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Virginia is an excellent place for rockhounding as several types of rocks, minerals, crystals, and especially fossils are present within the state, just waiting to be collected!
The best rockhounding locations in Virginia are the Appalachian Mountains, Chesapeake Bay, Piedmont Mountains, Blue Ridge Mountains, and Fairy Stone State Park. You can find agates, shark teeth, megalodon teeth, gold, sea glass, opals, amethyst, agates, diamonds, arrowheads, and various fossils in Virginia.
From quartz, garnets, and amazonite to feldspar, kyanites, staurolite, hematites, and micas, the state of Virginia offers rockhounding plenty of places to satisfy their needs and things to hunt for, as you will see in this article.
If you are interested in checking out the best rockhounding book about rockhounding in Virginia you can find it by clicking here (Amazon link).
Best Rockhounding Locations in Virginia
Though certain regions in Virginia are more abundant than others, some things can only be found in some regions of the state, but we will cover everything you need to know!
The best rockhounding locations in Virginia include the Piedmont Mountains, Blue Ridge Mountains, Loudoun County, Grayson County, Charlotte, Amelia, Prince Edward, and Allegheny counties, among others. Various public mines and rockhounding clubs exist within the state.
With that being said, let me take some of these superb rockhounding locations of Virginia, and show you exactly where to go, and what to find, and then take a look at the public gem mines and rockhounding clubs in this state. Let’s begin!
Charlotte County is an excellent place in Virginia for gem hunters, as many public mines are situated here. Blue quartz can be found in this region, as well as kyanite minerals of various colors, beryl, spessartine, tourmaline, amethyst, mica crystals, epidote, and other crystals, rocks, and gemstones.
The Blue Ridge Mountain
The Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia host various interesting specimens that any collector would love to have. The Blue Ridge Complex situated between Loudoun and Grayson counties hosts different quartz specimens, again, with the blue one being present as well.
The Blue Ridge Mountains are also a primary source of reddish-brown garnets, feldspar minerals, mica crystals, aquamarine, citrine, emeralds, peridot, rubies, sapphire, topaz, and tourmaline.
Amelia County is among the best locations for rockhounding in Virginia for minerals. The Morefield Gem mine is a great attraction for visitors. You can find in this county beryl, muscovite, quartz, amethyst, and garnets, or you can head to the Rutherford and Morefield mines in search of amazonite.
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 Mines in Virginia
The state of Virginia has numerous public gem mines available for the public to visit and rejoice in their beauty. Some of them require a fee, while others do not.
The best public gem mines in Virginia are Lucky Lake Gem & Mineral Mine, McKenney, Gold Mining Camp, Goldvein, and Elk Run Mining Company, in Harrisonburg. In these places, you can find all sorts of minerals, crystals, rocks, gemstones, or even fossils.
Rockhounding Clubs in Virginia
Rockhounding clubs sometimes indicate the status of gem hunting in a state, the more, the merrier. Virginia has plenty of rockhounding clubs that you can join and learn more about the state’s best rockhounding locations and what specimens you can find.
It is also a great place to make friends with people of similar mindsets, go gem hunting together, and share fun stories together!
The best rockhounding clubs are the Gem & Mineral Society of the Virginia Peninsula, Micromineralogists of the National Capital Area, Tidewater Society, Northern Virginia Mineral Club, Shenandoah Valley Gem & Mineral Society, Virginia Independent Prospectors, or Roanoke Valley Mineral & Gem Society.
What Types of Rocks Are Found in Virginia?
Virginia has plenty of exciting and cool rocks that you can collect across the state. Some of them are quite rare and unique, such as fairy stones.
The most commonly found rocks in Virginia include agates, geodes, amazonite, feldspar, dolomite, shale, sandstone, fairy stones, or unakite granite, among others.
In the table below, we have highlighted where you can find some of these specimens in Virginia.
|Agates||Loudoun County, Amelia County, Arlington County,|
|Amazonite||Amelia County, Rutherford Mine, Morefield Mine|
|Feldspar||Morefield Gem Mine, Piedmont Province, Blue Ridge Mountains|
Finding agates in Virginia is relatively easy, as they spread across the state. You can find agates in Albemarle County, at Buck Mountain Creek, Amelia County, in Winterham, and at the Morefield Mine.
