About Rimstones Rock Club Field Trips

Field Trips

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Please note: Club events including field trips, meetings, service activities, and our annual holiday party will be listed on the monthly Calendar page!

The sign says it all… Welcome to Rim Country. It is here that the Payson Rimstones call home. The surrounding area has an abundance of fossils – like corals, snails, clams, brachiopods, gastropods, sponges, crinoids, trace fossils, to name a few; minerals – including gem-worthy crystals in a variety of colors; and rocks – anyone like petrified wood or pretty agates?

Favorite Locations

Typically, the Club plans a couple of local Club rock-hounding trips each month, weather permitting. We also keep an eye out for trips sponsored by other clubs and locales that might be of interest to members. The Club has numerous local rock-hounding options – on the Rim searching for fossils, in the Payson area gathering geodes and brightly-colored agates for polishing, or seeking that perfect crystal at Diamond Point. For those who are willing to adventure a little further, you can find petrified wood, picture sandstone, peridot, copper ores, amethyst, Apache Tears, and more.

Petrified Wood Find

While there are quite a few dedicated field trippers who rarely miss an outing, in most months groups of about 5-20 form naturally around factors such as specific rocks and minerals native to the trip area, driving distance, the walking terrain, etc.

The following summaries are from field trips we have taken in the past year. We tend to vary the locations from year to year to keep everyone interested and the experiences fresh.

September 2023

9/2/2023 – East of Heber, AZ

Trip Leader: Rollo Pool

Enjoying Field Trip East of Heber

What a day it was – east of Heber, Arizona, chasing 200-million-year-old petrified wood trophies (which I have nicknamed “Heberwood”) under partly-cloudy skies and highs in the 70s. Along the forest roads we spied several herds of wild horses (who couldn’t drag us away).

We visited three sites, including two that were spanking brand-new as official club trips. (These are special sites that we will keep for our members-only until we find new ones and are willing to let them go.) Everyone got enough pet wood in 25-30 minutes at each site to satisfy. During the day, we also saw a lot of polished jaspers and a little sandstone at the latter sites.

"Heberwood"Some of the petrified wood was jasperized (red) and some was agatized. Most pieces had bark and rings and will make great shelf pieces or slabs ’n cabs. There were a few lunkers that made Larry Bagshaw drool and made the rest of us wish our backs were 25 yrs younger. About half of us visited the 3rd site – on narrow, brushy forest roads that were slow, rocky and bumpy, and did not have route markers.

We had four on their first Rimstones trip, including field-trip veteran Bill Freese and newbie Andrew Cipriano and his two boys. The boys never stopped smiling; they are hooked. Also, along on the trip were Lynne Wheeler, Peggy Randall, Barbara Harrison, Margaret Weaver, Larry and Becky Bagshaw, Alex Padilla, Anita Woller, Brad Lucek, Brianna and Rich Johnson, Valarie Finn and Ron McCollum and Chris and me.

Most pickers thought the trip was ranked a perfect “10” or higher (weather, roads, collection material, little dust, few vehicles, scenic beauty, camaraderie), but my final score was 9.85. What can I say? I grade hard and look at the Whole Picture.

In all, we had 11 vehicles (19 hounds). Might have been able to squeeze one more vehicle in at the second and third locations but would have been close. I don’t like to put limits on my trips, but we are getting some in the 25-30 range and that is a little hard to manage. Of course, parking is an issue and road conditions are an issue. We often can get passengers in low-clearance vehicles into higher-clearance vehicles. If you need to hitch a ride, I need to know your interest 24-48 hrs before trip day. As it turned out, there were open seats on this one.

It was a great day – no one got lost, hurt, or asked for their money back. If you missed the Heberwood Express, don’t panic; I plan to run the “train” there 1-2 more times this year. As my Brit pal Mick says, “Wild, wild horses, we’ll ride them someday.” Maybe Oct or Nov.

August 2023

8/17/2023 – Young Road AZ

Trip Leader: Rollo Pool

About a dozen Club members traveled to this forested Mogollon Rim spot – where we grabbed a half a dozen small trilobites (mostly found by Ron McCollum and Valarie Finn), some fossil plates and miscellaneous marine fossils. We saw more Zebra chert than you could shake a stick at (which is a lot.) The first location was one for any vehicle. Later, we piled into our high-clearance vehicles to travel down a semi-steep, bumpy, rocky road to the bottom of a ravine where we picked washes and the sides of the hills. More of the same, plus some hematite pieces, agates and a nice seam of calcite – mostly crystals of white, green and orange-gold, but not the Banded calcite found earlier in the year. I saw a lot of smiles – especially from our 4th grader Orion and granddad Eric Randau.

