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Rock collectors know how hard it is to find those perfect specimens for tumbling. Some are lucky due to their local geology. In contrast, others might have to venture even further away from their homes in the hopes of finding something beautiful.
However, rockhounds ultimately know that, in the end, some places always yield the best results in finding rocks. Beaches, quarries, road cuts, outcrops, river banks, creek beds, pay-to-dig-sites, or even freshly overturned soil regions are among the best places to find rocks for tumbling in nature.
Depending on what you wish to find, some of these environments may be even more useful than others. In the end, some rocks are more challenging to tumble than others, but it also depends on how fresh the exposures are.
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Where to Find Rocks for Tumbling in Nature
Rocks are everywhere but what makes for good tumbling rocks for rockhounds is usually a bit more tricky to find. In the end, exposed rock regions are the best places to find good specimens, and fresh exposures, such as rock outcrops, can be a delight for any collector.
Areas that have been freshly exposed are among the best places to find rocks for tumbling in nature. Still, there are also those regions where you must pay to collect or get permission. Rockhounders know that quarries, road cuts, outcrops, beaches, and river banks are among the top places to search for rocks.
Let’s analyze seven of these environments because no matter where you are located, there is one near you, and let’s see why these places are the best for finding rocks for tumbling in nature:
No matter where you are located, a river bank must be nearby. River banks for rock collectors are like toy shops for children because the excitement of not knowing what you may find is similar.
Just like toy shops, river banks are guaranteed to have interesting items that you can find. Since water levels are always changing near river banks, new rocks are constantly exposed. With a keen eye, you spot various types of rocks that are excellent for rock tumbling, such as agates or jaspers.
In some instances, the areas where sandbars or sandy banks form are the best spots to find remarkable rocks as they accumulate there because the water currents aren’t as strong.
New rocks continuously replenish river banks, especially after storms, so you never know what you might find in time.
Quarries might not be as typical as river banks. However, you can still find them if you are willing to travel. These places usually contain rocks worth digging for, even abandoned ones.
Just make sure to get permission before you go rock hunting. The significant advantage when it comes to quarries is that so many operations occur in these areas that expose rocks from the lower strata that would otherwise be inaccessible to most people.
Quarries are easy to access once you get permission, and the many types of rocks you can find here are also suitable for tumbling.
Road cuts are among the most popular areas where rockhounds gather to find remarkable rocks for tumbling or other noteworthy specimens. These exposures don’t last forever, but rockhounds have their dreams come true when they occur!
More often than not, the sides of the road cut, or even at the top, you can also find worthwhile specimens that you can use for tumbling later. Make sure you have the proper equipment to get those beautiful tumbling rocks.
BTW: If you are looking for the best UV light for rockhounding, find out my picks below (Amazon links):
- BEST OPTION: Convoy 8+ 365nm UV LED Flashlight with Patented Glass Filter
- BUDGET OPTION: Karrong Rechargeable 1200 Lumen 395nm UV Flashlight
- OPTION FOR INDOOR USAGE: Prime Upgraded Big Chip 396nm UV
Rock outcrops are naturally occurring, unlike quarries or road cuts, but just like those previous areas, you never know what you might find. Rocky hillsides, cliffs, or mountainsides are great places where they occur.
These natural settings are excellent when it comes to their contents. However, they can be challenging to find.
The best thing you can do is join a rockhounding club. In such a community, you will have access to and knowledge about the best areas to find rocks for tumbling and other collectible specimens.
TIP: Tumblers suitable for use by hobbyists aren’t cheap, but they vary in price depending on various variables. Find out a complete breakdown of tumbling costs at home in the article below:
Is Rock Tumbling Expensive? Complete Cost Breakdown
Creek beds are among the best places to find rocks for tumbling in nature, like river banks. The best part is that, unlike outcrops, these environments are far more common and easy to find.
Creek beds cut in the soil, and this leaves the banks exposed. In this case, various collectible rocks are unearthed and are easy to collect. Another great advantage to creek beds is that rocks tumbled down from surrounding mountains or hills are also gathered here.