Head towards Long Branch, in Arlington County, or Dixie Caverns in Loudoun County, or go to the U.S. Highway 360 roadcut in Pittsylvania County.
Though technically not a rock itself, but rather a mineral, When it comes to finding feldspar in Virginia, always look for them in igneous or metamorphic rocks.
You can find feldspar in the Morefield Gem Mine, in Amelia County, and some other popular places including the Piedmont Province or the Blue Ridge Mountains.
TIP: Virginia is full of beautiful mountains. You can find a lot of amazing rocks there. Do you know what the most common rocks in the mountains are? Find out more in the article below:
14 Most Common Rocks and Minerals You Can Find in Mountains
What Gemstones Can Be Found in Virginia?
The state of Virginia, with its numerous mines, has plenty of minerals, crystals, and even some gemstones as well, however, gemstones can be found in other places, not just in mines.
You can find gemstones such as amethyst, opal, garnets (almandine), cryptomelane, onyx, and plenty of others in this state.
In the table below, we have highlighted some of the most popular gemstones to hunt for in Virginia and where to find them with ease!
|Amethyst||Charlotte County, Amelia County, Prince Edward County|
|Opal||Stony Point Mine, Stony Point, Albemarle County|
|Garnets||The Blue Ridge Mountains, Piedmont Mountains, Amelia County|
Amethyst quartz can be found in Virginia in Charlotte County, Amelia County, Prince Edward County, or the Blue Ridge Mountains, among other places.
Some places require you to ask for permission or pay a small fee to collect beautiful specimens. For example, in Charlotte County, you must go to the Donald Plantation near the Charlotte Court House to find amethyst.
Opals are quite hard and rare to find no matter where you look for them, and in most U.S. states, opals aren’t that common.
For example, in Virginia, you can find opal at the Stony Point Mine, Stony Point, in Albermarle County. It isn’t clear if public access is granted in this mine; however, this will be your best bet if you wish to find opals in Virginia.
Where to Find Geodes in Virginia?
Geodes form in sedimentary rocks when gases are trapped in lava yet can’t escape. As it solidifies, the remnants crystalize over long periods.
In Virginia, no geodes have yet been found; however, since it has such rich mineral diversity, geodes may be present in places such as the Morefield Gem Mine, in Amelia County, for example. Geodes are, however, found in West Virginia in places such as Keyser City, Pendleton County, or Cabin Mountain.
TIP: If you wish to drill holes in rocks, you will need the right tools and techniques to use them properly. Check out the step-by-step guide in the article below:
DIY: Drilling Holes In Rocks With & Without Dremel Drill
What Minerals Can You Find in Virginia?
There are over 70 different minerals that can be found in the state of Virginia, and there are over 10 publicly available open mines where you can go to collect them.
Some minerals that you can find include gold, diamonds, kyanite, staurolite, hematite, galena, magnetite, siderite, beryl, pyrite, apatite, silver, covellite, gibbsite, kaolinite, jasper, malachite, serpentine, or barite, among others.
Check the table to see where you can find them in Virginia!
|Gold||Louisa County, Goochland County, Buckingham County|
|Diamonds||Vaucluse Mine, Whitehall Mine, Tazewell County|
|Kyanite||Buckingham County, Willis Mountain, Caroll County, Charlotte County|
Gold prospecting and panning in Virginia is quite awesome, as you have plenty of locations to try out your luck.
You can find gold in Virginia in the southwestern parts of Buckingham County, Fairfax County, Fluvanna County, Spotsylvania County, Louisa County, or Goochland County, among many other places.
When it comes to finding diamonds in Virginia, things take a different turn. Diamonds were found in the abandoned Vaucluse Mine, Orange County, the southwestern corners of Perry and Ninth streets, Manchester, Richmond City.
You can also try your luck in Spotsylvania County, at Whitehall Mine, Tazewell County, or Warren County.
TIP: Do you think diamonds belong to the rarest gemstones in the world? Find out in the article below what the rarest gemstones in the world are:
13 Rarest Gemstones on Earth: You will be Shocked!
What Crystals Are Found in Virginia?
Various crystals can be found in Virginia. The most popular crystals are probably blue quartz crystals. However, you can find more than this in this state.
