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14 Common Rocks & Minerals You Can Find in North Carolina

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Did you know that North Carolina is considered to be one of the best places in the world for rockhounding? Sapphires, rubies, emeralds, and more are waiting for you in the Tar Heel State, as you’ll discover in this overview.

In the Tar Heel State, rockhounds often come across these rocks and minerals:

  • agate,
  • flint,
  • jasper,
  • serpentine,
  • emerald,
  • quartz,
  • unakite,
  • corundum,
  • aquamarine,
  • garnet,
  • kyanite,
  • azurite,
  • opal,
  • and staurolite.

While the minerals and gems of this state certainly deserve their spotlight, let’s not ignore the rocks of North Carolina! In this overview, we will cover all the collectible rocks and minerals that make North Carolina a rockhound’s paradise and how you can find them.

Common Rocks and Minerals in North Carolina
Common Rocks and Minerals in North Carolina

If you are interested in checking out the best rockhounding tools you can find them by clicking here (Amazon link).

What Rocks Are Found in North Carolina

Before we dive into the minerals and gems of the Tar Heel State, let’s give the rocks the attention they deserve:


LocationGPS Coordinates
Lake Summit35.226880, -82.418260
Mitchell County36.029133, -82.184141
Statesville35.801049, -80.896203
Butner36.114958, -78.771433
Creedmore36.114492, -78.697286
Unaka35.197147, -84.141668
Where to Find Agate in North Carolina

Both banded and moss agates can be found in North Carolina, and the type of agate you find depends on where you go in the state. Fortunately, agates are common and spread throughout the state, so rockhounds shouldn’t have any trouble getting their hands on some high-quality specimens.

For banded agates, visit Lake Summit, Mitchell County, or Unaka. If you’re on the hunt for moss agates, Statesville and Butner are the places to be.


LocationGPS Coordinates
Flint Knob36.185125, -81.439292
Flint Hill36.177112, -80.478221
Savannah Creek35.293405, -83.266480
Cape Fear River34.598914, -78.535243
Cumberland County34.973958, -78.806619
Kombow Lake35.102226, -78.933851
Where to Find Flint in North Carolina

You can collect flint all over North Carolina, and it’s especially abundant on the beaches and riverbanks of this state. Flint Knob and Flint Hill are the two well-known places where most rockhounds are successful in their search for flint.

As mentioned, Flint Knob and Flint Hill are great places to collect flint in North Carolina, but you can also stop by Savannah Creek or Cape Fear River for this rock.

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.


LocationGPS Coordinates
Mount Airy36.496300, -80.605986
Cape Fear River34.610719, -78.547608
Creedmore36.114492, -78.697286
Pee Dee River35.191380, -80.059521
Franklin35.177809, -83.381132
Charlotte35.181383, -80.909939
Where to Find Jasper in North Carolina

If you want to collect some beautiful jaspers, swing by north-central and eastern areas of North Carolina. These regions have plenty of stunning red jaspers for rockhounds to collect.

Fortunately, there are many areas that contain jasper in North Carolina, such as Mount Airy and the Cape Fear River.


LocationGPS Coordinates
Little Scaly Mountain35.030814, -83.257590
Burlington36.049313, -79.477445
Wilksboro36.135013, -81.190798
Alamance County36.043816, -79.451383
Davis Mountain36.013012, -81.229808
Where to Find Serpentine in North Carolina

Serpentine isn’t as common in North Carolina as the other rocks listed above, but it is present in multiple areas of the state. So, if you are going after some serpentine for your collection, you can find quality pieces in the Tar Heel State.

Davis Mountain and Little Scaly Mountain are two areas known to possess quality serpentines.

What Minerals Are Found in North Carolina

The moment you’ve all been waiting for it here, and now we will cover the amazing minerals and gems of North Carolina:


LocationGPS Coordinates
Emerald Hollow Mine35.913587, -81.082952
Hiddenite35.902215, -81.087942
Crabtree Emerald Mine35.874309, -82.120183
Elijah Mountain Gem Mine35.324172, -82.503709
First Broad River35.217023, -81.607275
Alexander County35.830887, -81.201887
Where to Find Emerald in North Carolina

Emerald was designated North Carolina’s official precious stone in 1973 due to its abundance and the spectacular finds that appear in this state.

Two well-known emeralds from North Carolina are the Carolina Queen, which is 18.9 carats, and the Carolina Prince, which is 7.85 carats. Additionally, it’s worth noting that North Carolina produces true emeralds, not just light green beryls like some other states.

One popular place to find emeralds in North Carolina is Elijah Mountain Gem Mine, one of the few pay-to-dig sites in the state. You can also visit areas near Emerald Hollow Mine and Crabtree Emerald Mine to find these precious green crystals.