8/12/2023 – Colcord Road AZ

Trip Leader: Rollo Pool

On the 12th, the Club had planned to go to Roberts Mesa (agates, fossils and lava tubes). However, the weather forced a change of plans. Instead, about 30 Club members took Colcord Road to the Chamberlain Trail and, near Haigler Creek, stopped to sample the fossils and zebra chert. It wasn’t a minute before Valarie Finn said, “Is this a trilobite?” It was and it was a nice one. Also found were lots of other fossils (horned corals, bryozoans, brachiopods) and zebra cherts of varying sizes and color variations (white, gray, black and rust).

July 2023

7/27 & 7/29 2023 – Mogollon Rim Above Strawberry, AZ

Trip Leader: Rollo Pool

Group Picture from July 27th 2023 Field Trip

Group Picture July 27th 2023

Nearly 30 club members, family and guests participated on two delightful, easy trips during the last week in July for fossils and sandstones on the Rim above Strawberry. The finds included nice pieces of banded and colored sandstones and fossils that included sponges, brachiopods, burrows and a few Ivanovia (algae).

At the last spot, near the turn toward Camp Verde, we enjoyed more fossil hunting, our snacks, and beverages under the tall, pine forest – along with the comradery and conversations of new and seasoned rockhounds bragging about and showing their Best Rocks of the Day. During the lunch break, I even saw something from my childhood – a fluffernutter – and someone was eating it. I don’t want to spoil the culinary punch line or mystery of this New England “delicacy.” Google it. Several members had never been on a field trip with us. Good for them… it was great to have them join us.

June 2023

6/14/2023 – Forest Lakes, AZ

Trip Leader: Lynne Wheeler

As part of the Club’s Annual Picnic in the Forest Lakes area, members rock-hounded for Coconino Sandstone musket balls. The weather was great and the excitement was high as fifty-three members (and about eight canine buddies) attended this field trip. These interesting conglomerations form when the calcium in limestone, fine-grained quartz sand and water are in the right environment to “create” the classic marble-shaped formations. The picking location is accessible only because FR 99 was constructed through a region of the Coconino Sandstone layer which exposed the unique formation. As a result, everyone was able to find and take home their perfect specimen.

April 2023

4/14/2023 – Joseph City, AZ

Trip Leader: Rollo Pool

Sunny skies and “gentle” breezes met 17 Rimstone family members (and four well-mannered dogs) on our rock hunt near Joseph City. Our mission was to visit a couple new spots for our rock club – looking for various kinds of petrified woods and agates. Some of the petrified wood was dark – with reddish and brown hues and some with greens and yellows. Another site produced pieces that were black-and-white or white with sugary crystals. We also found some interesting selenite pieces that looked like flower blooms. Material ranged from tumbler- to yard-rock sizes.

March 2023

3/19/2023 – Holbrook, AZ
3/20/2023 –
 Whispering Pines, Diamond Point, AZ

Trip Leader: Rollo Pool

Arkansas Club Trip PhotosAlas, our frequently dry and sunny Arizona weather gave way to torrential downpours the same week our friends from the NW Arkansas Gem and Mineral Society joined the Payson Rimstones Rock Club for a 3-day rock hunting extravaganza.

On Sunday, March 19th, the rockhounders visited DoBell Ranch. Our two groups probably took a ton or more to homes in Payson, Phoenix and Arkansas. We split the afternoon into two trips. Some went to Woodruff Butte and found beautiful material. Most of us traveled to our usual club location in Joseph City and gathered black-and-white petrified wood, rounded agates, and a few nice, crystalized pieces of petrified wood.

On Monday, March 20th, the rains held off and members of both clubs scurried out to find geodes, fossils and quartz crystals. The group shot at the top shows everybody posed in front of the Petrified Wood gift shop in Holbrook, AZ.

Somebody found  an amazing fossil plate on Geode Hill!

At the bottom left is a photo of Petrified Wood arrayed for the picking at the side of the road.

And then the rains came in earnest.

Before leaving Payson, our intrepid source of beautiful rocks and helpful information, Lynne Wheeler, invited the ARK Club to hunt through her backyard “rock shop” for souvenirs of their long journey.

We hope to welcome our friends from the NW Arkansas Gem and Mineral Society again on some sunnier day in the future!

February 2023

2/4/2023 – Rye and Jakes Corner, AZ

Trip Leader: Rollo Pool

A nice red jasperPerennial favorite locations a mere half hour away from home for most Club members! Featuring primarily red jasper, as witnessed by Dick’s great find in Rye.

Nearby Jakes Corner also yielded red jasper plus a lovely variety of some additional colored rocks (quartz, quartzite, conglomerates, epidote and a few that could not be identified).Rye Cr - Jakes Corner Assortment

December 2022

12/17/2022 – Globe Trotting for Onyx

Trip Leader: Gila County Club with Rollo Pool

At the invitation of the Gila County Gem and Mineral Society, the Rimstones came with seven members to a site about 25 mi northeast of Globe. The pieces of onyx had bands of brown, black and white, with some having reddish and greenish streaks. There were small pieces for tumbling and for our education programs and larger pieces to make slabs and cabs. From the parking area along the forest road, it is a steep, short hike to the onyx ledges perched near the ridge of a nearby hill. There were good pieces on the ground and other pieces that could be chiseled from large onyx seams of unknown size. Everyone enjoyed the weather and rockhound fun.

