Local Rockhound Featured in National Magazine

This is the first of five press releases I wrote to send to local newspapers about the article that was printed in Rock & Gem’s September 2015 issue about me and my rockhunts.  It’s amazing to me that most locals haven’t even heard of rockhunting at all, let alone know what we rockhunters do.  So I decided to try to get the word out…

Local rockhound Teri Smith leads agate hunting field trips on ranches in Brewster and Presidio counties. This activity has brought her some measure of renown in rockhunting circles, and led to a feature article on her and her rockhunts in the September 2015 issue of the national magazine Rock & Gem.

Teri, who with her husband John owns the Antelope Lodge in Alpine, has been leading field trips for over 15 years. Her trips are for children as young as 3 or 4 years old up through mature adults who rockhunt from lawn chairs while seated in the shade.

Texas is a wonderful state for rockhunts, says Teri, because it’s all private land. “In the states west of us, where much of the land is Federal property, there are few collectible rocks left on the surface in many areas. In Texas, however, you can only go rockhunting with the permission of the landowner, and there’s often agate all over the ground at rockhunting sites.”

Texas’ Big Bend is known around the world as an agate collecting location. Some local agate can produce cabochons (domed, polished stones used in jewelry) that are incredibly beautiful. Other pieces make great display specimens just as they are.

Teri’s field trips bring in people from all over Texas and the rest of the United States. People regularly drive or fly in from both coasts to go on her trips. Rockhunts cost between about $20 and $75 per person per day, depending upon the site selected. The fee includes both the entrance to the area and the agate hunters choose to take home. All the fees go directly to the landowner. Teri’s compensation for leading the field trips is to be out on the ranch and collect agate without a charge.

Rockhunting season begins in October and continues through the cooler months until May. Teri runs special rockhunts for kids during school holidays. Twice a year, in October and April, she hosts large groups of rockhunters for what she calls “Big Bend Agate Roundups”. These roundups feature trips to five different ranches, including one that is only open during those times.

If you haven’t been on a rockhunt before, Teri will help you understand what the collectible rocks look like and where to find them. She’ll direct you to areas where the agate is known to be, and help you sort through what you’ve found so you can learn which agate pieces will work for your desired purpose, whether it’s to make jewelry, or to collect specimens or “garden rocks”.

If you’re interested in attending a rockhunt, in hosting rockhunts on your ranch, or just want to see what agate from the Big Bend looks like, you can look at Teri’s website at www.terismithrockhunts.com for more information, or visit her museum in the lobby of the Antelope Lodge, 2310 W. Highway 90, Alpine.

So Just What Exactly is a Rockhunt?

This is the second in a set of press releases I wrote to send to local papers in conjunction with the story on me that was published in the September 2015 Rock & Gem Magazine.

If you go rockhunting with Teri Smith, a rockhunt is a day when you go to a private ranch, accompanied by Teri, to find agate and other collectible rocks to take home with you.

Before you begin your rockhunt, you’ll want to have your vehicle ready for rough roads, dress for a desert adventure, and assemble lunch, drinking water, and simple rockhunting equipment for your group. While you can get to some of the collecting areas in a passenger car, high clearance is needed for most sites, and a 4wd vehicle is ideal.

First thing in the morning, you will meet with Teri and the other rockhunters who are going on the trip with you in the lobby of the Antelope Lodge, 2310 W. Highway 90, Alpine. Teri will have
you fill out some paperwork and collect the landowner’s fee for the rockhunt. She will then tell you the rules for the ranch you’ll be going to, tell you about what types of collectible rocks can be found there, and perhaps take you to her museum to show her examples of what she has found on that ranch on past rockhunts.

You’ll also join the Rollin’ Rock Club, a national group of rockhounds that sponsor Teri’s field trips. The Rollin’ Rock Club is a member of the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies, and participants in Teri’s rockhunts follow the AFMS rockhunting guidelines.

Teri will explain the route you’ll all take to get to the ranch, and you’ll follow Teri in your own vehicle to get there. Driving times vary from 10 minutes to more than two hours.

Once you arrive at the collecting site, Teri will give you some instructions, advise you of hazards in the area, and show you samples of the agate and other collectible rocks found there. You’ll make arrangements to get back together at some time later in the day, and head off in on your own to hunt for the agate.

