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.

Big Bend Agate Roundup Scheduled for October 19 – November 2, 2015

Hi Y’all! I’ve finally gotten a calendar together for all the Walker Ranch hunts in October, and the hunts to the Ritchie Ranch, South Larremore Ranch, the Singleton Ranch and East Needle Peak that go on around them. The schedule is below. Note that all of the field trips begin at the Antelope Lodge, 2310 W. Highway 90, Alpine.
I’ve decided that these events need a name, so I’m going to start calling them Big Bend Agate Roundups. These will be the two-week-long events that go on in April and October each year.
This Fall’s Agate Roundup begins on Monday, October 19, and runs for a total of 15 days straight. I will probably have some help this year in the form of Jean and Brian Larremore, who may do the South Larremore Ranch hunts without me if I get too tired.
There are no changes from last spring as far as cost goes. The price for the Walker Ranch is still the same: $75 per person per day, or $150 per person for 3 days. The fourth and fifth days are $37.50 each. The Singleton Ranch is $50 per person per day, East Needle Peak is $40 per person per day, and the Ritchie Ranch is $10 per person per day plus $1 per lb. of agate you take. The cost of the South Larremore Ranch varies depending upon who is leading the trip: If I am, it’s $40 per person per day, and if one of the Larremores leads the trip, it’s $50 per person per day.
Also, remember that Rollin’ Rock Club membership is required for all of my rockhunts, and it costs $10 single/$16 dual. If you haven’t joined yet this year, your dues will pay for the rest of 2015 and for the 2016 calendar year.
I believe that Bryan Crumpton will offer the usual “pay in full and get an extra day free” deal for the Walker Ranch hunt, but I haven’t gotten the details for that yet. I will verify that before I ask you to send me any money for the Walker Ranch hunt.
Monday, October 19: Ritchie Ranch. Start time 11:00 a.m.
Tuesday October 20: South Larremore Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Wednesday, October 21: Walker Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Thursday, October 22: Walker Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Friday, October 23: Walker Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Saturday, October 24: Walker Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Sunday, October 25: Walker Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Monday, October 26: Walker Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Tuesday October 27: South Larremore Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Wednesday, October 28: East Needle Peak. Start time 6:00 a.m.
Thursday, October 29: Singleton Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Friday, October 30: Singleton Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Saturday, October 31: Singleton Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Sunday, November 1: Singleton Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Monday, November 2: South Larremore Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
I’ll send another email today concerning the schedule of Singleton Ranch, East Needle Peak and South Larremore Ranch hunts this Fall.
Please let me know by return email which rockhunts you’d like to attend, so I can start putting together a sign-up list.
Regards,
Teri

Ritchie Ranch Rockhunt for tomorrow CANCELLED. All other hunts are still HAPPENING AS PLANNED

Hi Y’all!

When I said the last email was my last before rockhunts started, I was being overly optimistic.  Maybe this will be the last email before the hunts start…

No one has signed up for the Ritchie Ranch rockhunt scheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday 10/8, so that rockhunt has been cancelled.

All of the other rockhunts in the series are still happening as planned.  If you’ve forgotten the schedule, here it is:

Thursday, 10/9 Singleton Ranch.  Meet at 8 a.m. $50/person, cash only
Friday, 10/10 Singleton Ranch.  Meet at 8 a.m. $50/person, cash only
Saturday, 10/11 Singleton Ranch.  Meet at 8 a.m. $50/person, cash only
Sunday, 10/12 Singleton Ranch.  Meet at 8 a.m. $50/person, cash only
Monday, 10/13 Teri’s Day Off.  Or, if anyone wants to go to the Ritchie Ranch, we can do a hunt there.  Let me know at least a day in advance!
Tuesday, 10/14 East Needle Peak.  Meet me at 6 a.m.  NOTE EARLY TIME $40/person, cash or check
Wednesday, 10/15 Singleton Ranch.  Meet at 8 a.m. $50/person, cash only
Thursday, 10/16 Walker Ranch.  Meet at 8 a.m. $75/person, some discounts apply.  cash or check
Friday, 10/17 Walker Ranch.  Meet at 8 a.m. $75/person, some discounts apply.  cash or check
Saturday, 10/18 Walker Ranch.  Meet at 8 a.m. $75/person, some discounts apply.  cash or check
Sunday, 10/19 Walker Ranch.  Meet at 8 a.m. $75/person, some discounts apply.  cash or check
Monday, 10/20 Walker Ranch.  Meet at 8 a.m. $75/person, some discounts apply.  cash or check
Tuesday, 10/21 Singleton Ranch.  Meet at 8 a.m. $50/person, cash only
Wednesday, 10/22 Teri’s Day Off.  Or, if anyone wants to go to the Ritchie Ranch, we can do a hunt there.  Let me know at least a day in advance!
Thursday, 10/23 Walker Ranch.  Meet at 8 a.m. $75/person, some discounts apply.  cash or check
Friday, 10/24 Walker Ranch.  Meet at 8 a.m. $75/person, some discounts apply.  cash or check
Saturday, 10/25 Walker Ranch.  Meet at 8 a.m. $75/person, some discounts apply.  cash or check
Sunday, 10/26 Walker Ranch.  Meet at 8 a.m. $75/person, some discounts apply.  cash or check
Monday, 10/27 Walker Ranch.  Meet at 8 a.m. $75/person, some discounts apply.  cash or check
Tuesday, 10/28 Singleton.  Meet at 8 a.m. $50/person, cash only
Wednesday, 10/29 Singleton.  Meet at 8 a.m. $50/person, cash only
Thursday, 10/30 East Needle Peak.  Meet at 6 a.m. NOTE EARLY TIME  $40/person, cash or check

All rockhunts begin at the Antelope Lodge, 2310 W. Highway 90, Alpine.

If you decide at the last minute you want to attend, email me at agatehunter@sbcglobal.net, or call me at (432) 386-3431.  There are no maximums on these field trips.  The smallest hunting location is a full 640 acre section (a full square mile), and the largest is 10 sections.  So there’s room for you if you want to come.  If you call me, you’ll probably get my voice mail, because I’ll be out hunting rocks!  But leave me a message and I’ll get back to you.

Regards,
Teri