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Best Rockhounding Sites in Nebraska & What to Find

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Nebraska is an excellent state for rockhounding since it has a diverse range of minerals, gems, rocks, and crystals that are readily collected and added to your collection.

The best rockhounding spots in this state are in the western and eastern regions. Geodes and a variety of agates can be found in Nebraska, including blue chalcedony, concretions, unakites, tourmaline, gold, Jasper, carnelian, opals, turquoise, garnets, petrified palm wood, and other fossils.

This article Will explain where you should go rockhounding in this state and what you can find there. Read on and enjoy!

Best Rockhounding Sites in Nebraska & What You Can Find
Best Rockhounding Sites in Nebraska & What You Can Find

If you want to check out the best book about rockhounding in Virginia, you can find it here (Amazon link).

Best Places to Hunt Rocks in Nebraska

Certain locations require permission or a price to begin gem hunting; nevertheless, Nebraska has numerous free-to-dig spots where you can go alone, with family, friends, or acquaintances.

As previously noted, most of the top rockhounding areas are in the state’s eastern and western regions.

The top rockhounding destinations in Nebraska are Whiteclay, Chadron Formation, Omaha, Sioux County, Niobrara River, Crawford, Dawes County, Platte River, Oglala National Grasslands, Ashville Fossil Beds, Little Nemaha River, Deuel County, Pine Ridge, and many more.

As you can see, there are numerous rockhounding areas in Nebraska, with many more unmentioned; nonetheless, let’s look at a couple of the ones mentioned above and see what we can find!

Dawes County

All sorts of things can be found in the draws, washes, and gravels of Dawes County, including opalized wood, celestite crystals, various fossils, concretions, agatized wood, or chalcedony, among other things.

The Chadron Formation and the Nebraska National Forest are situated in this region, as well as the Whitney Village and Crawford City, where you can find other things.

For example, at the Chadron Formation, you can find blue chalcedony, the state’s official gemstone, a type of blue agate, in its northern parts.

The Hay Springs and the Oglala National Grassland are very close to this county, where you can explore and find even more things, making Dawes County among the best places to rockhound in Nebraska.


Let’s look at a more specific location, namely Whiteclay, an unincorporated community part of Sheridan County that is also quite close to Dawes County.

In Whiteclay, you should go gem hunting in the gravel area near Whiteclay River, its western draws, or washes. Here, you can find Fairburn agates, chalcedony, Jasper, petrified wood, opalized wood, agatized wood, fossils, and other agates.

The best part is that Pine Ridge is only a few minutes away from Whiteclay, so you can make a short trip there to find other fossils, petrified wood, agates, or quartz concretions, among other things.

Deuel County

Deuel County might not be the greenest place; however, you have the Big Springs and the county seat of Chappell to visit. Chappell is an excellent place for rockhounds.

You can find all kinds of things in the gravels and surfaces, from Fairburn agates, Jasper, or agatized wood to chalcedony and opalized wood.

The best rockhounding locations in Nebraska are its many lakes and rivers, but let’s see what specimens you can find in this state.

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):

TIP: There are many different types of rocks and minerals that lie tucked away in the vast prairies of Nebraska. Find out more in the article below:
10 Common Rocks & Minerals You Can Find in Nebraska

Types of Rocks in Nebraska

Various cool rocks can be found in Nebraska, from plain sedimentary ones to metamorphic and igneous specimens. Most of them are scattered throughout the state but are predominantly found in its eastern and western parts.

The most popular rocks you can find in Nebraska include geodes and various types of agates, including moss agates, blue agates, Fairburn agates, chert, flint, concretions, coal, chalk, limestone, unakite, or bauxite specimens, among many others.

Rock Location
GeodesWymore, Blue River, Holmesville 
AgatesCrawford, Platte River, Fairbury, Nemaha River
FlintOmaha, Holmesville, Fairmont
ConcretionsPine Ridge, Dawes County, Sioux County
Common Types of Rocks You Can Find in Nebraska

The geodes in Nebraska are typically lined with blue Celestine or quartz. You can find geodes in most of the eastern parts of the state.

Geodes are abundant in Nebraska in the Blue River area, Wymore, on its eastern bank, and the quarries around Holmesville Town.

Agates in Nebraska are of various types are of high quality, and can be found throughout the state. The most sought-after are probably the Fairburn agates.

You can find these, along with other types of agates, in places such as the Agate Fossil Beds, Valentine, Niobrara River, Nemaha River, Crawford, Platte River, Fairbury, Orella, Pine Ridge, Omaha, Steel City, or Fullerton, among many other places.

Recommendation box: All tools and equipment you need for rockhounding and rock identification* (Amazon links):

1. Estwing Rock Hammer – Light, comfortable, and extremely durable hammer.
2. Estwing Geologist Pick – Classic and the most trusted paleo pick in the world.
3. Finder 12-inch Chisels – Heavy-duty chisels set with hand protection.
4. Mini Handle Shovel – This is a great tool for digging deep in the dirt.
5 Ironclad Utility Work Gloves – Breathable, but they also protect the areas requiring them most.
6. 3M Safety Glasses – Comfortable and efficient goggles for rockhounding.
7. Convoy 8+ UV Light – 365nm UV LED flashlight with a patented glass filter.
8. Wesley’s Jewelers Loupe – High magnification options (30X and 60X) with carrying case.
9. Mohs Hardness Kit – A specially designed kit for rockhounds

*All recommended products are personally tested and regularly used by experts from this website.

What Minerals Are Found in Nebraska?

Plenty of minerals and crystals can be found in Nebraska, and various locations allow gem hunters to collect them. There are even some rare types of minerals in this state.

