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It’s no surprise that Alaska, a state known for its expansive terrain and abundance of wildlife, has more than enough unique and stunning treasures to satisfy any rockhound. In this list, we have gathered information and locations for the most common rocks and minerals you can find in Alaska, the largest U.S. state.
In Alaska, the most common rocks and minerals you can find are:
- and cinnabar.
Whether you are new to rockhounding in Alaska or if you are a frequent visitor, it’s always useful to learn more about the different rocks, minerals, and gemstones you may find on your journeys, as well as where to look for specific ones. Use this comprehensive list of common rocks and minerals, along with their various locations, as a guide to help you find all the best treasures that the state of Alaska has to offer.
If you are interested in checking out the best book about rockhounding in Alaska you can find it by clicking here (Amazon link).
What Rocks Are Found in Alaska
With glaciers, volcanoes, rivers, oceans, and more, the distinctive geology of Alaska has a treasure trove of metamorphic, sedimentary, and igneous rocks, including:
|Nenana City||64.569374, -149.104874|
|Batza Tena (along the Koyukuk River)||65.194024, -157.641829|
|Suemez Island||55.273332, -133.309370|
|Wiki Peak||61.938529, -141.213596|
|Kupreanof Island||56.754482, -133.331154|
|Skolai Pass||61.646306, -141.926692|
|Unimak Island||54.693527, -164.298295|
|Nanwaksjiak Crater||60.028311, -166.080296|
Since there are over 130 volcanoes and volcanic fields in Alaska, it’s no surprise that this state has an abundance of obsidian, a completely black volcanic rock that is often used for jewelry and ornamental displays.
In ancient times, the natives who lived in Alaska used obsidian to create sharp cutting tools or weapons, so every rockhound should keep an eye out for these rarities during their travels. In the early 2000s, archeologists found a set of solid obsidian tools located in the sand of the Nogahabara Dunes of Alaska.
Because obsidian is often referred to as volcanic glass, this discovery was named “the glass tool kit.” These obsidian tools were over 12,000 years old, and yet they were in excellent condition. The tool kit discovery shows that even though obsidian might not be a hard rock, it is surprisingly durable in the right environment.
Fortunately, obsidian is a very common rock in Alaska, so rockhounds should have no problem finding some pieces during their adventures.
While you can find obsidian all over the state, it’s best to stay close to volcanic areas if you are looking for this rock specifically. Keep an eye out for this lovely volcanic glass during all your rockhounding excursions, especially if you visit Batza Tena, Nenana City, or Kupreanof Island.
TIP: Time, patience, and additional equipment are needed to differentiate between natural and fake obsidian. Check out the complete guide in the article below:
Real vs. Fake Obsidian Stone: Check These 8 Key Differences
|Mendenhall Lake||58.420870, -134.545543|
|Caribou Creek||61.807520, -147.695590|
|Iliamna Lake||59.603345, -154.642584|
|Point Woronzof||61.203722, -150.018031|
|Port Heiden||56.927394, -158.678119|
|Chuitna River||61.095292, -151.122960|
|Fire Island||61.146751, -150.184432|
If you’re interested in adding 2-million-year-old agates to your collection, it’s time to book a trip to Alaska. Although these agates are nowhere near as old as Alaska’s oldest rock from Iditarod, which is 2 billion years old, they have been on the earth for an incredibly long time and are stunning once polished.
There are many varieties of agates that rockhounds can find near beaches or rivers in Alaska, and while the most common color for agates in Alaska is white, you can also find other shades such as a vibrant orange or green.
Some of the most popular agate hunting grounds in this state are the beaches and rivers, including Salamtof Beach, Kenai River, and Lake Iliamna.
One popular place to go for agates and other treasures is Fire Island. If you decide to visit this island, be sure to take an experienced guide with you since the mudflats and rising tides can be dangerous.
