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Rock Collecting

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  To a casual visitor, it would seem that there is a rock shop on just about every corner of the Black Hills.  There is a reason for that: This is one of the most geologically diverse regions in the world.
 
     People who are into this hobby tend to come back to the Hills year after year because there are so many places to find interesting minerals and even semi-precious stones. Often, interesting deposits can be found right along the highways in areas where the rock has been cut back for the roadway. There are at least three such places on highways 16 and 16a between Rapid City and Keystone.  One of the most popular rock-hounding sites is the Fairburn agate fields northeast of Hot Springs.
 
     In addtion to finding minerals along side the road there are numerous abandoned mines in the Black Hills, many of which are on public lands. Most however are on private land and you need permission from the owner before collecting rocks. For information about Black Hills minerals we suggest this link. http://www.dakotamatrix.com/Black_Hills_pegmatites.asp   Note this site talkes about the Etta mine here in Keystone, which is closed to the public.       
     If your taste runs more toward museum displays we recommend the Museum of Geology at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. http://www.sdsmt.edu/services/museum/  Even experienced collectors find a visit useful because they can get maps of various geological formations in the hills. 


       Finally, if you want to do it the easy way, you can aways buy rocks at any of the area rock shops. Keystone has three, and most gift shops also sell rocks. Beware, however, not everything they sell is native to the Black Hills, Keystone rock dealers include "Earth Treasures" and the "Rock Shed (http://www.therockshed.com/).   
       
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