Monday, September 04, 2006

Agate Allotment

I had a feeling that South Dakota might be a good place for rockhounding and an Internet search that I did the night before confirmed this. While no one is obviously allowed to collect rocks from the Badlands National Park, or any other National Park as far as I know, The National Grasslands has what they refer to as the Agate Allotment, where they allow rockhounding for personal use.

We found the visitor center for the National Grasslands and asked the ranger if she would tell us where we could go for rocks. She pointed out a location on 44 past the south east exit of the park near Interior. She said that we should look for a sign that said Agate Allotment near a gated road.

When we reached the spot we saw all around us, lying on top of parched earth, small agates, jaspers and quartz. We’d seen the varieties of agates that we might find in the visitor’s center before we left. Bubble-gum agates, jaspers and black agates were the most interesting to us, although Chloe found quite a bit of rose quartz. We got close enough to a prairie dog village that they started to call out warnings, so we decided to turn back.

We kept our eyes on the ground for rattle snakes and on the horizon for buffalo, but no threats were visible aside from the very small cactus hid among the low grass. I think we’ll look into purchasing a rock tumbler when we get home.

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