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Garnets are among the most versatile minerals in color, composition, and shape. The most popular color for garnets is usually red, and there are about six types of garnets worldwide. However, in the U.S., the most common type is the almandine garnet. These gemstones are found worldwide and are often mistaken for rubies.
You can find garnet specimens in about 21 states across the U.S. Some good examples of garnet-rich states include Utah, Idaho, and Nevada. Blue garnets are among the most valuable and rarest variant you can find. These silicate minerals form in certain rocks with the help of intense heat and pressure.
If you want to find gem-quality garnets in the U.S., you are lucky since there are many places you can find them. However, to better understand where to search for garnets, let’s see precisely how they form and in what environments.
If you are interested in checking out the best books about rock and minerals identification you can find them by clicking here (Amazon link).
Where Can Garnet be Found (Common Environments)
Considered by many to be a romantic gemstone, many rockhounds search for garnet specimens across the U.S. Garnet specimens are valued for several things, including their color, which can range from red, green, orange, peach, brown, purple, pink, yellow, or blue. Some garnets even change color.
These gemstones form after being subjected to heat and intense pressure in sedimentary rocks with high aluminum content, such as shale, metamorphic rocks, and even in a couple of igneous rocks. You can find garnets in creeks, rivers, streams, gravels, mines (especially mining dumps), mountains, or sandstone outcrops.
The reason why garnets form in various rocks is their classification. There are about six types of garnets. For example, almandine or pyrope garnets form in metamorphic rocks. Grossular garnets are present within certain igneous rocks and so on. Here is where you may typically find garnets in nature:
Creeks, Rivers, Streams, and Gravels
Garnets are most commonly found in creeks, rivers, gravels, outcrops, and even sandstone outcrops. Water bodies across the land always transport various metamorphic rocks that lead to the formation of garnets.
Ocean and beach gravels are excellent places to start looking for them. Sandstone outcrops are also worth exploring because they usually have garnet specimens. You may also find this beautiful gemstone where granite or basalt is present.
Mines, Quarries, or Mine Dumps
Garnets form deep within the earth, and due to various geologic events, they are brought up, sometimes even reaching the surface.
However, in mine, you have the advantage of finding them even more manageable as you explore specific depths. The same stands true for quarries. Mine dumps are also an excellent location to start searching for garnet specimens.
Mountains, Canyons, Road Cuts, and National Parks
Garnets form within the earth’s crust and are often elevated from the mantle due to deep volcanic eruptions.
In some cases, you can find garnets even around mountains, especially in mines that are located near them. In other situations, road cuts are the perfect spot to find them without too much hassle.
National State Parks are also worth checking out. However, it is always recommended to research the local law and check if the area you visit allows collection. In some instances, even in mines, you may be entitled to collect what you find after obtaining a permit or paying a small fee.
TIP: It’s challenging to differentiate between fake and real garnets without gemological equipment. Check out the complete guide on how to spot fake garnet in the article below:
Real vs. Fake Garnet: Focus on These 6 Differences
Where to Find Garnets in the U.S.? The Best Locations
Garnets are found across the U.S. in most states. Presently, various garnet specimens and types are found in about 21 U.S. states, with the almandine variant being the most common. Some states are more prosperous than others regarding this gemstone, though.
Idaho, Utah, Connecticut, and Nevada are among the wealthiest states when it comes to garnets. They have dozens of areas where this gemstone was unearthed. You can also find garnet gemstones in states such as Oregon, Tennessee, Kentucky, Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, Arizona, Texas, and California, among many others.
|Idaho||East Fork Emerald Creek, Lewiston, Seven Devils Mining District|
|Utah||Moses Rock & Comb Ridge, Strongs Canyon, Copper Gulch|
|Nevada||Garnet Hill, Nightingale Mountain Range, Black Canyon|
|Colorado||Green Mountain, Cooney Hills,|
Let’s examine some of the best states in the U.S. to find garnets, explore some rockhounding sites, and see what type of garnets you can find!
Finding Garnets in Idaho
Idaho is most likely the best rockhounding state when it comes to garnets. The state’s official gemstone has been the star garnet since 1967. It is a dark garnet specimen renowned worldwide for its beauty and uniqueness.
The Idaho Panhandle is the perfect region to find garnets due to its many rockhounding sites. For example, you can discover almandine garnets at Emerald Creek near Fernwood or the general area near Headquarters.
At Riggins, the area north of Little Salmon River, you can find various types of garnets, but you can also visit Deadwood Gulch or Ruby Creek. If you visit Boulder Creek, garnets are present just east of Deary. All the area creeks and streams near Lewiston are filled with garnets.
