48 Unique Alaska Rockhounding Sites In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

| Updated

48 Unique Alaska Rockhounding Sites In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

Updated

Alaska is a land of immense beauty, home to stunning landscapes and a treasure trove of natural wonders. This northern paradise offers a plethora of unique geological wonders that will surely capture your imagination. Truly, rockhounds are in for a treat in this vast and adventurous place!

From towering mountains to ancient glaciers, our state is endowed with a rich tapestry of geological formations that have created a myriad of fascinating rocks and minerals. Here in the land of the midnight sun, you’ll also find bountiful Gold deposits!

Beyond the thrilling prospect of finding these treasures, Alaska itself is an adventure waiting to happen. Its rugged charm, coupled with the excitement of discovering rocks and minerals, make it an irresistible place, especially if you’ll visit the unique rockhounding sites here. Let the adventure begin!

How We Found The Best Places For Rockhounding in Alaska
We spent a lot of time putting together the list of which of the many options for Alaska rockhounding we were going to recommend. We wanted to have a nice variety of locations for experienced and novice rockhounds 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 rockhounds and rockhound groups
  • The accessibility of the various locations
  • Safety and potential hazards when collecting
  • Private and public locations
  • A desire to include locations for both experienced rockhounds 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 rocks, gems, and minerals for our collections!

What You Can Find Rockhounding In Alaska

Deep purple-colored cluster of Amethyst crystals
Amethyst photo provided by and available for purchase at NewMoonBeginnings

The untamed wilderness of Alaska will surely captivate you with its geological wonders. Whether you’re searching for colorful gemstones, fossilized remnants of prehistoric life, or even flecks of Gold, our state promises an unforgettable rockhounding experience.

Below are some of the natural treasures that you can find here:

Rare rocks and minerals found in Alaska

More common desirable rocks, minerals, and gems found here

In-depth guides to finding specific types of rocks in Alaska

We’ve prepared different guides to help you find specific types of rocks and minerals in Alaska. If you’re out here to look for them, better check these out:

You can also use our complete guide to rockhounding near you that has more than 3,000 sites all over the US. But if you’re focused on knowing the rockhounding opportunities in Alaska, continue reading here.

The Best Places To Find Rocks and Minerals in Alaska

Sparkling dark blue Cassiterite on Mica
Cassiterite on Mica photo provided by Saphira Minerals

Alaska is really as rich as it is beautiful! It has many different rockhounding sites that are truly worth exploring, so it might be difficult to select just a few to visit. That’s why we’re helping you out by sharing with you our top recommended sites based on our personal experience and on the experiences of other rockhounds here.

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

Kodiak Island

Stunning view of the picturesque green mountain and lush forests of Kodiak Island

Nestled along the southwestern coast, Kodiak Island offers a unique blend of stunning natural landscapes with a rich geological history that makes it an ideal spot for rockhounding adventures. This picturesque island’s diverse geology presents a variety of rocks and minerals, ensuring a fulfilling rockhounding experience.

Kodiak Island boasts of an array of intriguing geological formations, including volcanic rocks, ancient marine sedimentary layers, and glacial deposits. With such a diverse geological makeup, you can uncover different natural treasures.

The island’s coastal areas also offer an opportunity to find polished stones and vibrant pebbles shaped by the relentless waves of the Pacific Ocean, while inland excursions may lead to encounters with unique rock formations, uncovering specimens that showcase the island’s volcanic past or ancient marine life.

What you can find there

Exploring this jaw-dropping island will give you the chance to find specimens of Copper, Gold, Lead, Silver, Tin, and Zinc.

Rock pick being used

The tools every rockhound will need

When you're out looking for rocks and minerals having the right tools for the job is really going to make or break your success. 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 rockhounds 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 rockhounding 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.

Unalaska Island

Unalaska Island, located in the Aleutian Islands, is known for its rugged and dramatic landscapes. Its geological diversity— from volcanic formations to stunning coastal cliffs— presents an abundance of natural wonders that will amaze rockhounds of all levels.

As you explore Unalaska Island, you’ll be rewarded, not only with the thrill of finding unique specimens, but also with breathtaking views of the surrounding Aleutian landscapes and the possibility of encountering diverse wildlife, making it an unforgettable destination for rockhounding enthusiasts.

What you can find there

When you explore the area gravels of Captain’s Bay to Priest Rock, you can find stunning specimens of Gray and Banded Agate, Argillite, Chalcedony, and Green Jasper.

Fairbanks

Midnight sun view of the waterways and landscapes of Fairbanks

Fairbanks is a vibrant city that also serves as a gateway to exceptional rockhounding opportunities. Located amidst the stunning landscapes of the Interior region, this place offers access to a wide range of geological wonders and an abundance of rocks and minerals.

Fairbanks is renowned for its rich mining history, and remnants of this legacy can be found throughout the region. Gold prospecting is a popular activity here, allowing you to try your luck at panning for gold in nearby rivers and streams.

With its combination of historical significance, diverse geology, and the chance to strike Gold (literally!), Fairbanks beckons rockhounds to embark on a rewarding journey amidst Alaska’s beautiful Interior landscapes.

