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New York is a trove full of treasures when it comes to stones and minerals. New York is astonishing when it comes to rockhounding, being well known for its Herkimer Diamonds – a unique type of quartz crystal, and its vast paleontological sites. It is also well known for one of the world’s best museums when it comes to rockhounding, the American Museum of Natural History. So, what’s the best choice when it comes to rockhounding in New York?
Herkimer County is a must, being the only place where you can hunt for the renowned Herkimer Diamonds. Adirondack Park and the surrounding mountains are worth a shot for garnet lovers. Or, if you’re into fossils, an excellent place to go is The Pompey-Tully area, this place is known to be the most bountiful when it comes to marine fossils.
Read on to discover precisely where and what you can find in your gem hunting experience in New York.
If you are interested in checking out the best rockhounding tools you can find them by clicking here (Amazon link).
Best Places for Rockhounding in New York
Being recognized for its biggest garnet mine globally, New York has a reputation for marine fossils, especially for Eurypterus remipes, a kind of “sea scorpion,” that lived 420 million years ago. Eurypterus remipes was declared the official state fossil of New York in 1984.
There are more hidden gems when it comes to rockhounding in New York, and here are the best places to go:
Diamond Acres Mine, Fonda
Being the only place where you can find the Herkimer Diamonds (which are not actual diamonds, but a form of double terminated with water-like clarity quartz crystals), this one is one of the major attractions when it comes to gem hunting in New York.
The clarity of these gems comes from a prolonged formation over a long time, and you can even find some that have inclusions, such as anthraxolite, which can form lovely black patterns within the crystal.
They are familiar enough, and for a small fee per day, you should be able to dig in the above-ground of mines and find some excellent specimens of this famous crystal in your collection.
Adirondack Park, North River
The Adirondack garnet mine is the biggest of its kind globally, the reason why the state of New York designated this gem as its official state gem.
They come in different colors such as black or red, which are given by iron, or even green, colored by chromium. They usually are found in metamorphic rocks like mica schists and gneiss.
There are some dig-for-free sites if you explore the area a bit. When it comes to garnet hunting in New York, some of the best locations can be found using the Garnet Mines Tour company, which will guide you through a bunch of closed mines that left gravel behind.
Often one can find garnets by merely washing the leftover gravel and looking for the crimson shine that is to be uncovered.
Cascade Lakes – Keene
Here, you can find blue calcite and green diopside, mixed on white calcite pieces. It’s an excellent place to stop, have a snack, and look for some additions to your rock collection.
These stones should be easy to spot on the streams due to their characteristic color.
Excellent fossil specimens can be found in Schoharie county. Here, on the roadcut, you can find hundreds of millions of years old fossils, but while they are abundant in the area, the stones are very resistant, making collecting a bit tricky.
Pompey-Tully area, Onadaga county
This region is one of the most bountiful areas in the country when it comes to marine fossils. Here you can find fossils of brachiopods, sponges, and even trilobites. The exposed shale layers around the road can be easily pried apart.
St. Lawrence county
Here you can find some unique tremolite variations. They come in a deep purple color, matching that of amethyst. You can also find some individual tourmaline specimens in St. Lawrence county, matching the colors black (known as uvite) and brown (known as dravite).
You can pass by Selleck Road Tremolite or Power’s Farm Ultivite to get most of your rockhounding experience since it is one of the best places to find the named crystals.
Town of Jay
You can find Specimens of labradorite, moonstone, and garnets in the Town of Jay, in the graven on the sides of the stream, or in the stream directly.
Labradorite shines blue or gold in the steam, making it easier to spot, but out of the water, it shines black, making it harder to spot.
You also can find quartz here, and moonstone, which is a variation of labradorite.
Harry Frank Guggenheim Hall of Minerals
The American Museum of Natural History’s section dedicated to geology, located on the upper west side in Manhattan, New York, named Harry Frank Guggenheim Hall of Minerals, houses hundreds of exciting and unusual geological specimens.
They were chosen from the nearly 100,000 pieces, with the most well-known being the Star of India (a 563-carat sapphire) and the Patricia Emerald (a 12-sided, 632-carat stone).
It also houses a fossil hall with the most extensive collection of dinosaurs and mammal fossils globally, spread in a basement, and seven floors of animal history.
TIP: Speaking about museums, museums are great places for kids to get interested in rock collecting. Check out these 13 tips on how to get children started with rock collecting:
Rock Collecting for Kids: 13 Tips How to Get Them Started
What Rocks, Minerals, and Crystals Can You Find in New York?
You can find quartz, galena, pyrite, chalcopyrite, labradorite, blue calcite and green diopside, tremolite, tourmaline, and many more. Garnets, being the state’s official gemstones since 1969, can be found in Barton Mines in Warren county, it is the biggest garnet mine in the world.
