How to Find Cool Rocks in Your Backyard

Imagine you’re out in your backyard, enjoying a nice day when you stumble upon a really cool rock. You pick it up and take a closer look at it, and realize that it’s not just any rock – it’s a gemstone! You might be wondering how to find valuable rocks like that in your backyard, and that’s exactly what we’re talking about today.

the main challenges people face when it comes to finding rocks in their backyard is not knowing where to look or how to identify them.

Without having the right tools, or knowing how to get started it can make the process of finding rocks much more difficult, and lead to frustration.

Although it can be difficult to find valuable rocks in your backyard, it’s not impossible.

In this article, we will teach you how to find rocks in your backyard and how to identify them.

We will also provide some tips on how to make the process easier. So keep reading, and soon you’ll be finding cool rocks like a pro!

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1. Rocks, Minerals, and Gemstones. What’s the Difference?

Rocks, minerals, and gemstones are all naturally occurring materials, but they are not the same thing. In this section, we will introduce you to the basics so that you can learn how to differentiate between them.

What are minerals?

Minerals are the building blocks of rocks, and can be found in all sorts of different places, including soil.

There are more than 5,000 different types of minerals, and they come in all shapes and sizes.

Minerals are made of one or more elements, and each element has its own unique chemical properties. All minerals may be referred to as rocks or stones.

Different types of rocks.

What are rocks?

Rocks are made of different types of minerals, and can be found all over the world.

There are three main types of rocks: igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic.

  • Igneous rocks are made of solidified lava or magma.
  • Sedimentary rocks are made of pieces of other rocks that have been combined together.
  • Metamorphic rocks are made of other rocks that have been changed by heat or pressure.

What are gemstones?

Small blue gem on the end of a finger.

Gemstones are minerals that have been identified for their strength and/or beauty.

They are typically cut and polished into different shapes and are often used in jewelry. There are more than 2,000 different types of gemstones, and the value of a gemstone is usually determined by its rarity, color, and size.

2. How to Find Rocks in your Backyard

Cool black rock with white veins.

Now that you have a basic understanding of rocks, minerals, and gemstones, it’s time to learn how to find them in your backyard.

The best way to find rocks is to spend some time outside and explore your surroundings.

The easiest thing to do is to look for rocks that have been exposed to the surface, as these are the easiest to find.

You can also look for rocks in drainage areas, such as creeks and rivers if you happen to have one on your property. Rocks that have been carried away by water are usually round and smooth, which makes them easy to identify.

Another place to look for rocks is in fields and meadows. Rocks that have been broken down by wind and weather are usually found in these areas.

However, finding valuable surface rocks is not very likely. To have the best chance at finding rare or interesting rocks, you’re going to need to dig.

If you’re planning to do any projects that require excavating, trenching, or digging you’ll definitely want to be on the lookout for cool rocks.

You never know what you might find buried beneath the surface of your backyard.

3. Rock Hunting Tools

Using a pick axe to look for rocks in the backyard.

When you’re looking for rocks underground, it’s important to use the right tools to make the process easier.

Some tools you will want to have on hand will include:

  • Gloves
  • Shovel
  • Pick Axe
  • Straining Tool (like a colander)
  • Soil Sieve
  • Water (in a bucket or from a hose)
  • Magnifying glass
  • Paper towels or rags
  • Magnet
  • Plastic bags or containers for specimens
  • A rock identification book or app on your phone

Once you identify an area that you want to explore for rocks, start by digging a small hole about 6-8 inches deep.

When you find something, carefully remove it from the ground and place it in your straining tool to wash the dirt off.

Once you have inspected your find, place it in a plastic bag or container for identification later.

Before you leave the area, is a good idea to strain any soil that you’ve disturbed incase there were any small rocks or gemstones left behind in the dirt that you missed.

Using a sieve to find valuable rocks.

3. Types of rocks, gems, and minerals you might find in your backyard

When searching your yard, the opportunities are limitless as to what you might find.

Recently, there was even a report of a man who was digging a well on his property and found a sapphire worth $100 million dollars. How rad would that be!??!?

That being said, there are some types of rocks, gems, and minerals that are more commonly found than others.

As mentioned above, there are three main types of rocks:


Igneous rocks are made of solidified lava or magma. They are usually found near volcanoes and can be either extrusive or intrusive.

Some examples of igneous rock include :

– Basalt

– Pumice

– Obsidian

– Granite

Of these, obsidian and granite are the two that many rock hounds get excited to find.

Obsidian is made of solidified lava that was cooled very quickly, which is why it has a glassy appearance. Native Americans used to use it to make arrowheads and spear points.

Granite is another type of igneous rock, but it is much different than obsidian.

Granite is formed by slowly cooled magma, and it is the most common type of rock in the Earth’s crust. It can be found in all 50 states. Currently used in homes for everything from countertops to showers, even small pieces of granite are desirable to many rock collectors.


Sediments and sedimentary rocks cover about 80% of all continental areas but are less than 1% of the volume of the Earth’s crust.”

As their name eludes to sedimentary rocks are made of sediments that have been cemented together over time.

They are usually found near bodies of water, as the sediments are transported there by rivers or oceans.

Some examples of sedimentary rock include:


– Sandstone

– Limestone

– Calcite


While not valued for their beauty, sedimentary rocks can be full of valuable things.

For example, limestone are often full of fossils.


Metamorphic rocks are made of other rocks that have been changed by heat or pressure.

