Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Rockhounding in Deming, NM

Our campsite with view of Deming
It takes us about 9 hours to drive from Yuma on the western border of Arizona to Deming about one hour east of the Arizona/New Mexico border.  Just south of the city of Deming is Rockhound State Park in the foothills of the Little Florida (pronounced Flo-rita) Mountains.  The campground sits on a hill overlooking Deming, with the city lights sparkling out our back window.  Many birds inhabit the desert flora surrounding our trailer, their twitters and flitting driving Grady crazy.

On the trail overlooking Deming
We come to this state park to hike the Thunder Egg trail where rock collecting is encouraged.  Usually, no collecting is allowed in state or federal parks, but here visitors can take up to 15 pounds of rocks and minerals.  Most commonly found at the park is jasper in many colours (mostly pink, orange and red) as well as common opal (white and pink), perlite (sparkly black) and white quartz crystals.  Geodes (thunder eggs) are can also be found here - these are rocks that look like crappy round rocks but yield beautiful hollow centres full of crystals when broken open.  We find lots of jasper, perlite and quartz crystals, but the only opal we find is in a rock too big to carry out.

Brad on the hunt amidst rocks and cacti
The ranger tells us that the best rocks are found off the paths, but it's difficult to walk off the paths as the desert is covered with cactus (pancake cactus) which is similar to a prickly pear but with bigger flats.  We manage to weave around and jump over these spiked plants to make our finds.  Regardless, it's fun to find the minerals and Brad certainly enjoys slingling a small sledge hammer to get them out of the rock (probably rhyolite which is volcanic).

We only stay a few days before we move a bit further north to Truth or Consequences...

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