The list of rocks that can be found in New York:
|Category / Type||Locations|
|Sandstone||Orleans County, Delaware County, Adirondacks|
|Fossils||Schoharie County, Pompey-Tully area, Hudson Valley – Catskills region, Penn Dixie Paleontological center|
|Bluestone & Brown Stone||Catskills Delta, Ulster County, Delaware County, Broome County|
|Limestone||The Coeymans Formation|
|Slate||Washington County, in Vermont across the border|
|Emery||Westchester County, near Peekskill|
|Granite||Adirondacks, Westchester County, Washington County, Taconic region|
You can find not only rocks in New York but also a lot of beautiful and famous minerals. Find the list of minerals that can be found in New York in the table below:
|Sphalerite||St. Lawrence County|
|Pyrite||Ellenville village, Wurtsboro village|
|Garnet||Barton Garnet Mine – Warren County, Gore Mountains, Ruby Mountains|
|Labradorite||Jay City, Blue Ridge|
|Herkimer crystals||Ace of Diamonds – Middleville, Diamond Acres Mine – Fonda, Herkimer county|
|Tourmaline||Warren County, St Lawrence County|
|Halite||From Madison and Chenango Counties to Erie and Chautauqua Counties|
|Ilmenite||Tahawus – Sanford Lake, Adirondacks|
|Quartz||Wurtsboro vilage, Ellenville village|
So what, quite a few different and interesting rocks and minerals can be found in New York State, am I right? I think it may not seem like it at first glance, New York is a great place for rockhounding.
TIP: Real labradorite has such a unique play-of-color phenomenon that can be hardly copied in fake labradorites. Check out the main differences between real and fake labradorite in the article below:
Real vs. Fake Labradorite: Focus on These 8 Differences
State Rock of New York
Like other states in the United States, New York has its own state rock. Wondering what rock or mineral it will be? Here is the answer:
The New York State Rock or Gem is the Barnet Garnet, a dark red garnet. It has been a state rock of New York since 1969 and this beautiful mineral is mined in the Barton Mines in the Adirondack Mountains.
The Barton Mines is the largest garnet mine in the world and you can visit this mine with your family. They offer a lot of exciting tours for adults and kids with demonstrations on how to find your own garnet gemstones. Visit the official website, book your tour and enjoy a great day in the largest garnet mine!
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)
FAQ about Rockhounding in New York
Still did not find the answer to your answers about rockhounding in New York? Find frequently asked questions in the section below:
What Gems Can be Found In New York?
There are plenty of gems that can be found in New York, starting with the well-known Herkimer Diamonds, garnets (which are the state’s official gemstone), and various other varieties of quartz crystals.
You can search the streams or dig the ground to find labradorite, celestine, and tourmalines of many kinds. There are also a couple of wollastonite mines in New York.
The list continues with minerals like Sphalerite, hematite, pyrite, halite, Sphalerite, blue calcite, diopside, tremolite, and Levite, and it can go on.
What is Mined in New York?
New York is rich in minerals and stone, mined for construction, industrial, or gem-cutting industry.
Salt, for example, is mined in Central New York (being ranked the third in the country when it comes to salt production).
Mining activities are made predominantly in Adirondacks’ mountainous regions for metal ores or gems like garnet.
There are also mining activities conducted for construction materials such as granite, gravel, sand, limestone, sandstone, and peat all over the state. Also, mining activities for wollastonite are conducted in 4 locations in northern New York (being the only state in the US that produces it, thus making it very rare).
It is used as a replacement for asbestos and used in ceramics, metallurgy, plastic, and paint industries. There is also a zinc mine in Lawrence county, well known for its Sphalerite, being the fourth most used metal globally.
Is There Gold In New York Streams?
There are many gold prospectors nowadays that find gold in New York streams, but the state has a unique law, which states that all gold and silver found across the country are the state’s property.
The gold in the country comes from glaciers that traveled from Canada and are usually very fine-textured. Even though gold prospecting started a long time ago in New York, there is no significant discovery report until now, but since the state would take away the gold, maybe that’s the reason for the lack of information, just kidding.
What Type of Rock Is Most Abundant in New York?
The entire geology of New York is based on crystalline basement rock, which dates from Precambrian times, and forms the Adirondack mountains and the bedrock all over the state. Granite is considered the most common rock on the continent, whereas basalt is more predominant in the oceanic crust.
Also, gravel and quartz pebbles(that have an igneous or metamorphic origin) are a significant component of Sandy Hook Beach, Staten Island, and Rockaway Beach.
If you want to know more about rockhounding in New York or you prefer paper books, I recommend buying the book Rockhounding New York: A Guide To The State’s Best Rockhounding Sites. I found this book very useful and clearly written. You can buy it here (Amazon link).
TIP: Holes in rocks can be formed in strikingly different ways. Sometimes holes are a result of water erosion. Find out more about forming holes in rocks in the article below:
Holes in Rocks Explained: How Are Formed & What Causes Them