They are usually found near mountains and can be either foliated or non-foliated.

Some examples of metamorphic rocks include:

– Slate

– Gneiss

– Marble

– Schist


Many people don’t realize that many of the “rocks” that we find to be valuable are actually minerals.

There are more than 4,000 different types of minerals and some can only be found in certain parts of the world.

Some examples of minerals include:

– Quartz

– Pyrite


4. What are the most common backyard gems?

Some of the most common gems that can be found in your backyard include a few that have already been mentioned above:


Quartz is the most common mineral on Earth and is found in almost every type of rock. It is a hard, translucent mineral that can come in many different colors including: clear, white, pink, red, purple, and black.

A few types of quartz you might be familiar with are: amethyst, rose quartz, and smoky quartz.

In the U.S. quartz can be found in many states including: California, Colorado, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, and Tennessee.


Agate is a type of quartz that comes in many different colors and patterns. It is a very durable mineral and can be found in many different parts of the world. In the US, the state of Oregon is known for its abundance of agate.


Garnet is a type of mineral that is made up of different types of iron. It is usually a deep red or black color. You are most likely to find garnet if you live in the eastern US including New York, North Carolina, and Virginia.


Jade is a very hard, compact mineral that can be carved into many different shapes. It’s green color is caused by the presence of chromium and is found in many parts of the world. Jade is most commonly found in Asia, North America, and South America. In the US, jade can be found in California, North Carolina, and Wyoming.


Typically found in arid climates, turquoise is a blue-green mineral that is prized for its color. It is often used in jewelry and can be found in many different parts of the world. Native Americans in the Southwest use turquoise in their ceremonies and jewelry and it can still be found in parts of New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada.

5. How do I identify backyard rocks?

Now that you know how to find rocks and minerals in your backyard, it’s important that you learn how to identify them.

One of the last things you want to do is overlook a valuable specimen just because you didn’t know what it was.

One of the easiest ways to identify a rock or mineral is by its physical properties.

Some physical properties you can use to identify rocks and minerals include:

– Color

– Luster: The way a mineral reflects light.

– Hardness: How easily a mineral can be scratched or scratch other objects.

– Cleavage: The way a mineral breaks along certain planes.

– Fracture: The way a mineral breaks when it is not along cleavage planes.

– Magnetism

– Specific Gravity: A measure of how much a mineral weighs in comparison to water.

Using these properties, you can identify rocks and minerals by using an identification book or app on your phone.

When using an identification book or app, it’s important to remember that not all rocks and minerals will be listed.

If you’re not sure, you can always take anything you find to a local lapidary who should be able to tell you what it is and whether or not it’s valuable.

A privately owned jewelry store may also be able to help you identify your find as well.

While identifying rocks and minerals can be difficult, it’s a fun and rewarding activity that can help teach you about the earth’s history. With practice, you’ll be able to identify any rock or mineral you come across.

6 How much are my rocks worth?

The value of rocks and minerals can vary greatly depending on the type and size.

While the prospect of finding valuable rocks in your backyard is exciting, it’s important to remember that the majority of rocks found in your yard are not worth very much.

However, if you find a rock or mineral that is not commonly found in your area, it could be worth quite a bit of money.

For example, a small piece of amethyst can be worth around $5, while a large piece of amethyst could be worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Raw turquoise is currently valued at around $10 per pound, so a small rock could be worth $5-10.

Garnets can range in value from a few dollars per carat to hundreds of dollars per carat, depending on the color and type of garnet.

So, if you find a rock or mineral that you can’t identify, it’s always worth taking it to a local lapidary to get it appraised.

That being said, value is subjective and many rocks and minerals are only worth what someone is willing to pay for them.

Many people look for rocks that are specific shapes or colors, so it’s always worth taking a look around your yard to see what you might find.

A number of people make good money finding and selling rocks that are heart shaped or look like faces.

There is also a market for rocks that are the perfect size and shape for rock skipping.

You can always greatly increase the value of any rock you find by polishing it and adding a nice finish.

So, if you find a cool rock or mineral in your backyard, don’t be discouraged if it’s not worth a lot of money. Instead, enjoy the find and maybe learn something about geology in the process.

To learn more I encourage you to attend local gem and mineral shows where you can see thousands of specimens and get expert advice from people who have been collecting rocks for decades and professionals who buy and sell rocks for a living.


Finding rocks and minerals in your backyard can be a fun and rewarding activity.

Not only can you learn about the different types of rocks and minerals, but you may also find something that is worth quite a bit of money.

While identifying rocks and minerals can be difficult, it’s a skill that can be learned with practice. If you’re not sure what a rock or mineral is, don’t hesitate to take it to a local lapidary for identification.

With a little practice, you’ll be able to identify any rock or mineral you find and maybe even make a little money in the process.


Q: How do I polish my rocks?

A: There are many ways to polish rocks, but the most common way is to use a tumbler.

Tumbling is the process of polishing rocks by rolling them around in a barrel with other rocks and sand.

This can be done at home with a small tumbler or you can take your rocks to a professional tumbler.

Q: What should I do if I find a valuable rock?

A: If you find a valuable rock, it’s always best to take it to a local lapidary to have it appraised.

Lapidaries can tell you what type of rock or mineral it is and how much it is worth.

Q: Can I find Geodes in my backyard?

A: Geodes can be found in many areas around the world, but they are not commonly found in most yards.