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If you’re new to rockhounding, you may wonder what you should hunt for next! You can find rocks in places you haven’t even thought about, even in your backyard! So, what are some cool rocks, and where can you find them?
Some cool rocks are geodes, rose quartz, opal, malachite, granite, and limestone, among many others. Depending on what you are looking for, consider this: sedimentary rocks are found near oceans, caves, deserts, igneous rock in basins, orogens, oceanic crust, and metamorphic rocks in mountain ranges and deep inside their cores.
If you want to know which awesome rocks for collecting are found within your area, some tips on how to find them, or what rocks are cool to collect, get ready! We have prepared everything you need to know before starting your rockhounding adventure below!
If you want to check out the best rock and mineral identification books, you can find them here (Amazon link).
What are Cool Rocks?
Cool rocks are those that stand out due to unique or interesting features. Characteristics that can make rocks cool include:
- Vivid colors – Rocks like bright ruby-red garnets or multicolored tourmalines catch the eye with their intense hues.
- Interesting shapes – Some rocks form fascinating natural shapes like cubes in pyrite or lovely crystals in amethyst geodes.
- Fossils & imprints – Finding plant or animal fossils preserved inside rock layers adds historical value.
- Special properties – Rocks that glow under UV light or react strongly to magnets have intriguing properties.
- Metallic flecks – Sparkly specks of gold, silver, or copper gleaming from a stone can make it more desirable.
- Locale – Rocks found in unusual or faraway places capture the imagination. Space rocks and gems from exotic locales are extra cool.
So, the “cool factor” of rocks comes from characteristics that make them visually stunning, rare to find, or tell an intriguing geological story about our planet and its past. The more unique or special attributes a rock possesses, the cooler it becomes to rockhounds and collectors.
There are many other gorgeous and interesting rock varieties that collectors seek out, like lapis lazuli, malachite, and labradorite. The colors, crystals, fossils, shapes, and metaphysical properties determine a rock’s allure and “cool factor”! Below are some rocks commonly regarded as “cool rocks” by collectors:
Quartz is the hardest of common minerals. The only mineral harder than quartz is diamonds. Its composition is silicon and oxygen, with a clear, glass-like appearance. Its pink hue is believed to be caused by tiny fibers of dumortierite inside the quartz.
As you know, rose quartz has ornamental purposes – figurines, vases, jewelry.
From the Sanskrit “upala,” which means stone, Opal, like Ammonite, originates back in the Jurassic Period. Opal is formed from water and silicon and is famous for its stunning, vibrant colors.
The light-colored igneous rock, granite, has little grains on it. It is formed from the crystallization of magma underneath the Earth’s surface. It Contains quartz, feldspar, mica, and others. Its colors varied from red and pink to gray and white.
Granite can be used as decorative rock, mostly in countertops, tile floors, stair treads, and many other creative ways!
Turquoise is a blue-to-green mineral formed by percolating acidic aqueous solutions during the oxidation of other minerals. Its name comes from the French, meaning “Turkish stone.”
It looks beautiful and has been used as a gemstone for thousands of years. Jewelry-related, it is one of the most known gemstones out there that can transform your look from an 8 to a 10!
TIP: Turquoise is a very popular gemstone. How common is turquoise in the U.S., and where can it be? Find out more in the article below:
Finding Turquoise: 8 Best Locations Near Me (United States)
Obsidian is a kind of igneous rock. It has a dark color, sometimes green, sometimes brown. It is made out of solidified lava. The problem with this rock is that it doesn’t last a lifetime. In time, the glass transforms itself into fine-grained crystals.
Obsidian was used in the Stone Age to create axes, arrowheads, and weapons. Nowadays, sharp blades are made out of them for heart surgery purposes.
Unakite is an olive green-looking gemstone known as the “Unakite Jasper.” It is made of quartz crystals, green epidote, and pink orthoclase feldspar.
The name was coined in North Carolina. Unakite is not a popular gemstone, but it is used in hippie-style jewelry for people who like their bling with an edge!
Fool’s Gold ( Iron Pyrite)
Pyrite gets its nickname “fool’s gold” from the Greek word “pyr,” meaning “fire rock.” People used to strike this mineral against steel to make sparks and start fires. With its bright golden hue and metallic shine, pyrite is often mistaken for real gold.
