As a kid, I was what you would call a “rockhounder.” I found pretty rocks anywhere we went. I got some of my love for rockhounding from my grandpa who polished rocks he found as a hobby; he gave us kids some very beautiful pieces that he had polished himself. As I got older, I did not have the time to go find pretty gemstones or rocks regularly, but whenever my husband and I would go anywhere in the mountains or by a body of water, I would come home with some incredible stones.
My obsession with rockhounding as an adult started when I visited my “adopted mom”, Sunshine, in Arizona. We went to the gem show in Tucson and I was in complete awe. I found so many beautiful crystals to bring home with me.
That trip inspired me to learn how to rock tumble so I could eventually make my own jewelry and have beautiful stones throughout my home. While scrolling on TikTok one day, I stumbled upon @kdarn89. She posts videos on how to tumble different stones according to their hardness scale. She just recently got a CabKing and let me tell you, the things you can find on a dirt road can come out looking like the most beautiful piece you’ve ever seen.
Her videos made me wonder where to find different stones in my area, and because Idaho is known as the Gem State, there are so many options. I have found that the trick is just finding the right location for what I am looking for. Some of the most common places to go rockhounding are in Owyhee, Custer, Blaine, Gem, Latah, and Washington counties. Always do your research before going anywhere though, and make sure they are not private mining areas. If these locations are open to the public, you generally pay a fee to go dig/mine for your gemstones. You can also find different stones in streams and rivers.
Stones that can be found in Idaho include garnets, opals, agates, jasper, quartz, petrified wood, and a wide variety of fossils. I have amethyst, peridot, and garnet in my own collection and have even found obsidian pieces too.
Remember, everyone’s definition of beauty is completely different. I often find stones I think are absolutely beautiful that my husband does not care for. He also finds stones he likes that I don’t. We just love going together.
One amazing thing about this hobby is your kids can enjoy doing it with you. I have met tons of different friends along the way too, so that’s another positive.
If you decide to get into tumbling, don’t feel like you can only tumble stones you find yourself. You can always order rough stones from different places in the US, or in different countries. Beautiful gemstones are created all over the earth. They may not be stunning while still in their rough state, but take a chance and throw it in a rock tumbler and see what the end result looks like.
I can’t express how excited I am to start tumbling my own stones, especially the ones my son and I find on our little adventures. So don’t be afraid to grab a friend, the kiddos, whoever, and head out for some rockhounding adventures!