This rockhound area makes a great day adventure for rock collectors. The principal attraction for rock collectors here is fire agate. Fire agate is a relatively new gemstone, only identified and formally recognized in the 1930s. It has the color play of precious opal with gem quality reds, greens, and blues.
The desert regions of Arizona, southern California, and central Mexico are the only areas of the world where fire agate is known to occur. Although its origin is unknown, it is always associated with volcanic deposits.
The site is open for digging by the public without fees or permits. Camping throughout the area is allowed for up to two weeks.
Millions of years ago, volcanic activity in the Southwest create lava rocks and fire agate. Inside the Rockhound area you can walk and collect fire agates right off the surface of the ground. It is the desert equivalent of searching for sea shells at the beach. It makes a fun day trip for families and rock enthusiasts. If rocks aren’t your thing, bring an ATV, 4x4, or dirt bike and enjoy miles of trails and dirt roads.
The Rockhound area can be accessed from the Black Hills Scenic Byway or the main access road. We had no issues finding it using Google Maps. We did take a 4x4 on this trip, but it isn’t necessary. Any vehicle that can handle a few miles of primitive/gravel road should be fine.
If you’re adventurous enough, spend the night in one of the dispersed camping sites. Just be prepared. There are no facilities or water available. The site only has a sign, a log book and a small trash can. The area is very rocky and I don’t recommend tent camping, but it would be feasible with some raking. There were 3 other groups camping while we were there and they were all sleeping in some type of camping vehicle. There aren’t any trees, so we experienced lots of high wind gusts. As a precaution, We took our awning down in the middle of the night, but our roof top tent was fine. Although this area is remote, you can see the lights from Safford,AZ at night. We didn’t have a fire, but they are permitted (as long as there isn’t a fire ban in effect). Some of the sites had camper-made fire rings/pits dug into the ground and surrounded by rocks.