New Mexico Rockhounding Locations and Rocks You Can Find

new mexico rockhounding sites

New Mexico is one of the best states in the United States for rockhounding because of its large quantities of sites with precious rocks and minerals. In this guide, we will explore top New Mexico rockhounding sites across the state.

Often referred to as the “Land of Enchantment,” New Mexico boasts a diverse and fascinating geological landscape that beckons rock enthusiasts from far and wide. The state’s unique combination of arid deserts, rugged mountains, and winding rivers creates a haven for rockhounding – the pursuit of collecting rocks, minerals, gemstones, and fossils.

While there is no shortage of minerals and rocks to collect, New Mexico is known for its precious gemstones such as diamonds, turquoise, azurite, and more.

How We Picked the Top Places in New Mexico for Rockhounding

In order to find the best New Mexico rockhounding sites, we had to consider a lot of things. It can be tough to find the information we need to shortlist the best places. Here are a few things we took into consideration:

  • Input from local gem hunting associations and groups.
  • The safety of the mining location and the potential hazards.
  • The accessibility of the mining spot.
  • Private and public locations.

Rocks and Minerals Found in New Mexico

New Mexico boasts a variety of rocks and minerals. Rockhounds from all over the world flock to the state to dig these precious stones. The most famous stone found in New Mexico is turquoise, which is also the state’s gemstone.

Other common minerals found in New Mexico are:

  • Diamonds
  • Agate
  • Jasper
  • Topaz
  • Azurite
  • Fluorite
  • Geodes
  • Petrified Wood
  • Quartz
  • Pyrite
  • Beryl
  • Moonstone
  • Opal
  • Celestite
  • Rhodonite

Also, check out New Mexico petrified wood locations, and sites to find geodes in New Mexico.

Our Favorite New Mexico Rockhounding Sites

Here are some prominent rockhounding locations in New Mexico, each offering a distinct experience and a treasure trove of rocks waiting to be discovered.

  • Rockhound State Park
  • Bisti Wilderness
  • Elk Horn Park
  • Jarilla Mountains
  • Pecos River
  • Kilbourne Hole
  • Santa Fe National Forest

1. Rockhound State Park

Rockhound State Park

Rockhound State Park in the southwestern corner of New Mexico is the best spot to look for precious rocks and minerals in the state. The park is located near Deming, spans over 1,100 acres, and has been a haven for rockhounds since it opened in 1966.

The park has a diverse range of geological formations, giving you a chance to discover a variety of rocks and minerals. Some of the common rocks found in the area are:

  • Agate
  • Moonstone
  • Jasper
  • Chalcedony

A variety of agates can be found in the area as they are scattered throughout the park. Additionally, the park is home to geodes, jasper, and quartz crystals, making it a must-visit destination for those seeking a rich and diverse rockhounding experience.

You can visit several trails in the park, such as Jasper Trail and Agate Trail to discover unique rocks and gems.

2. Bisti Wilderness

Bisti Wilderness

Bisti/ De-Na-Zin Wilderness is located in northwestern North Mexico and is a great destination for rockhounds. The Bisti Badlands, as it is commonly known, is renowned for its eerie rock formations, hoodoos, and colorful petrified wood, creating a landscape straight out of a fantasy novel.

The Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Study Area, an extension of Bisti, is particularly known for its dinosaur fossils, adding an exciting paleontological dimension to the rockhounding experience.

You can find agatized dinosaur bones, moonstones, and other rocks in the area. The place is also known for its high-quality diamonds.

Due to the remote nature of the area, proper preparation is essential for a safe and rewarding rockhounding expedition.

3. Elk Horn Park

Elk Horn Park

Elk Horn Park is situated near the town of Weed, and it offers a unique blend of geological wonders and nature. The park is named after the elk antlers found in the area.

Elk Horn Park is renowned for its agate and jasper deposits, attracting rockhounds with the promise of vibrant colors and intricate patterns. You can find gem-quality agate across the park, along with topaz and corundum. 

Visitors are encouraged to bring their rockhounding tools and spend the day sifting through the gravel and soil in search of agate and jasper treasures.

4. Jarilla Mountains

Jarilla Mountains

Jarillas Mountains are located in southern New Mexico and the area is known for its rugged hills and canyons. This region is known for its deposits of geodes, nodules with hollow cavities lined with crystals.

The Jarilla Mountains geodes often contain beautiful quartz crystals, providing rockhounds with a fascinating glimpse into the earth’s hidden treasures.

Apart from geodes, you can also find the following gems and minerals in the Jarilla Mountains:

  • garnet
  • galena
  • malachite
  • turquoise
  • chalcocite
  • limonite
  • Diamond
  • wulfenite

Due to the rugged terrain, a sense of adventure and a willingness to explore off the beaten path are crucial for a successful rockhounding expedition in this region.

