25 Legit Areas To Find And Mine For Turquoise In Arizona In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

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25 Legit Areas To Find And Mine For Turquoise In Arizona In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD


Arizona gem hunters have a special place in their hearts for turquoise, a valuable stone known for its unique blue-green color. This lovely stone is more than just a piece of jewelry; it’s a piece of history deeply rooted in the culture and heritage of the state.

Native Americans have revered and used turquoise for centuries, adding it to their art and using it in ceremonies. Arizona is not only a source for this beautiful stone, but also a major cultural center.

This article will take you on an exciting tour of Arizona’s best turquoise mines and locations and show you how to find these hidden gems.

Whether you’re an experienced collector or just starting, our complete guide will give you all the information and confidence you need to start your adventure in the Grand Canyon State looking for turquoise!

What Is Arizona Turquoise Anyway?

A stunning natural rough turquoise stone
Turquoise photo provided by and available for purchase at TurquoiseAgate

Turquoise is a beautiful, eye-catching stone that can be sky blue or green. It often has matrix veins of other materials like iron or copper. The beautiful stone you see here is not something you’d find in a jewelry store.

It’s a mineral formed over a long time deep in the earth. Copper, aluminum, and phosphorus are some chemicals that give it its unique color. The beautiful stone we call turquoise is made when these elements mix with water and slowly dry out.

Copper is what gives turquoise its bright blue color. Iron and chrome, on the other hand, can make it slightly green. To help you identify what turquoise looks like, we’ve made an article to simplify your hunt!

Most likely, these stones formed in dry areas where rain seeps through the ground and carries small amounts of minerals deep underground. Over time, these minerals include crystals and stick together, turning cracks and holes in rocks into turquoise.

Most of the world’s turquoise comes from places high in copper and with a history of volcanic activity. These places have the heat and minerals needed for turquoise to form. Sometimes, the specimen’s origin also determines how much a turquoise is worth.

The Types Of Turquoise Found In Arizona

Diving into the world of turquoise in Arizona reveals a spectrum of colors, qualities, and names that reflect the state’s diverse geology. Here are the distinct types of turquoise hidden under the state’s surface:

  • Bisbee turquoise
  • Kingman turquoise
  • Morenci turquoise
  • Sleeping Beauty turquoise
How We Found The Best Turquoise Locations in Arizona
When it comes to choosing the best options for finding Arizona 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 Arizona

A tumbled and polished turquoise teardrop cabochon
Turquoise photo provided by ExoticCrystals

We’ll start by listing our favorite places in the state to look for turquoise. There are many excellent locations to mine for gems in Arizona, but only a few are suitable for finding turquoise specimens. Some of these places aren’t as well-known, but they often have great opportunities for searching.

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.

Canyon Creek

A beautiful vibrant environment around the creek with tranquil flowing waters

Canyon Creek, a hidden gem in Arizona, is a dream spot for adventurers and turquoise hunters.

Tucked away in the scenic region of the Tonto National Forest, this area is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and a prime location for those on the quest for turquoise.

What makes Canyon Creek special? Well, it’s all about the unique combination of its history, geology, and the thrilling promise of discovery!

A long time ago, there were volcanoes all over the area around Canyon Creek. The ground was full of minerals, including copper, an essential part of the creation of turquoise.

That was millions of years ago, and now these same lands are full of old, dry riverbeds and rock formations perfect for hiding turquoise. As rainwater seeps through rock, it breaks down minerals like copper. Over time, this turns the cracks and spaces in the earth into turquoise.

Not many people know about Canyon Creek compared to other mining areas, which makes it feel like a secret waiting to be found!

Before you bring anything home, make sure you’ve read up on the State of Arizona’s most recent collecting regulations.

Where we found turquoise in Canyon Creek

The dry riverbeds of the creek and the rock formations around it is a good hiding spot for turquoise.

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.

Cerbat Mountains

The majestic formation of the Cerbat Mountains

People who love rocks, especially those looking for the famous turquoise, will love the Cerbat Mountains. These mountains hold the secrets of the earth’s treasures and whisper stories of Arizona’s long mining history.

They have beautiful views and are a great place for hikers. They also have several mineral sites because volcanoes formed them, and mineral-rich fluids once flowed through them.

The turquoise here is known for its high-quality blue-green hues, which are admired worldwide.

While the actual mining is controlled and requires permission, nearby areas offer small dig-your-own opportunities for enthusiasts.

Where we found turquoise at the Cerbat Mountain

The Kingman mine, located in the Cerbat Mountain range, is one of America’s oldest and largest turquoise mines. It’s famous for producing turquoise with a delightful range of colors, often intermingled with intriguing patterns of black matrix.