TIP: The most common opinion among scholars is that аgate and jasper are not the same minerals. Check out the differences between these two similar minerals in the article below:
Jasper vs. Agate: Crucial Differences (Are They Same?)
|No Name Creek||65.299119, -146.508946|
|Kobuk River||66.967204, -160.448106|
|Sheep Mountain||61.673053, -144.143121|
|Totem Bay||56.494447, -133.407075|
|Yukon River||64.890799, -157.891464|
|Matanuska River||61.794315, -147.502454|
In Alaska, rockhounds often find crystal-filled geodes, and occasionally, they come across thundereggs as well. Usually, the geodes found in Alaska contain quartz, amethyst, calcite, and even gold. Geodes come in all shapes and sizes, and you can find some that are larger than basketballs in Alaska.
While thundereggs are much rarer and more difficult to find than geodes in this particular terrain, rockhounds have found these coveted treasures in this state, and many of them were in the same locations as geodes.
To set yourself up for a successful geode haul, swing by No Name Creek, which is known to be one of the best areas for geodes in the state. You can also check out Sheep Mountain, the Kobuk River, or Totem Bay to find some gorgeous pockets of crystals to add to your collection.
TIP: If you have ever come across a mesmerizing geode with splendid color in a crystal shop, you may have wondered if that piece is dyed or natural. Find out a complete guide in the article below:
How to Tell if a Geode is Dyed: All You Need to Know
|Adak Island||51.762659, -176.491949|
|Little Nelchina River||61.983462, -146.910423|
|Becharof Lake||57.821367, -156.142849|
|Lower Ugashik Lake||57.676409, -156.617463|
|Caribou Creek||61.958443, -147.755793|
|Kuiu Island||56.616404, -134.186878|
|Toksook Bay||60.540409, -165.076758|
|Zarembo Island||56.425159, -132.972084|
Even though jasper isn’t a gemstone, it’s one of the most beautiful rocks you can pick up in Alaska. Red, green, earthy, and butterscotch jasper have all been found by rockhounds and geologists in this state, and they come in many shapes and sizes.
The most common type of jasper that is discovered in Alaska is red, and it often includes shiny flecks of pyrite.
Jasper is often found on the islands and beaches of Alaska, so be sure to check out Adak Island, Kupreanof Island, and Attu Island. Additionally, other common sites for jasper are Becharof Lake, Caribou Creek, and Little Nelchina River.
TIP: Jasper is one of the most widespread gemstones with some very distinct properties for identifying real stones. Check out the step-by-step guide in the article below:
Identifying Real Jasper Mineral (Step-by-Step Guide)
|Brooks Mountain Range||68.199951, -152.251631|
|Siksikpuk River||68.222915, -152.253101|
|Toklat River||64.453791, -150.312546|
|Teklanika River||64.470724, -149.320542|
|Tanana River||64.793565, -147.665915|
Although soapstone can be found in many areas of the U.S., people usually associate it with Alaska due to its large quantity in the state. Alaskan soapstone comes in many colors, including white, grey, black, and green, and all these variations can be found all over the state.
To this day, Alaskans prefer soapstone over other materials for carvings and sculptures due to its durability, workability, high polish, and natural beauty.
Without a doubt, any rockhound who wants to add Alaskan soapstone to its collection should visit the Brooks Mountain Range. This range has more than enough soapstone for eager rockhounds to collect, and visitors might also come across quartz and other minerals in this region.
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 Minerals Are Found in Alaska
From sparkling gold to striking jade, there is a wealth of minerals in Alaska just waiting for the right rockhounds to find them, including:
|Yukon River||65.169280, -151.510772|
|Chena River||64.835584, -147.581188|
|Kenai Peninsula||60.171268, -150.251404|
|Bonanza Creek||60.827486, -149.524239|
|Nolan Creek||64.931853, -166.256411|
|Clear Creek||61.751472, -151.068431|
|Caribou Creek||61.969948, -147.835970|
Gold became the state mineral of Alaska in 1968, and it’s one of the main attractions for visiting rockhounds. During the mid-1800s and early 1900s, the Alaska gold rush began, and prospectors flooded in from all over to get their hands on the precious metal.
Over the years, Alaska has had multiple gold rushes, including the Klondike Gold Rush and the Nome Gold Rush, which goes to show that Alaska truly is overflowing with this valuable mineral.
Unfortunately, mining and panning for Alaskan gold were challenging in those times due to the ice and dangerous terrain, so many prospectors could not reach Alaska safely or were simply unable to obtain the gold they so desperately sought.
