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Clark Co., Nevada trip report

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Author Topic: Clark Co., Nevada trip report  (Read 708 times)
Talusman
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« on: January 30, 2016, 07:21:55 pm »

I was able to arrange a weekend in NV as part of a business trip this month, and after briefly considering a 3+ hour drive to Quartzsite, I decided to stay close to the city (Henderson) and do some rockhounding nearby. Thanks to the Southern Nevada Gem and Mineral Society (SNGMS) and one of their members on this board (ToTheSummit) I was directed to a collecting area just outside of Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

Access to the site is from inside the park, and the first day (Saturday) I was at the fee gate at a little after 7:00 AM. The ranger wasn't set up yet, so he let me in for free (I'd end up paying on Sunday - and the $20 fee is good for 7 days). Once in the park, it's a 16 mile drive up Northshore Road to the Anniversary Mine road, a dirt 4X4 affair. I put "Anniversary mine road" in the GPS and enjoyed the scenery on the way to the trailhead. Before long, there was a turnout where a dirt road dropped abruptly into the wash. As I was driving an impossibly small 2WD rental car, I opted to park at the turnout and hike the ~1.5 miles to the collecting site.

About a mile in, I came to a fork in the road. Which Way?? I could see a sign about 1/4 mile straight ahead so decided to go check it out. It was facing the other way, and when I reached it, it read "entering Lake Mead NRA". I decided to just hike up past the next bend and see If the collecting site sign was visible. No dice. Ok, just over the next rise. Nope. I scaled up a rocky slope to gain some elevation, and there was no collecting site in sight. With my binoculars I did see a ramshackle RV parked about a mile ahead next to a large cliff. Alone, and with scenes of "Breaking Bad" running in my mind, I decided to go back and try the other fork. About 6 miles of trekking and backtracking later, I realized that I'd stopped at the wrong wash. The correct one was about 2 miles further down Northshore. Cursing the GPS and lack of cellular service (while knowing it was my own excitement + lack of paying attention) I walked back to the car and drove to the correct turnout (at mile marker 16 if you're heading that way).

The correct turnout revealed that Anniversary Mine road is more driveable, and I was comortable taking my little econobox on a dirt road adventure. Note: the road crosses a couple of washes so if there is rain in the area be aware that you might not be able to re-cross them when water is running. A bumpy mile later, I was parking next to the Ore Car Mine sign. Getting out to survey the site, the temp was in the 50's and clouds cast the desert in soft light. The sign said various agates could be found 1/2 mile to the NE and SW. I set out for the NE, crossing the road and heading to a nearby gully. It was immediately apparent that chalcedony was everywhere. The ground is littered with dark weathered chunks. Most of the material is a muted gray or brown, messy with impurities. But before long I was finding reds and pale lilac. The stones are eroding from the sandstone bedrock, and in places there are outcrops where seams can be seen. My best luck though was in already freed float. I think that the most solid (and hardest) pieces survive weathering better becoming naturally sorted from the junk. The in-situ seams had large amounts of poor quality material still intermixed.

Over the course of two days I spent about 16 hours at the site, covering miles and miles of washes and gullies. The best red/green "Christmas Agate" was on the same side of the road as the sign, right in front of the parking area. Thousands of chunks covering the ground. It was just a matter of selecting your favorite bits. The lilac agate was less plentiful. There were some botryoidal plates with a faint lilac hue that had weathered out of the hill near the parking area.

Farther afield I was traversing a rocky slope above a gully and came across an area where white chalky soil stood out in contrast to the dark weathered rocks typical of the area. Exploring that spot, I found an interesting rock that had banded layers of pale purple and whitish chalcedony. Some was cut with streamers of transparent blue agate that glowed in the sun. I collected about 30 pounds of the banded material from a 30-foot radius. I didn't see it anywhere else on my trip. It looks like a banded translucent chert - maybe silicified layers of the chalky/ashy material it was found near?

I also found some more unique chunks - one with white porcelain-like material mixed with crazy-lace-like yellow and purple patterns. Also some neat botryoidal specimens and one encrustation that looks like a Uranium mineral: nuke-yellow/green and glows brightly under SWUV (as do many of the newer chalcedony veins in the lapidary material).

There were also chunks of fibrous Ulexite around. Presumably dropped by the nearby mining operation (Ulexite is a borax ore).

By 2:00 Sunday I'd gathered and sorted about 2 flat rate boxes worth of material. I decided to spend the rest of the day exploring the "Narrows" slot canyon, whose entrance is just up the Anniversary Mine Road from the collecting site. After chatting with the mine security guard (it's an active borax mine), I entered the canyon and spent a few hours quietly picking my way through this spectacular feature. In places the canyon is narrow enough to touch both walls, whose sinewy metamorphosed sandstone faces twist up a hundred feet or so over your head. Here and there were exposed veins of fibrous ulexite.

I heartily recommend this site to anyone visiting Las Vegas with a day to spare. If you do, please heed the club's sign and collect responsibly. Also respect the delicate desert ecosystem - home to the Las Vegas Bear Poppy - an endemic plant that is specially adapted to the gypsum-rich soils. Tread lightly and leave no trace.

Cheers!

-Jeremy


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* Giant agate.JPG (362.87 KB, 1024x768 - viewed 13 times.)
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Talusman
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« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2016, 07:23:50 pm »

The Las Vegas Bear Poppy, the Narrows, and the rocks!  yes

Note that all the dark rocks behind the poppy are agate. It's everywhere.



