The 31 Best Spots To Find And Mine For Turquoise In New Mexico In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

| Updated

The 31 Best Spots To Find And Mine For Turquoise In New Mexico In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

Updated

New Mexico has a special place in its heart for turquoise, the stone that looks like the sky. This precious stone has been loved for centuries for its beauty and cultural meaning.

Turquoise colors range from heavenly blue to green and are hidden in the rough mountains and desert plains. This article will discuss the fascinating locations that those who search for this stone have treasured for many years, and we’ll guide you on how to find turquoise in a way that benefits you.

Join us as we make your turquoise hunting trip in New Mexico successful!

What Is New Mexico Turquoise Anyway?

A beautiful polished turquoise gemstone with silver spots
Turquoise photo provided by and available for purchase at GemstoneCabochon

When it comes to gems, turquoise is one of a kind. Its color is beautiful, ranging from sky-blue to earthy green. But it’s not just a pretty stone; it’s also one of the oldest stones that people know of.

It was used to make jewelry and other things in the past. Turquoise is unique because of its bright color, often accompanied by brown or black veins called a “matrix.” These are leftovers from the rock that the stone was formed from.

The color depends on how much copper and iron are present. Copper gives turquoise its unique blue color (which is responsible for the greener shades). We wrote an article to make your search easier by helping you how to identify turquoise.

Most of the time, turquoise is found in dry places where rocks are often weathered and water doesn’t drain away very easily. The minerals and heat in these places make turquoise possible.

Even though turquoise can be found in many places worldwide, each deposit is different, and the color and quality of the gem vary a lot from one place to another. How much a turquoise is worth is sometimes also based on where the stone came from.

The Types Of Turquoise Found In New Mexico

When you look into turquoise in New Mexico, you’ll find a wide range of colors, qualities, and names that show off the state’s varied geology. Here are the different kinds of turquoise that are below the surface of the state:

  • Cerillos turquoise
  • Hatchita turquoise
  • Kingman turquoise
  • Sleeping Beauty turquoise
How We Found The Best Turquoise Locations in New Mexico
When it comes to choosing the best options for finding New Mexico turquoise 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 Turquoise in New Mexico

A tiny bright blue turquoise nugget
Turquoise photo provided by BeadtotheMax

Now, we’ll talk about where we like to find turquoise the most in the state. Even though there are a lot of great places to mine for gems in New Mexico, only a few are good for finding turquoise. Some of these spots aren’t as well known, but they often have great chances to search.

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.

Big Burro Mountains

An empty field filled with rocks, gravel, and trees where you can find turquoise

The Big Burro Mountains are a rough range in the southwestern part of New Mexico. They have a lot more to offer than just beautiful scenery. They’re a treasure trove, especially for people who love looking for turquoise!

People have been mining in this area for a long time, since the time of the Native Americans and the first Western settlers. Some minerals are found in large amounts in the area, making turquoise possible.

The rocks in the mountains have been through many changes over millions of years, such as weathering and oxidation. These steps are very important for making turquoise.

Somewhat out of the way and not as heavily mined for commercial purposes as other places, the Big Burro Mountains provide a more genuine and exciting experience for people looking for turquoise.

Ensure you know the latest rules for collecting in New Mexico before bringing anything home.

Where we found turquoise at Big Burro Mountains

Because it forms in and around copper deposits, turquoise is often found with copper. It’s possible to find turquoise deposits in the Big Burro Mountains near old copper mines or nearby areas.

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 

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.

Cerillos Hills

The vast greenlands of the Cerillos Hills

The Cerrillos Hills, just south of Santa Fe, are a window into the past and a great place for history and treasure hunters alike. One of the country’s oldest and most important turquoise mines is located in this area, which is more than just a bunch of hills.

These hills are packed with minerals, including lead, silver, and, most importantly, turquoise. The mineral-rich soil and unique conditions here allowed turquoise to form over millions of years.

The turquoise from Cerrillos is unique, with colors ranging from a striking green to a deep, mesmerizing blue, often dotted with interesting patterns and lines.

Outside the park, local tours might let you look for your piece of turquoise, which would connect you with the area’s history.

Where we found turquoise at Cerillos Hills

You can find rock shops selling turquoise in the towns near the Cerrillos Hills, especially Santa Fe and Albuquerque. These stores often get their turquoise from legal mines, and they can be great places to find Cerrillos turquoise.

Granite Gap

A gorgeous area at the Granite Gap where you can find turquoise specimens

Granite Gap is a hidden gem in the southwestern corner of New Mexico. Its ghost town and rumors of buried treasures make you think of the Wild West.

You can find more than just history in these rocky places, though. People who love to look for different minerals and gems call Granite Gap their “happy place.”