What you can find there

In the area placer claims covering a broad region and area stream gravels of Fairbanks, you can find specimens of Antimony, Cassiterite, Fossils, Gold, Quartz Stibnite, and Tungsten.

Asbestos Mountain

Stunning view of the Asbestos Mountain with a bear on the field in the foreground

Asbestos Mountain holds a unique allure for rockhounds seeking a distinctive experience. Despite its name, this site is not only known for the mineral Asbestos itself, but also for having other fascinating rocks and minerals. It’s a geologic wonderland with various mineralized zones, attracting collectors from far and wide.

What sets Asbestos Mountain apart as a rockhounding site is its scenic beauty and accessibility. Surrounded by the awe-inspiring Alaskan wilderness, the mountain offers a serene backdrop for exploration. Its slopes and ridges boast of intriguing rock formations and mineral pockets, making it an ideal spot for rockhounds.

With proper tools and techniques, you can engage in a rewarding pursuit here and discovering a wide range of rocks and minerals that showcase the geological diversity of our captivating region.

What you can find there

Asbestos Mountain is not only beautiful– it’s also incredibly blessed! You can find amazing samples of different rocks and minerals here, such as Asbestos, Chrysotile, Magnesite, Magnetite, Nickel, Serpentine, and Tremolite.

Shungnak

Serene view of Shungnak showing its mountainous region, forest, and waters

Shungnak, a remote village in the northwest part of Alaska, offers a unique rockhounding experience in an untouched wilderness. Situated along the banks of the Kobuk River and surrounded by the Brooks Range, it’s known for its traditional Native Alaskan culture, making it a fascinating destination if you’re interested in both geological discoveries and cultural immersion.

The region around Shungnak is known for its intriguing geological formations, which provide a diverse range of rocks and minerals. As you traverse its scenic landscapes and dig into the gravel bars along the river, you’ll have the chance to uncover treasures that have been shaped by the forces of nature over thousands of years.

Aside from Shungnak’s wealth of geological wonders, its remote location also make it a great rockhounding site for rockhounds who are also adventurers seeking a unique cultural experience.

What you can find there

You can find fascinating samples of Asbestos, Gold, Nephrite Jade, Platinum, Serpentine, and Tremolite when you explore the general area of Shungnak.

Our Other Favorite Spots Around Alaska

Bright orange Wolframite crystals
Wolframite photo provided by Mineral Masterpiece

If you’ve already explored our top recommended rockhounding sites in Alaska, don’t worry because there are many other spots here for you to visit. We’ve arranged them by region below for your easier reference on your next rockhounding adventure here.

Rockhounding sites in Far North Alaska

With its rugged and remote terrain, Far North Alaska’s geological diversity, coupled with its extreme northern location, provides a fascinating opportunity to unearth specimens that are not commonly found elsewhere.

Location Minerals & Rocks
Ophir Creek Gold
Daniels Creek Gold
California and Coca Cola Creek in Bluffs Gold
Area placers of York Cassiterite, Gold
Pegmatite exposures at Bendeleben Mountains Muscovite
Regional placers of Kobuk River Valley Platinum
Dahl Creek area outcrops Chrysotile
California Creek and its streams Asbestos, Serpentine

Rockhounding sites in Interior Alaska

Interior Alaska is known for its unique mix of geological formations, ranging from volcanic remnants to glacial deposits. With its rugged beauty and vast expanses of wilderness, this region provides an exceptional opportunity to uncover treasures that showcase its fascinating geological history.

Location Minerals & Rocks
California-Totatlanika Creek Stibnite, Lead-Antimony Sulfides, Jamesonite
Area mines and prospects in Gold King, Marguerite, Moose, Platte, and Portage Creeks Gold, Lead, Silver, Stibnite
Big Eldorado, Little Eldorado, Bonanza, and Beaver Creek Gold
Mines in Chulitna River Gold, Lead, Silver, Zinc
Deadwood Creek Cassiterite, Tin, Wolframite
Copper River mines and deposits Copper, Molybdenite
Chistochina district mines Copper, Gold, Silver
Tributary of Buckskin Cr Gold, Scheelite
Lucky Gulch, Amy, Lucile, Ruth, and Olive Creeks Chromite, Cinnabar, Gold, Spinels

Rockhounding sites in Southwestern Alaska

Thanks to its stunning landscapes and unique geological features, Southwestern Alaska offers a remarkable rockhounding experience. It’s renowned for its rich mineral deposits, diverse volcanic formations, and the influence of glacial activity.

Location Minerals & Rocks
Wood River in Bristol Bay Cinnabar
Lake Iliamna Agate, Bloodstone
Beach gravels of Attu Island Chalcedony, Jasper
Beach gravels of Sand Point Agate, Carnelian, Chalcedony, Jasper
Goodnews Bay across the Hoholitna, Holitna and upper Aniak Rivers Copper, Gold, Lead, Platinum, Silver, Tin, Zinc
Kohiltna River Gold, Platinum

Rockhounding sites in South Central and Southeastern Alaska

With their breathtaking landscapes and diverse geological formations, South Central and Southeastern Alaska are both rockhounding must-visit places. These regions are known for its mix of coastal cliffs, mountainous ranges, and glacial valleys that provide an unparalleled experience for rokchounds.

