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Tennessee is among the best rockhounding states in the U.S. since it has plenty of locations where gem hunters can enjoy collecting specimens. Some of them require a fee; others don’t yet; the beautiful thing about Tennessee, apart from its whiskey, is its various gems, minerals, crystals, rocks, and fossils that you can search for!
The west, east, and central parts of Tennessee are the best areas in the state to rockhound! You can find freshwater pearls, geodes, opals, quartz, various fossils, obsidian, diamonds, artifacts, agates, garnet, calcite, celestite, jasper, unakite, pyrite, amber, gold, or dolomite crystals, among others.
Tennessee’s richness in its diversity of minerals, rocks, and crystals comes from its tumultuous geological history. There are so many things to visit and various specimens to collect; however, let’s take it one at a time!
If you are interested in checking out the best books about rocks and minerals identification you can find them by clicking here (Amazon link).
Best Rockhounding Sites in Tennessee
Let’s start by discussing some of the best rockhounding sites in Tennessee. Generally, the eastern side is the wealthiest part of the state, where most rockhounding locations are present. Still, the best areas are scattered throughout the state.
The best rockhounding sites are the Horse Mountain, Cumberland Plateau, Tennessee River, Cannon County, Ben Lomond Mountain, Russellville, Boatland, Douglas Lake, Copperhill, Ducktown, Green County, Hawkins County, Sullivan County, Memphis, Springfield, Cooper’s Gem Mine, or Big Creek.
There are plenty of other places. However, let’s take a look at some of the best rockhounding locations in Tennessee and see what you can find!
Ben Lomond Mountain
Ben Lomond Mountain is among the best places to rockhound in central Tennessee for geodes. If you reach the area, focus on searching on the western side of the mountain.
You can also find marcasite, pyrite, dolomite, celestite, or calcite specimens, among other minerals, rocks, and crystals!
Located in central Tennessee, Cannon County is a must-visit for all gem hunters! This county is rich in various minerals, including calcite, celestite, fluorite, geodes, goethite, limonite, pyrite, and others.
All the regional streams, fields, and gravels have at least some if not all of the mentioned specimens.
This country is most famous for its big and beautiful geode specimens, and it is the best place in central Tennessee where you can find them.
Eastern Tennessee is almost just as rich as its central parts when it comes to rockhounding locations. Take, for example, Ducktown. Ducktown is where you will find a multitude of specimens to collect.
To give a few examples, in the area mines, you can discover azurite, graphite, chalcopyrite, garnet, gold, pyrite, galena, malachite, chalcocite, quartz crystals, staurolite, and others.
Another great eastern Tennessee rockhounding location is the town of Copperhill. In Copperhill, you should focus on gem hunting in the area of stream gravels. There are various minerals, rocks, and crystals that you can discover!
Some examples include garnets, malachite, gold, staurolite, cuprite, galena, graphite, quartz crystals, azurite, chalcopyrite, and many others!
The Tennessee River is without question among the best places to rockhound in Tennessee. Here, you can find freshwater pearls but don’t forget to search in its tributaries as well. Try to find freshwater mussels to obtain the best pearls.
In the sands of the river, you have a high chance of finding amber, especially near the region of Coffee Bluff. Don’t omit the Little Tennessee River, as in its red clay portions. You can find rock crystals and quartz crystals.
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)
Public Gem Mining in Tennessee
The best public gem mining in Tennessee, where you can discover plenty of minerals, gems, and crystals, include Jae’s Gem Mine, Cooper’s Gem Mine, Pigeon Forge Gem Mine, Magic Gem Mine, Old Smoky Gem Mine, or Little River Gem Mine. Small fees are required before accessing these sites.
Public gem mines are a great place to learn how to find certain things, bring your children, and teach them the art of gem hunting. For some, public gem mines are a reassurance that they will 100% find something of value.
TIP: Do you know if you can take the rocks you have found to the airplane? It is always good to know what the regulations about flying with rocks are. Find out more in the article below:
Are You Able To Bring Rocks On An Airplane? You Can But…
What Type of Rocks Are Found in Tennessee?
Tennessee has a relatively good variety of sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous rocks that you can collect.
