A List of Rocks, Minerals and Gemstones Found In Arizona
Arizona is one of the best states in the United States for rockhounds. So much so that one of the worlds most famous rock and gem shows takes place here every year.
The state is rich with history surrounding its vast array of rocks and minerals; from turquoise to gold...riches have been found and lives have been ruined in pursuit of some of the rocks and minerals Arizona has to offer.
Below is a list of 8 of the most common and sought after rocks and minerals found in Arizona.
1. Petrified Wood
Arizona is home to the Petrified Wood National Park, and if seeing this unique mineral isn’t on your to-do list while in Arizona, it certainly should be.
This National Park offers an unsurpassed viewing opportunity, while the collection of specimens is strictly prohibited. This rule is what makes this rockhound destination the perfect place to see and appreciate the petrified wood, as it has not been tainted by frivolous collectors.
In the park, entire petrified trees can be seen laying across the badlands, decorated by a dizzying array of colors. From root wads to branches, you can see petrified wood in many forms in the National Park.
Petrified wood is formed when ancient logs are buried and then the decomposition process leads to the wood being replaced with silica and trace minerals. This leaves behind an individually unique array of colors throughout these preserved pieces of wood. The beauty of these fossilized gemstones makes them a very popular choice for rock tumbling enthusiasts. You can read more about tumbling petrified wood here!
2. Apache Tears
A unique and cultural rock of the state of Arizona is called the Apache Tear. These are rounded black pebbles that are less than a few inches across. They are a rounded obsidian volcanic black glass core surrounded by a rough black outer surface.
As local Apache legend has it, there was a standoff between Apache warriors and an outfit of the U.S. Cavalry. Rather than face defeat, the Apache warriors took them and their horses leaping over the edge of a cliff to their death below at a location now known as Apache Leap outside of the town of Superior Arizona. The women and children who witnessed the event cried tears that then formed into the stones which we now call Apache Tears.
Arizona is proud to contain the biggest mine of this precious gemstone in the world, peridot. Contained entirely within a single desert mesa on the San Carlos Indian Reservation, near the town of what else but, Peridot, is the primary world supply of the gemstone. It is estimated that the San Carlos Indian Reservation supplies 80%-90% of the world supply that is mined only by San Carlos Tribal members.
This bright yellow-green gemstone has been treasured for ages. It is the birthstone for the month of August and is a common gemstone among other jewelry. It is said to bring wearers of the stone peace, success, and good luck.
The Grand Canyon state is also a primary producer for yet another of precious Arizona gemstones commonly known by the many. The Four Peaks Amethyst Mine produces some of the highest quality of the gemstone and is the only active mine in the United States.
The clear purple gemstone mined from this specific mine is characterized by its unique red flash when observed through light. The mine must have been known to early Native Americans, as amethyst arrowheads have been found.
Amethyst has been mined on and off since the early 1940’s. The mine follows an angular vein of quartz on the side of the rough mountaintops. The mine is contained fully within a National Forest Wilderness area and the only access for miners is by foot or helicopter.
None other than the state gemstone of Arizona, turquoise is an iconic stone and color of southwest folklore. There are several areas across the state that produce coveted specimens of the gemstone. Each mine produces its each unique variant characterized by different shades of color, levels of patterning, and intermixed minerals.
Turquoise is a coveted stone and color for much of the native american jewelry that is continued to be produced through authentic methods to this day. The jewelry is treasured worldwide.
Arizona, being home to a diverse variety of crystals, also contains a wide distribution of geodes. Geodes are rocks which contained hollowed out cavities lined with a spectacular display of fine crystals.
Geodes begin when a hollowed rock forms. This can happen from an air bubble in a volcanic rock, or a mineralized animal burrow or tree root. When mineral laden water leaks into the hollowed cavity, crystals can begin to grow inside this rock and form a geode.
In Arizona, geodes can be found in many places across the state and contain a large diversity of crystals. Quartz geodes are some of the most common. Though Arizona has produced a dazzling array including brilliant purple amethyst specimens.
Arizona is no stranger to the wild disease referred to as “Gold Fever” that seems to overcome people blinded by the thought of newfound riches. Though Arizona has produced much less of this element than other states, it has killed many who believed they could find it.
As the legend of the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine has it, somewhere deep in the rugged Superstition Mountains of the hostile Sonoran Desert lies a literal Gold Mine. Many have tried, failed, and even perished in pursuit of this supposed treasure. The quest continues to this day despite no proof of gold ever being found within the Superstition Mountains.
8. Fire Agate
An astounding type of chalcedony, fire agate is a semi-precious gemstone found only in northern Mexico and the southwest United States. Arizona is one of the places that offers world class opportunity to see and collect this brilliant gemstone.
The gemstone was formed by fairly recent volcanic activity. It is characterized by dazzling arrays of colors in various patterns of depth into the stone. The most representative specimens contain deep iridescence of reds and browns, hence its fiery name.
Want To Know Where To Find These Rocks and Minerals?
20+ Rock Collecting Sites In Arizona (Digital Guidebook)
- 20 Dig Sites (+ more with future updates).
- GPS Coordinates with links to Google Maps.
- Step-By-Step Directions if you prefer to travel by landmarks.
- Free Lifetime Updates new versions sent to you as new locations are added.
- Access To My Personal Rockhounding Map will provide you with exact location information and directions.
- Insider Info with some dig sites not found in other guide books.
- Bonus Desert Safety checklist.
- Instant PDF File Download to use both on and offline.
- Rock Seeker Facebook Group exclusive access!