Juntura, Oregon

June 17, 2013

A couple years ago I went on a trip with my friend Laura and Mike to the Juntura area in Oregon.  Juntura is about 130 miles west of Boise.  The first half of the trip is not that exciting but the second half has great scenery.  The area has many rockhounding opportunities.  Petrified wood can be found between Juntura and the Warm Lake Reservoir.  Many agate varieties can be found around that reservoir.  Fish gill fossils can be found around Beulah reservoir.  When we went we found another area that had agate and jasper.  The material we found was fantastic and we wanted to return soon.  Jump ahead two years and finally we are getting back there.

juntura jasper
Juntura Jasper

When we arrived we turned on the road leading to Beulah Reservoir where we had collected the time before.  Last time we crossed the damn and collected at the bottom of a hill so we decided that we would go to the top of the same hill this time.  We did find some jasper and agate but not the quality that was found before.  We didn’t have time to return to the lower part of the hill so I am hoping that can be part of the next trip to this area.

After exploring the top we decided to leave using a different route than the one we drove in on.  This gave us the opportunity to survey more locations.  One location we found had an interesting opal in a road cut.   I managed to get a half bucket of the material.

The ride home was even nicer that the ride there.  The different variety of clouds that had moved into the area that afternoon made for some fantastic photos.

clouds near juntura oregon
Clouds Near Juntura, Oregon

After doing two trips back to back I was ready for a relaxing weekend but that wasn’t going to happen.  Instead, Saturday morning Jason, Andy and I were heading to Mountain Home, Idaho where we were going to meeting up with Carol and Nola from Twin Falls.  From there we were going to check out the Bruneau woodpile.

Hmmm?  What should I write about next?



Last week my friends Mike and Laura who own Rock Your World in Lincoln City, Oregon came for a visit to do some rockhounding.  On Wednesday we went to Graveyard point to search for agate.  Many varieties of agate can be found there.  Snake River Dendrite, Regency Rose Plume and Feather Ridge Plum agates are just a few varieties from this area.  Despite the wide variety of agates I wasn’t too excited about going because I have explored the area many times.

graveyard point landscape
Graveyard Point Landscape

To access the area most people use a bridge located about a mile left of the end of Graveyard Point Road to cross a canal.  For quite while I thought that this bridge was the only public access over the canal.  This time we accessed the area using another bridge located at the end of Johnstone Road.  This lead us to a new section that I had not explored before which made me more excited.

We spent a few hours exploring the new section but did not find much more than a few crumbs here and there.  I think we would have found more if we had the right vehicle.  We were riding in a two wheel drive Ford pickup that could not go to many locations.  If we had my Durango that would not have been an issue.

Since we weren’t finding much material we decided to go back to the section we did know.  I am not going to tell exactly where that is because we have found a nice vein that produced plum agate, angle wing agate and some nice bitriodal agates.  We are considering filing a claim there.

angle wing agate
Angle Wing and Bitriodal Agates

That first half of the day didn’t yield much but the second half was great.  We wanted to continue working the agate vain but the day was coming to an end and we were getting tired.  It was time to head home and get some sleep so we would be ready for the next day when we would be going to explore around Juntura, Oregon.  That will be the subject of my next post.


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Nevada at Last

May 31, 2013

It has been a month since the second rockhounding trip of the year and there have been three more trips since then.  I have been too busy to write anything so I am a bit behind.  Finally I have found the time to write about a trip to Contact, Nevada.  The trips that happened after that will be in future posts.

Part of my work includes travel throughout Idaho and when I had to go to Ketchum I thought it was a perfect time to meet up again with Carol and Nola to do some rockhounding in Nevada.  They live in Twin Falls which is about 70 miles south of Ketchum and 40 miles north of north-central Nevada.  I have been hoping to rockhound in Nevada for a few years and haven’t done so until now.

Contact, Nevada located about 13 miles south of the Idaho-Nevada border is known for a small thunder egg called a thunder nut.  There are also larger thunder eggs found at the same location.  I was not sure of the exact location of the thunder egg bed but figured we could explore the area and hopefully find it.  On the way there we found some other rockhounds at Jack Rabbit Springs (known for thunder eggs and geodes that glow green under a black light) and stopped to ask if they had directions to the bed.  One gentleman, Jim, knew exactly where we needed to go and gave me directions.

near contact
Landscape Near Contact, Nevada

When we arrived to the area we unloaded the quads and set out for the bed Jim told me about.  On the way there we found an old miners site with lots of junk strewn around it and a mine shaft.  Around the shaft there were tailings containing granite with a blue and green patina on them, a definite sign of copper.  It turned out that some of the green rocks were a solid green and possibly a lower grade chrysocolla.  I still think the material may polish well.  If it does it will be time for another trip since we only took small samples of the material.

nola at mining camp
Nola at Mining Site

owyhee landscape
Blue Rock

After spending a little time at the mining camp it was time to go find the thunder egg bed.  We accidentally road past it and ended up on the back side of the hills where we found few hints of thunder eggs.  These hint pieces gave us an idea of the matrix they were found in. On our way back we did find an area composed of this matrix and found a road heading up the hill to where the bed was located.

