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Nebraska is a fantastic state for rockhounding as there are a variety of minerals, gems, rocks, and crystals that you can collect and add to your collection easily.
The best rockhounding locations in this state are in its western and eastern parts. In Nebraska, you can find geodes, and many types of agates, including blue chalcedony, concretions, unakites, tourmaline, gold, Jasper, carnelian, opals, turquoise, garnets, petrified palm wood, and many fossils.
Where exactly you should go rockhounding in this state, and what you can find, is what I am about to present to you in this article. Read on, and enjoy!
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Best Places to Hunt Rocks in Nebraska
Certain places require you to ask for permission or pay a fee to start gem hunting; however, Nebraska also has plenty of free-to-dig sites where you can head alone, with family, friends, or acquaintances.
As stated before, some of the best rockhounding locations, and the majority of them, are typically situated in the eastern and western parts of the state.
The best rockhounding locations in Nebraska you can go to include 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 others.
As you can see, there are plenty of rockhounding locations in Nebraska and even more unmentioned; however, let’s analyze a few of the places mentioned above and see what you can find!
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 next, namely, Whiteclay, an unincorporated community part of Sheridan County, and also quite close to Dawes County.
In Whiteclay, you should go gem hunting in the area gravels near Whiteclay River, or its western draws, or washes. Here, you can find Fairburn agates, chalcedony, Jasper, petrified wood, opalized wood, agatized wood, fossils, and other types of 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 might not be the greenest of places; however, you have the Big Springs and the county seat of Chappell to visit. Chappell is an excellent place for rockhounds.
In the gravels and surfaces, you can find all kinds of things, from Fairburn agates, Jasper or agatized wood, to chalcedony and opalized wood.
Needless to say, the best rockhounding locations in Nebraska are undoubtedly 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):
- Smithsonian Handbooks: Rocks & Minerals
- Gemstone & Crystal Properties (Quick Study Home)
- Ultimate Explorer Field Guide: Rocks and Minerals (National Geographic Kids)
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
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.
|Geodes||Wymore, Blue River, Holmesville|
|Agates||Crawford, Platte River, Fairbury, Nemaha River|
|Flint||Omaha, Holmesville, Fairmont|
|Concretions||Pine Ridge, Dawes County, Sioux County|
The geodes that you can find in Nebraska are typically lined with blue Celestine or quartz. For the most part, you can find geodes in the eastern parts of the state.
Geodes are abundant in Nebraska in the Blue River area, Wymore, upon its eastern bank, and the quarries situated around Holmesville Town.
Agates in Nebraska are of various types, 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 – 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 for 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.
|Gold||Muddy Creek, North & South Platte Rivers, Little & Big Nemaha Rivers|
|Jasper||Niobrara River, Orella, Little Nemaha River|
|Celestite||Dawes County, Sioux County, Blue River|
The rivers in the west, and the receding glaciers in the east, are the primary sources of gold in Nebraska. 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, as well as its tributaries, or try 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 really 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|
|Carnelian||Orella, Dawes County|
|Opals||Omaha, Sioux County, Whiteclay, Morrill County|
|Petrified Palm Wood||Gothenburg, Dawson County,|
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 agates, commonly referred to as blue chalcedony, can be found in the northwestern parts of 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.
Where to Find Fossils in Nebraska?
In Nebraska, there are plenty of fossils that you can find, relics, and even 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 on 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 the area of 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, the best place to go is Cherry County, at Valentine, in Sandhills County. 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
Still did not find the answer to your answers 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 various minerals and crystals; however, the state currently 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 is the official state fossil of Nebraska, since 1967. Three fossil species were discovered in Nebraska, namely 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 and 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 are going to find in Nebraska? If not, check out the best backpacks for rockhounding in the article below:
4 Best Backpacks for Rockhounding: Honest Review & Tips