In this state, you can find geodes, agates, possibly obsidian, flint, chert, unakite, sandstone, bauxite, marble, limestone, jasper, and many others.
|Cheatham County, Benton County, Humphreys County
|Horse Mountain, Memphis, Murfreesboro
|Woodbury, Cannon County, Russellville
|Unaka Mountains, Rag Mountain, Del Rio
|Cookeville, Jellico, Bumpus Cove, Sullivan, Greene, and Hawkins Counties
When it comes to finding obsidian in Tennessee, things are a bit difficult. Obsidian artifacts were uncovered in Cheatham County, Benton County, and Humphreys County, among other places.
However, studies have shown that the obsidian uncovered in Tennessee results from trade between ancient tribes from Nevada and other locations. If you want to search for obsidian, try out the areas mentioned above!
When it comes to agates, Tennessee is filled with locations where you can uncover them. You can find agates in Tennessee in places such as Memphis, Richardson’s Landing (Lake Superior agates), Horse Mountain (various types of agates), the eastern stream gravels in Cookeville, Jellico, Greene, Sullivan, Hawkins counties, or Murfreesboro.
You can find golden jasper, or just regular jasper, in the quarries and area mines of Sullivan, Greene, or Hawking’s counties.
Dark with blue patches, jasper specimens can be uncovered in Bumpus Cove, just west of Embreeville. The south road near Jellico is also filled with jaspers.
How & Where to Find Geodes in East Tennessee?
East Tennessee isn’t as rich in geodes as central Tennessee; however, there is one location in the east abundant in quartz geodes, namely, Russellville.
In Russellville, East Tennessee, you can find geodes in the area, road cuts, and gravel. The geodes uncovered here are filled with quartz crystals.
TIP: Do you know what the most common types of crystals in geodes are? You can find a lot of beautiful crystals in geodes, find out the most common of them in the article below:
16 Most Common Types of Crystals You Can Find in Geodes
Where Can I Dig for Gems in Tennessee?
There are plenty of gemstones that you can find in Tennessee. Some of them are onyx, opals, pearls, jasper, various types of agates, calcite onyx, diamonds, pyrite, amber, amethyst, and many others.
The best places to dig for gems in Tennessee are the public gem mines, such as Cooper’s Gem Mine, and Little River Gem Mine, among others. The Tennessee River and its tributaries are great for finding freshwater pearls. In contrast, the Cumberland Plateau is filled with gemstone specimens.
Can You Find Gold in West & Middle Tennessee?
The best places for finding gold in Tennessee are the eastern parts of the state, such as Montvale Springs, Copperhill, Hawkings, Sullivan, and Greene counties. The southeastern parts, such as Tellico Plains and Coker Creek, are also abundant in gold.
However, when it comes to finding gold in western and central Tennessee, things are a bit complicated. It is best to head towards Bount County, east of Montvale Springs, and search the streams.
Polk County and Monroe County areas, such as Cane Creek, Turkey Creek, Citico Creek, Tobe Creek, or between the Hiawassee and Tellico Rivers, are the best areas to search for gold in Tennessee.
TIP: Check out the article below if you are interested in the complete guide on gold prospecting in Tennessee:
Gold Prospecting in Tennessee: 7 Best Locations & Laws
Where to Dig for Crystals in Tennessee?
The best places to dig for crystals in Tennessee are the public gem mines in the central parts of the state. You can also try the Little Tennessee River to find quartz crystals, the Copperhill Stream gravels, or the area mines near Ducktown. Gatlinburg is also a great place to find various crystals.
The mines in the Bumpus Cove district, New Prospect Mine, New Market, Mascot, Mossy Creek, Sullivan, Hawkins, and Greene counties, the Straight Creek Mines, Stony Creek, Cleveland, Livingston, or Monterey are also great for finding crystals in Tennessee.
The best places to find quartz crystals in Tennessee include Cooper’s Gem Mine, Douglas Lake, Unaka Mountains, Little Tennessee River, Lawrenceburg, Springfield, Wayne County, Monterey, Big Creek, Russellville, and Copperhill, among others.
Douglas Lake is famous for its double-terminated quartz specimens. In contrast, the quartz crystals present in the Little Tennessee River are clear samples but of high quality.
TIP: Tennessee is a great place for finding quartz crystals. Do you know how valuable quartz crystal can be? Find out more in the article below:
How Much is Quartz Worth? Value for Common Quartz Varieties
What Minerals Are in Tennessee?
