Alaska Rocks and Minerals
For obvious reasons rockhounding is harder in Alaska! Much of the ground is frozen or hard to get to. But Alaska does have lots of rocks and minerals including agates, jaspers, and petrified wood. Various types of agates can be found in gravel pits and river beds at several locations in the Chicken Creek area near the border with the Yukon Territory. Agates, jasper, and petrified wood can be found on many beaches, including those on the islands of Adak, Admiralty, Attu, Kuiu, Kupreanof, Nelson, Popof, Tanaga, Unalaska, and Zarembo. Other well-known sources are the outlet of Becharof Lake, Little Nelchina River, and Caribou Creek.
Native Copper is found in the McCarthy area of south central Alaska. Amethyst, a variety of quartz, has been found sporadically for years in the granitic uplands near Tok and Northway, Alaska. Other rocks and minerals found include Rhodonite, Fluorite, Garnet, Cinnabar, and Rutilated Quartz.
Alaska designated Jade as its official state gem in 1968. Alaska has large deposits of the gem, including an entire mountain of jade on the Seward Peninsula. A famous, remote, Arctic interior jade locality with an extensive history is the Jade Creek and Jade Mountain locality, Kobuk River region, in northwestern Alaska.
Perhaps the most well-known material found in Alaska is Gold. In fact Alaska designated gold is its official state mineral in 1968. In 1896, the Klondike Gold Rush attracted prospectors and others from all over the world. Much of the gold produced in Alaska was mined from placers. These deposits are widespread, occurring along many of the major rivers and their tributaries. The principal placer-mining region has been the Yukon River basin which crosses central Alaska. Dredging operations in the Fairbanks district have been the most productive in the State. Beach deposits in the Nome district in the south-central part of the Seward Peninsula rank second among productive placer deposits of Alaska. Other highly productive placers have been found in the drainage basin of the Copper River and of the Kuskokwim River.
Gold panning is still allowed in many parts of Alaska. In northern Alaska, panning is allowed on any federal stream segment along the Dalton Highway south of Atigun Pass. In Interior Alaska, the Nome Creek Valley offers a four-mile area set aside for recreational gold panning. And there are many areas available for recreational gold panning just outside of Anchorage on the beautiful scenic Kenai Peninsula. You should check with the BLM in Alaska for more specific areas or rules.