While acquiring Alaskan gold was difficult in the 1800s and 1900s, that’s not the case today. Fortunately, modern transportation and tools have made it much easier for anyone to visit and pick up gold in Alaska. All you need are the right tools and locations to find this precious metal for your collection.
There are all kinds of rivers, lakes, mountains, and other areas in the state where rockhounds can collect gold, including the Yukon River, Nolan Creek, Kenai Peninsula, and Bonanza Creek, which was the first place gold was discovered before the Klondike Gold Rush.
TIP: Let’s dive deeper into the prime gold prospecting locations in Alaska in the article below:
Gold Prospecting in Alaska: 6 Best Locations & Laws
|Jade Mountain||67.244941, -158.052029|
|Dall River||66.042250, -149.257615|
|Kobuk River||66.841566, -161.027971|
|Shungnak River||67.184000, -156.606402|
|Noatak River||67.065679, -162.478542|
|Jade Creek||67.183998, -158.125760|
Jade became the official state gem of Alaska in 1968, and you can find this exquisite green stone all over this state. As a matter of fact, Alaska’s Jade Mountain is a large mountain that’s made entirely of jade.
The term “jade” is generic and actually refers to two different types of minerals called jadeite and nephrite. The type of jade that is found in Alaska is mostly nephrite, and although both jadeite and nephrite are durable gemstones, jadeite is a harder material.
With that being said, nephrite is still a hard gemstone and Alaskan natives used to fashion weapons and tools from it.
Without a doubt, the most common color of nephrite is shades of green, but Alaska jade can also come in yellow, black, red, white, and even lavender. Lavender jade is the rarest and most valuable kind of jade from Alaska.
While you can find jade in many areas of Alaska, it’s most common near the Seward Peninsula, which is where Jade Mountain is located. Rockhounds can also find this valuable mineral near the Kobuk River, Dall River, and Shungnak River.
TIP: Identifying real jade is challenging and requires professional gemologist help and state-of-the-art laboratory equipment in the case of expensive stones. Find out a complete guide in the article below:
Identifying Real Jade Mineral (Step-by-Step Guide)
|Stikine River||56.676653, -132.002350|
|Garnet Ledge Cabin||56.578026, -132.365898|
|Tongass National Forest (& surrounding areas)||56.750449, -132.990890|
|Mitkof Island||56.617020, -132.826665|
|Mendenhall Lake||58.440670, -134.545349|
Did you know that the world’s largest garnet mines are located near Wrangell, Alaska? In the 1980s, Alaskan children used to go garnet hunting in Wrangell, collecting these rosy-colored minerals and then selling them to visiting tourists along the waterfront.
Most of the garnets found in Alaska are embedded in mica schist, so remember to bring all the necessary tools to free these lovely gemstones and add them to your collection.
If you are searching for Alaskan garnets, Wrangell and the surrounding areas are the best places to go. Stop by Garnet Ledge Cabin or the Stikine River on your journey to pick up a few of these stunning stones.
TIP: Garnet is a highly valued gemstone. Many people know garnet as an inexpensive dull red mineral. Check out the complete guide on garnet’s value in the article below:
5 Crucial Factors of Garnet Value: What’s the Garnet Worth?
|Fish Lake||62.947852, -141.815339|
|Kobuk River||66.913864, -160.826992|
|Fairbanks North Star Borough||64.747086, -147.520358|
|Brooks Mountain Range||68.198645, -152.239615|
When people think of amethysts, they often picture them in geode formations; however, Alaskan amethyst is unique because it comes in a single point or a small cluster rather than a geode.
This eye-catching purple mineral is often found in areas with granite and quartz, and fortunately, there are many areas in Alaska that have more than enough to spare. Although it’s not as common as quartz, rockhounds often have no trouble finding beautiful amethysts in various areas of Alaska.
Denali is known for being rich in amethyst, so be sure to check it out and any of the surrounding areas. Some other areas to look at include Tok, Northway, and the surrounding areas since they are also known for their amethyst.
