Pinal Gem & Mineral Society
Pinal Gem & Mineral Society

Collecting (Rockhounding) in Arizona

Rockhounding is the collection of reasonable amounts of mineral specimens, rocks, semi-precious gems, petrified wood and invertebrate fossils. Invertebrate fossils are the remains of animals that didn't have bones such as shellfish, corals, trilobites and crinoids. The material collected must not be sold or bartered. Arizona has many localities and varieties of collecting material. Not all varieties are found on public lands.

Rockhounding Arizona

Arizona is an extraordinary state for rockhounding.  The state is called the Grand Canyon State, in honor of the Grand Canyon in northern Arizona.  The state also is nicknamed the copper state.  Arizona has minerals, gemstones, fossils, and two National Parks that are premier destinations for rockhounds.  In addition, Tucson Arizona hosts the largest rock show in the world.


State Rocks, Gemstones, Minerals, Fossils, & Dinosaurs

Rockhounding Tip:  Knowing state rocks, gemstones, minerals, fossils, and dinosaurs often can be very useful information for rockhounders.  Ordinarily, states with significant mineral deposits, valuable gemstones, fossils, or unusual or significant rock occurrences will designate an official state mineral, rock/stone, gemstone, fossil, or dinosaur to promote interest in the state’s natural resources, history, tourism, etc.  Accordingly, such state symbols often are a valuable clue as to potential worthwhile rockhounding opportunities.



State Gemstone:  Turquoise (1974)
Arizona designated turquoise as the official state gemstone in 1974.  Turquoise is an opaque mineral, a hydrated phosphate of copper and aluminum.  It is also formed by the percolating action of meteoric waters, usually in arid regions or deserts, on aluminous igneous or sedimentary rocks.  In Arizona (as well as other locations around the globe), turquoise often is found near copper deposits.  Typically, turquoise is a blue-green stone that has a somewhat waxy surface.  The stone commonly was used in Native American jewelry and can be found throughout the state.



Petrified Wood - Petrified Forest National Park (Arizona)

State Fossil:  Petrified Wood (1988)
Arizona designated petrified wood (Araucarioxylon arizonicum) as the official state fossil in 1988.  This petrified wood is what remains of large conifers that grew in the warm, wet, and seasonally dry climate of Arizona during the Triassic (about 250 – 210 million years ago).  The conifers grew as tall as 150 to 200 feet.  Once fallen, the trees were transported by streams and rivers and buried under layers of sediment in a lowland basin.  Then, slowly over time, each cell of the plant was replaced by silica derived from volcanic ash.  The vibrant colors are from minerals that mixed with the silica.  The most famous petrified wood deposits can be found at Petrified Forest National Park located north of Interstate 40 east of Holbrook, Arizona.


It is a good idea to check land ownership when planning a rockhounding trip. A good place to begin is the local BLM office. If you can point to a location on a topographical map (available at BLM) we can determine if the site is on public lands.
In most instances, public lands are open to rockhounding although no collecting is allowed in National Monuments. BLM can help you make this determination.

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Pinal Gem & Mineral Society

Business Office:

Artisan Village of Coolidge

351 N. Arizona Boulevard   Coolidge, AZ 85128

1-520 251-5419


Meeting Location: Artisan Village of Coolidge 351 N. Arizona Boulevard (one block south of Northern Avenue on Arizona Boulevard; turn Left on Pima Avenue proceed one block to open gate on left to parking area.)

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The Pinal Gem and Mineral Society, is a division of the Coolidge Performing Arts Center Foundation, Inc a non profit, tax exempt 501(c)(3) charitable foundation.

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