The sands and gravels at Pack River are also excellent spots to find garnet specimens. If you want to find the famous star garnet, go to East Fork Emerald Creek, near Bovill & Clarkia. Red garnet specimens can be found at Purdue & Canyon Creeks.
The Bosie and southwestern Idaho areas are also abundant in rockhounding locations to find garnet specimens. For example, Andradite garnets can be found at the area mines near Cuprum.
The area mining dumps in Idaho City are also filled with garnets. In most mines, red and rare pink garnets can be found in the Seven Devils Mining District area.
Purple or red garnet specimens have also been unearthed in the general area around Silver City. If you want to find yellow or green garnet specimens in Idaho, head to Iron Mountain.
TIP: For a complete rockhounding guide in Idaho, check out this article.
Utah Garnet Rockhounding Areas
Utah is the second-best state in the U.S. where you can find garnet specimens, especially the beautiful pyrope variant. The Strongs Canyon in Weber County is an excellent place to start. In Davis County, you can search the general area at Antelope Island to find garnets.
Salt Lake County is a beautiful area with excellent rockhounding locations. Here, go to Bingham Canyon. This is where several large open pit mines are located where various gemstones, and minerals, including garnets, can be found.
Tooele County is probably the most famous rockhounding region in Utah. Here, you can find garnet specimens in the area mines around Clifton Mining District. You can also go to the area mines in the Dugway Mining District to try out your luck.
You can find garnets in the Santaquin & Silver Lake mining districts in Utah County. If you head to northeastern Utah, you can discover grossularite garnet specimens in Summit County at Bonanza Flat.
If you are here, consider visiting the Park City mining district, where many mines and mine dumps display various minerals, crystals, and gemstones.
Western Utah is also a great place to find garnets. At Juab County, you can find these gemstones at the Dugway Range, the general area. The north side of Thomas Range is also excellent to explore, but you can find garnets in the general area nonetheless.
You can also visit the Topaz Dome Quarry to witness beautiful garnet specimens. The many area mines around Tintic Mountains are also filled with garnets.
In Millard County, you can find garnets at the Amasa Valley, the area mines around House Range, Painter Spring, or the western area of Sevier Lake. If you want to find pyrope garnets, southern Utah is the place to start.
Here, visit San Juan County. The western edge of Comb Ridge is an excellent area to find pyrope garnet specimens and Arizona rubies. The same is also true if you go to Moses Rock and search the area’s sandstones. Pyrope garnets are also found in gravels around Mule Ear.
TIP: For a complete rockhounding guide in Utah, check out this article.
Garnet Gemstones in Nevada
Nevada is another excellent state to find garnets in the U.S. In northeastern Nevada, head to Garnet Hill. Here, in the area of rhyolites, you can find some fantastic garnet specimens.
In northwestern Nevada, garnet specimens can be found at the eastern flask of Nightingale Mountain Range or the area that draws and washes near Sparks.
In southern Nevada, almandine garnets are found in various locations near Las Vegas. For example, near Nelson, head about seven miles east in Black Canyon and search the gravels.
TIP: For a complete rockhounding guide in Nevada, check out this article.
TIP: Garnet is a highly valued gemstone. Many people know garnet as an inexpensive dull red mineral. Find out more about the value of garnet minerals in the article below:
5 Crucial Factors of Garnet Value: What’s the Garnet Worth?
FAQ About Finding Garnets
Still did not find the answer to your questions about finding garnets? Find frequently asked questions in the section below:
Where is Red Garnet Found?
Red garnets are among the most beautiful variants you can find of this gemstone. In the U.S., the best location to find red garnets is in Idaho. You can find red garnets in areas such as the Purdue & Canyon Creeks, Seven Devils Mining District area, or the general area around Silver City.
Where Was Garnet First Found?
Garnets are present worldwide, and ancient civilizations have known about them since 3,100 BCE or even earlier. Specimens were uncovered in ancient Roman, Egyptian, or Greek ruins. Garnets were adequately documented and named in 1270 by philosopher Albertus Magnus.
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)
Regardless of color and origin, all garnet types are stunning and often mistaken for rubies. Consider the areas mentioned above if you want to find garnets, and if you want a challenge, search the environments where they are usually discovered. If you are born in the U.S., consider yourself lucky, as there are so many places where you can find this gemstone.
TIP: There are more than twenty different species of garnets but only five species of garnets are worth cutting and polishing. Check out the complete guide in the article below:
How To Cut & Polish Garnets: Follow The 6 Simple Steps