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* Christmas.JPG (717.24 KB, 1024x597 - viewed 23 times.)

* Banded Lilac.JPG (471.23 KB, 1024x799 - viewed 6 times.)

* Banded and veined.JPG (994.49 KB, 1136x1341 - viewed 10 times.)

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john likes rocks!
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« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2016, 07:12:14 am »

Sure have enjoyed reading this and looking at the photos.
The rocks you found are pretty exciting ... Great Job!
Hope I get a chance to visit now that you have shown us the way.
Thank you for posting Jeremy!
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wyrock
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« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2016, 07:32:56 am »

Now that is a great trip report. Thanks for taking the time to write and post it.
Jim
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« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2016, 07:35:07 am »

Excellent trip report and pictures.  You found some really cool looking rough.  Thanks for this!
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« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2016, 03:06:39 pm »

Wow perfect trip report so much so as a matter of fact that my wife just asked me to see if we can plan a trip to the Oar Car mine.  Did you see anyone else there? were there crowds? $20 was all it cost?.  How far is Henderson? Do I need to contact someone at the SNG&M Society Sorry about all these questions but we are excited about your trip report.

Thanks  Mike & Mary
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Mike Longoria Sr
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« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2016, 04:20:34 pm »

Great trip report!  Glad you shared your experiences, and sorry I was out of town and wasn't able to join you.  Looks like you didn't need me at all though!  You were much more diligent in exploring the area than most people are and it paid off.  There is a lot to offer in the area and you did well at finding some great stuff.

To mrlnavy:  You do not need to contact anyone at the local club.  The Ore Car Mine is free and open to the public.  They only ask that you collect responsibly.  The only cost is in gaining admission to Lake Mead National Recreation Area which you must drive through to reach the site.  Directions to the claim can be found at the clubs website.
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Talusman
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« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2016, 04:55:15 pm »

Thanks all - glad you enjoyed reading about my big day(s) out! I treasure the rare days I can fully indulge my inner prospector.

Mike, I saw two or three people around on Saturday. They stayed close to the parking area picking through the discarded slabs and bits that club members dump there. On Sunday I had the entire area to myself, save for the friendly mine security guard parked up on the ridge. Definitely no crowds! In some places I almost felt like I was exploring new agate beds. Henderson is on the southeast side of Vegas - 15-20 minutes from the airport. I stayed there because it was about 15 minutes from the park entrance. Very convenient location. You could easily stay on the strip and drive out if that's your preference.

Here are some slabs of swirly frosty-lilac agate and a preform of the banded material. Almost looks like purple/beige wood.

Let me know if you have more questions when planning your trip.

Cheers!

-Jeremy



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Talusman
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« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2016, 05:45:54 pm »

Here's another slab - a mossy-looking piece of faintly lavender stuff.



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« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2016, 10:07:54 am »

    Now that is a great trip report. I really like the lilac agate. That is some really great collecting for not needing tools. Which makes me ask, do they allow you to use tools and pick up a few buckets of material if you spent a weekend. Not talking about tearing down a hill and loading a truck but I think I would need at least a bucket of each.
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Talusman
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« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2016, 11:50:56 am »

Yup - the only rules are hand tools only (no power equipment) and collecting for personal use (can't sell it). You really don't need heavy tools as the material is eroding from the hillsides and I didn't see anywhere to hard rock mine anyway. I had a 4-lb crack hammer and a chisel and was fine. There are some outcrops with agate seams, but the in situ material I saw was badly weathered and pretty ugly. The nicer pieces were found in beds of float from tumblr size to 5-10 pound pieces. Occasionally a larger section of seam - up to 20-30 pounds.

I'm cutting some more rough today. Generally looks fairly solid - some cracks and soft spots - definitely pays to high-grade in the field as much of the material there is not lapidary grade. However, the pieces I shipped back seem to be worth the time and effort. Hope to cut a can today as well.

Cheers!

-Jeremy
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« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2016, 04:13:31 pm »

Are you a writer? I was transfixed by your beautiful use of  descriptive language. I only wish I could go collect there myself. That Christmas agate is spectacular as is the translucent lavender. What lucky finds! I can't wait to see what comes of them.
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« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2016, 10:11:00 pm »

His example of the Christmas Agate is truly top notch.  I've cut a lot of agate from this location and it is hard to find such rich greens.  Jeremy truly has a great eye for finding the best material available at a location!
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Talusman
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« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2016, 08:27:58 am »

Thanks ileny, but trust me, my words don't do it justice.

And TTS is right - that Christmas was the best piece of red/green I found. And I spent a LOT of time looking (2 full days). I've attached a pic of a nice but more typical example of what I was finding.

If you go, some additional tips:

1.) If being in the desert is its own reward, you'll love it
2.) try to go in nice weather, if it was 110 degrees I may not have had such a wonderful experience
3.) look for pieces that appear to be sections of 1-2" thick seams. I found these had the best colors/patterns.
4.) be picky! There are thousands of chunks of leaverite, and the fun fun is finding the needles in that haystack.

Also attached some pics showing a cool yellow/red seam, the purplest piece I found, and a botryoidal chunk. Most of the lines in the purple chunk are streamers, but there are probably a few fractures too.

Enjoy!

-Jeremy


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« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2016, 11:47:30 am »

What fun! Thanks for the super report and photos.
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