Submitted by Steve Ahmann
So you like pretty, sparkly, bright-colored stones. And, you know you need to get
more fresh air and sunshine. What better way to accomplish satisfying both
desires than rock-hounding?
Furthermore, with the monsoon’s cooling things so we can comfortably go
outside, all that rain exposing new rock strata, and the fact that Greenlee County
is rich in gemstones, what better time.
For instance, limestone wash is known as a “hot-spot” for fire agates. Just ½
mile upstream of the Polly Rosenbaum Bridge (north end of Clifton’s R V Park)
along the San Francisco River. You will see the concrete-lined roadway with the
cattle guard on the left side of the road as you go North. And, as an extra bonus,
through the cattle guard is a beautiful wading and picnicking area restored by
Freeport McMoRan Inc. There is also a (low-grade) opal repository about a mile
past the Clifton San Francisco River road end.
Down Duncan way, there is an opal bed along the North side of U S 75 a few
miles before town. Other sites around Duncan include the Ash Peak Mining
district along U S 70 where Graham and Greenlee counties meet and East of
Duncan to the Round Mountain BLM rockhound area seven miles south of U S
70 on the Lazy B Ranch Road. The latter is known for its geodes, fire agates,
quartz crystal rose and others.
Any place where water sometimes runs can be a good place to investigate.
Maybe there is a big fat gold nugget waiting to be discovered.
If you decide to go, remember to be safe. Take extra water, snacks, reliable
footwear, sunblock, and maybe a walking stick to shoo away rattlesnakes.
Always use the buddy system, and let someone know where you are going and
expected to return. Do not rely on your mobile phone to always work in remote
mountainous Greenlee County. Most importantly, have fun and be good
stewards of our beautiful landscapes.