During the gold rush era, prospectors aiming to strike it rich felt great disappointment upon realizing they discovered pyrite instead of real gold, hence the “fool’s gold” moniker.
Pyrite is the most well-known sulfide mineral and contains iron, though it is not commonly used as an iron ore. Other minerals like hematite and magnetite provide more economical sources of iron extraction. Still, pyrite remains popular among mineral collectors for its classic cubic shape and pale gold color, which seems to hold opportunities even if it does turn out to be “fool’s gold.”
TIP: Pyrite is believed to be quite a common mineral; however, pyrite fakes can sometimes be spotted. Find out more about the differences between real and fake pyrite in the article below:
Real vs. Fake Pyrite: Focus on These 7 Differences
Ammonites were prehistoric sea creatures that resembled present-day nautilus shells. Related to octopuses, squid, and cuttlefish, these marine mollusks lived during the Mesozoic era between 252 to 66 million years ago.
Ammonites had coiled shells acting as flotation devices, allowing them to drift in the open water freely. The shells were partitioned into chambers, much like nautilus shells today. As the ammonite grew, it would seal off older chambers and create new, larger ones.
Meteorites or Tektites
Tektites are the driest minerals on Earth ( very low on water ). They are made of terrestrial rocks and have a homogenous composition. They are believed to be the result of meteorites hitting the Earth.
They are found in different shapes, such as spheres, disks, or teardrops, and are very easy to store because they don’t rust in time.
Geodes are spherical rocks that carry hollow cavities lined with crystals. Its name comes from Greek, and it means “earthlike.”
They are formed in volcanoes or sedimentary rock, in which air, mud, or tree roots make a void in the rock while the exterior hardens into a spherical form.
Then, the groundwater filled with minerals starts flowing around and through these geodes. You can see the result of nature’s process if you crack open a geode and see the magnificent crystal inside its cavity.
You can find geodes worldwide, especially in deserts, volcanoes, and places with limestone.
TIP: Are you fascinated by geodes? If so, it is good to know how to recognize fake and real or dyed geodes. Find out more in the article below:
What’s the Difference Between Real and Fake Geodes?
Tips on How to Find Cool Rocks
Contrary to popular belief, stunning rocks can be unearthed right in your backyard, not just in museums or jewelry stores. Common backyard treasures like quartz, turquoise, jade, garnet, opal, and tourmaline are gems you might uncover simply by stepping outside and exploring.
A great place to search for rocks is near city roads. Especially if there are road cuts, there’s a high chance you will find cool gems.
Do you have neighbors whose land/house is under construction? Jackpot! If there’s any deep digging around, rock and soil are piled near the road. Grab your utensils and dig around!
Another good spot for rockhounding is near forests. If you live surrounded by a forest, you can go for a morning walk and be amazed by its treasures.
You can find fossils and petrified wood in areas with loose rocks and small cliffs. Bear in mind that forests might have lakes. Its shorelines hide beautiful gems such as geodes and agates.
Some useful yet necessary utensils that might help you are a pickaxe for chipping, a shovel if you need to dig deeper, a classifier to remove tiny gems, and tweezers just in case the rocks are too small.
TIP: Starting with rockhounding in your backyard is a great idea. You can find a lot of cool rocks there. Find out more about what rocks are common in the backyards and how to find them:
12 Gemstones You Can Find in Your Backyard Right Now
Where to Find Cool Rocks in Your Backyard?
Depending on where you’re located, you might find some cool rocks, even in your backyard. If you don’t know where to start, consider this:
You can find some cool stones around rocky areas in your backyard or try by the rivers/Oceanside near your house. Since not everybody is lucky enough to have rivers across their home, you might look at the areas mentioned earlier or check the table below to find out where you can find cool rocks.
|Where You Can Find Cool Rocks
|Red Feather Lake
State Line Diamond District
|Barnes Park, Antrim Country
|Bear Creek, Eagle Rock
|The Ocean View Mine – San Diego Country
|Birdseye Marble, Manti-La Sal National Forest
Utah Landscaping Rock
|Mystery Cave State Park
Lilydale Regional Park
|Peace River, Honeymoon Island
|Trammel Fossil Park, Sharonville
State Parks – Southwestern Ohio
|Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge, West of Jet
Arbuckle Mountains of southern Oklahoma
Wichita Mountains, southwest Oklahoma
|Burro Creek Recreation Site, Northwest of Wickenburg
The Black Hills Rockhound Area,
Gold Basin Strewn Field, Mohave County
|Franklin Mineral MuseumCape Point May
Trenton, New Jersey State Museum
Quick Tip: By clicking on the links in the table, you will get a full guide on what cool rocks and minerals are and where you can find them in each state.
