A Love of Rocks
March 25th, 2019 by Curtis Condon

Knowing the rules is just as important as knowing the rocks when rock hounding. For example, with only a couple of exceptions, rock and fossil collecting is strictly prohibited at national parks and national monuments. Always check with federal, state and local agencies before collecting on those lands. Also, get permission before accessing private property.
Photo by Curtis Condon

There is at least a pebble of rockhound in all of us. Who hasn’t picked up an agate, a piece of quartz, or some other colorful or oddly shaped rock as a keepsake?

Most of us are happenstance rockhounds. We pick up rocks we discover along trails or streams while doing something else, such as camping, hiking or swimming. We may not even know the names of the rocks that find their way into our pocket for the trip home.

It’s sort of like bringing the outdoors indoors, one memento at a time.

Uncle Bob was a serious rockhound—a regular Yukon Cornelius, the prospector in the animated Christmas classic, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

Out of nowhere once, Uncle Bob spotted a fresh rockfall, slammed on the brakes and scrambled atop the pile with his rock hammer. When he came up empty-handed, you could almost read the disappointment on his face: “Nothin’ .”

The West is a haven for rockhounds of all stripes. Beautiful, interesting and sometimes valuable gems and minerals can be found throughout the region.

North Idaho is home of the rare star garnet. Eastern Oregon is famous for its fossils and thunder eggs. Nevada has some of the finest opals. Gold and silver are found in every state, from Alaska to California.

The wonderful thing about rockhounding is you can do it almost anywhere. Even serious enthusiasts need only a few simple tools and a good field guide.

For more information about rocks you can find in your area, contact a local rockhounding club or the Bureau of Land Management. They also can inform you of any requirements or restrictions to be aware of when rock hunting.

Three Fishing Basics We Sometimes Forget

  • Time of day. It can have a big impact on fishing success. Early morning and just before dusk are optimal times.
  • Bait selection and retrieve rate. Match one with the other, and make sure the bait you’re using is the prey of the day for the species of fish you are after. It should also match the location and time of year you are fishing.
  • Where fish congregate. Fish tend to congregate near food and security. For example, rainbow trout prefer the edges of riffles, upstream from deep pools. The riffles are a source of food and oxygen, and provide rocks and other cover where fish can rest out of the current. Pools provide refuge during the heat of the day or when trout feel threatened.

How to Get the Wet Out
After a soggy day of hiking, stuff each hiking boot with newspapers to absorb moisture. Replace the newspapers when they start to get soaked.
To prevent cracking, avoid drying leather boots too fast, such as in the sun, in front of a heater vent or by using a blow dryer on high heat.

What’s Special About April

  • National Kite Month
  • Keep America Beautiful Month

Got a Tip or a Whopper?
Send us your favorite outdoor tip, photo or story. If selected for publication, we will send you $25 for one-time use. Email your submission to gro.etilarurnull@ofni.

Many of Curtis Condon’s fondest memories involve outdoor adventures with friends and family, whether fishing with old school buddies, backpacking in the mountains of the Northwest with his sons, or bird watching along the coast with his wife. He feels fortunate having the opportunity to write about the outdoors and other subjects for more than 30 years.