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Alaska is a tough place to navigate; however, for the more adventurous, it turns up to be an excellent rockhounding place due to its rocks, minerals, crystals, and fossils. But what are the best rockhounding sites in Alaska, and what can you find?
The best rockhounding sites in Alaska are located in the north and northwest, like the Jade Creek and Jade Mountain, Kachemak Bay, Kobuk River, the Northway & Tok regions, Brooks mountain range, and Kuiu Island. You can find jade, garnets, fossils, gold, obsidian, agates, soapstone, diamonds, geodes, and sea glass.
Thus, as you can see, there are plenty of rockhounding locations in Alaska, but let’s dissect these regions!
If you are interested in checking out the best book about rockhounding in Alaska you can find it by clicking here (Amazon link).
Best Rockhounding Locations in Alaska
Alaska’s northern regions are generally the best places for gem hunting, but let’s precisely what areas are worth it and see what you can find!
The Shungnak District is an excellent region in Alaska to find gold. You can find gold in the mountainous zones between the Kobuk and Noatak rivers. Here you can also find jade, serpentine, tremolite, platinum, and other minerals. Nephrite jade is also common here.
Northway & Tok
Both Northway & Tok are census-designated areas in Alaska. In both regions, in the uplands, specifically the granite-abundant ones, you can find varieties of quartz lavender in color and amethyst crystals.
These crystals are generally light-colored, such as pink, and purple, and you can find single specimens or parallel growing groups.
Brooks Mountain Range
In the far north of Alaska lies the Brooks Mountain Range. Here a variety of minerals, rocks, and crystals can be found. Several quartz types are present, and if you go to the Nolan Creek region, you can find them in metamorphic rocks, ranging from different colors such as red, brown, or copper. You can also find gold in this region.
Jade is the official state gemstone of Alaska since 1968. This state seems to be filled with jade, having regions named after the gem. The Jade Mountain, for example, located at the Seward Peninsula, is abundant!
Other great areas include the Jade Creek and even the Kobuk River situated in northwestern Alaska. Both jadeite and nephrite specimens of jade are plentiful in these regions.
The city of Wrangell is situated in southeastern Alaska, and it is quite a spectacular place to find bright garnets. Here you can discover octagonal-shaped garnets, raspberry-colored garnets, or almandine.
On the intriguing island of Kuiu, Alaska, you have high chances of finding fluorite-abundant veins, especially on the island’s northern end. Various shapes of fluorite and of different colors can be found here, as well as varieties of quartz.
Copper, Yukon, and Kuskokwim Rivers
Plenty of rivers in Alaska are abundant in certain minerals, and this is especially true when it comes to gold. If you are feeling adventurous, you can find gold in the Copper River, the Yukon River, and the Kuskokwim River.
BTW: Do you want to know more about rock and mineral identification? The books listed below are the best ones you can find on the internet (Amazon links):
- Smithsonian Handbooks: Rocks & Minerals
- Gemstone & Crystal Properties (Quick Study Home)
- Ultimate Explorer Field Guide: Rocks and Minerals (National Geographic Kids)
What Kind of Rocks Are in Alaska & Where to Find Them?
There are various types of rocks that you can find in Alaska, such as obsidian, soapstone, geodes, and more! Let’s see exactly where you can find them!
For an extended period of time, Central Alaska was a trading center of obsidian since ancient times. This type of rock is plentiful in Alaska, and you can find it in many regions, such as Nenana City, Tanana Valley, Batza Tena in the northwestern parts of Alaska, and Wiki Peak in south-central Alaska, or Suemez in coastal southeast Alaska.
Ancient people in this region of the earth used obsidian in abundance, and plenty of sites in Alaska were found to contain obsidian tools or even weapons.
Agates are pretty common in Alaska, and some of the best places to find them are near beaches or river banks. You various types of agates and in different colors, sizes, in areas such as Point Woronzof, Fire Island, the beaches around Kenai or Juneau, the western part of Anch, or Mendenhall Lake.
Agates are plentiful and are best found on sunny days on gravel roads, airstrips, riverbanks, and islands.
TIP: Agates are beautiful rocks and can be really valuable too. Do you know how to recognize the true value of agates? Check out the article below and find out how to determine the worth of your agates:
Are Agates Valuable rocks? The True Worth of Agates
You can find some big geodes in Alaska if you know where to look. In the No Name Creek region, several geodes have been found.
You can also try looking for them in the Yukon River, the Talkeetna Range and river, Totem Bay, Denali, Sheep Mountain, the Yellow Jacket River, Jim Creek area, and the northern part of Glenn Highway, Palmer, and Chikaloon.
Geodes in Alaska are quite giant, with several of them being the size of a basketball or even larger. Be sure to have the right tools with you if you want to crack them open on sight and reveal their beauty!
