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Wyoming is among the best rockhounding places in the U.S., and this is partly because around 50% of its lands are public! This is where the famous Yellowstone National Park is located, which stretches for more than 2 million acres. Wyoming is full of jades, mostly of the nephrite class, and the jadeite class, which sounds like something out of Star Wars. So where to rockbound in Wyoming, and what can you find?
The majority of counties in Wyoming contain numerous minerals, rocks, gemstones, and fossils. Places such as Fremont, Washakie, Sweetwater, Carbon, or Natrona County are where you can find jade, which is Wyoming’s official state gemstone. The state fossil – Knightia-fish – is located in the Green Fiver Formation of Wyoming.
In case you wondering, the official state dinosaur of Wyoming is the Triceratops dinosaur, which is primarily uncovered in the Hell Creek Formation in the Black Hills region of South Dakota or eastern Wyoming. So pack up your stuff, since once you read this, you might want to move to Wyoming and start rockhounding!
If you are interested in checking out the best book about rockhounding in Wyoming you can find it by clicking here (Amazon link).
Best Places for Rockhounding in the State of Wyoming
Where are the best places for rockhounding in Wyoming? That’s both an easy and challenging question since all of Wyoming is excellent for rockhounding enthusiasts. However, let’s talk about the 11 best places to rockhound in Wyoming.
Albany County is located in the bottom easter part of Wyoming, having its border with the northern Colorado state line. Albany is among the best rock-hounding places in Wyoming since you can find various rocks and minerals.
These include allanite, beryl, calcite-aragonite, columbite-tantalite, cordierite, feldspar minerals such as orthoclase, plagioclase, galena, graphite, kyanite, magnetite, manganese minerals, mica minerals, uranium minerals, and varieties of quartz.
The Sand Creek and Red Buttes areas of Albany County are full of sedimentary rocks. The Medicine Bow Mountains contain slate, platinum-sperrylite, galena, beryl, and barite. Meteorites have been found on a highway cut north of Laramie.
Speaking of Laramie, you can find in the Laramie Range amphibole, cordierite, epidote, orthoclase and plagioclase minerals, garnet, magnetite, and mica minerals, among many other materials.
Quartz crystals are abundant in the feldspar pits south of Laramie. If you want to find agates in Albany, they are usually found near Marshall, located in northwestern Albany.
If you want to find sapphires, you may go to the Palmer Canyon in Albany. The specimens found here vary from blue, and light gray, to deep colors such as violet.
Carbon County is also a famous location for rockhounding in Wyoming. This place is located in the south part of Wyoming, and Albany County is located on its eastern side.
Here you can find minerals, rocks, and varieties of quartz such as allanite, beryl, calcite-aragonite, columbite-tantalite, copper minerals, euxenite, galena, hematite, jade, mica minerals, monazite, opal, pyrite, agates, uranium minerals, vermiculite, gabbro, pegmatite, sedimentary rocks, taconite, and slate, among other things.
If you want to find nephrite-type jades in Carbon County, which is the state mineral of Wyoming, you may want to look in the Kortes Dam area or the Sierra Madre Mountains.
Near the Sierra Madre Mountains, in the Hot Park Area, barite is commonly found, a couple of miles southwest of Encampment.
Opal is found near Smith Creek in Carbon County, and if you want to find quartz minerals, they are located from north of Saratoga along Wyoming Highway no. 130 to Walcott Junction.
Here you can also find agatized and opalized wood, while agates are common a few miles west of Saratoga.
In Johnson County, located in the north-central part of Wyoming, you can find agate. Manganese minerals or uranium minerals are found in the Wasatch Formation. Pegmatite and sedimentary rocks such as bentonite are also found in Johnson County.
Natrona County is located in central Wyoming, and it is another excellent county when it comes to rocks or minerals. You can find agate, allanite, lithium minerals, magnetite, manganese minerals, uranium minerals, and bentonite.
