ROCKHOUNDING IN NEVADA – Resources for your next trip

Cover of the Summer 2021 issue of Nevada Magazine

Nevada Magazine Article

Nevada Magazine editor Megg Mueller recently joined NBMG Geologist Rachel Micander on a rockhounding day trip to Wonderstone Mountain. You can read about their trip in the July Issue of Nevada Magazine.

Digging in the Nevada dirt has rewards beyond any dollar value.


Almost three-quarters of the Earth is covered by water, some 71 percent. For anyone who has looked upon the vistas and mountain ranges of the Nevada landscape, that can be a mind-boggling thought. Our arid nature comes at a cost sometimes, but boy, that land provides wealth that goes way past bank accounts. Getting down—and maybe dirty—in the hills of our state is one of the easiest, least expensive, and most rewarding pastimes you’ll ever find.

Read more…

Nevada Rocks!

Nevada has a vast assortment of rocks and minerals. Igneous rocks include those from gabbro, diorite, and granite intrusions, and basalt, andesite, and rhyolite flows, breccias, and tuffs. Sedimentary rocks include conglomerate, sandstone, siltstone, shale, argillite, limestone, and dolomite. Metamorphic rocks include gneiss, schist, phyllite, slate, marble, hornfels, and skarn and various other types of metaigneous and metasedimentary rocks. Many types of minerals, both common and obscure, are also present.

Gemstones such as turquoise and opal are also locally present.

Rockhounding Publications and Maps

Various publications, maps, books, rock hammer, and safety glasses laid out on a pile of rocks.

NBMG has produced a number of bulletins, maps, and reports on the geology and mineral resources of the state to assist with your rockhounding adventures and can be purchased at the NBMG Publication Sales Office.

NBMG Special Publication 29, Rocks, Gemstones, Minerals, and Fossils in Nevada, is a useful generalized map of areas to explore. Several popular books have been written on rock, mineral, and gem collecting and recreational prospecting in Nevada like the Gem Trails of Nevada and Rockhounding Nevada both of which are available at the NBMG Publications Sales Office for local pickup.

  • NBMG county bulletins are an excellent resource for rockhounding and prospecting.

Need help identifying a rock or mineral?

People can bring their rocks and minerals to NBMG for identification at the Great Basin Science Sample and Record Library. It costs nothing for us to look at them. Most rocks and minerals can be identified by someone on the NBMG staff.

Great Basin Science Sample and Records Library
2175 Raggio Parkway, Reno, NV 89512
phone: (775) 682-8766

Restrictions to Collecting

One should always contact the owner before collecting on private property. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management oversees most of Nevada’s public lands, and allows gemstone and common rock specimens to be collected for private use on unclaimed sites. On public land, most minerals on a valid mining claim belong to the claim holder. See Mining for more detail on mining claims and records. So it is necessary to either avoid valid mining claims or to ask permission from the claim holder to collect rocks and minerals on their claims. Only hobby collecting is allowed in wilderness and wilderness study areas if it does not create surface disturbance or impair the environment.

The same general rules apply to land overseen by the U.S. Forest Service, but collectors should check with that agency for additional restrictions. Collecting rocks and minerals are generally prohibited in National Parks, and trespassing and collecting is illegal on Indian Reservations without permission from the tribal authorities. Trespassing and collecting is both illegal and dangerous on lands controlled by the Military.

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