Location Minerals & Rocks
East side of Chilkat Valley Barite, Gold, Magnetite
Douglas Island area mines, especially the abandoned Treadwell Mine Asbestos, Copper, Iron, Gold, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Stibnite, Tremolite
Alaska Juneau Gold Mine Gold, Lead, Silver
Ketchikan mines including coastal islands Antimony, Chromium, Copper, Gold, Iron, Lead, Molybdenum, Palladium, Platinum, Silver, Zinc
Green Monster Copper Mine Chalcopyrite, Epidote, Grossularite variety of Garnet, Quartz
Petersburg area mines Barite, Chromium, Gold, Manganese, Silver, Zinc
Wrangle area mines Barite, Fluorite, Garnets, Gold, Graphite, Lead, Pyrite, Silver

Where To Find Jade In Alaska

Interesting smaple of green Nephrite variety of Jade

Jade is a precious gemstone that holds a special place in history and cultures around the world. It has two varities: Jadeite and Nephrite. Both varieties are highly prized for their beauty, durability, and cultural significance.

Jade found in Alaska is highly regarded for its exceptional quality. Alaskan Jade, primarily Nephrite, is known for its vibrant green hues and remarkable translucency. The unique geology of our state has created favorable conditions for the formation of high-quality Jade deposits over millions of years.

Beyond its aesthetic appeal, Alaskan Jade holds cultural and historical significance. In native Alaskan cultures, Jade has been used for centuries to create intricate carvings, jewelry, and ceremonial objects. It’s believed to possess spiritual and healing properties, symbolizing wisdom, purity, and good luck.

Telling apart rocks and minerals doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Our guides provide step-by-step instructions and helpful tips, ensuring you can quickly identify even the most similar specimens:

Jade Mountains is our favorite place to look for Jade

Wide view of the ranges of Jade Mountains foregrounded by trees

Situated in the rugged wilderness, Jade Mountains is a prime location to search for Jade in its natural habitat. The geological conditions of the area have favored the formation of high-quality Jade deposits.

Renowned for their rich Jade reserves, particularly the Nephrite variety, Jade Mountains’ unique geology, with its ancient rock formations and mineral-rich veins, are a delight to explore. Its rugged and remote nature adds an element of adventure and discovery to the overall rockhounding experience.

Exploring Jade Mountain also offers the opportunity to connect with the cultural heritage of our region. Jade holds immense cultural significance in native Alaskan traditions, and the Jade Mountains embody this deep-rooted relationship between the gemstone and our land.

Other good options to find Jade

  • Jade Creek
  • Shungnak District
  • Stonyford Creek

Public Rockhounding Options For Kids

A girl happily panning for gold at Indian Valley Mine

While it’s great to expose children early to the fun and excitement of rockhounding, some of the sites we’ve shared above may be challenging for them. But there are many family and kid-friendly rockhounding spots that you can choose from here.

These sites offer accessible trails, easy-to-reach collecting areas, and a higher likelihood of finding interesting rocks and minerals for kids and everyone in the family:

Alaska Rockhounding Clubs

Pinkish peach Fluorite perched atop an intricate Muscovite
Fluorite on Muscovite photo provided by The Focal Crystal – @focalcrystal

Rockhounding clubs offer a wealth of benefits and opportunities to enhance the rockhounding experience of both beginner and experienced rockhounds. Joining one provides a sense of community and camaraderie with those who share your passion for rocks, minerals, and the thrill of exploration.

In the context of Alaska, rockhounding clubs often have established connections and access to exclusive rockhounding sites, including locations that may not be easily accessible to the general public. You can benefit from shared insights about local geology, hotspots for specific minerals, and tips for navigating the unique challenges of our state’s diverse landscapes.

Additionally, rockhounding clubs in Alaska frequently organize group expeditions, providing a safer and more enjoyable experience, especially in remote and potentially challenging locations.

Rockhounding clubs in Alaska worth checking out

Alaska Rockhounding Laws And Regulations

Rockhounding is legal in Alaska, provided that you adhere to all local and state laws regarding rock and mineral collection. The Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) manages and regulates rockhounding activities within our state.

Alaska is known for its vast wilderness and abundant geological treasures, so it’s important to obtain the necessary permits and permissions, when required, before rockhounding. Certain areas, such as national parks, state parks, and private lands, may have specific regulations and restrictions on rock and mineral collection.

The DNR provides valuable information on their website, outlining the rules and guidelines for rockhounding in various locations across the state. By following them, you can engage in responsible collecting practices that help preserve the natural beauty and geological integrity of Alaska.

The Best Rock And Mineral Shops In Alaska

Front store window and building of Nature's Jewels

Nothing beats the adrenaline rush of exploring the wild and uncovering rocks and minerals on your own. But if you want a more relaxed, yet equally fruitful way of taking home a specimen to add to your collection, consider visiting our local rock and mineral shops here.

Some of the best ones we have are listed 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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