In the Casper Mountains, you can find chromite, feldspar minerals, or beryl. In the Bighorn Range part of Natrona County, you may discover pegmatite, while the igneous rock pumice-pumicite is located in the Split Rock area of Natrona County.
TIP: Feldspar minerals are very common in Wyoming. But sometimes you can mistake feldspar with quartz. Find out the differences between these two minerals in the article below:
Feldspar vs. Quartz: What’s the Difference? 5 Crucial Signs
Agate, calcite-aragonite, copper minerals, and uranium minerals are found in Park County, located in the northwestern part of Wyoming.
In the Absaroka Mountains, you may discover opal, galena, or molybdenite. Gold can also be found in Park County, specifically the Wood River and Sunlight Basin areas.
If you want to find gemstones, such as amethyst, a great place in Park County is Amethyst Mountain.
The Hartville district in Platte County may contain some copper minerals, while the kyanite is found 23 miles southwest of Wheatland, Platte County.
Veins of banded agate and drusy quartz occur in Mississippian limestone beds a few miles northwest of Guernsey, Platte County.
Beryl, columbite-tantalite, copper minerals, feldspar minerals, lithium minerals, magnetite, manganese minerals, and mica minerals may be found in Copper Mountain in Fremont County.
Jade can be found in the Sweetwater River district southeast of the Wind River Mountains in Fremont County. Black jade can be found in Fremont County as well.
Rainbow agates are located along the Wind River near Riverton, in Fremont County. If you want to find sapphires in Fremont, you should go to Grizzly Creek and Sweeny Basin.
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)
Yellowstone National Park
How can we talk about rockhounding in Wyoming and not mention the famous Yellowstone National Park? You can find opal here, in the deposits associated with the hot springs.
The pyroxene group of minerals is confined to Precambrian rocks and the Tertiary volcanic rocks of the Absaroka Mountains and Yellowstone National Park.
Obsidian is abundant in Yellowstone, with the most famous location being the Obsidian Cliff, located in the northwest part of the Park. Late Tertiary welded tuffs are known to crop out in Yellowstone, while volcanic breccia is typical here.
Petrified wood occurs in the Specimen Ridge and Amethyst Mountain area of Yellowstone. Sapphires and other treasures lie north of Yellowstone. Sadly, it is illegal to rockhound in Yellowstone National Park, but you can do it outside the area.
Sweetwater County is located in the southwestern part of Wyoming. This region is full of mica minerals, phonolite, pumice, and Wyomingite in the Leucite Hills area.
Quartz crystals, chalcedony, and vein moss agate occur along outcrops of the Bridger formation in the regions north of Sweetwater County. The Lost Creek areas of this county contain many uranium minerals, while petrified wood is found northeast of Eden.
Sublette County, located in western Wyoming, is noted for its jade findings, while the mineral molybdenite is found in the Wind River Mountains. Clear chalcedony and vein moss agate occur along this county’s outcrops of the Bridger Formation. Phosphate rock is also located here.
You can find pegmatites in the Haystack Range of Goshen County. Goshen County is located in the southeastern end of Wyoming.
You can find many types of feldspar minerals in Goshen County, including mica minerals, and in the Muskrat Canyon area of the county, you can find the marble. At the same time, some reports of meteorite findings are also standard in this region.
TIP: Don’t forget to follow all the safety recommendations when rockhounding because your health is always the most important. That’s why I wrote an article about all helpful safety tips and more:
PRO Tips for Beginner & Experienced Rockhounds + Safety Tips
What Gemstones are Found in Wyoming?
Now that we’ve talked about the best places for rockhounding in the state of Wyoming let us take a look at where you might find individual specimens, such as gemstones, minerals, and rocks. Let us begin with gems.
In Wyoming, there is a wide variety of gemstones like jade, the state’s official gemstone, diamonds, sapphire, ruby, opal, peridot, iolite, agate, petrified wood, and quartz crystals. These gemstones are found throughout Wyoming in Albany, Carbon, Natrona, Park, Platte, and Fremont Counties.