To name just a few of the minerals that you can find in Nebraska, some of the most popular are gold, Jasper, celestite, feldspar, gypsum, magnetite, biotite, aragonite, autunite, sphalerite, selenite, siderite, ankerite, fluorite, and chalcopyrite, among many others.

GoldMuddy Creek, North & South Platte Rivers, Little & Big Nemaha Rivers
JasperNiobrara River, Orella, Little Nemaha River
CelestiteDawes County, Sioux County, Blue River
Common Minerals You Can Find in Nebraska

The rivers in the west and the receding glaciers in the east are Nebraska’s primary gold sources. Head west and pan for gold in the Platte Rivers. Reasonable amounts of gold can be found in the east, where glaciers receded. 

You can also try your luck in the Little and Big Nemaha Rivers and its tributaries or panning for gold in the Blue River or Missouri River.

Another great place is south of Stella Town, at Muddy Creek, in the bedrocks, or at Auburn Town, the southern parts of the same creek.

TIP: Did you ever think about tumbling your rocks and minerals? Tumbled rocks look great. If you want to know how much grit and rocks to put in the rock tumbler, check out the article below:
Rock Tumbler Loading: How Much Grit & Rocks Do You Put In?

Where to Find Gemstones in Nebraska?

With so many types of agates present in Nebraska, it is only natural that the state gemstone would be a rare type of agate. However, this is not the only gemstone you can find in Nebraska.

Apart from Blue chalcedony (agate), which is the state’s official gem, you can also find plenty of other rare and beautiful gemstones such as carnelian, opals, petrified palm wood, onyx, topaz, nephrite, garnet, turquoise, quartz, or even vivianite, among others.

Blue Chalcedony (agates)Chadron Formation
CarnelianOrella, Dawes County
OpalsOmaha, Sioux County, Whiteclay, Morrill County
Petrified Palm WoodGothenburg, Dawson County, 
Common Gemstones You Can Find in Nebraska

The rare blue chalcedony of Nebraska can be found in the Chadron Formation, located in Dawes County. Look for it in the area washes and gravels in its northern parts.

It can only be found in the northwestern parts of the state. You can also find this rare gemstone in New Mexico. It has been the official state gemstone of Nebraska since 1967.

Where to Find Blue Agate in Nebraska?

Blue Chalcedony Can Be Found in Nebraska
Blue Chalcedony Can Be Found in Nebraska

Blue agates, commonly called blue chalcedony, can be found in northwestern Nebraska, specifically in Dawes County. There, you need to head towards the Chadron Formation, where you can find plenty of specimens in the gravels, and area washes in the northern parts of the region.

TIP: Do you know what the most common gemstones you can find in your backyard are? Check them out in the article below:
12 Gemstones You Can Find in Your Backyard Right Now

Where to Find Fossils in Nebraska?

Nebraska has many fossils, relics, petrified wood, opalized wood, agatized wood, and even petrified palm wood. Plant and animal fossils are pretty common and easy to find!

The best place to search for fossils in Nebraska is at the Ashville Fossil Beds; however, collecting specimens is prohibited. Therefore, you can go to the northwest, to the White River Badlands. Guides will help you on your way, and you can keep what you find. 

Mammal fossils, plant fossils, turtles, and even snail fossils can be found here. If you want to find agatized or opalized wood, head towards Lodgepole Creek or the Platte Rivers. Little Badlands is a great area to find tiny vertebrate fossils. 

When it comes to petrified wood, go to Crawford and search the grazing lands, where you might also find silicified fern fossils or search the general area of Pine Ridge.

If you want to find petrified palm wood in Nebraska, go to Gothenburg and search for it in sand and gravel. Sandhills County is where you can discover silicified mastodon tusks. 

Suppose you are passionate about relics and artifacts and want to find arrowheads in Nebraska. In that case, Cherry County, at Valentine, in Sandhills County, is the best place to go. You can also find opal arrowheads in Morrill County. Head towards Angora Hill and search on the ranches.

TIP: The internet is full of fake rocks and minerals. One of the most commonly counterfeited minerals is Agate. Check out the main differences between real and fake agates in the article below:
Real vs. Fake Agate: You Should Know These 7 Differences

FAQ About Rockhounding in Nebraska

I still have not found the answer to your questions about rockhounding in Nebraska. Find frequently asked questions in the section below:

What is State Rock of Nebraska?

The official state rock of Nebraska is the Prairie agate, elected in 1967. It is a chalcedony stone, numerous around the Oglala National Grassland area in the northwestern part of the state. It is not native to Nebraska since it was carried here from Wyoming and South Dakota by streams.

What is the State Mineral of Nebraska?

Nebraska is abundant in minerals and crystals; however, the state doesn’t have an officially designated state mineral. Though many types of minerals exist throughout the state, they are not so abundant, possibly being the reason why no mineral was ever officially designated. 

What is the State Fossil of Nebraska?

The mammoth has been the official state fossil of Nebraska since 1967. Three fossil species were discovered in Nebraska: the Wooly Mammoth, Columbian Mammoth, and Imperial Mammoth. These giant elephants lived around 10,000 years ago. Fossils were found in all 93 counties of Nebraska. 


Nebraska is a beautiful state to visit; go gem hunting or panning for gold. It has various minerals, rocks, crystals, artifacts, fossils, and plenty of sites where collecting is permitted. This is a state that any enthusiast collector shouldn’t skip!

TIP: Is your backpack big enough to hold all the beautiful rocks you will find in Nebraska? If not, check out the best backpacks for rockhounding in the article below:
4 Best Backpacks for Rockhounding: Honest Review & Tips