Where Can I Dig for Turquoise in New Mexico?
New Mexico is renowned for its abundance of turquoise, often referred to as the “Sky Stone” due to its vibrant blue color that can resemble the clear, blue skies of the region. If you are interested in getting your hands on some genuine turquoise, there are a few places in New Mexico where you can dig for this precious gemstone. This article will guide you through some of the best locations to dig for turquoise in the Land of Enchantment.
1. Cerrillos Hills State Park:
Located just 16 miles southwest of Santa Fe, Cerrillos Hills State Park is a historic site that was once the center of turquoise mining in New Mexico. The park offers visitors the opportunity to explore the remnants of old turquoise mines and try their luck at finding some turquoise themselves. While digging is not allowed within the park, you can collect loose stones from the surface and keep any turquoise specimens you find.
2. Turquoise Trail:
The Turquoise Trail is a scenic highway that stretches from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, passing through several historic mining towns known for their turquoise deposits. Along this route, you will find numerous rock shops and trading posts that sell authentic turquoise. Some of these establishments also offer the opportunity to dig through their tailings or purchase turquoise directly from the mines.
3. Royston Turquoise Mine:
Located in the Royston District of southwestern New Mexico, the Royston Turquoise Mine is one of the oldest and most famous turquoise mines in the state. While the mine is not open to the public, you can purchase Royston turquoise from various jewelry stores and rock shops in the area. This mine is known for its stunning green and blue turquoise, often showcasing a unique matrix pattern.
4. Tyrone Turquoise Mine:
Situated near the town of Silver City, the Tyrone Turquoise Mine is another popular location to find turquoise in New Mexico. The mine is not open to the public, but turquoise from this mine is often available for purchase at local rock shops and jewelry stores. Tyrone turquoise is known for its vibrant blue color and can sometimes display a golden to brown matrix.
5. Blue Gem Mine:
The Blue Gem Mine, located near the town of Tonopah, is one of the few turquoise mines in New Mexico where digging is permitted. Visitors can pay a fee to dig for turquoise on specific days and keep what they find. This mine produces high-quality turquoise with a beautiful blue color and intricate matrix patterns. It is advisable to check the mine’s schedule and make reservations in advance.
Q: Is it legal to dig for turquoise in New Mexico?
A: In most cases, digging for turquoise on public lands in New Mexico is prohibited without a permit. However, some private mines or designated areas allow visitors to dig for turquoise for a fee.
Q: Can I sell the turquoise I find?
A: If you find turquoise on public lands in New Mexico, it is generally illegal to sell it without obtaining the necessary permits. However, if you purchase turquoise from private mines or rock shops, you are free to sell it.
Q: Are there any safety precautions when digging for turquoise?
A: It is essential to wear appropriate protective gear, such as gloves and safety glasses, to avoid any injuries while digging. Additionally, be aware of potential hazards such as loose rocks or unstable terrain.
Q: Can I find valuable turquoise while digging?
A: While there is always a chance of finding valuable turquoise, it is not guaranteed. Most mines have already been extensively worked, so finding large and valuable specimens can be rare. However, the experience of digging and finding your own turquoise is rewarding in itself.
In conclusion, New Mexico offers several opportunities for turquoise enthusiasts to dig for this exquisite gemstone. Whether you explore historic mining areas, visit rock shops along the Turquoise Trail, or participate in digging events at specific mines, you are sure to have a memorable experience in the search for New Mexico’s prized turquoise. Just remember to follow the rules and regulations of each location and enjoy the beauty of this “Sky Stone.”