5. Pecos River

Pecos River

Pecos River winds through the eastern and central parts of New Mexico. The river’s meandering path has carved through diverse geological formations, creating opportunities for collectors to find a variety of rocks, including agate, jasper, and petrified wood.

One notable area along the Pecos River for rockhounding is the stretch between Santa Rosa and San Jose. The riverbanks in this region reveal an abundance of colorful rocks including Opal.

Pecos River is also famous for ‘Pecos Diamonds’ which are double-terminated quartz crystals. These are mostly found in areas along the Pecos River, especially Roswell, and Artesia.

6. Kilbourne Hole

Kilbourne Hole

Kilbourne Hole, located in the southern part of New Mexico, presents a unique geological phenomenon. This volcanic maar, formed by a volcanic explosion, is known for its distinctive mineralogy and the presence of peridot, also known as olivine.

The place is known for its Peridot crystals, diamonds, beryl, and Augite reserves. Peridot, a vibrant green gemstone, can be found in small crystalline formations within the volcanic rock at Kilbourne Hole.

These crystals are often embedded in the dark basaltic rock, so make sure to bring tools such as chisels and hammers to extract peridot specimens from the volcanic rock.

7. Santa Fe National Forest

Santa Fe National Forest

The popular Santa Fe National Forest in New Mexico spans over 1.5 million acres in the central and northern parts of the state. With its towering mountains, lush forests, and crystalline streams, this national forest provides a rich tapestry of geological wonders waiting to be discovered.

The Pecos Wilderness within the National Forest is known for its high-quality quartz crystals. The forest’s rocky outcrops and mountainous terrain host deposits of quartz crystals in various sizes and formations. These clear or milky crystals, often nestled in crevices or scattered on the forest floor

In addition to quartz crystals, the Santa Fe National Forest offers opportunities to discover a variety of rocks and minerals, such as Moonstone, Azurite, Turquoise, Corundum, and Rhodonite. 

Other Rockhounding Spots in New Mexico

Apart from the popular spots mentioned above, there are multiple other locations in New Mexico for rock hunting. Here are some of them:

  • Rio Puerco Valley – Agate, Jasper, Chalcedony
  • Tijeras Canyon – Fluorite
  • Thoreau – Amber
  • Harding Pegmatite Mine – Tourmaline, Spodumene, Apatite, Muscovite, Quartz
  • Las Tablas – Tourmaline
  • Sunnysite Mine – Aquamarine, Beryl
  • Moreno Creek – Gold, Pyrite, Chalcopyrite
  • Glenwood and Pleasanton – Topaz, Fluorite
  • Luna – Amethyst geodes
  • Las Cruces – Obsidian
  • Burro Peak – Azurite, Onyx, Pyrite, Galena, Fluorite, Malachite, Chalcopyrite
  • Mule Creek – Apache Tears
  • Alum Mountains – geodes, Carnelian
  • Silver Hill – Garnet
  • Artesia – Pecos Diamonds
  • White Oaks – Gold, Onyx

New Mexico Rockhounding Map

(Source: RockhoundingResource)

Tips for a Successful Rockhounding Trip in New Mexico

  • Research and Preparation: Before embarking on a rockhounding adventure, conduct thorough research on the specific minerals and fossils found in each location. Familiarize yourself with the geological history of the area to enhance your understanding of what to look for.
  • Safety First: Always prioritize safety during rockhounding expeditions. Wear appropriate gear, including sturdy shoes, gloves, and safety glasses.
  • Tools: Pack essential rockhounding tools, such as a rock hammer, chisels, a magnifying glass, and containers for collecting specimens. A field guidebook specific to the minerals and rocks in the region can be a valuable resource.
  • Time of your visit: Consider the time of year and weather conditions when planning your rockhounding excursion. Some sites may be inaccessible or less enjoyable during certain seasons, so plan accordingly for the best experience.
  • Respect the environment: Leave no trace and respect the natural environment. Follow ethical collecting practices, and avoid damaging vegetation or disturbing wildlife. Adhere to any regulations or guidelines set by the landowners or authorities.


These were the top New Mexico rockhounding locations. The state provides a captivating blend of geological diversity and natural beauty. From the colorful lands of Bisiti Wilderness to the volcanic formations of Kilbourne Hole, New Mexico has a lot to offer to rockhounds.

Whether you’re an experienced collector or a novice explorer, New Mexico’s rockhounding destinations beckon with the promise of uncovering hidden gems, minerals, and fossils.

Before embarking on a rockhounding adventure, it’s essential to research and plan accordingly. Familiarize yourself with local regulations, and obtain necessary permits where required. So, pack your tools and set out to explore the wilderness of New Mexico.

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