If you’re new to agate hunting, you can remain with Teri after the others have dispersed, and she’ll give you hints on what to look for in order to find agate among the other rocks on the ground. In almost all cases, agate will be on the ground or partly covered, and digging is generally not required. Teri will make arrangements to meet with you again in a short time to critique what you’ve found. Then you’ll be off collecting on your own, and meet back with the others at the end of the day.

At the end of the collecting day, you’ll all meet back at the vehicles and compare finds for a while, then Teri will lead the group back out to the paved road. From there, you can follow her back to Alpine, stop along the way to photograph the sunset, or head to another one of the nearby towns for dinner.

Rockhunts are Fun for Visitors, Profitable for Locals

This is the fourth in a series of press releases I wrote to send to local papers along with the September 2015 Rock & Gem magazine.

Rockhunts are a tourist attraction in the Big Bend that have not been well publicized in the past, says Teri Smith, local rockhunting guide. “In the past there were a couple of ranches that were open all the time for rockhunters, but not much beyond that. Now only the Stillwell Ranch open all the time, but I lead periodic field trips that allow rockhunters access to ranches that they would not be able to go to otherwise.”

Although the rockhunts occur in ranches in both Brewster and Presidio counties, all of them begin at the Antelope Lodge in Alpine. This makes it convenient for rockhounds to stay at motels and RV parks in Alpine.

The economic impact of rock hunting can be extrapolated from the number of rockhounds that go on Teri’s field trips each year. In 2014, 175 people came to Alpine to go rockhunting with Teri on local ranches. In addition to representing all parts of Texas, these rockhunters came from 15 states from coast to coast, and from Canada.

The average rockhunter went on 4 field trips, meaning they stayed at least 4 days in the Big Bend.

While most of these visitors came to the Big Bend specifically to go rockhunting, they also visited other tourist destinations, such as Big Bend National Park and Fort Davis National Monument, stayed in local motels, RV parks, and campgrounds, ate in local restaurants, and shopped at local stores.

Others came to the Big Bend for a vacation and decided to try rockhunting while they are here. One day of rockhunting can lead to a lifelong hobby, and many people who go on one of Teri’s trips make their next trip to the Big Bend just for rockhunting.

Rockhunts are scheduled regularly during the cooler months from October until May. Twice a year, Teri hosts the “Big Bend Agate Roundup”, which is two weeks of daily rockhunts. These concentrated rockhunting events are popular enough that more than 30 people have signed up for a specific field trip.

Local Rocks & Gems on Display at Last Frontier Museum

This is the last page of a set of press releases I sent to local newspapers with a copy of the Rock & Gem magazine for September. The purpose is to let Big Bend area residents know that rockhunting is a viable tourist attraction in the Big Bend Region.

Using mostly rocks found on her field trips, Teri Smith has created the Last Frontier Museum to show rockhunters and others what collectible and valuable rocks and gems can be found in the Big Bend Region.

The museum fills a room in the office of the Antelope Lodge. Except for the contents of a display of “Agate from Other Locations”, most of the items in the museum were found by Teri during her years of rockhunting in the Big Bend.

According to Teri, the museum could be much larger if she had the room. “There are many wonderful examples of agate and other minerals that I simply don’t have space for right now”, says Teri.

But the museum is quite crowded as it is, with exhibits covering the different types of agate found in the Big Bend, the colors and forms of quartz crystals found here, the different ways agate can look when you find it, and examples of what you can do with the agate you’ve found. There’s also an exhibit comparing what can be found on each of the ranches where Teri leads rockhunts.

Fossils, too, have a place in the museum. They can be found in profusion in the area near Terlingua, and also as far up in elevation as Alpine and its environs.

The Last Frontier Museum is in the lobby of the Antelope Lodge, 2310 W. Highway 90 in Alpine, and open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day. Admission is free.

First Signups for Big Bend Agate Roundup

Hi Y’all! We’re starting to get signups for the October Agate Roundup. There’s still space available for all the rockhunts on the schedule. If you don’t have the schedule handy, got to www.terismithrockhunts.com and scroll down to the email dated August 16.