November 2022

11/5/2022 – Superior and Tonto Basin

Trip Leader: Rollo Pool

Fifteen Rimstones members and two guests drove to Superior to look for Apache tears at the Imerys processing plant and quarry. It was a great weather day, plus plenty of sun and plenty of tears for everyone. Chris Pool says the Apache tear search here is like an Easter Egg hunt for adults. On the return to Payson, most of our club members stopped near Tonto Basin for selenite which is not common in our part of Arizona. The site proved to be an easy hunt, and everyone came home with pieces, large and small, of the soft Selenite.

11/12/2022 – Fossil Safari

Trip Leader: Rollo Pool

Fossils and Geodes Galore near Whispering Pines…
Two weekends in a row we scored great weather and great field trips for our Rimstones club. With members from our Club and the Gila County Club and guests, we travelled to the Whispering Pines area to fossil and geode locations. We twice crossed the East Verde River as yellow and brown leaves fell from the tall deciduous trees that hug the creek banks. The first location – a new site for our club – offered a fair selection of branch coral, colony coral, miscellaneous shells, lots of “Brain” rocks (geodes) and a few agates. Our second location needed 4WD and higher clearance to reach easily, so we packed our car and lower-clearance attendees into trucks and jeeps and used spotters (Chris and myself) to guide tires up rock steps to get on the forest route. This site was more plentiful than the first, and a few lucky folks got some nice fossil plates to take home.

11/14/2022 – Chilito Mine

Trip Leader: Rollo Pool with Gila County Club

It was an early get-up and a 2.5-hour drive to get to the Chiito Mine Rd north of Hayden, AZ; but those of us who went enjoyed the company of another club and another beautiful sunny Fall day. And, yes, lots of green and blue rocks. This was a joint trip with the Gila County Gem and Mineral Society. We had one destination on the 14th – the slopes along the Chilito Mine Rd near the former mine. The spur roads off the main road were 4WD, but our pickers found chrysocolla aplenty – some mixed with azurite and quartzes – along the main mine road.

October 2022

10/13/2022 – Gisela Rd and Rye

Trip Leader: Rollo Pool

What a gorgeous mid-October day to be out hunting rocks with our club – 17 of us in all for a short drive to Rye. Our first stop was along the Rye-Gisela Road. We walked up several washes along the route, searching for that elusive rock that has evaded our collections. There are many interesting washes along this route to check out later. An unplanned and second stop was the calcite location along Hwy 87, North of Rye. Here there is an area to pick near the highway, where cars can park, and a 4wd location about 1 mi further. The vehicles that made it up to the ridge found good samples of banded calcite – white, with black-gray band. Some had highlights of green or yellow. Most was laying on or near the ground level, while some needed a little coaxing with a pry bar. It was a very successful trip right in the Rimstones’ backyard.

September 2022

9/10/2022 – Dobell Ranch & Joseph City

Trip Leaders: Rollo Pool with Daisy Mtn Club

The Payson Rimstones made their annual trip to the Dobell Ranch. The Dobell’s are always pulling out new material from their property, so each trip brings new finds. This year the selection was huge – from tumbling sizes to 100# pieces. Many Club members like to work with Petrified Wood. One Club member bought two enormous pieces that needed 2-3 folks to lift into his truck. …And, of course, lunch was served by the Dobells. A second stop on this day was Joseph City, 7 miles West of Holbrook and just off I-40. Here we found a different kind of Petrified Wood (white and black and a few pieces with colors) and an assortment of rounded agates in various sizes and colors. These agates are great for tumblers, as mother nature has done the first step for us. Trip leader Rollo Pool says that when he gets close to Winslow, Holbrook or even Show Low, his jeep or car knows to head to Dobell and Joseph City. He hopes to do more exploratory work in this area in the next six months.

9/24/2022 – Sharp Creek & Colcord Road

Trip Leaders: Rollo Pool with White Mtn Club

There was a good turnout of Rimstoners who rendezvoused with the Show Low Club near Sharp Creek. All were ready to search for zebra-striped jasper, several types of agates and numerous fossils. A caravan of vehicles trekked up the mountain sloshing through running water and straddling boulders to the first location on Christopher Mountain. Everyone spread out looking for jaspers and agates and some found fossils, including corals and sponges. At the 2nd location off Colcord Road, rockhounds were looking for fossils. A plethora of different fossils were littered all over the forest floor. At the end of the day, everyone was able to fill their buckets with plenty of rocks and fossils.

Photos and field trip stories on this page thanks to Rimstones Rock Club members