Summer fun with rock collecting

Stephanie Reisenbuchler

Although the Sun Lakes Rock, Gem and Silver Club is not having regular meetings during the summer, there are ongoing open shops for members who have participated during the year and purchased the necessary shop stamps and passed the club safety requirements. Summer is a great time for adventures, and many members, whether they are snowbirds or live here year-round, enjoy rock collecting (hounding).

Arizona designated turquoise as the official state gemstone in 1974. Turquoise is an opaque mineral, a hydrated phosphate of copper and aluminum. In Arizona (as well as other locations around the globe), turquoise often is found near copper deposits.

Arizona designated petrified wood as the official state fossil in 1988. This petrified wood is what remains of large conifers that grew in the warm, wet and seasonally-dry climate of Arizona during the Triassic (about 250 to 210 million years ago). The most famous petrified wood deposits can be found at Petrified Forest National Park located north of Interstate 40 east of Holbrook, Arizona.

Rock collecting is prohibited at the national park. Several reviews from the web have reported that Dobell ranch, just three miles from the national park, has plenty of petrified wood to be dug or just picked up. There are pieces ranging from a few ounces to several tons. Pictures taken show small pebbles to large stumps with lots of variety in size and colors (rainbow and reds). Some have crystal formations imbedded in the rock. Reported prices are $28 a five-gallon bucket. Contact Rhonda Dobell at 928-524-2628 or 928-245-9010. They are open seven days a week. The ranch is down an unpaved but accessible road. It is reported rock samples are lying everywhere. Samples can be purchased which have already been collected.

In Arizona, there are over 12 million surface acres of federal public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The BLM has several districts in the state. Subject to federal restrictions, recreational rock hounding is allowed on much of the public lands managed by the BLM.

Accordingly, rock-hounders should check – in advance – with the applicable BLM district. In addition, certain lands may be subject to mining claims that may preclude certain rock hounding activities.

Specially Designated Rock Hounding Sites: In addition to other rock hounding opportunities on BLM-managed public lands, the BLM has certain specially-designated rock hounding areas. These areas include:

* Arizona: Round Mountain Rock hound Area (Safford District)

* Arizona: Black Hills Rock hound Area (Safford District)