Now let’s look at what sedimentary rocks are found in Wyoming.
Sedimentary Rocks You Can Find in Wyoming
In Wyoming, you can find sedimentary rocks such as bentonite, chert, coal, concretion-geode, conglomerate, gypsum, limestone-dolomite, oil shale, shale, taconite, or trona, among many others. You can even find geodes in Wyoming.
Check out the table down below to see where these specimens of sedimentary rocks are found in Wyoming.
|Chert||Commonly found in the Paleozoic rocks, the Permian Phosporia formation, and the Mississippian Madison limestone|
|Gypsum||The northwest city of Cody and the Lovell town in Big Horn County|
|Limestone-Dolomite||The Spirit Mountain Cavern, located west of Cody, along the Yellowstone Highway|
|Trona||The Eocene Green River Formation of southwestern Wyoming, or the town of Green River|
Since rockhounds are highly prize geodes, we have made a special section on where to find these sedimentary rocks in Wyoming.
Where to Find Geodes in Wyoming
If you want to find geodes in Wyoming, you should look for places with many sedimentary rocks, such as in the beds of the conglomerate, which crop out throughout the state. You can find them in volcanic conglomerates in the Tertiary rocks of the southern part of the Absaroka Mountains of northwest Wyoming.
Concretion and geodes are common in many of the sedimentary rocks in the state, but a good way of finding geodes in Wyoming is to search for the conglomerate in limestone or sandstone.
TIP: Geodes can form anywhere in the world, but they do not form at random. That’s one of the reasons why you can quite a lot of fake ones for sale. Find out more in the article below:
Difference Between Real & Fake Geodes: Focus on These Signs
Metamorphic Rocks You Can Find in Wyoming
There are a couple of metamorphic rocks that you can find in the state of Wyoming. Some of the most prominent metamorphic rocks in Wyoming are gneiss, marble, quartzite, schist, and slate, among many others.
Wyoming is also noted for its abundance of discovered meteorites. Precambrian metamorphic rocks are abundant in Wyoming.
Check out the table below to find where to find the more important metamorphic rocks in the state of Wyoming.
|Gneiss and Schist||Very common in all of the Precambrian mountain cores of Wyoming|
|Marble||On the west of Jay Em in Muskrat Canyon area of Goshen County, about 15 miles west of Wheatland, in the Marble Canyon area of Platte County, in the Medicine Bow Mountains of Albany and Carbon Counties, the Bighorn Mountains, near Douglas, in Converse County, and from the west flank of the Black Hills in Crook County|
Obsidian isn’t listed here since we know how much rockhounds love this igneous rock, so let us talk about obsidian separately.
Where to Find Obsidian in Wyoming
Obsidian is plentiful in Wyoming, especially abundant in Yellowstone National Park, where the Obsidian Cliff is located in the northwest part of the Park. The Wiggins and Late Basic Breccia formations in the Absaroka Mountains of northwest Wyoming are also great for finding obsidian, but you should check the regulations before you attempt this.
Minerals You Can Find in Wyoming
The state of Wyoming is noted for its copper minerals, lithium minerals, uranium minerals, feldspar minerals, manganese minerals, mica minerals, and quartz minerals.
You can find plenty of minerals in Wyoming, especially in the mountains, such as Casper Mountain, Absaroka Mountain, Laramie Range, or Medicine Bow Range. The prominent minerals found in Wyoming are agates – quite a variety of them, jades, opals, chalcedony, and other varieties of quartz crystals, among others.
We have listed each type of crystal in separate sections since we know how much you love them. Find out where to find minerals in Wyoming down below.
Where are Agates in Wyoming?
Go to Albany County, since agates are commonly found near Marshall, located in northwestern Albany. You can also find agates a few miles west of Saratoga, Carbon County. Rainbow agates are plentiful in the Wind River near Riverton, Fremont County. In Sweetwater County, west of Wamsutter along the old road to Baggs, the Green River Basin is plentiful in agates.
