The 61 Authentic Spots To Find Opal In Nevada In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

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The 61 Authentic Spots To Find Opal In Nevada In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD


Nevada, with its vast and open landscapes, is like a big, natural playground for those who love to explore and collect rocks. It’s especially exciting for those looking to find opal in Nevada.

The state’s varied terrain, from deserts to mountains, hides beneath it a wealth of these beautiful opals. The thrill of the hunt and the joy of discovery are what draw many enthusiasts to the Silver State’s vast open lands.

We have tips and tricks that can help you mine gems in Nevada. Whether you’re a seasoned miner or a curious newcomer, we can help you set up a great starting point for your next outdoor adventure.

What Is Nevada Opal Anyway?

opalized petrified wood with black opal core
Opalized wood provided by GalleryMinerals

Opals are fascinating rocks that come from the ground, and they’re not your average stone. Identifying opals can be pretty exciting because they shine in a mix of colors when you turn them in the light.

This happens because opals have tiny bits of water trapped inside that bend the light. Most opals are found in places where, a long time ago, there was lots of geothermal activity.

That means the earth was really hot and there were geysers or hot springs, like what you see in some national parks today. These hot spots are where the earth cooked up opals over millions of years.

When talking about what opal is worth, it’s a lot like other gems – the nicer they look, the more they’re worth. Some opals can be worth a lot of money, and people make beautiful jewelry with them.

The Types Of Opal Found In Nevada

Nevada is a place full of surprises when you’re on the hunt for rocks. Among these, Nevada opal stands out as a real showstopper. This gem comes in a dazzling array of colors and patterns that sparkle in the sunshine. 

These are the types of opal that you can find in Nevada:

  • Opalized wood
  • Black opal
  • Black fire opal
  • Precious opal
  • Common opal
How We Found The Best Opal Locations in Nevada
When it comes to choosing the best options for finding Nevada opal there are plenty of things we consider. Many of the best locations are closely guarded secrets which can make it really difficult for more casual geode hunters to find success. The key factors in our recommendations are:

  • The deep experience and understanding of our team about the area
  • Recommendations from local groups and clubs
  • How easy it is to get the a particular location
  • Safety and potential hazards when collecting
  • Weighing private and public locations
  • The ability for both experienced and novice geode enthusiasts to find great samples

With these factors in mind we’ve been able to put together a fantastic list that just about anyone can use!

The Best Places To Find Opal in Nevada

rough black opal with blue, yellow, green, red, and orange play-of-color
Opal provided by MohammedGemsIN

Finding opal can be a real challenge, even for those who love digging in the dirt for hidden gems. It’s not enough to know where to look; you also have to know what to look for and how to spot the right signs.

You’ll need to gain more insights and tips that can help you with crystal mining in Nevada and get you started on your next outdoor journey.

Elko County

tree trunks with snowy mountain slopes in the background

Elko County is a land of vast spaces and varied landscapes, perfect for those who love the outdoors and rocks. The region boasts rolling hills, rugged mountains, and broad valleys.

The Ruby Mountains are a real standout, with peaks that reach for the sky and valleys that dip down, filled with wildflowers in the spring. The Humboldt River cuts through the county, adding to the mix of scenery with its waterways and basins.

Geologically, this area is a rockhound’s dream. It’s packed with different kinds of rocks and minerals. From sparkling quartz to rich veins of gold, the land tells a story of a very active geological past.

For anyone looking to explore and collect rocks here, it’s essential to know that there are rules to follow. The Nevada Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is the go-to place for this information.

They can tell you what you can collect, how much you’re allowed to take, and where you can explore. It’s important to follow these guidelines to make sure that the hobby stays fun and fair for everyone.

Where we found opal in Elko County

Opals in Elko County are nestled within the mineral-rich earth of various mining districts.

The Delano Mining District, Ferber Mining District, Ivanhoe Mining District, and Rock Creek Mining District are just a few areas where opals wait beneath the surface.

