Washington Rocks and Minerals
Washington' s Petrified Woods are some of the finest in the nation. The Petrified Woods not only represent a broad range of colors and patterns, but also represent a wide range of identifiable species. Species identified include redwood, oak (more than 10 varieties), cypress, elm, maple, willow, cedar, poplar, chestnut, alder, birch, persimmon, laurel, and ginkgo. Petrified wood is found throughout the state of Washington and is in fact the state gemstone.
The discovery of precious fire opal in a well 7 miles NE of Pullman in 1890 led to the first significant recovery of gem materials in Washington. According to the U.S. Bureau of Mines, Washington state is within the top 10 producers of gemstones in the nation. Bright red realgar crystals from Green River are the finest in the world. Spectacular crystals of amethyst scepters came from Denny Mountain, autunite came from Mount Spokane, grossular garnet came from Vesper Peak, and pyrite came from Spruce Peak.
Only one site in Washington is wholly dedicated to public fossil collecting: the Stonerose Interpretive Center in downtown Republic in northeastern Washington (Ferry County). Visitors can collect excellent examples of 50-million-year-old Eocene leaves and insects.
See my page on Rockhounding Rules for general information on the rules of collecting rocks on various lands.
Copper, gold, silver, uranium, coal and zinc are all found in Washington. Washington has also produced garnet, thundereggs, jaspers, fluorite, hematite, aventurine and tourmaline.