TIP: Emerald is one of the most well-known valuable gemstones; therefore, it is widely faked and substituted. Check out the guide in the article below:
Real vs. Fake Emerald: Focus on These 11 Key Differences


Smoky Quartz
Smoky Quartz
LocationGPS Coordinates
Neuse River35.050281, -76.649210
Mount Ulla35.656620, -80.724301
Tyro35.808539, -80.372832
Mooresville35.575825, -80.809835
Hiddenite35.902215, -81.087942
Big Creek35.724909, -83.162286
Where to Quartz in North Carolina

As you would expect from a state that’s overflowing with minerals, North Carolina has many different types of quartz, including amethyst, smoky quartz, and rose quartz. Amethysts are particularly abundant all throughout the state, and you can find some large specimens near Neuse River.

If you want to bring home amethysts, the Neuse River and Mount Ulla are some of the best sites in the state. For smoky quartz, Hiddenite and Big Creek are great spots to go.


LocationGPS Coordinates
Clay County35.006872, -83.733417
Roaring Fork35.753484, -82.194632
Roan Mountain36.103416, -82.110486
Marlin Knob35.509473, -81.840120
Cranberry36.142971, -81.968048
Cherokee County35.078831, -83.951770
Where to Find Unakite in North Carolina

Unakite is a gorgeous, colorful mineral that displays a pink and green speckled pattern, and the stones from North Carolina are of exceptional quality. As a matter of fact, unakite from North Carolina is often incorporated into jewelry and artwork.

Pick up some stunning unakite stones from Clay County, Cherokee County, and the banks of the Roaring Fork River.


LocationGPS Coordinates
Mason Mountain35.245783, -83.393187
North Toe River35.972446, -82.190295
Crowder’s Mountain35.231963, -81.276911
Macon County35.086421, -83.334050
Buck Creek36.239757, -106.429970
Cowee Creek35.268431, -83.396847
Where to Find Corundum in North Carolina

One of the main reasons rockhounds visit North Carolina is to find corundum, or more specifically, rubies and sapphires. Rubies and sapphires are a part of the corundum family, and they can be found in multiple areas of North Carolina.

Additionally, it’s important to note that corundum actually comes in a wide range of colors, but rubies and sapphires are the most well-known types. Other colors of corundum that you might run into in North Carolina are pink, purple, grey, yellow, brown, dark blue, green, and red.

Some well-known areas for North Carolina corundum are the North Toe River, Crowder’s Mountain, and Cowee Creek.

TIP: Rubies don’t pop up anywhere; you must research your area beforehand. Check out the complete guide in the article below:
Where to Find Rubies: Best Environments & Locations (USA)


LocationGPS Coordinates
Emerald Hollow Mine35.913822, -81.083070
Hiddenite35.895749, -81.090345
South Mountains35.595369, -81.695652
Sheep Knob Mountain35.278453, -83.373585
Buffalo Creek35.456948, -81.491850
Stice Shoal Lake Dam35.394569, -81.553233
Where to Find Aquamarine in North Carolina

With crystals resembling clear blue waters, it’s no wonder that aquamarine is a popular find in North Carolina. Rockhounds uncover gem-quality aquamarine in many of the same areas where emeralds are found, which makes sense since both are a part of the beryl family.

Emerald Hollow Mine, the South Mountains, and Buffalo Creek are some great locations to find aquamarine.


LocationGPS Coordinates
Bullhead Mountain35.716120, -82.358394
Cowee Creek35.268711, -83.397105
Crowder’s Mountain35.231998, -81.276654
Big Creek35.722564, -83.164623
Gold Hill35.520936, -80.338328
Looking Glass Falls35.295818, -82.768927
Where to Find Garnet in North Carolina

Both gem-quality and almandine garnets exist in the Tar Heel State, and you can collect exceptionally large crystals in specific regions. Luckily, every rockhound who visits North Carolina will have the opportunity to collect this mineral since they exist in almost every rockhounding area in the state.

As mentioned, finding garnets in North Carolina is a simple task since they exist almost everywhere. Streams, gravels, washes, and mountains are always good places to start.


LocationGPS Coordinates
Crowder’s Mountain35.231998, -81.276654
Cowee Creek35.268711, -83.397105
Franklin35.192681, -83.379759
Lookout Mountain35.637304, -82.286957
Cranberry36.143006, -81.967876
Bullhead Mountain35.716120, -82.358394
Where to Find Kyanite in North Carolina

Kyanite, a stunning blue mineral, is often pulled from the mines that are scattered throughout North Carolina. The specimens from this state appear in both light and dark blue hues, and many are gem-quality.

Bullhead Mountain, Crowder’s Mountain, and Lookout Mountain are three areas to visit if you’re on the hunt for gem-quality kyanite.

