This is turning into a good trip for finding rocks. On the way out west we stopped at a little town on the north side of Yellowstone Park. There was a guy selling rocks on the side of the road so we stopped and took a look. I bought an interesting piece of black tourmaline from him.
After we left Lopez, Island we drove down to Oregon to visit with relatives in that area. On Saturday morning we went to the Tigard Farmers market where I met a gal from Rocks 4 Life (www.rocks4life.com). She and her father cut and sell gemstones as well as their own handcrafted jewelry. She was very nice and we chatted about lapidary. During the conversation, she told me of a Gem and Mineral Show not too far from there. I also purchased a piece of uncut gold ritulated quartz from her.
The next day, John and I drove to the Mineral and Gem show at the Canby, OR fairgrounds. There were not a lot of vendors but we did talk to a couple that we really liked. I bought a small piece of rough Oregon Sunstone from RRR Gems and More (www.rrrgemsandsunstones.com). Owners, Randy Reinikka and his wife have a claim in eastern Oregon which he works and he also does beautiful lapidary work. Unfortunately, I don't have the name of the other vendor that I bought from but when I find it I will post it. She was very helpful and I bought an awesome fire agate cab from her.
After Oregon we headed west to Wallace, Idaho. I had picked up some brochures from there on the way out. Not too far from there at Emerald Creek the Forest Service runs a sight where you can mine for star garnets (www.stmarieschamber.org/garnet.html). Unfortunately, it was closed for the season. But a lady in town told us about a place where we could mine sapphires in Montana.
The next day, we drove to Phillipsburg, MT. Our first stop there was Opal Mountain Gems (www.omg-mt.com). Again the people there were very nice they do not have a claim but they do sell bags of gemstone bearing gravel which you can screen yourself insight. I did not get any gravel from them but I did get several stones including a star garnet rough form Idaho.
Our next stop in Phillipsberg was Gem Mountain (www.gemmountainmt.com). There we bought some rock hounding tools and got directions to their mine. At the mine, we each bought a bucket of gravel for $20 which had been dug from their mine. They have all the tools and will show you how to screen the gravel but we ran into a very nice couple who, coincidentally were from very near my hometown. They showed us the ropes and chatted with us for a couple of hours while we all worked on the task of finding sapphires. Between John and I we found quite a few, seven of which are gem quality. It was a lot of fun and I would definitely do it again.
After the Gem Mountain mine closed we drove to Butte, MT where we spent a couple of days. In the morning we ran into a guy in the hotel who does a lot of rock hounding in the area and told us where to go to look for smokey quartz and amethyst crystals. Before we drove up in the hills, we went to the the Mineral Museum at Montana Tech (http://www.mbmg.mtech.edu/museum/museum.asp). If you have never been, you really should go. They have a huge, I mean HUGE smokey quarts and the largest gold nugget still in existence. We spent quite a bit of time talking with the curator about rockhounding in the area and he told us about Crystal Park (http://www.fs.usda.gov/activity/bdnf/recreation/rocks-minerals). We did not go there which is a good thing because it is temporarily closed. Instead we headed for the hills. We did not find the area the guy, that morning, had told us about but we did come close and found a spot we want to go back too. We took a couple of samples of rocks that we think are smokey quarts but not the large clear crystals that we were hoping for. Since we did not have any shovels, we could not do the required digging for these.
Today we drove to Sheridan, WY. On the way we stopped in Montana, along the Yellowstone River at a county park and picked up a couple of Montana Agates and some other stones, probably quarts.
Unfortunately, I did not bring my camera in the hotel with me tonight, so I will have to post pics another time.