Bob teaches this popular prospecting course indoors, usually during winter or spring. You’ll have 2 days of fun with pretty rocks, and a few ugly ones, as you learn to identify which rock types and structures to look in for crystals, agates, and gems.
No science or geology background is needed. The class is jargon-free. You’ll learn to interpret the often confusing information in geologic reports, maps, and other references. By the end of this class, you’ll be able to recognize clues to geologic goodies from a distance, you’ll know which construction areas and road cuts are worth a look, and you’ll have the confidence to walk away from over-dug localities to find new ones nearby.
On our newest Rockin trip we’ll explore exciting geology along the back roads of Oregon. Oregon has historically produced a wide variety of silica-based gems: agates, jaspers, petrified wood and obsidian. These colorful semi-precious stones occur in many forms and types of deposits. You’ll have no trouble filling your backpack or vehicle with these pretty stones. The trip is offered in 2 lengths: 3 or 5 days. The first 3 days we’ll collect the silica gems at easy access, very productive localities, and stay at a comfortable new motel with swimming pool and excellent dining opportunities nearby in Bend, Oregon. Bring lots of boxes or buckets as you’ll take home a lot of great rocks!
The last two days we’ll hunt more valuable, and therefore less abundant gemstones: sunstone and precious opal. Our sunstone locality (Day 4) is the best in North America, producing highly-prized red and bicolor stones, as well as the more-common yellows. The miners do the hard work for us, digging out a backhoe load of gem-bearing gravel that will be dumped at our feet! We screen the gravel for the sunstones. You can screen dry or with water. Bob recommends the wet method, and will demonstrate both ways for you. We think this is fun as well, so your guides will be sorting sunstones along with you. The process is simple, but it is easier to show you than to describe it. You’ll need to be able to lift a minimjum of 5 lbs up to your eye level. Can be done while seated if you’d like, or even reclining (bring your own beach blanket or chaise lounge!)
The precious opals (Day 5) are harder to find, but we’ve never come home empty handed, and quite valuable pieces are found here regularly. On Bob’s 2017 visit a 10-year old found a $5,000 piece! We can’t guarantee that will happen for you or us … but we’ve never come home empty-handed and have found nice pieces for making jewelry. Adults have a choice of using a pick or rockhammer in the pit wall to gather material to screen, or digging in the large tailings piles. Kids under 16 are only allowed to dig. The material dug out of the walls is put on the tailings pile each night, so there is always a fresh crop of material to screen. In my experience, people find more by digging than working the wall. Water washing won’t help you here, just makes a muddy mess. You are welcome to bring a spray bottle for close-up examination of suspect pieces, or to keep you cool.
Our itinerary for days 4 and 5 requires longer drives and two nights at a less-upscale accommodation. Our base-camp is an older Best Western in a scenic but middle-of-nowhere southern Oregon town … clean and comfortable … but expect 1960’s size rooms with no frills. Dinner choices are a pretty good local Mexican restaurant, an ok pizza place, off-brand fast food or sandwich fixins from your cooler.
Next trip: June 29 thru July 3, 2019
Prices: 3 day trip — Seattle or Portland to Bend, OR Adults $320; Kids (15 & under) $240
5 day trip — Seattle or Portland to Virgin Valley, NV Adults $590; Kids (12 & under) $450 The gem mines charge us their adult rate for kids over 12
Final 2 days (sunstone & opal) only: Lakeview, OR to Virgin Valley, NV Adults: $400, kids under 12 $350.
The fine print: Prices do not include lodging. We supply booking info for the motels we recommend when you reserve your spaces with us. You will be able to participate in all our activities if you choose to stay at other places or camp. We supply all needed tools, but you are welcome to bring your own. If kids use our hammers, they must wear our safety glasses.
Meeting place(s): Day 1: North Bend, WA 9:00 a.m. -OR- Biggs Junction, Oregon 12:30 p.m. Directions to our meeting places are automatically sent when you pay for your space(s) via Paypal. If your main email address is different from your Paypal address, please send us your main email address in a separate message. If you don’t monitor the email address you used to book, we may not be able to contact you in case of a last minute change. Last year 3 families missed a day because we could not notify them of a detour. Please be sure we have your REAL email address. We do almost all of our communication via email.
Day 2: Bend, OR 8:00 a.m.
Day 4: Lakeview, OR 8:00 a.m.
What to bring: Vehicle in good repair, full tank of gas. Cell phone. Sunscreen, sun hat, water bottles, extra water jug(s), ice chest, snacks, lunches. Strong cardboard boxes or Rubbermaid tubs to put your rocks in. Paper towels to wrap your rocks. Layered clothing … we’ll be traveling in high desert, which can be unseasonably hot or cold in June. Average daily temperatures are 70’s to 80’s, but 30’s to 100’s are possible. Snow is possible in high country Oregon in June, as are very high temperatures. Check the weather for Bend, Oregon (3 day trip) and Denio, NV (5 day trip) before you leave home to bring appropriate clothing.