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Where to Rockhound in Louisiana & What You Can Find

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The state of Louisiana is famous for its oil, gas, as well as its salt domes. Louisiana is a good place for rockhounding since it is abundant in certain gemstones, minerals, and fossils. Though the surface geology is dominated by sedimentary rocks, other objects might catch your attention. So where to rockhound in Louisiana and what you can find?

The southern, northern, and along the coastal line of Louisiana, are among the best places to rockhound, especially for agate, petrified palm wood, oyster shells, and agatized corals respectively. You can also find chert, different types of fossils, gemstones, opal, sedimentary rocks, and more.

The state mineral of Louisiana is the agate, and it is commonly found in the gravels and the limestone deposits in the southeastern parts of Louisiana, in the area eastwards from the Mississippi River towards the Amite River valley in St. Tammany Parish, north of Convington, and in the Clinton area of East Feliciana Parish.

Petrified Palm Wood is the official state fossil of Louisiana, while the cut and polished oyster shell in the cabochon cut form is the official gemstone. Read on to find out where to find these items and other rare materials.

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Best Places for Rockhounding in the State of Louisiana

Where to rockhound in Louisiana and what to find
Rockhounding in Louisiana

Louisiana, though not the richest state in minerals, is abundant in fossils, chert, agate, petrified wood, and it has its unique palm wood, cabochons, opal (Louisiana Opal), opalized palm, or the famous agatized corals.

Lousiana Coast

If you want to find the most famous Louisiana gem material, the Louisiana palm wood, or simply petrified palm wood, which formed during the Oligocene-age in the Catahoula Formation, you have to go to the coast of Louisiana, since this material was deposited on the alluvial plains, in the coastal swamps of the Oligocene Gulf Coast.

This event occurred millions of years ago, as the coastline of that time was 100 miles farther inland than today. Most specimens here are a palm of the genus Palmoxylon, which became the state fossil since 1976.

Petrified palm wood is usually found in the parishes located in the northern areas of Louisiana as the Gulf of Mexico is theorized to have been situated in the Oligocene period much more north than today.

The fossilized palm is available in many locations in the region where the Catahoula formation consisting of sandstone, siltstone, and mudstone exists.

Along the coast of Louisiana, the state gemstone – mineral – the oyster shell is also commonly found. Louisiana adopted the cut and polished oyster shell in the cabochon cut form as the official gemstone in 2011.

The Crassostrea virginica mollusk is easy to find, even in large numbers, off the coast of Louisiana, in the coastal belt.

Feliciana Parishes & St. Tammany Parish

A former official state mineral (from 1976 to 2011), the agate, is found in Louisiana gravels and limestone deposits, within the Citronelle Formation, and the younger sediments in the Feliciana Parishes.

The agates in Louisiana formed within limestone sediments of the upper Midwest, as they eroded out and were moved down ancient rivers to Louisiana where they now reside in gravel beds.

One of the most abundant sites in agate is the capital city of Louisiana, Baton Rouge, or the gravel beds along the Amite River.

Bogue Chitto River which passes through the Bogue Chitto State Park in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, and also the Pearl River, is also known to have agates.

Central Louisiana

Petrified palm wood is commonly found in the parishes of Rapides, in central Louisiana, the same applies to the parish of Natchitoches, Sabine, or in the north-central parish of Grant.

All of these parishes have famous rivers crossing them. Petrified wood is basically the remains of the trees that grew on the Gulf Coastal Plain during the Oligocene Epoch, 30 million years ago.

Petrified wood formed when the trees died and were buried by sediments. Minerals in the groundwater permeated the wood,  and replaced the organic matter, turning the wood to stone. The main mineral in the petrified wood is silica.

Southern Louisiana

One of the rarest specimens of fossilized corals, known as the agatized corals, can be found in the gravels of ancient and present streams of southern Louisiana.

Around New Orleans, fossilized corals have been found the most. This rare material, when broken up, will display a beautiful variety of colors.

Fossilized corals form when silica is naturally replaced by chalcedony. This rare material is not only found in southern Louisiana but in the other states in the Deep South as well.

Catahoula Formation

The Catahoula Formation, situated near Leesville, in the Vernon Parish of central Louisiana, is a great place for rockhounding. Not only is the petrified palm wood abundant here, but another material, called the Louisiana opal is found.

The Louisiana opal is a sandstone in which the sand grains are bound together by a cement of clear precious opal. Another material, the opalized palm, is also found in the Catahoula Formation.