Now that we covered what cool rocks you can find amongst these states and even in your backyard, let’s see a proper way to display them.
TIP: Taking rocks from a protected area would resemble going to an archaeological site and taking things like fossils or old weapons. Find out more about the legal aspect of taking rocks from nature in the article below:
Is Taking Rocks from Nature Illegal? You Should Know This
How to Display Cool Rocks?
There are many ways to display your beautiful rocks! You can place them all over the house, put them on your shelves in huge jars, or keep them in bookcases. If you want more practical ideas, check them out by clicking here (Amazon link).
Consider the weight of your rocks before putting them on high shelves! A great alternative to that is getting yourself a see-through gallery case, which is practical not only for aesthetic purposes but also for guests who might want to appreciate your collection.
If you have a small collection, another great idea is to store them in a box. This allows you to travel safely and organize them by color or size.
If you’re feeling fancy, you can purchase big clear cases just like the ones in museums! Cases like this provide the necessary protection for your precious gems. Plus, you’ll give your house a distinct chic vibe!
If you don’t want to spend money on useless shelves and cabinets, you can always DIY! Get tiny cardboard boxes and put them in bigger ones, paint them in whatever color you choose, and there you go! You now have a beautiful set-up!
Either way, whatever you choose, stones give any place a cool, edgy vibe. And it’s not just about the looks – the different metaphysical properties have made them almost necessary in every home!
TIP: What to do when your rock collection becomes too big and you don’t know what to do with it? I have some useful ideas for you on what to do with your old rock collection; find out more in the article below:
What To Do With Old Rock Collection? 3 Simple & Practical Ideas
Where to Buy Cool Rocks?
If you can’t find certain rocks or you wish to teach your children about geology, several different kits exist on the web and are available to purchase! Check out these three kits:
Dancing Bear Collection
The Dancing Bear Collection (Amazon link) is one of the best gift ideas for any kid since it has over 200 gems and rocks and 200 pieces of informational sheets so you can learn like a pro. You can match your stones with the sheet and discover cool facts.
The kit has arrowheads, amethyst, pumice, tiger eye, goldstone, and even two geodes to crack open. It’ll give you the most real rock hunt sensation mixed with clean gravel!
You can check the latest price for the Dancing Bear Collection here (Amazon link).
National Geographic Break Premium Geodes
Have you heard of geodes? You can find them in this National Geographic Kit (Amazon link) with goggles for protection, a learning guide to teach you how geodes were formed, and two display stands.
If you thought the geodes were not real, you were mistaken! The kit has 100% natural geodes in different shapes, selected just for you to have the best experience.
Just get a tiny hammer, crack them open, and be astonished by their sparkling, colorful beauty. You can proudly put them on the display stands and make your room cooler and prettier!
You can check the latest National Geographic Geodes Kit price here (Amazon link).
National Geographic Mega Gemstone Mine
With this Mega Gemstone Mine (Amazon link), you’ll learn everything there is to know about gemstones. You will find 15 beautiful gems, including amethyst, pyrite, fluorite, quartz, obsidian, aventurine, and many more!
With the help of a chisel, brush, and magnifying glass, you’ll get the full miner life experience. You can check the latest National Geographic Mega Gemstone Mine price here (Amazon link).
There are plenty of cool rocks in our little world, and regardless of where you are located, the chances are high that you might come across the specimens mentioned earlier if you look in the right places we talked about.
The coolest you can find is geodes; since they are like kinder chocolate eggs, you never know what’s inside until you open them. Have fun out there, and we hope our tips on what are cool rocks and where to find them helped you out!
TIP: If you are located in the United States and love rockhounding, then we have compiled a list, maps, and guidelines about the best rockhounding sites near you! Find out more in the article below:
Rockhounding Near Me: Best Locations State-by-State (Map)