Here’s the list of people I have signed up so far:

Allison, Linda Number of people: ? Walker: 10/23-10/24

Backo, John Number of people: 1 Walker: 10/23-10/26 South Larremore: 10/27

Bean, Debra Number of people: 1 Walker: ? South Larremore: ?

Budde, Dee Number of people: 2 Walker: 10/23-10/26 South Larremore: 10/27 East Needle Peak: 10/28; Singleton: 10/29-10/30

Contreras, Michael Number of people: 1 Walker: 10/21 South Larremore: 10/20

Dean, Adam Number of people: 1 Walker: 10/21-10/23 South Larremore: 10/20

Edwards, Ron & Lori Number of people: 2 Walker: 10/26 South Larremore: 10/27 East Needle Peak: 10/28

Guinn, Larry Number of people: 1 Walker: 10/21-10/23

Johnson, Roger Number of people: 1 Walker: 10/23-10/26 South Larremore: 10/27 East Needle Peak: 10/28 Singleton:1 0/29-11/1

Martin, Jane Number of people: 1 Walker: ?

Morgan, Marion & Whaley, Kathy Number of people: 2 Walker: 10/25 South Larremore: 10/27 Singleton: 10/29

Muncee, Tammy & Burge, Pandora Number of people: 2 Walker: 10/21-10/22

Newberg, Steve Number of people: 1 Walker: 10/21-10/23

Speck, John Number of people: 1 Walker: 10/23-10/25

Tindelll, Ed Number of people: 1 Walker: 10/21-10/26

Waugh, Steve Number of people: 1 Walker: 10/21-10/24


The Walker Ranch portion of the Agate Roundup requires payment of at least half the fee in advance. As an incentive for you to send the complete fee in early, if you send your entire fee postmarked by Wednesday, September 23, and received by Saturday, September 26, you get a free day at the end of your rockhunt. The price is still the same: $75 per person per day, or $150 per person for 3 days. The fourth, fifth and sixth days are $37.50 each. To send your Walker Ranch deposit in, please make a check out to Bryan Crumpton, and send it c/o Teri Smith, 509 N. 8th Street, Alpine, TX 79830.

Here’s what you’ll need to pay before and after the deadline for the extra day:

If Payment In Full Received by 9/26

1 day, 1 person: $75

2 days, 1 person: $75

3 days, 1 person: $150

4 days, 1 person: $150

5 days, 1 person: $187.50

6 days, 1 person: $225

1 day, 2 people: $150

2 days, 2 people: $150

3 days, 2 people: $300

4 days, 2 people: $300

5 days, 2 people: $375

6 days, 12 people: $450

If Payment In Full NOT Received by 9/26

1 day, 1 person: $75

2 days, 1 person: $150

3 days, 1 person: $150

4 days, 1 person: $187.50

5 days, 1 person: $225

6 days, 1 person: $262.50

1 day, 2 people: $150

2 days, 2 people: $300

3 days, 2 people: $300

4 days, 2 people: $375

5 days, 2 people: $450

6 days, 12 people: $525

We’ll need to have a minimum of 20 people who have paid their deposits by September 30 for each weekend in order to have that weekend of the Agate Roundup happen. Right now we have 19 signed up to attend at least one day at the Walker Ranch. We’ve never had a problem getting to the number 20 and beyond, but there is plenty of room for everyone at the Walker Ranch.

The only other limit on the hunts is a maximum number of participants on the South Larremore Ranch. Each hunt will be limited to 20 participants.

You don’t need to send me deposits for the Ritchie Ranch, Singleton Ranch and the East Needle Peak rockhunts. However, you do need to let me know that you are coming on those hunts. If no one signs up for a hunt, I’ll cancel it, so I need to know that you are coming. The Singleton Ranch wants to be paid in CASH ONLY. It would be great if you had close to the exact change of $50 per person per day. The South Larremore Ranch and East Needle Peak can be paid with cash or a check. The Rollin Rock Club can be paid by check at the time of your field trip. I cannot accept credit cards for anything that has to do with rockhunting because our beloved federal government would consider that to be money laundering. There are several ATMs in Alpine that you can get cash from if you need to.

I hope to see a lot of you in October!