Rocks that formed in the area around Granite Gap are full of minerals. One of these minerals is the beautiful blue-green turquoise that we love today. Hot magma below the earth’s surface cooled down a long time ago, making rocks and minerals that are all different.

If you look hard enough and are lucky, you might find pieces of turquoise on your own. It’s not just about what you find, though. It’s about the adventure, the stories the earth holds, and the link to the land’s wild, gentle spirit.

Where we found turquoise at Granite Gap

Copper, phosphorus, aluminum, and water are some things turquoise needs to form. Turquoise can be found around the gap if these conditions are met.

Little Hatchet Mountains

A picturesque view of the Little Hatchet Mountains landscape

The Little Hatchet Mountains are a rough and beautiful mountain range in the southwest corner of New Mexico. They are known for more than just their natural beauty.

There are many cool rocks and minerals there, like the popular turquoise. It’s like a big outdoor museum. This area is part of the Basin and Range Province, known for its unique geology.

Because they are so far from cities, the Little Hatchet Mountains are like a wild paradise. This makes them a great place to go on an adventure. This is a great place to go if you like to explore and look for hidden mineral treasures.

Where we found turquoise at Little Hatchet Mountains

People have mined in the Little Hatchet Mountains, including for copper. Because copper is used in making turquoise, old copper mines in the area might be where turquoise is found.

Organ Mountains

The majestic formation of the Organ Mountains

The sharp, needle-like peaks of the Organ Mountains in southern New Mexico make them a beautiful sight. But these mountains are more than just pretty to look at. They hide many things, including valuable gems like turquoise.

The Organ Mountains are great for hikers, adventurers, and people looking for unique rocks and minerals. They rise steeply from the Chihuahuan Desert.

This process can make turquoise, a stone that can be blue, green, or even a mix of the two, in places where copper is found.

Turquoise can only form in certain types of rocks and under certain conditions. This makes the Organ Mountains a great place to look for this lovely stone.

Where we found turquoise at Organ Mountains

Because the area has copper deposits and other geological features, turquoise can be found in the mountain’s vicinity.

Other Great Places To Find New Mexico Turquoise

A scenic drive through Turquoise Trail

After discussing our favorites, we wanted to discuss the other places on our list. We have broken down each suggestion by county and listed a few more places where we’ve succeeded.

Our recommendations by county

County Location
Grant Burro Mountains Mining District
Grant Turquoise Mountain
Grant Barringer Fault
Grant Aztec Mine
Grant Bayard area, Fort Bayard Station
Grant Hachita area, Old Apache Mine/td>
Grant Porterfield Mine
Grant Silver City area, Parker Mine
Grant Silver City area, in the vicinity of Chamberlain Mine
Grant Silver City area, at the Galilee Claim
Grant Silver City area, at the Cameo Claim
Grant Burro Chief Mountain Mine
Grant White Signal area
Grant White Signal area, White Springs
Hidalgo Peloncillo Mountains
Hidalgo Red Hill District
Otero Orogrande area, around the Jarilla Mountains
Santa Fe Cerillos area, Turquoise Hill
Santa Fe Mt. Chalchihuitl, area slopes and draws
Santa Fe Tiffany Mines
Santa Fe Snake Pit Mine

Common Turquoise-Hunting Questions

A gorgeous raw and natural turquoise stone
Turquoise photo provided by SequoiasRoots

Here are some questions that people often ask about where to find turquoise in New Mexico that should also be answered:

Is it illegal to collect turquoise in New Mexico?

It’s not as simple as “yes” or “no” when collecting turquoise in New Mexico. It depends on where you are, who owns the land, and the rules and laws that apply to that area.

Before going to New Mexico to try to collect turquoise or any other minerals, it’s important to learn about the area you want to go to, the rules and laws that apply, and get any permissions or permits you may need.

Rockhounding must be done responsibly to protect natural and cultural resources for future generations.

The Best Places To Buy Turquoise In New Mexico

Mama's Minerals rock shop in New Mexico where you can find and buy different turquoise specimens

Anyone who likes or collects turquoise will always feel good when they hold some. But some people don’t like the dirty and hard work. If you want to find turquoise without having to do that, this is for you!

Here are some of our favorite rock shops in the area where you can find and buy the turquoise we like:

  • Blanchard Rock Shop – 2972 US-380, Bingham, NM 87832, United States
  • Border Rock Shop – 980 E Motel Dr, Lordsburg, NM 88045, United States
  • Mama’s Minerals – 2500 12th St NW Ste F, Albuquerque, NM 87104, United States
  • Taos Rockers – 229 Cam De La Placita, Taos, NM 87571, United States
  • Trina’s Rock Shop – 1812 Columbus Rd, Deming, NM 88030, United States

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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