| South Larremore Ranch agate and jasper.
Full buckets $200 each Half buckets $110 each
This ranch is 40 miles south of Alpine on highway 118. It’s in a fairly flat region, where all the material is alluvial. The agate and jasper formed in the mountains surrounding the valley where the ranch is located, and was eroded out of the host rock and moved by gravity and water to its current location, which was once an ancient seabed. There agate and jasper are found in two kinds of deposits: First, there is agate, jasper, quartz crystals, flint, chert, fossils, and petrified wood that’s in the creek bed of Calamity Creek. The creek bed is usually dry, and can be as much as ten feet below the surrounding prairie. In the walls of the creek bed you can see that there are several feet of dirt on top of beds of rounded river rock. A lot of the agate in Calamity Creek comes from the ranches known for red plume agate (Walker, Woodward, Anderson and Y bar O) and nice red plume nodules. Also, there’s material in the creek bed that doesn’t come from the ranches to the north (such as petrified wood) that also occurs in the other agate-bearing layers on the Larremore Ranch. The second agate-bearing layer is a set of gravel bars that come to the surface of the prairie on several parts of the Larremore Ranch. This layer of rocks appears to continue down through the dirt for many feet, probably to the bed of the original sea that was on the ranch in pre-history. The rocks in these gravel piles can be big or small, and can contain many colorful plume agates, fortification agates, flower garden agates, moss agates, banded agates, and tube agates in reds, browns, yellows, oranges, pinks and lavenders. The South Larremore Ranch is still open for rockhunting, for a fee of $60 per day, which allows you to take home a 5-gallon bucket’s worth of agate and specimens. I lead field trips there in the Spring and the Fall.
East Needle Peak agate and jasper.
Full buckets $200 each Half buckets $110 each
(Note: if you’re looking on Google Maps, there will be two Needle Peaks shown. This Needle Peak is not in Big Bend Ranch State Park, where it’s illegal to take rocks. Instead, it is in the Sierra Aguja (Needle Mountains), which are just north of Big Bend National Park.) This area is known for a yellow saginitic agate that often occurs with green moss agate and a white or clearish background called “Pom-Pom” agate. There are some great examples of Pom-Pom agate in these buckets, but they represent only about 5% of the total. Other types of agate found there include mosses of all colors, plume agates (red, yellow, and black), orbicular agates, tube agates, fortification and banded agates, wonderful agatized wood, and jasper that looks similar to ocean jasper. East Needle Peak is still available for rockhunting, for a fee of $50 per day, which allows you to take home a 5-gallon bucket’s worth of agate and specimens. I lead field trips there in the Spring and the Fall.
Ritchie Ranch agate and jasper.
Full buckets $100 each Half buckets $60 each This agate is varied in type and colors, making it evident that there were at least two different eras when the agate was formed. First, there are agates that formed as nodules within the basalt rocks that make low hills on the property. These agates can look exactly like Balmorhea Blue agates. They can be any color from white and almost clear inside to dark blue and black. Occasionally they are orange (carnelian), yellow, red, or purple and brown. Their interiors can be geodes, fortification, or moss agates, some of which are spectacular. The second deposit occurs in some of the voids left in the basalt, but occurs most frequently in the cracks in the basalt that can be quite thick (up to 3’ across) and very long (over 50 feet). This agate is red, orange, yellow and brown, often with lovely moss patterns and spots of clear agate interspersed within it. Occasionally there are plumes in the agate, and sometimes the colored areas look very lustrous, as if they have more water in them down at the molecular level (similar to opal). Very large pieces of this can be found occasionally, but most pieces are below 10 lbs. There are other types of agate on the ranch, as well, especially in an area that was a gravel quarry in the 1950s. In the gravel pit you can potentially find agate that comes from anyplace in the mountains surrounding Alpine, TX. The Ritchie Ranch is still open for rockhunting, for a fee of $20 per person, and $1per pound for the cutting material and specimens you take. I lead field trips there in the Spring and the Fall.