thunder egg bed
Thunder Egg Bed

At the bed there were many holes where others had been digging and many partial eggs on the ground.  We did collect some partial eggs then did some digging to find some whole eggs.  We also found a few of the thunder nuts which are in a hard black matrix.  Since the matrix was so hard we didn’t get a lot of the thunder nuts.

hollow thunder egg partial
Hollow Thunder Egg Partial

It was a good to spend time with friends and finally get to Nevada.  I really appreciate not having to spend much money on gas since work covered most of the cost.  The next trip is planned for mid June when the Idaho Gem Club will be doing a four day field trip to McDermitt, Nevada.  Too bad work won’t cover any of the cost for that trip.



Succor Creek on Quads

May 4, 2013

A couple Sundays ago some friends from Twin Falls, Idaho joined me on a trip to Succor Creek Park in Eastern Oregon.  The trip started a little late around 10:30 in the morning, typically I like to start trips early 6:00 to 7:00 in the morning.  Despite the late start it was great to get out with friends and enjoy searching for rocks in fresh outdoors.

We went into the park from Homedale, Idaho.  The first stop we made was at the bridge crossing succor creek where Carol and Nola unloaded their quads.  We quickly loaded buckets and tools for digging onto the quads then Nola and her sister Hayley took off over the bridge.  Carol then tuned to me and told me that I was driving.  Having never been on a quad I was a bit nervous but went with the flow.  At first it was a little rough for Carol and I but soon I was little more comfortable with the situation and the ride smoothed out.

As soon as we crossed the bridge we took the trail to the left and headed up to the top of the cliffs to search for a couple thunder egg beds.  First we went south looking for dig sites I was hoping to find.  When I returned home I looked on Google Earth and saw that we did not go far enough.  However, we did find some eggs and a lizard so it wasn’t a waste of time.  (If the lizards are out so are their cousins the rattle snakes.  Always be aware that snakes are out there and very dangerous.)  Next we headed north and did find a thunder egg bed.  We didn’t dig long but did manage to find quite a few small eggs, golf ball size and smaller.

carol and nola
Carol and Nola

john carol and nola
John, Carol and Nola

The Lizard

Since we were not finding any large eggs we decided to move on to another location where I know there were bigger eggs then on to a leaf fossil location.  When we got to the turn to the thunder egg bed we decide not to go to the bed since time was running out.  We continued on to the turn to the leaf fossils where the quads were unloaded again.  We rode eight miles in to the site and spent about an hour pulling fossils out of a small canyon wall and collecting tumble size pieces of jasper.   By the time we left the sun was beginning to set.  Luckily we made it back to the vehicles before dark.

owyhee landscape
Owyhee Landscape

leaf fossils
Leaf Fossils

The drive out through McBride Creek was quick but not fast enough to avoid driving on the back roads in the dark.  At least these roads were better driving that those coming in from Homedale.  Once we reached highway 95 it was smooth sailing back to Boise.  I got home just before 11:00.


The next morning I woke up sore.  I think it was from being tense while riding the quads.  The soreness lasted three days but was a fair price to pay for a good adventure.

Photography by Hayley Lighthart



It has been a hard start to the rockhounding season this year but at least it is happening.  I had put together a pretty ambitions list of places I want to go this year starting in early March.  Other than one outing with the family in mid March each trip has been canceled for various reasons, mostly the weather.

This weekend was going to be an all out rockhounding weekend but Friday night my vehicle started making some bad sounds and I wasn’t going to risk having problems in the middle of nowhere.  Saturday morning my friend and mechanic, Tim, stopped by and found that the idler pulley somehow come loose and got debris behind it.  I was relieved to find out it was a simple no cost fix.  Thank you, Tim.

Now, Sunday morning, I am waiting for friends from Twin Falls, ID to arrive.  We are planning on taking their quads out to Succor Creek park.  I am hoping to make it to some thunder egg beds that I have not been able to get to yet.

Hopefully I will have some new photos of this trip posted soon.  For now you will just have to see a few from the trip in March.

andy and jasper
Andy and Jasper

graveyard point
Graveyard Point

down the road
Down the Road

looking behind us
Looking Behind Us



Rockhound State Park, Deming, New Mexico

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Please read the following then help save the rockhounding hobby in a park that was established and named for the hobby.

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Petrified Wood Collection Rules

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The following information on collecting petrified wood was provided by the Bureau of Land Management. Collecting: (1) The maximum quantity of petrified wood that any one person is allowed to remove without charge per day is 25 pounds in weight plus one piece, provided that the maximum total amount that one person may remove in […]

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Secretarial Order 3310

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In late December, 2010, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar issued

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Fire, Precious and Common Opal

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I always believed precious opal was fire opal because the bright flashy color in it is often referred to as the fire. You can imagine my surprise when I opened the box and found pieces that were transparent amber and red in color.

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