Opalized palm wood from Louisiana (source)

The opalized palm is not the same as the agatized palm wood, though both materials are common in this region.

Kisatchie National Forest

The Kisatchie National Forest is the only national forest of Louisiana, and it is also a great place for rockhounding, as different types of rocks, fossils, and minerals can be found here.  You are also allowed to take such items, in small quantities though.

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What rocks, minerals, and crystals can you find in Lousiana

The surface geology of Lousiana is dominated by sediments and sedimentary rocks. There are no outcrops of metamorphic rocks or igneous rocks. The state is also relatively poor in mineral diversity.

Category / TypeLocations
Rocks (Sedimentary) 
LimestoneThe southeastern parts of Louisiana, in the area eastwards from the Mississippi River towards the Amite River valley in St. Tammany Parish, north of Convington, and in the Clinton area of East Feliciana Parish
Shale & ClayIn the southern Parish of Tangipahoa, the St. Tammany Parish, the Pointe Coupee Parish, or the Caddo Parish located in the northwest corner of Louisiana  
GypsumIn the northern region of Louisiana, in the Winn Parish, or in the north-central Grant Parish    
SandstoneIn the Kisatchie National Forest of Louisiana, or in the Catahoula Formation near Leesville, in the Vernon Parish of central Louisiana
Rocks (Metamorphic)   
AgateIn the southeastern parts of Louisiana, in the area eastwards from the Mississippi River towards the Amite River valley in St. Tammany Parish, north of Convington, in the Clinton area of East Feliciana Parish, or the capital city of Baton Rouge.  
Agatized CoralsIn the gravels of ancient and present streams of southern Louisiana, especially around New Orleans
Mineraloids     
Opal  The Catahoula Formation, situated near Leesville, in the Vernon Parish of central Louisiana
Oyster ShellOff the coast of Louisiana, in the coastal belt.
Fossils 
Petrified Palm WoodThe coast of Louisiana, in the region where the Catahoula formation consisting of sandstone, siltstone, and mudstone exists. In the parishes of Rapides, in central Louisiana, the Parish of Natchitoches, Sabine, or in the north-central parish of Grant.
Opalized Palm  The Catahoula Formation, situated near Leesville, in the Vernon Parish of central Louisiana
List of rocks, minerals & crystals you can find in Louisiana

However, palm fossils are common in Louisiana, and they range in color from white to brown, chocolate to black, pink to orange, and even some red fossils were reported to exist.

Fossilized trunks are usually cut and polished to be used as gems, bookends, sculptures, and other items. The petrified palm wood is the official state fossil of Louisiana.

The polished oyster shell in the cabochon cut from, is the official gemstone of Louisiana, even though it isn’t technically a gemstone. The Crassostrea Virginia mollusk is the most common oyster shell found in Louisiana, and it is often incorporated into jewelry.

Though the state may not be rich in minerals, the mineraloid, opal, is present in Louisiana, together with the former state mineral, agate.

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FAQ about Rockhounding in Louisiana

Still did not find the answer to your answers about rockhounding in Louisiana? Find frequently asked questions in the section below:

Where can I find Opal in Louisiana?

The Catahoula Formation, situated near Leesville, in the Vernon Parish of central Louisiana, is a great place to find opal. The Louisiana opal is a sandstone in which the sand grains are bound together by a cement of clear precious opal. Another material, the opalized palm, is also found in the Catahoula Formation.

Where can I find fossils in Louisiana?

On the coast of Louisiana, in the region where the Catahoula formation consisting of sandstone, siltstone, and mudstone exists, which is situated near Leesville, in the Vernon Parish of central Louisiana, you can find the state’s official fossil, the petrified palm wood. In the parishes of Rapides, in central Louisiana, the Parish of Natchitoches, Sabine, or in the north-central parish of Grant, you can find the opalized palm wood.

What gemstones are found in Louisiana?

Agate, and lapearlite / eastern oyster shell – are the most common gemstones found in the state of Louisiana. Agate can be found In the southeastern parts of Louisiana, in the area eastwards from the Mississippi River towards the Amite River valley in St. Tammany Parish, north of Convington, in the Clinton area of East Feliciana Parish, or the capital city of Baton Rouge.

The eastern oyster shell, also known as lapearlite, which is the official state gemstone of Louisiana, can be found off the coast of Louisiana, in the coastal belt.

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