Re: rockhounding in montana
A fun place to collect with easy access is crystal park located near Dillon Montana. I went there with a couple of friends last summer and found quartz crystals there. It is easy to dig as the crystals are in broken down granite. There was a $5 day fee to dig there. I would suggest bringing a shovel and screens with you. Most of the crystals are very small (1/4" - 1/2" long), and will be missed without screening. We did find three larger crystals; one that was about 2 inches long and about 1.5 inches in diameter, one that was about an inchlong and an inch in diameter, and one that was about an inch in diameter and a half inch long. The two largest were smokey quartz, the rest were regular clear quartz. There are amethyst crystals to be found there as well. I suggest going further up the trail where the ground has not been dug yet. I had a hard time understanding why everyone was digging in the area that looked as if it had been comed over many times. People were surprised at teh crystals we found, and I'm sure we had such good luck because we went off the beaten trail.
Rubby reservoir by Virginia City is another good place to go. We went there as well, but didn't have any luck, and it was terribly windy that day, so we were getting sand blasted. The great thing about it is that since the conditions were so dismal, we decided to abandon the rock hunt, and went to Virginia and Nevada Cities instead (ghost towns). When I went to Rubby reservoir when I was younger, I found tons of garnets just laying in the gravel along the shore. It is best to go either in early spring when snowmelt has washed fresh garnets down, or when it is late fall and the reservoir is low. A shovel and a screen would be good to bring here as well.
My friends and I are going to try to plan a trip this summer to find saphires over in the Helena area. I'm still researching this, but there are active mines that will allow you to dig for a fee, but you have to contact the helena chamber of commerce to find out information, which I have yet to do. Also, saphires can be found in the Missouri river ~ 15 miles NE of Helena.
Phillipsburg has saphires, although you do not get to dig for them yourself. They provide buckets for a fee. Also, I do believe you can have buckets mailed to your home to search through. One thing to be cautious about there is their hours of operation. From what I remember, they are closed on strange days, I want to say Saturdays, but could be wrong.
A good place to find agate and petrified wood is along the Yellowstone river. I grew up in Livingston and found a lot of it as a kid. Again, the best time to look is early spring and late fall.
Hope this helps.
From Collette - March 15, 2008 at 20:11:51