Rock Hounding

Local Information

  • There’s still gold in them thar hills. A 27.5 ounce gold nugget was found north of town in 1989, and flakes of gold shimmer in the stream bottoms. You can pan on public land or with permission of local landowners.

    If you’re not inclined to active digging, you can still enjoy the Mineral Museum on the Montana Tech campus in Butte. Over 1500 specimens are on display including that 27.5 ounce nugget. There’s a spectacular mineral collection next door to campus at Hell Roarin’ Gulch, where you’ll also see the World Museum of Mining.

  • Using rocks as instruments goes back a very long time. Known as “rock gongs” they were rocks which could be struck and produced a melodious resonant sound, and were used in Africa. In Vietnam they built a form of “Lithophones” or musical instrument built from rocks, and some of these instruments date back nearly 2000 years. In Korea they built Pyeongyeong, while prehistoric lithophone stones have been found in Orissa, India. All of which points to the fact that when humans find stones that can make music, they tend to take note.

    Discover the ringing rocks near Butte, MT

  • Montana’s largest, oldest, funnest and best Sapphire Mine


    It’s an easy day trip from Melrose to Crystal Park, a public mining claim where you just might dig up a 6″ purple quartz crystal. Other mineral treasures to be found in the area include smoky quartz, amethyst, agates and sapphire.

    Quartz crystals are scattered liberally through the decomposed granite of the unique 220-acre site that’s been reserved by the Forest Service for the popular hobby of rockhounding.