For those learning how to find opal in Nevada, it’s crucial to research each district, understand the local geology, and obtain the proper permissions for exploration.

Esmeralda County

flat desert land with mountains in the background

Esmeralda County stretches out with a mix of low valleys and high, rugged mountains. The terrain is a patchwork of arid basins and geothermal hot spots, which have helped shape the land over countless years.

The geology here is diverse, with volcanic rock telling stories of fiery eruptions from long ago. The area’s hot springs hint at the heat still simmering below the surface, contributing to the creation of various minerals.

While exploring this region, it’s crucial to know the lay of the land and to respect the environment that has taken so long to form these natural wonders.

Where we found opal in Esmeralda County

Knowing where to mine for opal requires some research and talking to local experts who know the lay of the land.

The Coaldale Mining District, Cuprite Mining District, and Fish Lake Valley Mining District are just a few places where opals can be found in this county.

The Montezuma and Tonopah Mining Districts also offer spots for those interested in exploring the county’s rich mineral deposits.

Virgin Valley

yellow signage on the roadside
Image by Rainbow Ridge Opal Mine

Virgin Valley is an expansive region known for its dramatic landscapes. Surrounded by mountains, the valley floor is a wide, flat basin dominated by arid and semi-arid environments.

This area is rich in geothermal activity, which has played a significant role in its geological history. Hot springs dot the landscape, a surface signal of the heat that has shaped the valley’s underground.

The terrain is a mosaic of rugged outcrops and sedimentary deposits. Here, the geology is characterized by layers of volcanic ash and sediments that have been deposited over time.

The unique conditions of the valley have led to the formation of mineral-rich zones, making it a notable spot for enthusiasts seeking to explore and collect samples.

Where we found opal in Virgin Valley

The Bonanza Opal Mine, Rainbow Ridge Opal Mine, and Royal Peacock Opal Mine are well-known locations where enthusiasts go to find opal in Nevada.

These mines allow the public to search for their own opals by digging through the rich earth for opals.


flat grassy fields with mountains in the background
Denio by Famartin

Denio is a small community sitting at the edge of a vast high desert, where the land stretches out into rolling hills and flat, open basins.

The geography here is a blend of rugged mountains and wide valleys, often dotted with sagebrush and under the wide-open sky.

Geologically, this area is a part of a larger basin and range system, characterized by its sudden mountain peaks and broad valleys that were formed by stretching and shifting of the earth’s crust.

The terrain is shaped by both volcanic activity from long ago and the more recent movements of water and wind, which have left behind layers of rock and mineral deposits.

Where we found opal in Denio

The Little Joe Mine is one such location where diligent seekers can find these hidden gems. Pahute Peak and Big Mountain also offer the potential for finding opals.

Muddy Mountains

road leading to a mountain range

The Muddy Mountains rise up from the surrounding landscape, offering a rugged and varied terrain. This area features a mix of sheer cliffs, deep canyons, and rolling hills, with a backdrop of rock layers that tell a story millions of years old.

These mountains are composed of a fascinating assembly of geological formations, including colorful sandstone, limestone, and mudstone.

The geology here reveals a past where environments changed from deep ocean floors to desert dunes, with each layer capturing a different era of environmental conditions.

Enthusiasts find this area intriguing due to the visible folding and faulting of rocks, which are the result of the earth’s tectonic forces at work.

Where we found opal on the Muddy Mountains

The Bitter Springs trail offers a path where one might come across these gemstones, nestled among the diverse rocks and minerals. Near the Dry Lake area, the conditions are also favorable for those looking into how to find opal in Nevada.

Other Great Places To Find Nevada Opal

blue-white rough opal with brown crust
Opal provided by OpalGemsMart

From the dry, sunbaked earth to the rugged, mountainous terrains, there are a lot of areas in Nevada to explore. The following list highlights some of the prime locations where opals are waiting to be found.

