The 21 Great Spots To Find Opal In Wyoming In 2024

By Keith Jackson - Geologist

| Updated

The 21 Great Spots To Find Opal In Wyoming In 2024

By Keith Jackson - Geologist

Updated

If you’re looking to better understand where and how to find opal in Wyoming you’ve come to the right place. Opal is one of the most beautiful treasures you can find here but it can be tricky to locate.

The opal here comes in various types, including the fiery red fire type and the enchanting common one with its milky radiance. Whether tucked away in a remote mountain range or nestled in a dry riverbed, these gems demand a sense of adventure and determination to uncover.

If you’re eager to embark on an opal-hunting adventure, we’ll point you to the proven spots to find it such as the Atlantic City, Thorofare Wilderness, Crazy Woman Creek, Seven Mile Well, and Glade Creek.

How We Found The Best Opal Locations in Wyoming
When it comes to choosing the best options for finding Wyoming 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 rock 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 rock 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

A beautiful Cantera opal with a rainbow of colors
Cantera opal photo provided by Western Opals

Wyoming has many great gem mine sites, but if you’re keeping your eye on the opal prize, below are the best places for you to explore. Here, you have the best chance of uncovering this gem.

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

Atlantic City

A signboard welcoming people to Atlantic City with the background of the city's terrain

Nestled in the Wind River Mountains, Atlantic City is a small, historic mining town that offers a picturesque setting with an exciting geological backdrop. It’s surrounded by vast, open landscapes with rolling hills and rocky outcrops.

The terrain here is quite diverse. You’ll find rugged mountains with steep slopes, as well as flatter areas with sagebrush and wildflowers. It also has a mix of sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous rocks.

This variety makes it an interesting place for rockhounding, as different types of terrain can reveal different types of rocks and minerals.

If you’re eager to explore Atlantic City, you should know that it’s located about 30 miles south of Lander. You can drive there by taking Highway 28 to South Pass, then turning onto Atlantic City Road. This road leads directly into the heart of this town.

Always remember, though, to respect private property and follow local guidelines for collecting rocks and minerals. Review the local collecting guidelines of Wyoming before heading out here.

Where we found opal in the Atlantic City

You can explore the nearby streams, gravels, draws, washes, gullies, and hillsides in Atlantic City if you want to find opals.

Rock pick being used

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:

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.

Thorofare Wilderness

Scenic view of the Thorofare Wilderness

The Thorofare Wilderness is part of the larger Yellowstone ecosystem and is known for being one of the most remote areas in the lower 48 states. This means it’s a great spot for an adventure, but also that you should be prepared for a real wilderness experience.

It has rugged mountains, deep valleys, and vast forests. The area is dominated by the Absaroka Range, which is full of high peaks and steep slopes. The terrain here is challenging but rewarding, with trails winding through dense forests and across alpine meadows.

In terms of geology, the Thorofare Wilderness is fascinating. Its rocks tell a story of ancient volcanic activity and the powerful forces that shaped the Earth’s surface.

To get to the Thorofare Wilderness, you can start from Cody, then take the South Fork Road to the trailheads that lead into the wilderness. It’s important to remember that this is a remote area with limited access and no cell service, so plan accordingly.

Where we found opal in the Thorofare Wilderness

You can search through the area stream gravels of Thorofare Wilderness if you want to find opals and opalized wood.

Crazy Woman Creek

A look at the hallow waters of the Crazy Woman Creek surrounded by lush forest

Crazy Woman Creek, with its unique name, flows through the scenic Bighorn Mountains, offering a picturesque landscape. The area around it is a mix of rugged mountains, rolling hills, and dense forests, creating a diverse terrain for exploration.

It’s notable for its steep canyons and lush valleys. The creek itself winds through various landscapes, providing a home to an array of wildlife. This area is not just beautiful; it’s also rich in geological history.

To get to Crazy Woman Creek, you can start from Buffalo. From there, take Highway 16 west towards the Bighorn Mountains. You’ll find several access points to the creek along this route.

