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  • Cindy Morris joined the group Group logo of Vacation ExplorersVacation Explorers 2 years, 1 month ago

    2 years, 1 month ago
    2 years, 1 month ago
    • Remember that vertebrate fossils are illegal to collect from public lands. Your best bet is to get the Rockhounding Montana book (most recent edition I think is 2018 or19), and a good map. I like the Benchmark maps, which were recommended to me by someone at a Montana BLM office as what they use. Off the top of my head there’s not much around Bozeman, or not much that could be collected without 4×4 and high clearance. There are rockhounding guides for most areas, so if you are road-tripping they might help plan routes.

    • Thanks! Is that the book by Montana Hodges? We have the most recent edition and have been working our plans off that. I am glad to hear from someone who is familiar with it. Thanks for the tip on BLM — We will contact them.

      Would you recommend somewhere other than Bozeman for a base? We are flying into Bozeman but have not yet finalized where we will spend the week. Thanks! Sorry to keep asking questions but I am a big believer in preparation.

    • Yes, that’s the book. It’s not led me astray yet and I’ve visited most of the sites that don’t require a serious rig. I camp when I’m out so that really colors what I can suggest. It also depends on what you are looking for and who you are with.
      The Crystal Lake (site 74 in the book) fossils are easy to find and can be nice, the camping is good and not overly busy (at least on weekdays). It can be chilly at night though. Judith peak is can’t lose for those crystals and just a short bit away. There’s a free campground run by the Kiwanis or similar on the West side of Lewiston, plus inexpensive motels in town (I stay on the East side of town generally, but I go low-budget). The ghost town of Maiden is right there also, and has some old mining tailings that you might be able to pick through for fluorite and other crystals.

      If you head West the Virginia City/Alder/Dillon area has a bunch of easy kid friendly stops, all listed in the book. Ruby Reservoir and Crystal park are no-fail, and there’s camping by Crystal park or you can stay at the Elkhorn Hot Springs in a cabin or room above the lodge (not sure how that is open). The rooms are weird and divey, but I’ve stayed there many times. I take bear spray with me to crystal park, it’s usually peopled enough not to be a problem, but I got to hang out with a mom and her cubs a couple of years back when I was there before the crowds (like 8am on a Tuesday).

      Anywhere you can access the yellowstone river is a good place to look for agates and petrified wood. I was going through some old stuff recently and found chunks of bone I thought at the time were wood (oops). I was collecting near Billings for the most part at that time.

      Wherever you go, have a map. You can’t rely on your phone for GPS as much as you might like. I accidentally took the scenic route getting out of Crystal Lake, the gravel roads leading up aren’t well marked. Pay attention to the weather and the roads you are traveling, most of the West part of the state is OK if it’s wet, but some roads just turn to slime and it doesn’t matter how good your vehicle is (plus you’ll tear up the road and piss off the locals). Sorry if any of this sounds patronizing, I don’t know your background and it’s been a learning curve for me as a city girl 🙂

    • Thank you so much Corrine!!!! I really appreciate you taking the time to give me so much information. No matter how much one reads, there is no substitute for the experience of someone who has been there. Thanks again!!!

    • You are welcome. I’m happy to share if you have more questions. Send me a message as I’m not getting notifications on this thread. I plan to be out in the wilderness soon but will respond if I can. Montana is a great place to explore and I hope you have a great time!