts when new areas of the river are exposed.
The tools every geode hunter will need
When you're out looking for geodes 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 geode hunters 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 geode-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:
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.
Now, recommending an entire county can be pretty bold but there are several really great spots in Rockcastle County that are worth mentioning. Rockcastle is located in the southeastern part of the state and is situated between two mountain ranges, the Cumberland and Pine Mountains.
The area was originally inhabited by Native Americans and was later explored by Daniel Boone in 1769. The county was formed in 1810 from parts of Lincoln and Pulaski counties. Rockcastle County has a rich history with many multiple state parks that are fun to hunt for geodes in.
The economy of Rockcastle County is primarily based on agriculture and forestry which often turn up the ground and offer opportunities to find geodes.
Where we found geodes in Rockcastle County
While you can find geodes all over the county there are a few spots that are particularly good:
- The Boone area around the abandoned limestone quarry
- Along Roundstone Creek, especially when the water is low
- All along the road cut for US-25 toward Mount Vernon
- The West Side of Mount Vernon around the Kentucky Stone Company Quarry
- Around Mullins State, especially near the Kentucky Stone Company Quarry
Kentucky Lake is a man-made lake located in the western part of the state that was created by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in 1944 when they dammed the Tennessee River in order to create a hydroelectric power plant. It is the largest artificial lake east of the Mississippi River and covers over 160,000 acres and is bordered by four counties – Marshall, Lyon, Calloway, and Trigg.
The area around Kentucky Lake has several state parks and wildlife management areas which provide plenty of opportunities for exploring and searching for geodes.
Where we found geodes at Kentucky Lake
The best area that we’ve found to find geodes has been on the south shore of the lake in Fenton County. We’ve had the best luck during dryer periods when the lake is low as well as after bigger storms.
The eastern shore of the lake can also be a good option.
Lincoln County is another big area that has been great for locating geodes. Located in central Kentucky it’s home to the cities of Stanford and Hustonville.
The geology of Lincoln County is dominated by sedimentary rocks from the Mississippian and Pennsylvanian periods. The area contains limestone and shale formations that have been quarried for building material which has also left several mine dumps worth exploring. Additionally, there are deposits of coal in the county that are mined for energy production which also produce dumps worth exploring.
In terms of natural features, Lincoln County contains a variety of lakes and rivers including Herrington Lake, which is the largest man-made lake east of the Mississippi River. There are also numerous creeks throughout the county such as Dix River and Hanging Fork Creek that feed into larger bodies of water.
Where we found geodes in Lincoln County
While you can find geodes all over the county there have been a few spots that we have found to be especially good:
- The dry creek beds south of Crab Orchard Road in Crab Orchard
- The Halls Gap area downstream from the headwaters of the Green River
- The mine dumps of the various abandoned quarries
Located in the heart of Kentucky, Madison County is part of the Bluegrass Region. Like other areas in the region, the geology here includes limestone, shale, and sandstone formations that were deposited during several periods of time in Earth’s history. The oldest rocks are from the Ordovician Period (500 million years ago)during which shallow seas covered much of Kentucky creating an environment that was ideal for coral reefs. These corals left behind a thick layer of limestone which can be seen throughout Madison County today.
In addition to these Ordovician limestones, Madison County also contains Silurian shales which were deposited during a time when shallow seas advanced and retreated across Kentucky leaving behind mud deposits that eventually turned into shale.
Overall Madison County has a diverse geology that has been very condusive to the creation of geodes. This geology has provided many resources over time including coal and oil deposits which have been mined well as valuable construction materials such as limestone which has been used for buildings and roads throughout the county. The leftover dumps from these mines can also be productive areas to find geodes.
Where we found geodes in Madison County
Anywhere you go in the county you’re probably not to far from a geode but there are a few places you should try first:
- The road cuts around Berea southeast on 25
- Mine dumps from the old and abandoned mines
- Dry streams and banks when the water is low
Other Great Places To Dig For Kentucky Geodes
Now that we have given you our favorite spots we wanted to give you the rest of our recommended spots. We’ll give you our recommendations by county and then some more general locations where we’ve had a lot of luck. For any recommendation where we say “county wide” we will provide more specific recommendations in the following section.