TIP: Geologists have fun! Sometimes, as a joke, geologists are called paid tourists. Check out the article on how to become geologist below:
How to Become A Geologist (Time, Costs, Skills & More)


LocationGPS Coordinates
Cabarrus County35.290736, -80.598266
Eldorado35.466733, -80.029344
Elk Knob36.333306, -81.696721
Bennet35.562066, -79.542494
Reed Gold Mine35.286134, -80.465370
Where to Find Azurite in North Carolina

In the Tar Heel State, azurite is typically discovered alongside malachite, which is no surprise since they are both copper-based minerals. You can find well-formed crystals in various areas of the state, especially the central-north regions.

The one place you need to visit if you want to bring home North Carolina azurite is Cabarrus County.


LocationGPS Coordinates
Shooting Creek35.025260, -83.666833
Cape Fear River34.615263, -78.547102
Higdon Mountain35.163007, -83.274936
Elf35.023904, -83.748206
Concord35.397350, -80.589530
Danbury36.410873, -80.218473
Where to Find Opal in North Carolina

Did you know that North Carolina is one of the few places where you can find hyalite opal geodes? These are one of the few types of geodes that exist in the state, and they are only found in Shooting Creek. In addition to geodes, rockhounds also pick up common and hyalite opal stones from various waterways and creeks.

Shooting Creek has both hyalite opal geodes and stones, so it’s the perfect place to start your rockhounding journey in North Carolina.


LocationGPS Coordinates
Hanging Dog Creek35.105842, -84.077204
Cowee Creek35.268711, -83.396761
Bryson City35.427992, -83.445349
Chunky Gal Mountain35.030854, -83.579368
Little Snowbird Mountains35.243627, -83.870933
Vengeance Creek35.154789, -83.911115
Where to Find Staurolite in North Carolina

Known for its unique, cross-like shape, staurolite is a rare mineral that you can collect along with many of the other minerals discussed above. While the six-point crosses exist in this state, they are much rarer than the four-point crosses.

Staurolite can be found in the Hanging Dog Creek, Cowee Creek, Bryson City, and Chunky Gal Mountain.

TIP: North Carolina’s golden legacy extends deeper than any mine in the state. Check out the complete gold prospecting guide in the article below:
Gold Prospecting in North Carolina: 7 Best Locations & Laws

FAQ About Common Rocks & Minerals in North Carolina

Even with all the rocks and minerals listed above, North Carolina still has more to offer rockhounds:

What Rare Rocks Can You Find in North Carolina

North Carolina is famous for its minerals, but it does have a few rare rocks, including agates, jaspers, and serpentines. All these rocks from this state are high-quality, especially the red jaspers.

Agates and jaspers are widespread throughout the state, and even though serpentine is present, it’s not as common as the other two rocks.

North Carolina is a large region, but Unaka and Franklin are two of the top places for finding rare rocks and minerals in the state. Additionally, both of these regions have more than one collectible rock or mineral, so you can save time during your trip.

What Rare Minerals Can You Find in North Carolina

The list of rare minerals in North Carolina is a long one, so get ready!

Some rare gems and minerals that are present in North Carolina are rubies, sapphires, emeralds, staurolites, opals, kyanites, azurites, garnets, aquamarines, unakites, amethysts, smoky quartzes, tourmalines, gold, topazes, citrines, labradorites, peridots, diamonds, and sunstones.

Some of these minerals are rarer than others, such as diamonds, but some precious stones are fairly common in North Carolina, such as emeralds, sapphires, and rubies. 

Crowder’s Mountain, Cowee Creek, Bullhead Mountain, and Cape Fear River are top-notch rockhounding sites in North Carolina. Also, you can find multiple gems and minerals at these sites, so you’ll be able to cut back on travel time.

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):

What is the Most Famous Rock or Mineral Found in North Carolina

North Carolina has some amazing gems, but in this state, the emeralds stand out from all the rest. Not only are these gems abundant in the state, but they are also of exceptional quality and immense size.

Also, there are plenty of rockhounding sites and resources available for emerald hunters in this state, so finding this mineral isn’t as difficult as you might think.

The emerald mines of North Carolina are the best places to go for this gem. Scroll up to the emerald section to see all the different options and locations.


It’s easy to see why North Carolina has such a great reputation among rockhounds! This single state possesses vast amounts of precious gems, minerals, and even some neat rocks. If you can only visit a single state for rockhounding this year, North Carolina should be your top choice.

No matter where you go in the state, you’ll return with some amazing, once-in-a-lifetime finds that will be the stars of your collection!

TIP: North Carolina is among the best rockhounding states in the U.S. It is arguably the best place worldwide for crystal and gemstone hunting. Find out more below:
GUIDE: Best Rockhounding in North Carolina & What to Find