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Rockhounding in West Virginia is not as popular as in its sister state, Virginia; however, there are certain rocks, minerals, gemstones, crystals, and specific unique fossils that you can find here.
The best rockhounding places in West Virginia are located in the south, northwestern, and north-central parts of the state. Monroe County, Jefferson County, and Monongalia County are among the best rockhounding locations in West Virginia. You can find geodes, flint, agates, opals, and many more rocks here.
Though many would prefer to go directly to Virginia, it would be a shame to miss its little sister, West Virginia, since it has its own natural beauty that we will discuss further 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 Rock Hunting Locations in West Virginia
Rockhounding in West Virginia is more rewarding than one might think of, and if you know where to go, you will find all sorts of things to add to your collection.
The best rock hunting locations in West Virginia are Summers County, Weverton Formation, Jefferson County, Monongalia County, Morgan County, Monroe County, Smoke Hole Canyon, Potomac River, Hancock County, Berkeley County, Marion County, Mineral County, Pendleton County, or Tucker County.
Let’s explore a couple of the best locations for rockhounding in West Virginia and see precisely what you can find!
Monroe County in West Virginia is among the best rockhounding locations in the state since here you can find quartz crystals, dinosaur bones, fossils, artifacts, chert, and bentonite, among others. It is also the only place in the state where diamonds were discovered.
In 1928, William “Punch” Jones discovered a large specimen in Peterstown, Monroe County; however, ever since then, no other diamonds have been unearthed in West Virginia.
When it comes to dinosaur bones, remnants of the famous Megalonyx jeffersonii have been discovered in Monroe County since the 1790s. Several caves in this region contain dinosaur fossils and possibly, artifacts and relics of the past.
Jefferson County is another great place for gem hunters to go to in West Virginia. Here, you can find gold, epidote, quartz crystals, pyrite, dolomite, galena, sphalerite, tourmaline, and other minerals, rocks, and crystals.
To find gold here, search for the greenstone belts. These rocks contain gold; however, if you want to find something, like an epidote, head toward the Weverton Formation, near Harpers Ferry.
When it comes to quartz, pyrite, dolomite, galena, and sphalerite, go to Charles Town, in Jefferson County, WV.
Tourmaline can also be found in this region. However, your best chances of finding it are if you go to Rippon or at U.S. Route 340 Roadcut.
Monongalia County, WV, is a great place to find opal, quartz crystals, calcite, coal, petrified wood, pyrite, marcasite, barite, sphalerite, gypsum, tourmaline, muscovite, and many other things.
Opal can be found in the Pottsville Sandstone near Coopers Rock, at the large cliffs. When it comes to quartz crystals, head to Star City, and search along the Monongahela River alluvials.
Here, you can also find several minerals, such as biotite, rutile, tourmaline, muscovite, zircon, etc. The Monongahela River also hosts barite, calcite, gypsum, sphalerite, siderite, and melanterite minerals.
Another great place to go to in Monongalia County, West Virginia, to rockhound is Barker City. Here you can find calcite, coal, petrified wood, pyrite, and marcasite.
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)
What Kind of Rocks Are in West Virginia?
West Virginia is predominant in sedimentary rocks like shale, sandstone, and limestone; however, it is poor when it comes to igneous or metamorphic rocks.
Some of the most interesting stones that you can find in West Virginia include geodes, flint, chert, agates, or bituminous coal, among others. In the table below, we have highlighted where you can find some of these popular and cool rocks in West Virginia.
|Geodes||Keyser City, Pendleton County, Cabin Mountain|
|Flint||Grant County, Kanawha County, Wayne County|
|Agates||Monroe County, Pocahontas County, Mill Point Quarry|
|Chert||Monroe County, Hampshire County, Sweet Springs|
West Virginia has some interesting cool rocks, such as greenstone belts, where gold can be found inside them; however, when it comes to geodes, they are harder to find in this state.
If you search enough, you can find geodes in West Virginia in places such as around Keyser City, Pendleton County, or perhaps the Cabin Mountain.
When it comes to flint, West Virginia has quite a few places where rockhounds can collect it.