The most common crystals to find in Virginia include quartz crystals, mica crystals, limonite, muscovite crystals, tourmaline, hematite, lazulite, gahnite, chalcopyrite, calcite, sphalerite, diaspore, azurite, epidote, or even rutile.
Check the table below to see where to search for them in the state!
|Quartz Crystals||Piedmont Mountains, Blue Ridge Complex, Loudoun, and Grayson Counties|
|Mica Crystals||The Blue Ridge Mountains, Piedmont Mountains|
|Muscovite Crystals||Charlottesville, Amelia County, Bedford County|
Quartz crystals are very easy to find in Virginia, especially in between the Loudoun and Grayson counties, in the Piedmont and Blue Ridge complex areas.
Here, the blue quartz crystal is the most popular. In contrast, amethyst quartz can be found in Prince Edward, Amelia, and Charlotte counties.
When it comes to finding mica crystals in the state of Virginia, you have to be quite experienced and have the appropriate gear.
They are typically found in metamorphic, igneous, and sedimentary rocks. Various mica deposits have been identified in the Piedmont Mountains and Blue Ridge Mountain areas.
What Fossils Are Found In Virginia?
The state of Virginia isn’t just rich in minerals and crystals but fossils and artifacts as well. We’re not talking just about numbers, but diversity as well.
You can find in Virginia fossils such as shark teeth, arrowheads, megalodon teeth, the Chesapecten Jeffersonius fossil, pelecypods, brachiopods, ferns, corals, gastropods, trilobites, whale bones, or skolithos trace fossils, which are ancient primitive worms.
These fossils are found in Virginia’s Coastal Plain, Virginia’s Valley, Ridge Province, Appalachian Plateau, or the western flanks of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Shark teeth and megalodon teeth are found in the Cenozoic sedimentary deposits of Virginia’s Coastal Plain, while the Chesapecten Jeffersonius fossil is located in the streams of the valleys and river shores of Southeast Virginia.
Suppose you are interested in finding relics or sea glass in Virginia. In that case, the best place to go is Cape Charles Public Beach, York County.
Arrowheads can be found in the First Landing State Park, Roanoke River, or Farmville. Generally, they can be easily found near river beds, creeks, and farmers’ lands.
TIP: You do not need to be sad if you did not find a sea glass during your rockhounding trip. You can make your own sea glass at home! Check out a DIY guide on how to make sea glass at home:
Step-by-Step: Making Sea Glass With & Without Rock Tumbler
FAQ About Rockhounding in Virginia
Still did not find the answer to your answers about rockhounding in Virginia? Find frequently asked questions in the section below:
What is Virginia’s State Rock?
The official state rock of Virginia, which is at the same time its officially designated state fossil, is the Chesapecten Jeffersonius 1993. It is named after Thomas Jefferson due to his appreciation and interest in natural history. The specimen is commonly found in the southeastern parts.
What is Virginia’s State Fossil?
Virginia’s official state fossil is Chesapecten Jeffersonius. It is a fossil scallop that has between 9 to 12 ribs. It lived in the Chesapeake Bay area between 8 to 3 million years ago. Various scallop species lived here; however, the Chesapecten Jeffersonius was the most abundant.
What is the State Gemstone of Virginia?
The state of Virginia doesn’t currently have an officially designated state gemstone. It also doesn’t have an official state mineral or crystal. In contrast, its official state rock is actually a fossil, the Chesapecten Jeffersonius. Things might change in the future as Virginia has various minerals.
BTW: If you are looking for the best UV light for rockhounding, find out my picks below (Amazon links):
- BEST OPTION: Convoy 8+ 365nm UV LED Flashlight with Patented Glass Filter
- BUDGET OPTION: Karrong Rechargeable 1200 Lumen 395nm UV Flashlight
- OPTION FOR INDOOR USAGE: Prime Upgraded Big Chip 396nm UV
Virginia is a prosperous state when it comes to its variety of minerals, crystals, and fossils. Though it might not have as much variety in rocks and gemstones, the state shines nonetheless in its diversity.
Lastly, this state has plenty of public mines and rockhounding clubs, making Virginia a great place for gem hunters and collectors alike.
TIP: Have you ever tried rockhounding with UV light? It is funny to see rocks and minerals in different colors. Check out the ultimate guide about rockhounding with UV light in the article below:
GUIDE: Rockhounding with UV Light & 3 Best UV Lights (2021)