Our recommendations by county
|Adair||The Shamrock Stone Company around Columbia|
|Allen||Scottsville area quarries|
|Barren||Cave City area quarries|
|Barren||Streams east of Glasgow|
|Hardin||Elizabethtown area quarries|
|Hardin||Vine Grove area quarries|
|Jefferson||Road cuts around Muldraughs Hill in Valley Station|
|Jefferson||Beds and banks along the Green River near Hall’s Gap|
|Lincoln||Dry creekbeds south fo Crab Orchard Road in Crab Orchard|
|Lincoln||The Green River around Halls’ Gap South of Stanford|
|Lyon||The east shore of Kentucky Lake and in county road cuts|
|Lyon||The State Quarry near the Kentucky Dam|
|Madison||The road cuts on US 25 headed southest from Berea|
|Monroe||Quarries and excavations around Tompkinsville|
|Rockcastle||Abandoned limestone quarry around Boone|
|Rockcastle||Road cuts along US 25 to Mount Vernon|
|Rockcastle||The Kentucky Stone Company Quarry to the west of Mount Vernon|
|The Kentucky State Stone Company Quarry near Mullins State||County wide|
|Trigg||The Fenton area on the south shore of Kentucky Lake|
Additional areas you should try
In many of our recommendations you will see us say “county wide”. That’s a REALLY big area to seach for geodes in so we want to help you narrow things down. In Kentucky there are a few key locations you should look for near you that tend to be geode magnets:
Creeks and rivers
Creeks and rivers are great places to find geodes due to the constant flow of water which erodes the surrounding rock, revealing geodes that may have been buried underground. This water flow also helps to break open the geodes, making them easier to find and collect.
They will also often flow through areas where geodes are commonly found, such as volcanic ash beds or limestone formations. It’s also a lot more fun (and cooler) and easy way to collect geodes without having to dig deep into the ground.
Lakes can make finding geodes a lot easier (especially if the lake is deep) and there is a better chance that the geodes are well preserved. The water in the lake can help preserve geodes and make it harder for other natural elements to erode them.
Another reason why lakes are great for finding geodes is that they often form in volcanic ash or limestone formations, which are known for containing geodes.
Road cuts are great places to find Kentucky geodes (if you know where to look) because they expose the layers of rock that are normally hidden underground. When they’re building a road, especially in the mountain of Kentucky, they have to dig through the layers of rock and dirt, which can reveal geodes that have been buried for a long time. Plus, road cuts often go through areas where geodes are commonly found, such as volcanic ash beds or limestone formations.
Quarries are some of the easiest places to find geodes, (if you’re allowed to search in one) the quarrying process exposes layers of rock that are normally hidden underground. This process can reveal geodes that have been buried for a long time, plus, quarries often extract rock from areas where geodes are commonly found. So, if you can get permission to search in a quarry, it’s definitely worth a shot, you never know what you might find. And it’s a good way to get access to hard-to-reach geode deposits that are not accessible to the general public.
Common Geode-Hunting Questions
There are a few questions about searching for geodes in Kentucky that always come up and are worth answering here as well:
Where can you find amethyst geodes in Kentucky?
Finding an amethyst geode is a high point for many of us. Unfortunately, amethyst geodes do not occur naturally in Kentucky. The only place you will find one here is if you check out a great local rock and gem shop.
Is it illegal to collect geodes in Kentucky?
As long as you are obeying local collecting laws it is completely legal to collect geodes in Kentucky. Just be sure that you are observing any local regulations if you are on government land and getting permission if on private land.
The Best Places To Buy Geodes In Kentucky
Spending hours trekking out into the wilderness to find geodes isn’t for everyone. Sometimes you just want something beautiful for your collection or to put on your desk without all the effort.
These are our favorite local shops and other options to buy really cool geodes:
- Big Mike’s Rock Shop – 566 Old Mammoth Cave Rd, Cave City, KY 42127
- Amazon – Surprisingly there is actually a pretty good selection of geodes on Amazon. You can even find whole kits to for breaking open your own geodes including geodes to crack open.
- Nice Rock Shop – 311 Broadway St, Paducah, KY 42001
- Goldheart Stones and Such – 980 Barret Ave, Louisville, KY 40204
- Dimitridon Studios Rock Shop – 8321 E Main St, Alexandria, KY 41001
- Sun Stones – 1207 S 6th St, Louisville, KY 40203
Additional places to find geodes in nearby states
Check out our guides for nearby states if you’ve already tried all of our suggestions above or if you’re planning a trip outside of the state:
- Geodes in Ohio
- Geodes in Indiana
- Geodes in Illinois
- Geodes in Missouri
- Geodes in Tennessee
- Geodes in Virginia
- Geodes in West Virginia
If you have any recommendations for our list please leave a comment below!