Updated: Jan 17
Did you know quartz crystals and beautiful prisms could be just under the surface of the ground where you walk? Let's take a look:
Since our visit to the Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas this past April I've been taking a closer look at the quartz rocks I encounter. The Mount Ida region of AK is known for its quartz crystals so we were eager to dig to find some. We found that the landscape resembled North Carolina in a lot of ways. A lot of the dirt we found ourselves elbow deep in was thick red clay... which got me thinking.... 💡
Sure enough, NC's red clay mud is full of beautiful quartz crystals and prisms too! All you have to do is know where to look, and how to let the rocks guide you. We've even found quartz crystals in the Hillsborough, NC region that have inclusions of a locally found mineral called pyrite.
Are you interested in learning more about rocks and gemstones or rockhounding as a hobby? We found a great resource for rockhounding gems and minerals in North Carolina that can be found here:
*Please note many of the sites listed in this source above are now on private property and therefore cannot be accessed without permission, but some sites are on public lands or parks and public areas - just do your research!*
We've created a quick guide for how to find these iridescent quartz crystals below:
What You'll Need:
Gloves - These crystals can be extremely sharp so unless you want to deal with deep slits all over your finger tips, wear protective gloves! Plus there are plenty of critters you could encounter while digging through leaf litter on the forest floor...
Digging Tools - A pick axe works great for deeper digs but can be too sharp/heavy duty at times. A garden trowel or mini hand rake works well but a lot of times I prefer to use stiff brushes or even use sturdy sticks to help uncover the crystals without harming them.
Hefty Bag/Box - A canvas bag works well here but a large hefty cardboard box will help distribute the weight better.
Cleaning Supplies - As far as cleaning goes, most of these tools can be left at home for when you bring back your bounty, but it is smart to take a spray bottle with some water with you to be able to clean a bit on site and see whats worth bringing home. Additionally, I've found old tooth brushes work great for cleaning off dirt and red clay from those pesky nooks and crannies.
How to Search:
Find a hilly forest with mixed woods (deciduous and evergreen trees).
Look for rocks! Big rocks and boulders, rocky outcrops, even small rocks can lead up to the bigger ones.
If you find big rocks, start looking for quartz veins or even piles of quartz on the forest floor.
Follow those veins & piles! Once you find a quartz vein follow it - typically uphill yields best results for finding more intact specimens.
If you start to see crystals becoming less opaque you're on the right track. Use these specimens to guide you to the source of the purest crystals.
When you start to see more defined crystal and prism shapes with less cloudy color, start digging!