Did You Know that Rock Hunting is a Thing?

The thought really never crossed my mind until I discovered a nearby ranch among my many travel resources. Yup, a cattle ranch that also invites the public to hunt for rocks. Just make sure you don’t pick up a petrified cow chip –sorry; cheap joke.

Twenty miles South of Alpine Texas is the Woodward Ranch, founded in 1880. It’s on a magnificent piece of land–complete with its own ancient volcano. This volcano is the source for the rocks and 60 varieties of gemstone. Agate, amethyst, gypsum, opal (!), quartz… As my hostess said, “it’s amazing what can be hiding in the rocks you kick out of the way.”

This is the view as you meander the miles of the ranch that they allow.

Panorama at Woodward Ranch

And this is the map they give to guide you through the property. “Very Bad Road” would describe all of them to me…so I didn’t quite know where I was. I never made it to the windmill though, that much I’m sure of.

Map of rock hunting

The road is called “all weather” which means it’s dirt and rocks and bumps, and jostles, and dips, and tilted, and eroded, and can make your car projectile if you’re not careful.

Road to rock hunting

Now, why rock hunting? To find all the gems mentioned above. And the potential at the this ranch is amazing. Yet they let you walk about with significant finds for only a $5 hunting fee and $3/pound. So you drive, stop, and stare at the ground for the beauty within the rock–and repeat.

rock hunting1

Some stay for the day; I was there for two hours. In some ways I was done with the hunting after 30 minutes–I didn’t really know what I was doing, despite a thorough tutorial. So I just looked for rocks with color and shimmer. And here’s my booty! Agate and crystals, which I’ll now find some way of getting tumbled and polished.


Rock hunting was mesmerizing. I simply went for an experience and experienced flow–when you’re so focused on the task that you lose track of time and aren’t aware of anything else. I was connected to the Earth and to the moment. Aside from the stunning scenery, this was beautiful.

Click on the pic to advance the slideshow of this gorgeous spot.


How were you first exposed to your hobby (hobbies?)

4 Responses


That was amazing! I’m afraid I would have camped out there for weeks and filled the camper with tons of rocks. Heck, I came home from Scotland with about 40 pounds of loch rocks in my bags.


The rocks in Costa Rica were like mini jewels. The ship’s motto was “take nothing, leave nothing” on the wild spits of land where we explored, met native peoples, went snorkeling. I asked if that applied to a rock; the guide replied that everyone who visited took rocks, what might be left? So the rule stayed intact, the rocks stayed on the land, and I had to settle for gorgeous photos.

But I am fascinated by bits of bejeweled glass and rock and by extension blown glass and paperweights. Hope your rocks turn into treasures.


I started stamp collecting when my dad got me a Franklin Mint stamp book (1847-1981). I spent little time on it but rekindled my interest in 2010 and have since completed it (with the exception of the super rare, expensive ones).

Jef. How awesome to have that collection. What makes some super rare? And what do you do to complete it? Today there are so many designs it would seem cumbersome to get one if each. Is that the case for your stamps? Or are they all one design?

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