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Day 161 - Rockhounding In New Mexico (Photo's Added)

Mom & I try our hands at Rockhounding. New Mexico has a State Park that allows you to collect up to 15 pounds of whatever you can find...

sunny 68 °F

Our objective today was Rockhound State Park near Deming, New Mexico. This is a view of the Visitor's Center and the valley behind it.


Before we left Wal-mart in El Paso, I had checked the hardware department for a small (cheap) pick ax. None to be found, I purchases a small (fortunately inexpensive) shovel. It turned out to be a waste of money for this trip anyway, maybe a serious rockhounder would have used it, but we didn't need it. At any event, I thought I might need a tool. We didn't know exactly what we'd find there, Mom had visions of diamonds and rubys flying about her head. I figured we wouldn't know a gem if we saw one (in the rough that is), but would have some fun and maybe come home with something 'pretty'. When we first got to the park, the visitors center was closed, so we decided to locate a campsite first.We were fortunate to arrive just after some campers had checked out of one of the outside campsites. It overlooks one of the small peaks in the park and has an unobstructed view.


There was a small pedistal & plaque showing some of the Gemstones that could be found at Rockhound SP. Unfortunately, someone had defaced it badly and several samples were missing, but I could read enough to get an idea. The park has many types of jasper and rhyolite, agate, onyx, obsidian, geodes and some other black stones whose name I've forgotten. The geodes are mostly found about 1/2 way up a very steep hill, far beyond Mom's climbing ability. However, one of the path's looked quite level and suitable for her skills. The Jasper and Rhyolite are all over the place as well as a couple of the types of black rocks. Mom walked out about 100 yards and picked up some rocks. I also picked up quite a few, probably nothing valuable but I certainly had fun trying to find as many different kinds of rocks as I could.


By then the Visitor's Center was open, so we spent some time there also. They had a nice Cactus Garden outside and several diarama's inside about desert life as well as examples of geodes and other rocks found in the park. (I still don't think I'd recognize many of them 'in the rough'.) Mom was kind enough to pose for me by the flagpole. (And I must apologize for some of the pictures today - somehow I'd switched the camera settings without noticing, so several shots were overexposed. Perhaps my software could correct this, but I'm not that advanced an editor yet.)


After she was done, I hiked about 1/2 up a very steep slope and collected a few more rocks. Mostly there is a lot of Jasper here - in several configurations. On the mountain side they also have Geodes, but you need a pick ax, lots of time, and a lot more muscle then I've got to find them. I did learned I'm not in good enough shape to be a rockhounder! If you look closely on the right side of this picture, about in the middle, you can see a whitish spot - this is where one of the geode seams is. This is also as far as I could make it up the mountain, I tried to go a little further, but my knee's said that was far enough. (And, it's a lot steeper than it looks!)


While I did not find any geodes on the mountain, I did find something even better - real rockhounders - hounding! It was interesting talking with them about their hobby while they pounded away. They weren't finding any geodes either so were a little disappointed in the park. I was happy just to find a few 'pretty' rocks (my criteria for what's important). Gary (on the left) was kind enough to share a couple of nice specimines he'd found. Sue & Maurice & ? (on the right) had pounded at the wall for some time without luck, so were just about ready to pack it in for the night. (These are thumbnails, click to enlarge.)


So tonight, we're both very tired - physically, but otherwise fine. We're planning to head backwards a bit tomorrow and go to Alamogordo and visit the White Sands Missile Range and a Rocket & Space Museum. We've decided to head north first, then cross over to AZ around mid-state and visit the canyons (Canyon de Chelly & Grand Canyon) before heading back down to Phoenix, then CA.

They seem to grow a lot of nuts in New Mexico (Pecan's and Pistachio's), so we'll probably try to pick some up along the way.

So it's off to finish up the Big Bend blog entry... Here's a nice sunset shot from Rockhound SP to leave you with...



Miles Driven - 126, Cumulative - 15649
Camped at Rockhound SP, Site #6, near Deming NM

Provisions Obtained - Small Shovel (Wal-mart)
Several Geode Seconds from a rock shop near park (just in case we didn't find any, which we didn't)

Posted by jl98584 18:02 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel

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While you're going to the canyons, you might want to visit Sunset volcano national monument. its on the way to flagstaff from the south end of the south rim of grand canyon. in addition to lots of smallish volcanos and lava flows there are prehistoric buildings that are quite accessable. when we were there, probably due to the fire on the north rim of GC, the view of the painted desert was dissapointing. very hazy.

by drque

Mom decided to skip Canyon de Chelly since she's afraid it will be too cold. We're still undecided about the Grand Canyon, I'll keep an eye on the weather forecast. Hope to see some of the ancient cliff or pueblo dwellings. Will let you know.

by jl98584

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