Now that you know where to find agates in Wyoming, let’s see where you can find the official state gemstone of Wyoming, the famous nephrite variant of jade.
TIP: Agates are one of the most popular minerals among rockhounds in the United States. Find out how these beautiful minerals are formed and more in this article:
What Is Agate And How Do Agates Form? Simple Explanation
Where Can You Find Jade in Wyoming?
If you want to hunt for Jade in Wyoming, you can start from the northern part of the Granite Mountains, or to the south of Crooks County’s Gap-Green Mountain.
Jades are present in Carbon County as well. You may want to look in the Kortes Dam area or the Sierra Madre Mountains for jades. Jade can be found in the Sweetwater River district southeast of the Wind River Mountains in Fremont County.
Black jade can be found in Fremont County as well. Sublette County, located in western Wyoming, is noted for jade findings.
South of Douglas in Converse County is where you will find jade as well. The Owl Creek Mountains, Fremont, and Hot Spring counties also have jade. The Sierra Madre Mountains are noted for their jade findings too.
Where Can I Find Opals in Wyoming?
The best place to start is in Yellowstone National Park. Other great places to find opals are the Absaroka Mountains, which are in the area of northwest Wyoming, near Smith Creek in Carbon County, or near Lusk in Niobrara County. Another good place would be the 100 miles west of Casper County, discovered by a local rockhound.
As you can see, opals are found in many places in Wyoming, so let us dive into where to find chalcedony in Wyoming.
TIP: Opal is a one-of-a-kind, highly valuable gemstone. Check out how valuable different types of opal can be in the article below:
8 Factors Why Opal is Valuable (Prices for Different Types)
Where to Find Chalcedony in Wyoming?
The Bridger Formation in areas north of Wamsutter, Sweetwater County, and in an area north and east of Farson, Sweetwater, and Sublette counties, the western half of the Bighorn Basin of Bighorn, Hot Springs, Park, and Washakie Counties, or the Steamboat Mountain in the Leucite Hills.
Volcanic type agates or chalcedony usually occur in stream gravels in the western half of the Bighorn Basin, of Big Horn, Hot Springs, Park, and Washakie Counties as well.
A relatively large area between Labarge and Granger, Lincoln, Sweetwater, and Uinta Counties also contains chalcedony.
Other minerals in Wyoming
The minerals listed above are among the most famous in Wyoming; however, Wyoming is full of other minerals. In the table down below, you can see what other minerals can be found in Wyoming, and their exact locations.
|Scheelite||The Copper Mountain, Freemont County, in the Laramie Range of Albany and Converse counties, the Lewiston area of Fremont County, and the Bighorn Mountains area of Washakie County|
|Tourmaline||Almost in all of the Precambrian pegmatites of Wyoming|
|Kyanite||Albany County, Carbon County, or 23 miles southwest of Wheatland, Platte County|
|Copper Minerals||The Rocky Mountain area, the Encampment district in Carbon County, Hartville district, Platte County, the Copper Mountain district,|
|Lithium Minerals||Precambrian pegmatites in Fremont and Natrona Counties, the Black Mountain, and the Copper Mountain|
|Uranium Minerals||The Eocene Wind River formation of the Gas Hills area, Fremont and Natrona Counties, the Shirley Basin area of Carbon County, the Fall River, and Lakota sandstones in the Black Hills area of Crook County|
|Feldspar Minerals||The Casper Mountain, Natrona County, Haystack Range, Goshen County, Laramie Range, Albany, and Laramie Counties|
|Manganese Minerals||In Albany, Fremont, Johnson, Natrona, Washakie, and Weston Counties, north of Sundance in the Warren Peaks area of Crook County|
|Mica Minerals||In the Laramie Range, Albany and Platte Counties, the southern part of the Medicine Bow Range, Albany and Carbon Counties, the Copper Mountain area|
|Quartz Minerals||The western half of the Bighorn Basin, of Bighorn, Hot Springs, Park, and Washakie Counties, the area between Labarge and Granger, Lincoln, Sweetwater, and Uinta Counties|
Other Gems You Can Find in Wyoming
Wyoming isn’t just rich in rocks and minerals; it also has gold, fossils, and petrified wood. If you want to find fossils, you should know that the Triceratops is the state’s official dinosaur, while the Knightia Fish is the official state fossil of Wyoming.