Where to Find Crystals in Alaska?
There are many unexplored regions in Alaska that might host various types of crystals; however, let us look at some of the most common ones found.
There is an entire mountain of jade on the Seward Peninsula, where the nephrite variant can also be found as well, though it is highly impossible. Nephrite can also be found in the Dall, Shungnak, or Kobuk rivers.
Other great places to find nephrite include Jade Mountain and Jade Creek. Generally, the northern parts of Alaska are the best places for finding nephrite.
There are high chances of finding diamonds in Alaska, especially in the central regions. One such place is Shulin Lake, where diamonds, purple garnets, and other specimens were found. Across the borders of the Nunavut and the Northwestern Territories is also a good place to search for diamonds.
As previously stated, Alaska is mostly an unexplored region, and many enthusiasts consider that there are more places in this state to hunt than this precious specimen.
If you want to search for amethyst in Alaska, you can go to the census-designated areas of Northway and Tok.
In the uplands of these regions, where granite is mostly present, amethyst can be found in abundance. Different colors, shapes, and sizes of amethyst can be found in these regions. Quartz crystals are also present here.
TIP: Whether you are new to rockhounding in Alaska or if you are a frequent visitor, it’s always useful to learn more about the different rocks and minerals you may find on your journeys. Check out the guide below:
10 Common Rocks & Minerals You Can Find in Alaska
What Gemstones Can Be Found in Alaska?
Alaska is a paradise for gem hunters since so many interesting places exist here, both explored and unexplored. The only downfall is that some places are impassible, and the cold temperatures will turn off most adventurers. Let’s take a look at some gemstones and where you can find them in Alaska.
Garnets appear to be pretty common in Alaska, with one of the world’s biggest garnet mines being situated here, near Wrangell.
You can find garnets in this region or in the McCarthy area of south-central Alaska. Some other great areas include the Tok and Northway uplands or the Stikine River.
The jadeite gemstone variant of jade is plentiful in Alaska, especially in the Shungnak District, or the Jade Mountain and Jade Creek, and it is plentiful between the Kobuk and Noatak rivers or in the Dall River.
The most popular area for finding jade and both of its variants, jadeite, and nephrite, still remains the famous Seward Peninsula.
TIP: Jade is the most valuable gemstone in Asian culture. The combination of jade’s history and magnificent appearance makes the stone so valuable and popular. Find out more about Jade’s value in the article below:
6 Factors Why Jade is Valuable (+ Prices for Colors & More)
FAQs About Rockhounding in Alaska
Still not found the answer to your questions? Below are answers to some common questions about rockhounding in Alaska.
Where is the Best Place to Find Gold in Alaska?
Gold can be legally panned in Alaska, and it appears to be quite common in this region of the world. In fact, Alaska designated gold as its official mineral in 1968. Gold can be found throughout Alaska, especially on the riverbanks. Norbe, Fairbanks, and Juneau are major towns filled with gold mining areas.
You can find gold in Alaska in the Yukon River Basin, the Kuskokwim River, the Copper River, between the Kobuk and Noatak rivers in the Shungnak District, Nome Creek Valley Kenai Peninsula, or along the Dalton Highway south of Atigun Pass.
TIP: If you want to know more about gold prospecting in Alaska, check out the complete guide in the article below:
Gold Prospecting in Alaska: 6 Best Locations & Laws
What is the Official State Fossil of Alaska?
Believe it or not, the official state fossil of Alaska is the legendary Woolly Mammoth. Its nomination occurred in 1986 and has been the state’s official fossil ever since.
Woolly Mammoths are a distant relative of elephants, and they lived in Alaska for around 1.6 million years before becoming extinct around 10,000 years ago. Many fossils of this beast are found throughout Alaska even to this day.
Where can you Find Sea or Beach Glass in Alaska?
There are many places in Alaska where you can find sea or beach glass. Some of the best places to search for it include the beaches of Adak, Admiralty, Attu, Kupreanof, Nelson, Popof, Tanaga, Unalaska, and Zarembo. The islands around Alaska are also great places to find sea glass or beach glass.
Alaska is not for anyone, but if you want to go gem hunting, it indeed is a fantastic place! Many regions in Alaska remain unexplored even to this day, and it is difficult to predict exactly what other specimens of rock, minerals, or crystals could lay there.
Still, one thing is certain: Alaska is filled with jade and gold, which can mean several other precious gemstones are present here. It’s up to you to find them!
BTW: Check out this amazing metal sign (Amazon link) which is perfect for everyone who loves rockhounding in Alaska!
TIP: And it’s rockhounding time now! But do you know what tools you need for rockhounding? Check out the list of all needed tools and equipment for rockhounding in the article below:
The Complete Guide: All Tools You Need for Rockhounding