Rockhounding and Other Recreational or Hobby Collecting
Central Oregon is a great place to look for unusual and interesting rocks, minerals and gems. Few places offer the variety of semi-precious gemstones as the high deserts and forests in this part of the state. With a little preparation, people of all ages can enjoy the opportunity to discover a piece of Oregon's geologic past by visiting one of the many public recreational collection areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service.
Rockhounding on public lands is for personal use only; commercial resale is not allowed.
The "Central Oregon Rockhounding Map" is provided by a partnership between the BLM, USFS and Crook County Chamber of Commerce. This map is a full-color guide, which includes pictures and descriptions of sites, directions using landmarks and GPS coordinates; and photos of the rock materials found at each site. The map includes the Glass Butte area and can be purchased from the BLM Prineville District and the Ochoco or Deschutes National Forest offices for a cost of $2.50. The map is also available at the Crook County Chamber of Commerce offices or at the National Forest Store online.
Some of the rocks to look for include:
- Thunder eggs: the state rock of Oregon! These are ball-shaped masses of rock that can range from less than an inch to several feet in diameter. While the outside of the rock can be uninteresting, the core may be filled with crystals, agate, jasper or a powdery calcite.
- Agates: these translucent cryptocrystalline varieties of quartz are common semi-precious gemstone. Local forms range from colorless to more distinctive "angel wing" varieties.
- Jasper: this is another variety of cryptocrystalline quartz that exists in a wide variety of colors, from the common red variety to the rarer green version.
- Obsidian: known as volcanic glass, obsidian is one of the easiest rocks materials to identify. The material is usually black in color and can be extremely shiny. The most desirable types include gold sheen, silver sheen, fire sheen, midnight lace, double flow and mahogany.
Rocks, minerals, semiprecious gemstones, petrified wood and common invertebrate and plant fossils may be collected on public lands managed by the BLM without charge or permit with the following conditions:
- Specimens are for personal use and are not collected for commercial purposes.
- The BLM sets the limits for personal use as up to 25 pounds per day, plus one piece, with a total limit of 250 pounds per year. These limits are for mineral specimens, common invertebrate and plant fossils, semiprecious gemstones, other rock, and petrified wood.
- A group of people may not pool their yearly allotment to collect a larger piece.
- Collection may not occur in developed recreation sites or areas, unless designated as a rockhounding area by BLM
- Collection is not prohibited or restricted and posted
- Collection, excavation or removal is not aided with motorized or mechanical devices, including heavy equipment or explosives. Metal detectors are acceptable.
- No undue or unnecessary degradation of the public lands occurs during the removal of rock, minerals or gemstones.