Where we found opal at Crazy Woman Creek

To find opals at Crazy Woman Creek, we recommend searching through its stream beds, creek banks, gravel, and sand deposits.

Seven Mile Well

The enormous rock formation at the Grant Canyon of Yellowstone where the Seven Mile Well lies

Seven Mile Well is part of the larger Yellowstone National Park, known for its breathtaking landscapes and unique geology. The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, where it belongs, offers dramatic views with its deep, colorful canyon and the powerful Yellowstone River flowing through it.

The terrain around this spot is quite diverse. You’ll find steep canyon walls, lush forests, and open meadows. This variety in the landscape is not just beautiful to look at— it’s also great for exploring different types of rocks and minerals.

To get to Seven Mile Well, you’ll need to enter Yellowstone National Park. The nearest entrance to this area is the North Entrance near Gardiner, Montana. From there, you can drive along the Grand Loop Road towards the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. The well is located near the Canyon Village area.

Where we found opal in the Seven Mile Well

You can explore and search through the different nooks and crannies of Seven Mile Well to find opals.

Glade Creek

A look at the flowing waters at Glade Creek

Glade Creek is part of the beautiful Black Hills region. This area is known for its lush forests, rolling hills, and clear streams, making it a picturesque destination for outdoor adventures.

It offers a mix of dense woodlands and open meadows. The creek itself winds through various landscapes, providing a serene backdrop for your rock-hunting journey.

The terrain here is generally gentle, with some areas featuring steeper hills and rocky outcrops. It’s rich with a wide range of rocks and minerals, including opal.

To get to Glade Creek, you can start from the nearby town of Sundance. From there, take Highway 14 west towards the Black Hills. You’ll find several smaller roads and trails leading to Glade Creek.

Where we found opal in the Glade Creek

You can find opals in Glade Creek in areas where volcanic activity has occurred in the past. Checking near the creek beds, especially where water has eroded the surrounding rocks, can be a promising approach. The gravel bars along the creek are also potential opal-bearing spots.

Other Great Places To Find Opal

A huge chunk of black opal with vibrant flashes of blue and green hues
Black opal photo provided by Justin & Ruth

If you need more options, we’ve listed the other proven spots where you can find opals in Wyoming. They’re arranged by county for your convenient reference.

Our recommendations by county

County Location
Albany Marshall area draws, washes, and surfaces
Carbon Petrified forest area in Shirley Basin
Carbon Saratoga regional draws, washes, surfaces
Carbon Anderson Ranch
Crook Bear Lodge alkaline complex
Fremont Vitro Uranium Open Pit
Johnson Crazy Woman Petrified Forest
Natrona Angel Agates occurence
Park Regional draws, canyons, soils in the Sunlight Basin District
Teton Draws, flats, canyon gravels in the southwest side of the rugged Absaroka Range

The laws about collecting opal

The legality of collecting opal in our state, like other rocks and minerals, largely depends on the location and land ownership.

On public lands, such as national forests and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) areas, recreational rock collecting is usually allowed, but there may be specific rules and limits on what and how much you can collect.

In state parks and national parks, such as Yellowstone, removing any natural materials, including opals, is typically prohibited to preserve the natural environment.

On private lands, you must obtain permission from the landowner before collecting any rocks or minerals. It’s crucial to research and understand the regulations of the specific area you plan to visit. For more information, consult with the Wyoming Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

The Best Places To Buy Opal

Front store window and building of the Antares Minerals & Pottery

Another way you can see and take home Wyoming opals is to visit our local rocks and minerals shop. Below are some of our favorites:

  • Antares Minerals & Pottery – 431 Front St, Evanston, WY 82930
  • Avas Silver & Rock Shop – 631 Shoshoni St, Thermopolis, WY 82443
  • Star Valley Rock Shop – 300 Stockhorn, Thayne, WY 83127
  • Stone Age Industries – 654 Ln 5, Powell, WY 82435
  • Torrington Rock Shop – 4102 US-26 #85, Torrington, WY 82240
  • Twinkle Twinkle Little Store – 3344 Ridge Rd #7, Cheyenne, WY 82001

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.

Leave a Comment