TIP: Amethyst’s value depends on various factors like its color, the saturation of the color, the crystal form, and whether it is a separate crystal or a druse. Find out more in the article below:
Amethyst Value: Main Factors & Prices for Different Units
|Crooked Creek||61.875588, -158.133960|
|Red Top Mine||63.553705, -150.894064|
|Eureka Creek||63.544721, -150.893034|
|Glacier Creek||63.574793, -150.882220|
|Kolmakof Mine (near Kolmakof River)||61.733400, -158.793918|
|Red Devil Creek||61.754818, -157.320026|
|Canyon Creek||60.722639, -149.450772|
If you are a rockhound who loves colored minerals, you’re in luck. Cinnabar, also known as “Dragon’s Blood,” is a deep red mineral that miners and natives have collected from Alaska for hundreds of years. Because of its rich and brilliant color, people often use Alaskan cinnabar for art, painting, decorations, and jewelry.
Before you go hunting for this colorful stone, keep in mind that some rockhounds caution against collecting it since its main chemical component is mercury, which is highly toxic to the human body.
Even so, there are plenty of rockhounds and native Alaskans who handle this mineral and even wear it as jewelry since the mercury is locked in a solid state that’s not very bioavailable, meaning it’s unlikely it can bring harm to the body.
With that being said, always use caution when handling cinnabar, and remember that there is some risk involved when handling minerals that contain mercury.
As mentioned, cinnabar is scattered all over Alaska, but some of the best places to look are on the outskirts of commercial plots and mines. A few places to check out include Crooked Creek, Kolmakof Mine Site, and Red Top Mercury Mine.
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 Common Rocks & Minerals in Alaska
Before you go on a rockhounding trip in Alaska, use the FAQs listed below to learn more about the interesting rocks and minerals in this state.
What Rare Rocks Can You Find in Alaska
Any rockhound who wants to add rare rocks to their collection will not be disappointed with Alaska, a state that’s known for its beautiful pieces of obsidian, geodes, and even thundereggs. You can also find agates in many colors, shapes, and sizes.
If you stop by Alaskan beaches and the shores of Kodiak Island, you can find valuable and colorful pieces of sea glass to add to your collection.
Sea glass comes in all the colors of the rainbow, and some of the rarer pieces and colors that are found in Alaska sell for top-dollar prices. Wherever you go in Alaska, you are sure to find rare and beautiful rocks that would satisfy the heart of any rockhound.
What Rare Minerals Can You Find in Alaska
Alaska has many rare minerals to offer, but none are as popular as Alaskan gold. Alaskan gold has a long and unique history, and while there have been multiple gold rushes in this state, there is still plenty of gold waiting for rockhounds in the Yukon River and surrounding streams.
In addition to gold, you can collect lovely pieces of nephrite jade during your Alaskan adventures. You can find pieces of jade, Alaska’s state gemstone, in the areas near Jade Mountain. Some other rare minerals to keep an eye out for in Alaska include garnets, amethyst, fluorite, rhodonite, and cinnabar.
What is the Most Famous Rock or Mineral Found in Alaska
Alaska is famous for one of the most popular and valuable minerals on the planet: gold. This shimmering material was so common in Alaska that it started the Klondike Gold Rush during the mid-1800s, and the Nome Gold Rush during the early 1900s. Although there were multiple gold rushes, there is still plenty of gold left in this expansive state, so not to worry!
Take a look around Nome, Fairbanks, the Yukon River, and Caribou Creek to find some shiny nuggets of your own. Before prospecting for gold, be sure to familiarize yourself with Alaska’s gold prospecting laws to ensure that you do so legally.
From unique rocks to glittering minerals, the vast terrain of Alaska has just about everything a rockhound could want. Pick up some gold near the Yukon River or stop by the areas near Jade Mountain for a couple of jade stones.
With garnets, jasper, cinnabar, obsidian, and more, Alaska is truly filled with lovely treasures that are just waiting for the right rockhound to notice them. For your next rockhounding adventure, book a trip to Alaska; you won’t regret it!
TIP: Alaska’s northern regions are generally the best places for gem hunting, but let’s precisely what areas are worth it and see what you can find in the article below:
Best Rockhounding Sites in Alaska & What You Can Find