Rock and gem hunters with an enthusiasm for quartz crystals should add the state of Washington to the top of their "places-to-hunt" list. Large, water clear, well-formed crystals can be found in numerous locations in Washington. The beauty of the crystals and the challenges presented by Washington's rugged terrain can make a hunting excursion in the state an adventure hunters will remember for a lifetime.
Hunting in Washington
Washington state terrain in wilderness areas is extremely rugged. Crystal areas often have high, steep slopes and vertical canyons, and are thickly forested. There are several types of dangerous wild animals, including mountain lions, grizzly bears, rams and wolves in these terrains you need to watch for. Weather can change quickly in the mountains too, leaving little time to find shelter from rain torrents or lightning. Unseasonal snow is not uncommon in the northern altitudes. Some crystal regions are remote, with no services or towns nearby. While crystals are sometimes found weathered from rock, you will have to do some digging and rock pounding to get to them. Washington crystal hunting is not for the faint at heart.
Okanogan County is in the north central area of the state, bordered on the north by Canada. This county is rugged with vast expanses of isolated, little-explored wilderness. You can find crystals throughout these mountains if you are willing to hike these remote altitudes. The Golden Horn Batholith in the western portion of the county is a productive area for crystal hunters who want to stay closer to the main roads. You can reach the area via Highway 20. Along with the more common clear-to-white quartz crystals, this area also produces gemmy smoky quartz crystals. Zircons and small crystals of other minerals also pepper the Batholith region.
Scattered crystal locations also occur throughout the mountains of Snohomish County, southwest of Okanogan County. There are a few areas in the southern portion of the county where numerous quality crystals can be found. Cedar Ponds, near the town of Sultan, produces fine glassy crystals. Lucky hunters can claim a beautiful amethyst crystal at this location too. The Vesper Creek area in central eastern Washington, is also a productive hunting region, rendering not only quartz, but other mineral crystals, including grossular garnets. The crystals in this location are found mostly in skarn, a course-grained metamorphic rock.
King County is the most predominant source of quality quartz crystals in Washington. While there are many hunting locations, the North Bend region of the Snoqualmie Batholith is the best source of crystals. The open hunting areas are as arduous as Denny Canyon, dubbed "Dead Rockhound Gulch" by the Forest Service, in response to the numerous rock-hunting related deaths in the canyon. Hanson Creek, Bessemer Ridge and Cedar Ponds, all near the town of North Bend, produce fine crystals of clear and smoky crystals, with occasional amethyst finds possible. Fortunate hunters many find many other mineral crystals in that area while hunting for quartz crystals.
An honor graduate of the University of Michigan with a B.A. in English and linguistics, Sally Taylor has contracted research and writing services since 1986. She has worked with organizations such as US West AT, and SW Bell Silver Pages.