The state of Tennessee shines in its abundance and variety of minerals and gemstones. The best places to search for minerals are usually located in the state’s central, western, and eastern parts.
You can find gold, possibly diamonds, calcite, pyrite, jasper, chalcedony, fluorite, limonite, celestite, dolomite, marcasite, barite, galena, selenite, sphalerite, calamine, smithsonite, malachite, epidotes, anglesite, chalcopyrite, cerussite, hematite, and other minerals across the Tennessee.
|Montvale Springs, Copperhill, Ducktown
|Warren County, Cumberland Plateau
|Mossy Creek, New Market, Mascot, New Prospect Mine,
|Greeneville, Mossy Creek, Sweetwater, Cleveland, Nun’s Cove
While no one can predict if there are any diamonds in the Cumberland Caverns, located in Warren County, Cumberland Plateau, Tennessee, a post from the official website stated that a huge diamond was uncovered.
While it remains uncertain if the discovery was a prank or not, chances are pretty slim that diamonds are present in Tennessee.
When it comes to smithsonite, you can find it in the dolomite exposures of Mossy Creek, the area mines of New Market, Mascot, or the New Prospect Mine, and the nearby mines.
The best places to search for gold in Tennessee include the Montvale Springs, the area stream gravels in Copperhill, or the area mines in Ducktown.
To find sphalerite in Tennessee, head towards the area mines in Cleveland, and Greeneville, or go to the Straight Creek Mines.
You can also find high-quality sphalerite specimens at the quarries or area mines in Sweetwater or dolomite exposure of Mossy Creek.
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.
Are There Fossils in Tennessee?
Tennessee has various fossils that you can find easily. Different fossils of marine animals and even mastodons, horses, camels, and giant sloths are present within the state. The most famous is the Pterotrigonia Thoracia, an ancient clam, which lived between the Jurassic and Cretaceous ages.
You can find specimens of this giant clam in McNairy County, at Coon Creek. Here you can also find shark teeth fossils, shells, and even snails that belong to the Cretaceous period.
If you want to find amber, search for it in the sands of the Tennessee River, near Coffee Bluff.
When it comes to relics and artifacts, such as arrowheads, and even other types of fossils, head towards Nashville, Knoxville, or other similar large towns and search for them in the nearby regions, including water bodies, such as rivers or creeks.
If you want to find agatized corals, you have to go to the central parts of Tennessee. There, head towards the area fields and creeks of Pannell Ridge. You can also find agatized corals in the general area of Philippi Church or Sugar Creek.
TIP: Have you ever tried to polish your rocks and minerals? The Dremel drill is a great tool for polishing rocks. Find out how to use a Dremel drill for polishing rocks in the article below:
How to Polish Rocks With a Dremel Drill? Follow These 4 Steps
FAQ About Rockhounding in Tennessee
Still did not find the answer to your answers about rockhounding in Tennessee? Find frequently asked questions in the section below:
What is Tennessee State Rock?
The official state rock of Tennessee is limestone or calcium carbonate. It was designated as such in 1979 due to its abundance. Beforehand, the official state rock of Tennessee was agate from 1969 until 2009. Limestone is a sedimentary rock primarily made out of aragonite and calcite minerals.
What is the State Fossil of Tennessee?
The official state fossil of Tennessee is the bivalve known as Pterotrigonia thoracica. It was designated in 1998. Bivalves are a class of mollusks, which comprises other species such as clams, oysters, mussels, or scallops. It inhabited the region around seventy million years ago.
What is the State Gemstone of Tennessee?
Occurring in many streams and rivers of Tennessee, the freshwater pearl was designated as the official state gemstone of the state in 1979. Coming in a variety of shapes and colors, the Tennessee freshwater pearls are most commonly found in the Tennessee River and its tributaries.
Does Tennessee Have a State Mineral?
Agates were the official state rock of Tennessee from 1969 until 2009. In 2009, agates lost this title and were designated as the official state mineral. The official state rock title was given to the sedimentary rock, calcium carbonate. Agates are a cryptocrystalline version of quartz.
Tennessee is a beautiful state to visit, and when it comes to rockhounding, it is filled with beautiful specimens of rocks, gemstones, crystals, minerals, and fossils.
The best part is that you have plenty of regions where you can dig for them. The wealthiest parts of the state are typically located in the central, eastern, and western areas.
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