Geode Hunting in New Mexico

Hunting for and finding geodes offers a great adventure for the whole family. The state of New Mexico offers a wealth of opportunities to hunt geodes, thanks to the region's geology. Whether the geodes get cracked open in the field or at home, the surprises inside make them worth every bit of effort to locate them.

  1. Description

    • Geodes consist of hollow rocks lined with crystals. Some people consider thundereggs the same as geodes, although thundereggs consist of solid nodules filled with agate, chalcedony or quartz. The prized geode specimens occur in igneous or sedimentary rocks. In New Mexico, most geodes come from igneous formations. Look for round or oval-shaped rocks that appear lumpy, similar to cauliflower. The rocks may appear on the ground as loose material, in cliff walls, or in rock formations. The rock should feel light in weight when held in the hand.

    Locations

    • Some of the best geode hunting occurs in an area set aside by the government called Rock Hound State Park in Luna County near the town of Deming. At this location, geode collectors can search for and take home up to 15 pounds of geodes from the 1,100-acre park. Collecting sites also exist in national forests and Bureau of Land Management areas. For a fee, collectors can hunt for geodes and thundereggs at the Baker Egg Mine located three miles southwest of Deming.

    Preparation

    • Research potential geode locations well in advance so permission can be obtained from private landowners. Consider attending rock and gem shows in the area to find out what types of geodes can be found. Local rock and mineral clubs also offer great sources of information and offer group trips to local collecting sites.

    What to Bring

    • For collectors interested in digging geodes out of cliffs or rock formations, a pick, pry bar and shovel come in handy. Opening geodes while in the field requires a hammer and chisel. Bring plenty of water and snacks along with sunscreen. Insect repellent comes in handy if the area experiences lots of rain. Bring a backpack or pail to carry the geodes and newspaper for wrapping and protecting geodes that get cracked open in the field.

    Opening Geodes

    • The best way to open a geode requires a diamond saw. Some rock and mineral shops in New Mexico open geodes with a diamond saw for a small fee. Geodes also crack open when hit with a hammer and chisel. The trick to getting two halves, rather than lots of broken pieces, requires lightly tapping the geode with a chisel held to the surface of the rock. Rotate the geode about a half inch and lightly tap the geode with the chisel and hammer again and continue repeating this process until the geode breaks open, hopefully in two sections.

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  • Photo Credit uncut geode image by Allyson Ricketts from Fotolia.com

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