Down below is where you will find out where to find gold, fossils, and petrified wood in Wyoming.
Where to Find Gold in Wyoming?
First of all, check the Tertiary igneous rocks in the Wood River and Sunlight Basin areas of Park County and the Black Hills area of northeastern Wyoming. Gold can also be panned in Douglas Creek in the Medicine Bow Mountains of southeastern Wyoming, or the Sweetwater River and tributaries in the southern part of the Wind River Mountains.
You may also find gold along with parts of the Snake River in the southern part of Jackson Hole, northwest Wyoming. Most of the gold produced in Wyoming comes from the Atlantic City-South Pass-Sweetwater district.
Where to Find Fossils in Wyoming?
The famous Triceratops fossils are plentiful in Wyoming; however, the Knightia Fish is the official state fossil of Wyoming. Triceratops fossils are mostly found in the Hell Creek Formation in the Black Hills region of South Dakota, eastern Wyoming. Knightia Fish fossils are primarily uncovered in the Green River Formation of Wyoming.
The Triceratops was designated as the official state dinosaur of Wyoming in 1994, while the Knightia Fish gained the status of state fossil in 1987.
Where to Find Petrified Wood in Wyoming?
To find petrified wood in Wyoming, you should go northeast of Eden, Sweetwater County, or the Wind River Formation where the Eocene age petrified wood is, 35 miles north of Medicine Bow, near the old Casper road. You can also find it in the Wiggins formation of the Oligocene age near the head of Frontier Creek in the Absaroka Mountains.
Petrified wood is also found in the Early Basic Breccia of Eocene age, in the Specimen Ridge and the Amethyst Mountains area of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.
TIP: A great deal of petrified wood is not suitable for rock tumbling or lapidary work because it has too many faults and fractures. Check out how to cut and polish petrified wood in the article below:
How To Cut & Polish Petrified Wood: Follow These 3 Steps
Legality / Illegality of Taking Rocks From Nature in Wyoming
The majority of national parks located in the U.S. prohibit gem hunting/rockhounding. Some areas of individual parks are legal to rockhound, but it all depends on the state.
In Wyoming, nearly all 18 million acres of public land are legal for gem enthusiasts to pursue their recreational activities. There is a limit to the number of specimens you can carry, which differs from site to site.
In the case of petrified wood, you are only allowed to take around 25 pounds, plus one piece, each day, and you can’t exceed 250 pounds of petrified wood in any calendar year without a permit.
To gain permits for rockhounding in Wyoming, please check the BLM website here. This is where you will find what is legal or not in Wyoming, in regards to rockhounding, where you are allowed to rockhound, what, and how much.
Where Can I Dig for Gems in Wyoming?
If you want to dig for gems in Wyoming, Amethyst Mountain would be an excellent place to start. It is located in the northwestern part of Wyoming, and you can find amethyst, opals, and many other types of valuable gems and minerals.
Petrified wood can be found in the Amethyst Mountains area of Yellowstone as well. If you want to find sapphires, you may go to the Palmer Canyon in Albany, or go to Fremont, to the Grizzly Creek and Sweeny Basin.
If you want to know more about rockhounding in Wyoming or you prefer paper books, I recommend buying the book Rockhounding Wyoming: A Guide to the State’s Best Rockhounding Sites (2nd Edition). I found this book very useful and clearly written. You can buy it here (Amazon link).
BTW: Check out this amazing metal sign (Amazon link) which is perfect for everyone who loves rockhounding in Wyoming!
TIP: Rockhounding is much easier when you use proper tools and equipment. Check out recommended tools for rockhounding here:
Recommended tools and equipment for rockhounding