The rocks you will find in creek beds are versatile, but it depends on the local geology. Since creeks don’t sustain heavy water flow, the rocks you will find will be in somewhat better shape as they wouldn’t have traveled as far as rocks in other environments, making them great for tumbling.
Beaches can also be great places to find rocks for tumbling. The advantage of beaches is that you have a more extensive area to search for; if you visit them after a storm, you will often find new rocks to collect.
If you visit a beach during its low tide, more of it will be exposed, which can lead to better findings. Another advantage when it comes to beaches is that it’s easier to spot rocks than in other places.
The variety, quality, shapes, and sizes of rocks on beaches keep the fun driving as you never know what you might find. Yet, it’s clear that you can easily spot some good specimens for tumbling and collect some sea shells while you are at it!
Sometimes, your best bet in finding remarkable rocks for tumbling is by visiting pay-to-dig sites. These locations usually contain high-quality rocks that you can collect.
Even though you have to pay a small fee, you are guaranteed to find what you are looking for without the hassle of getting permission or searching aimlessly in nature.
What’s excellent about pay-to-dig sites is that you can know what to expect beforehand by reading reviews about the place. This way, you can search for the exact specimens you are looking for.
TIP: Some rocks don’t have ideal physical properties for rock tumbling, but many are perfect for this process. Check out these rocks in the article below:
What Rocks Are Good For Tumbling? 15 Best Rocks & Minerals
Where is the Best Place to Find Rocks to Tumble
There are many environments where you can find rocks to collect for tumbling. However, take into consideration certain things. You will find out that some environments are usually better than others when finding those perfect rocks to tumble.
Rocks from river banks are smooth and usually well-rounded, so you won’t have to tumble them too much. Creek bed rocks, rocks from road cuts, and even beaches are also suitable to tumble. Any hard, dense, or smooth rocks are good, while those that are too soft or have a gritty texture might not be good for tumbling.
It would be best to avoid weathered rocks because they will mostly break in the tumbling process. Agates, quarts, jasper, obsidian, moonstone, and feldspars are all excellent rocks for tumbling.
Environments that result in nature-tumbled rocks, such as streams, beaches, or sediment deposits, among others, are the best places to find suitable rocks for tumbling as they are accustomed to the process.
TIP: Even if you are a beginner or a professional, there is always that curiosity about which rocks can be tumbled together. Check out the answer in the article below:
What Rocks Can Be Tumbled Together: Complete List With Tips
FAQ About Finding Rocks for Tumbling in Nature
Still did not find the answer to your questions about finding rocks for tumbling in nature? Find frequently asked questions in the section below:
Can You Tumble Rocks from the River?
River rocks are some of the best and most common rocks that you can use in a rock tumbler. They are effortlessly polished and well-suited for this process due to their smooth surfaces and roundness.
Can You Tumble Rocks from the Beach?
Beaches, just like sediment deposits or streams, contain naturally tumbled rocks. You can further tumble them in your rock tumbler with ease, but you still have to be patient and careful about the condition of your specimens before putting them in.
How to Tell if a Rock is Good for Tumbling?
Rocks that are good for tumbling will be dense, hard, or smooth but not too soft or have a weathered texture. You should also avoid using rocks that have voids, pores, or fractures.
An excellent method to tell if your rocks are suitable for tumbling is to rub them together and see if they produce granular debris. If they do, don’t use them because they will scratch the other rocks in the rock tumbler.
How do You Pick Rocks for Polishing?
When you want to polish rocks and get the best results, avoiding softer rocks is better. Rocks such as granite or quartzite have a good hardness for polishing, for example. Polish rocks that are somewhat hard and dense.
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)
Sometimes it can be hard to find rocks to tumble. However, considering the above tips, it should make your journey easier.
If you are feeling adventurous, you visit rivers banks, quarries, creek beds, and other environments mentioned above to find those perfect rocks for tumbling. If you want something specific, go for the pay-to-dig sites.
No matter where you are or what you choose, if you consider the abovementioned areas, you will find the best rocks for tumbling in nature.
TIP: Rock tumblers use various types of grit in the multiple stages of the rock tumbling process. Find out everything you need to know about tumbling grits in the article below:
Rock Tumbling Grit: Usage, Types, Disposal & Substitutes