Rock Discoveries

Unearthing the Beauty: Where and How to Collect Rare Fire Agate

Fire agate is a rare and beautiful gemstone that is highly sought after by collectors and jewelry enthusiasts. It is a type of chalcedony that displays a unique fiery iridescence, hence its name.

Fire agate is found in limited quantities and is only mined in specific locations across the globe. In this article, we will explore the origins and formation of fire agate, as well as where to collect this precious stone.

We will also discuss the tools needed and the camping options available in the area.

Rarity and Location

Fire agate is known for its rarity and unique appearance, making it a highly desirable gemstone for collectors. It is only found in a few locations scattered across the world, including Mexico, the United States, and Australia.

In the U.S, the best place to collect fire agate is in the Black Hills Rockhound Area in Safford, Arizona. This area is located off of Highway 191, about 24 miles south of Safford.

Geographical Territory and Formation

The Black Hills Rockhound Area is located in the transition zone between the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts. This area was created by volcanic activity that occurred millions of years ago.

The volcanic rocks in the area contain small pockets that were filled with hot water, which contained dissolved silica. This silica later crystallized and formed the beautiful fire agates that we see today.

Other Semiprecious Gems in the Area

The Black Hills Rockhound Area is known for its abundance of semiprecious gems. Other gemstones that can be found in this area include quartz crystals, amethyst, and jasper.

This makes the area a popular destination for rockhounding enthusiasts.

Collecting Fire Agate at Black Hills Rockhound Area

Location and Directions

To collect fire agate in the Black Hills Rockhound Area, you will need to drive down Highway 191, approximately 24 miles south of Safford. The area is easy to find, and there are signs on the highway that will lead you to the entrance.

Once you arrive at the entrance, you will need to pay a small fee to enter the area.

Tools Needed and Where to Find Specimens

To collect fire agate, you will need a pick and a shovel. It is best to collect specimens that are on the surface of the ground, as deep digging is not allowed.

The fire agate in this area is often found in small crevices and pockets in the volcanic rock. It is important to scan the area carefully and to look for any areas that may have exposed layers of volcanic rock.

Camping and Climate

The Black Hills Rockhound Area offers primitive camping for those who wish to stay overnight. There are no designated camping areas, so you are free to camp wherever you choose.

It is important to bring plenty of water, as the area is very dry and hot. Temperatures can easily reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer months, so it is important to be prepared for the heat.


Fire agate is a beautiful and unique gemstone that is highly prized by collectors and jewelry enthusiasts. The Black Hills Rockhound Area in Safford, Arizona, is the best place in the United States to collect fire agate.

With the right tools and a keen eye, you can find some exquisite specimens in the area. It is important to be prepared for the harsh climate, but with some planning, you can enjoy a memorable and productive trip to this beautiful area.

3) Collecting Fire Agate at Round Mountain Rockhound Area

Location and Directions

The Round Mountain Rockhound Area is an isolated location located in the far southeastern corner of California. The area is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and is accessible via a series of rough dirt roads.

To get to the area, it is best to use BLM maps to ensure you stay on course.

Vehicle and Road Conditions

The roads leading to the Round Mountain Rockhound Area can be rough and may require a four-wheel drive vehicle. It is important to have a reliable vehicle and to check the road conditions before embarking on the trip.

The terrain can be challenging, and it is recommended to have a high clearance vehicle to avoid any damage to the undercarriage.

Collecting Restrictions and Staying Safe

When collecting fire agate in the Round Mountain Rockhound Area, it is important to be aware of the collection limits. The BLM has set limits on the number of specimens that can be taken from the area per day, so it is important to familiarize yourself with these regulations.

Additionally, the area is home to a variety of snakes, so it is important to exercise caution when exploring the area. It is recommended to travel with a friend and to stay aware of your surroundings.

Bring a snakebite kit and thoroughly check for snakes before setting up camp or collecting.

4) Collecting Fire Agate at Deer Creek

Location and Mining Ventures

Deer Creek is a location in the Galiuro Mountain foothills, about 50 miles north of Safford, Arizona. The area is known for its fire agate mining ventures, particularly the Penney Mine, which is located on privately-owned property.

The mine is not accessible to the public without permission from the property owners, but there are still opportunities to collect fire agate in the area.

Optical Phenomena and Unique Rainbow Colors

The fire agate found at Deer Creek is known for its unique optical phenomena, which can create rainbow colors within the stone. These colors are caused by the diffraction of light as it passes through layers of chalcedony and iron oxide within the agate.

This phenomenon is what makes Deer Creek fire agate so sought after by gemstone enthusiasts.

