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Where To Go Rockhounding in Missouri (5 Must Visit Dig Sites)

rockhounding in missouri

Nothing beats a good old treasure hunt. Rockhounds like you and I know this better than anybody else: after all, we’re very experienced when it comes to unearthing precious gemstones, crystals, and even out-of-this-world meteorites. 

Now, if you’re a rockhound who lives in Missouri, then you certainly know that no place is more fertile for rock collecting than the Cave State itself. It’s a geological wonderland full of all different kinds of treasures. Yet, it’s easy to get lost in its wide terrain and not know where to go, which is why we’re here. In this article we’re going to show you some of the best locations for rockhounding in Missouri.

Alright, let’s dive in!

Rockhounding Locations In Missouri

Missouri is certainly no small place. With its rugged terrain and varied geological sites, one might be left a bit confused on where to start.

To find out more the best places to rockhound, read on!

1. Elephant Rocks State Park

Looking to be transported back in time? Welcome to Elephant Rocks State Park. Expect to witness rolling hills spotted with lush evergreen, freckled deer, and unique giant boulders. Emphasize the word “unique”: these giant boulders resemble huge elephants. It’s called Elephant Rocks for a reason, after all. 

Yet, that’s not even the most special thing about the place. These giant boulders are made from 1.5 billion year old granite. For millions of years, molten magma slowly cooled, and began to form the pink granite you can now see today. 

Here’s the bad news: collecting by yourself is illegal. But here’s the good news: you can find an operating quarry at the backside of the park. Don’t hesitate to ask at the office to collect some pieces from the scrape piles. The granite there is cut for building monuments, so the scrape has been sawed and appears quite attractive. 

Pros

  • Beautiful park
  • Hosts 1.5 billion year-old granite
  • Park offers scrape piles for rockhounders

Cons

  • Collecting and digging is illegal

2. Potosi, Old Mines

Old Mines is a lesser known destination for rock hounds. Nevertheless, the area around it is rich in rocks, as it contains a certain number of abandoned mine pits. 

In order to start your hunt, you should go east from Potosi on HWY 8 and turn on CR-O. You’ll find tailing piles on both sides of the road. Remember: don’t cross any “no trespassing” signs. 

This destination is a less popular one. However, it offers treasures no less precious than any of the locations in this list. Going there, you’ll notice all kinds of gems: the distinctive Missouri lace agate, drusy quartz, and barite blades in wonderful colours. 

Pros

  • Has varied stones
  • Don’t have to dig too deep to find rocks
  • Since it’s less popular, you can find more rare rocks

Cons

  • Hard to find; easy to get lost

3. Branson

You may know Branson, Missouri for being a popular family vacation destination. However, you may not know about its rockhounding potential.

The key to finding rocks around Branson is to look around its roadcuts. Take, for example, the New Falls Creek Road Roadcut. You can find it off of the Blue Route Roark Valley Road going north from Main St. (76). If you take a left on the new section of Falls Creek Rd., you’ll see the roadcut all the way up the hill. There, you can find calcite, limonite, and chalcopyrite crystals. 

The Shepherd of the Hills Expressway Roadcut is also another place you should look into. You may find quartz crystals, malachite, chalcopyrite, and even hematite

Pros

  • Has varied rocks
  • Has many roadcuts rich in stones
  • Easy to navigate

Cons

  • Development plans may change the area

4. Stockton

Stockton, Missouri is an incredibly quiet and small city. However, that isn’t to say it doesn’t have its own treasures: along the back road of Stockton, you could find a handful of geodes in ditches and farms. Expect to come across druzy crystals, pyrite, and even sphalerite. There’s also fossilized coral hidden around the area. 

To come across the best finds, we’d suggest that you’d scour the creeks, eroded farm soil, gravel bars, and road ditches in the area. It’d also help to ask a livestock farmer if you can remove some of the geodes for them since they can be harsh on cow ankles.

Remember: when rockhounding around Stockton, don’t break the geodes with a hammer. Many rockhounders completely destroyed valuable stones by being too aggressive with their tools. 

Pros

  • Has druzy quartz, calcite crystals, and pyrites 
  • Fairly quiet place; not a lot of rockhounders visit
  • The farms there contain geodes 

Cons

  • You need to get permission to go onto a farm

5. Lincoln

Dedicated rockhoundss may have already heard of Lincoln, Missouri. The place is notorious for its abundance of mozarkite, which happens to be the state’s stone

You could find mozarkite along streams, ditches, fields, and the road cuts around Lincoln. You could find this area south of Sedalia on HWY 65. You could also find mozarkite at Harry Truman lake west of Lincoln.

You can also easily find mozarkite around Lincoln on boulders. This is why you should bring safety glasses and gloves along with you. And don’t forget about your typical tools like your rockhammer and picks!  

Pros

  • Extremely rich in mozarkite
  • Stones are very easy to find 
  • Friendly place for beginners

Cons

  • Mostly has mozarkite; doesn’t offer a varied set of stones

Things to Remember When Rockhounding 

Sometimes, even veteran rockhounds can forget some very important tips. Here are some things that you should always remember when going rock hunting! 

Stay Away From Private Property

Rockhounding isn’t permitted in Missouri State Parks. Furthermore, moving rocks is against the Department of Natural Resources State Regulations (DNR).

No matter how promising a certain area looks, under no circumstance should you try digging on private property without permission. That means you’ll have to avoid farms, state parks, and mining claims.

It’s also important to remember that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has clear guidelines for rockhounding in public land. The guidelines are mostly concerned with the amount of collecting, the type of collecting, and the method of collecting. If you ever find yourself unsure about such details, then don’t hesitate to check with local authorities to make sure you’re clear.

Related: Can You Take Rocks, Minerals and Precious Stones From Public Land?

Never Throw Away the Labels

When buying specimens, never throw away any information that accompanies them. That includes labels and records. 

Remember: the history of your specimens is what provides it with value and sets it apart as rare. 

Keep Your Tools on You 

The tools you’ll need for digging depend on the area you’re collecting in. If you’re digging for fossils, they’ll be in sedimentary rocks. These rocks are usually softer than the hard granites you come across when digging for crystal. In this case, you might want to bring a standard rockhammer with a pick on one end and a flat head on the other.

For harder rocks, you might want to consider bringing a full-on pickaxe. A pickaxe is the most effective tool you can use to break up stubborn rocks. 

Related: Guide To Rockhounding Tools

Conclusion

For the ultimate rockhounding experience, we’d recommend Branson, Missouri. It’s an exciting place that offers many opportunities for treasure hunting. However, if it’s Mozarkite that you’re looking for, we’d recommend Lincoln, Missouri instead. 

Don’t forget to have fun rockhounding! Good luck! 

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