Castle Dome Mountain

A breathtaking view of the Castle Dome Mountain with the moon peaking at the skies above it

Castle Dome Mountain stands tall and proud in the state, but its rough peaks hide more than just beauty. This mountain, part of the Castle Dome Mountains range, contains minerals that make Arizona beautiful, especially turquoise.

The area, north of Yuma, is full of history, from old Native American trails to the busy mining years of the 1800s and 1900s.

This region was once a hotspot for volcanic activity. The volcanoes brought up a wealth of minerals, including copper, deep within the earth. The kind of turquoise here has an amazing range of blue colors, often mixed with grey or brown lines called a matrix.

Large-scale mining around Castle Dome is no longer as popular as it used to be, but the mountain is still a reminder of Arizona’s rich mining history.

Where we found turquoise at the Castle Dome Mountain

The area that is part of the Castle Dome District can yield several turquoise specimens and other minerals.

Sleeping Beauty Peak

Sleeping Beauty Peak is more than just a mountain. It’s where history, magic, and geology all come together. This mountain is close to the town of Globe, and its name comes from how it looks like a sleeping woman.

It also hides a secret: it’s home to the famous Sleeping Beauty Mine, which has produced some of the most beautiful turquoise in the world. This isn’t just turquoise; the Sleeping Beauty variety is known for being solid and light blue, with no webbing or matrix, making it look like pieces of the sky!

For people who love turquoise, Sleeping Beauty Peak is a great example of how nature can create beauty over time. It is a real gem in Arizona’s landscape!

Where we found turquoise at Sleeping Beauty Peak

Most of the turquoise here came from the Sleeping Beauty Mine, near Sleeping Beauty Peak, where the place got its name. This mine had a lot of turquoise, more than any other in the United States.

Turquoise Ridge

A beautiful green landscape with the Turquoise Ridge at the back

Phoenix’s Turquoise Ridge is a dream place for people who love the cool, soothing color turquoise. There’s more to this place than just its name. In real life, turquoise has been found there while people were exploring.

In Arizona’s rough and beautiful landscapes, Turquoise Ridge invites us to discover the beauty above ground and the mysteries below.

The turquoise from Turquoise Ridge is super special because of its quality and unique color, which makes it stand out in a jewelry box or a collector’s cabinet.

Turquoise Ridge is a great place to find turquoise, but remember you can’t just go there and take stones. But for people who love nature’s underground art, just learning about Turquoise Ridge’s part in the history of turquoise is exciting!

Where we found turquoise at Turquoise Ridge

Turquoise can be found in arid regions of the Turquoise Ridge, where copper-rich rocks have been exposed to rainwater and soil leaching over extended periods, leading to the formation of this semi-precious stone.

Other Great Places To Find Arizona Turquoise

The vast area of the Lavender Pit where you can find and mine for turquoise

After discussing our favorites, We wanted to discuss the other places on our list. We’ll list a few more areas where we’ve been successful below, and then we’ll break down each suggestion by county.

Our recommendations by county

County Location
Cochise Gleason-Courtland District, Turquoise Mountain
Cochise Cole Mine
Cochise Lavender Open Pit Mine
Cochise Peace Hills
Gila Miami area, south side of Porphyry Mountain
Graham Greasewood Mountain
Mohave Tiffany Turquoise Mine
Mohave East of Mineral Park, slopes of Ithaca Peak
Mohave On a small peak at the Mineral Park area
Mohave Kingman area, side of the Cerbat Range
Pima Little Ajo Mountains
Pima Empire Mountains
Pima Sierrita Mountains
Pima Silver Bell Mine
Pima Silver Bell Mountains

Common Turquoise-Hunting Questions

A gorgeous oval-shaped turquoise polished gemstone
Turquoise photo provided by OttesonTurquoiseSST

Below are some frequently asked questions about finding turquoise in Arizona that should also be answered:

Is it illegal to collect turquoise in Arizona?

In Arizona, it’s not illegal to collect turquoise or any other minerals, but there are rules and laws you must follow. It depends on who owns the land and how it’s managed in the area you want to explore.

If the land is privately owned, you need permission from the landowner. Trespassing on private property without consent is illegal. You can take home small amounts of rocks and minerals on public lands.

But the rules can differ if the land is managed by the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), or another state or federal agency. Most of the time, a permit or claim is needed for commercial collection.

For example, the Kingman Mine has areas for rockhounding open to the public. For a fee, you may be able to look for turquoise. But there are strict rules that you must follow on these sites.

The Best Places To Buy Turquoise In Arizona

Rocks & More rock shop in Arizona where you can find and buy turquoise specimens

Getting turquoise in your hands will always feel great if you’re an enthusiast or collector. Some people don’t like the dirty and hard work, though. This is for you if you want to find turquoise without having to do that!

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

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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