Researching Privately-Owned Property

It is important to note that the Penney Mine and other areas in Deer Creek are privately-owned. It is crucial to obtain permission from the property owners before entering the area.

Research the property owners and obtain their contact information using online tools like County property maps and asking permission from local rockhounding associations. Be respectful, follow all rules and regulations of the property and make sure to leave the area better than when you arrived.


Collecting fire agate is a rewarding experience for rockhounding enthusiasts. From the isolated Round Mountain Rockhound Area to the unique rainbow colors found at Deer Creek, there are a variety of locations to explore and collect fire agate.

It is important to be aware of the location and road conditions, collecting limits, and safety precautions before embarking on any rockhounding adventure. By being prepared and respectful of the area, you can have a safe and enjoyable trip while bringing home some beautiful fire agate specimens.

5) Collecting Fire Agate at Oatman

Location and Notable Source

Oatman is a historic mining town located in Mohave County, Arizona. It is also home to the Cuesta Fire Agate Mine, which is a notable source of fire agate.

Fire agate at the Oatman location is formed in limonite nodules in the volcanic ash and is heavily sought after by collectors and jewelry enthusiasts.

Fees and Free Areas for Specimens

Visitors to Oatman are required to pay an entrance fee to access the Cuesta Fire Agate Mine. However, there are several free areas where you can collect specimens without any fees.

It is important to research these areas to ensure that you are not collecting on private property. A few areas to consider are the hills surrounding the town, which are home to many exposed dykes and volcanic rocks that can contain fire agate.

Collecting Tools and Rugged Terrain

When collecting fire agate at Oatman, it is important to bring the right tools for the job. A hammer and shovel or pick are essential for breaking apart rocks and extracting fire agate specimens from the ground.

The terrain around Oatman can be rugged, so it is important to wear sturdy hiking boots and to stay aware of your surroundings.

6) Collecting Fire Agate at Saddle Mountain

Location and Free Range

Saddle Mountain is located approximately 55-60 miles west of Phoenix, near Tonopah, Arizona. The area is a popular destination for rockhounding enthusiasts, as it is home to a wide range of gemstones, including fire agate.

The area around Saddle Mountain is vast, and much of it is public land, which offers rockhounds the opportunity to collect specimens in a free range.

Finding Specimens on the Ground and Larger Deposits

Fire agate can be found in various forms around Saddle Mountain. Collectors can find small specimens on the ground, which can be cut and polished into beautiful gemstones.

Additionally, there are larger deposits that can be found below the ground. These deposits can be accessed by digging and require more extensive equipment and knowledge to extract.

Trails and Natural Erosion

Trails throughout the area are a great place to find raw materials that have been exposed through natural erosion. Walking the trails and carefully scanning the area around them can yield great fire agate specimens.

It is important to always be respectful and mindful of the surrounding environment, taking care not to disturb the landscape around the trails.


Collecting fire agate in Arizona offers a unique and exciting adventure that rockhounding enthusiasts can enjoy. Whether you explore the historic mining town of Oatman or venture out to the free range around Saddle Mountain, there are ample opportunities to find beautiful fire agate specimens.

It is essential to do your research, bring the necessary equipment, and be mindful of your environment to ensure a safe and successful trip. With patience and perseverance, rockhounds can collect some of the most beautiful fire agates in the world.

In conclusion, collecting fire agate can be a rewarding and exciting adventure for rockhounding enthusiasts in select locations across the U.S. The unique formation and rarity of fire agate make it an intriguing semiprecious gem. However, it is important to be mindful of location regulations, collect responsibly, and always ensure safety while exploring.

With the right tools, knowledge, and preparation, visitors to these areas can collect some of the most stunning fire agate specimens in the world. FAQs:


Where is the best location to collect fire agate in the U.S.? The Black Hills Rockhound Area in Safford, Arizona, is the most popular and well-known location to collect fire agate.

2. What is the best time to collect fire agate?

It is recommended to go during the cooler months or early morning due to the hot climate of the locations where fire agate is found. 3.

What tools do I need to collect fire agate? A pick, shovel, and hammer are essential tools to extract specimens properly.

4. Can I collect fire agate anywhere?

No, it is important to research the area and obtain permission from property owners before collecting. 5.

What are the dangers I should be aware of when collecting fire agate? Common dangers include extreme heat, rugged terrain, snakes, and collecting regulations/limits.

6. Is it safe to camp in the areas where fire agate is found?

It is recommended to bring plenty of water, be aware of the climate, and camp in designated areas. Always exercise safety and vigilance while exploring.

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