You can find flint in Grant County, Kanawha County, Wayne County, Ritchie County, or you can go to Grant County and search at the Greenland Gap. Beautiful specimens can be found throughout the state with a bit of luck!
Agates, on the other hand, are even more difficult to find in West Virginia than flint rocks. However, around certain regions, people have reportedly found beautiful shiny agates.
You can find agates in West Virginia in Monroe County, or you can head towards Pocahontas County and go near the Mill Point Quarry area. Try searching for agates in the lakes closest to these regions.
Chert is very predominant in West Virginia, and you can find it almost all across the state. You can find chert in West Virginia if you go to Berkeley County, or Grant County, at the Greenland Gap.
Chert is also located in Hampshire County, Hardy County, Jefferson County, Mercer County at the East River Mountain locations or Mineral County. An excellent place is also Monroe County, by going to the Faudree Mine, Scott Hollow Cave, or Sweet Springs.
TIP: Many people have often mistaken geodes and thundereggs. Do you know the difference between these two rocks? Check out the main differences in the article below:
The 7 Main Differences Between Geode and ThunderEgg
What Gemstones Are Found in W.V.?
West Virginia isn’t as rich when it comes to gemstones as its bigger sister, Virginia. However, there are some unique gemstones that you can find here.
For example, you have the lithostrotionella gemstone, which is a tabulate coral. Some other gemstones you can find in West Virginia include amethyst specimens, opals, or carnelian, among others. In the table below, you can find out where to find them!
|Amethyst||Smoke Hole’s Gem Mining Facility, Cabin Mountain|
|Opal||Pottsville Sandstone, Coopers Rock, Monongalia County|
|Lithostrotionella||Hillsdale Limestone, Greenbrier, and Pocahontas Counties|
|Carnelian||Mauch Chunk Group, Summers County|
Amethyst is quite rare to come by in West Virginia; however, there are some locations where this gorgeous gemstone can be found.
For example, you can search for amethyst in West Virginia in places such as the Cabin Mountains or the Smoke Hole’s Gem Mining Facility. However, you have to pay a fee.
Amethyst can also be found where quartz crystals are abundant, such as in Hancock County, or Mineral County, at the Knobbly Mountains.
When it comes to opals, things are a bit easier. You can find opals in West Virginia. Try searching for opals in Monongalia County.
Head towards the Coopers Rock region, and search for this gemstone near the Pottsville Sandstone area. The opals found in this region are common; however, fire opals may also be found if you are lucky enough.
Suppose you want to find the official state gemstone of West Virginia, namely the Lithostrotionella tabulate coral. In that case, you need to back your bags and head towards Greenbrier County or Pocahontas County.
Go to the Hillsdale Limestone regions of these counties, in the southern parts, as this is where the state gemstone is commonly found.
Where to Find Agates in West Virginia?
West Virginia is a state filled with ordinary sedimentary rocks, and this is why other types of stones such as metamorphic or igneous variants are hard.
When it comes to agates, they are formed through volcanic and metamorphic rocks, and this is what you should take into consideration when searching for them. Lakes are a great place to start. Agates are found in Monroe County or Pocahontas County and the Mill Point Quarry area.
TIP: Do you know agates are glowing under UV light? Yes, and it looks amazing! Find out what other rocks and minerals glow under UV light in the article below:
12 Rocks & Minerals That Glow Under UV Light & Black Light
What Minerals Are Found in West Virginia?
West Virginia has a couple of minerals worth looking into. However, it is pretty poor in comparison to other states.
Some of the most worth noting minerals that you can find in West Virginia are diamonds, gold, fluorite, and epidotes. Though there was only one instance of diamonds discovered in the state, there may be more! The table below is where you can find some of the most popular minerals in West Virginia!
|Gold||Tucker County, Big Bend Campground, Jefferson County|
|Diamonds||Peterstown, Monroe County|
|Fluorite||Berkeley County, Greenbrier County, Mineral County|
|Epidote||Weverton Formation, Harpers Ferry, Jefferson County|
You can find gold and pan for it in West Virginia. Some of the most popular locations to find gold in this state include Tucker County, around the Sissaboo and Hollow, the Big Bend Campground at the South Branch of the Potomac River at Smoke Hole Canyon, or Jefferson County.