Our recommendations by county

County Location
Churchill County Dixie Valley
Churchill County Brady Hot Springs, Leete Mining District
Churchill County Salt Wells basin
Churchill County Fallon area
Churchill County Twin Peaks area
Clark County Gold Butte Mining District
Clark County Virgin Mountains
Douglas County Pine Nut Mountains
Eureka County Beowawe Hot Springs
Eureka County Gold Quarry Mine, Maggie Creek Mining Subdistrict, Carlin Trend
Eureka County Walti Hot Springs, Grass Valley
Humboldt County Montana Mountains
Humboldt County Buckskin Mountain
Humboldt County Osgood Mountains
Humboldt County Santa Rosa Range
Humboldt County Paradise Valley area
Humboldt County Summit Lake Reservation area
Lander County Battle Mountain Mining District
Lander County Lowboy mine, Birch Creek Mining District
Lander County Daisy Creek
Lander County Reese River Mining District
Lander County Spencer Hot Springs Mining District
Lander County Toiyabe Peak
Lincoln County Lucky Chief mine, Chief Mining District
Lincoln County Webber Mine, Mormon Mountains District, Mormon Mountains
Lyon County Singatse Range
Lyon County Talapoosa mine, Talapoosa Mining District
Mineral County Fish Lake Valley
Mineral County Fitting Mining District
Mineral County Stockton Property, Rawhide Mining District
Mineral County Red Ridge Mining District
Mineral County Hawthorne area
Nye County Bare Mountain
Nye County Tonopah
Nye County Starfire Opal mine
Nye County Toquima Range
Nye County Yucca Mountain
Nye County Mercury area mines
Nye County Quartz Mountain
Nye County Warm Springs area
Ormsby County Lovelock area
Pershing County Antelope Mining District
Pershing County Red Bird Mine, Antelope Springs Mining District
Pershing County Kyle Hot Springs, Buena Vista Valley
Pershing County Jersey Mining District
Pershing County Sage Hen Springs Prospect, Nightingale Mining District
Pershing County Seven Troughs Mining District
Pershing County Table Mountain Mining District
Storey County Washington Hill mine, Castle Peak Mining District
Storey County Comstock Mining District
Washoe County Lost Creek
Washoe County Mahogany Peak
Washoe County Needle Rocks, Pyramid Lake
Washoe County Wall Canyon
Washoe County Steamboat area
White Pine County Currant Mining District

Common Opal-Hunting Questions

petrified opalized wood with opaque white base and play-of-color
Opal provided by GalleryMinerals

Let’s dig into the details and shed some light on the ins and outs of looking for opals in Nevada. We aim to clear up common questions and provide insights to help in your search.

Is it illegal to collect opal in Nevada?

It’s not illegal to collect Nevada opal, but there are specific guidelines you need to follow. On public lands, you are usually allowed to collect small amounts of rocks and minerals for personal use without a permit.

However, this doesn’t mean you can take as much as you want. There are limits to how much you can collect, and it’s meant for personal enjoyment, not for selling. It’s also important to double-check the rules with the relevant government agencies.

If you’re on private land, you need the landowner’s permission to collect opals. Some areas are claimed by mining operations, and taking opals from these places without permission is definitely not legal.

Also, certain areas might be off-limits to protect the environment or because of cultural significance. 

The best way to enjoy collecting is by visiting one of the many mines that allow the public to dig for a fee. Here, you can spend a day or more searching for opals, and whatever you find, you get to keep.

The Best Places To Buy Opal In Nevada

open shelves in a store, displaying various rocks and minerals
Crystal Cove Reno

Nevada is known for its colorful stones, and there are many shops that sell these beautiful finds. These stores are stocked with a variety of opals, each with its own unique sparkle.

We’ve put together a list of the top places where you can find quality opals, ensuring you leave with a stone that catches your eye:

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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