The greenstone belts metamorphosed remains of the old crust and have gold inside them preserved from the nearby formations.
When it comes to finding diamonds in West Virginia, things are pretty bleak. This is because the only instance that a diamond was found in this state occurred in 1928 when William Punch Jones stumbled upon a giant diamond in Peterstown, Monroe County.
No other diamonds have ever been found since then; however, the size of this specimen has led many to believe that other diamonds are still present in West Virginia.
Are There Crystals in West Virginia?
West Virginia isn’t particularly known for its crystals; however, the most prevalent ones that you can find are quartz crystals and possibly epidote crystals.
Quartz crystals and some epidote crystals are commonly found in West Virginia in Doddridge County, Greenbrier County, Hampshire County, Hancock County, Hardy County, Jefferson County, Marion County, Marshall County, or Mineral County, at the Knobbly Mountains, among other locations.
TIP: Have you ever tried tumbling agates? Tumbled agates are really beautiful! Find out how to tumble and polish agates in the article below:
How to Cut and Polish Agates? Follow These Simple Steps
What Fossils Can Be Found in West Virginia?
West Virginia may not have plenty of gemstones or crystals to offer; however, it does shine when it comes to fossils.
Consider this; West Virginia has over 4,000 limestone caves that have an ideal humidity and temperature for fossil preservation. In West Virginia, you can find plant fossils, marine shells, artifacts, and dinosaur fossils as well. Relics and artifacts are also common in this state.
For example, the state’s official dinosaur fossil is the Megalonyx Jeffersonii, which was a giant creature that weighed over 1000 pounds and resembled a sloth of more significant proportions.
You may find remnants of this specimen in the Greenbrier Caves, Monroe County, or Pendleton County.
Monongalia County has several places where petrified wood can be found. At the same time, the state’s official gemstone is actually a fossil as well, namely the lithostrotionella, a fossil coral primarily found in the southern parts of the Greenbrier and Pocahontas counties, near the Hillsdale Limestone regions.
Arrowheads appear to be quite a popular find in West Virginia when it comes to relics and artifacts; however, you should only hunt for them with permission from the landowners.
They are primarily found near creeks, rivers, and locations where the natives used to hunt for food—one popular location in West Virginia where arrowheads are found in the New River Gorge area.
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.
FAQ About Rockhounding in West Virginia
Still did not find the answer to your answers about rockhounding in West Virginia? Find frequently asked questions in the section below:
What is the State Rock of West Virginia?
The official state rock of West Virginia has been the bituminous coal since 2009. Coal has played an essential role in the economic and social fabric of West Virginia since the 1700s, and it can be found throughout the state. The first official coal mine opened in 1810 near Wheeling by Conrad Cotts.
What is West Virginia’s State Mineral?
West Virginia is among the few U.S. states that don’t have an officially designated mineral. This is primarily because West Virginia isn’t so abundant in a specific type of mineral or doesn’t possess a unique mineral on its lands. Probably the most sought-after mineral in this state is gold.
What is West Virginia’s State Fossil?
West Virginia’s official state fossil is a dinosaur fossil, the Megalonyx effersonii, since 2008. It weighed over 1,000 pounds and resembled the modern-day sloth. It lived during the Pleistocene age and survived even during the Ice Age. Many remnants have been uncovered since the 1790s in limestone caves.
What is West Virginia’s State Gem?
The official state gemstone of West Virginia is the fossil tabulate coral Lithostrotionella since 1990. It is a Mississippian fossil coral that lived around 340 million years ago during the Mississippian Period. It was mostly destroyed during the great extinction at the end of the Permian Period.
West Virginia is a small U.S. state that doesn’t appear to offer much at first glance; however, rockhounds shouldn’t avoid coming here, as there are plenty of things to find.
Its minerals, rocks, gemstones, crystals, and especially fossils are just as beautiful as in its bigger sister, Virginia; however, some specimens are unique to this state and worth checking out!
TIP: Is your backpack big enough to hold all the beautiful rocks you are going to find in West Virginia? If not, check out the best backpacks for rockhounding in the article below:
4 Best Backpacks for Rockhounding: Honest Review & Tips