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.

July 2024

7/17/2024 – Mingus Mountain, AZ

Trip Leader: Bill Freese

In July, a small group of members visited the Mingus Mountain area to look for red and black banded jasper and hematite. Cool weather and sunny skies made for a great day of rockhounding. Rocks, large and small, littered the forest floor. Everyone found something – either for lapidary use or just for yard rocks.

June 2024

6/29/2024 – Forest Lakes, AZ

Trip Leader: Rollo Pool

The last rock hunt for the month of June was to Forest Lakes for sandstone – a joint trip with the White Mountain Gem and Mineral Club. This is the fourth trip for our club to these abandoned quarries in the last year (the 2nd in 30 days) and the first for the White Mountain club. The groups found plenty of banded, striped sandstones and a few pieces that had artistic waves and swirls. Fossilized sponges and brachiopods also are found there.

6/22/2024 – Young Road, AZ

Trip Leader: Rollo Pool

June saw us return (for the third year in a row) to a spur off the Young Rd – with 25 Rimstones members. This is one of those sites that has something for any rockhound: marine fossils, zebra chert, agates and some banded calcite. Several members found hematite, jasper, and fossils like trilobites, bryozoans and others – including some large fossil plates. It was a special day for one of our elders, Larry Bagshaw, who celebrated his 75th birthday with us. It was also a special day for member Rick Olson who encountered, without incident, a mother bear and two cubs.

May 2024

5/31/2024 – Peridot, AZ

Trip Leader: Rollo Pool

Close-up of Peridot Crystals

Our last May trip was unscheduled and last-minute and occurred on May 31st to Peridot, AZ, and then to Peridot Mesa, looking for (guess what?) the green gemstone called Peridot. This trip, within the San Carlos Indian Reservation, was the first trip here in more than 2 years. The Tribal owner and quarry permittee led us to this magical mesa – which is ranked as the highest producing peridot region in the world.

5/28/2024 – Forest Lakes, AZ

Trip Leader: Rollo Pool

Sandstone Day was the Tuesday after Memorial Day as 14 of us headed to Forest Lakes to gather red- and yellow-banded sandstone of varying sizes – under a special-use USFS permit. Some were collecting for educational programs, some for home-landscaping projects and some just because they could. It was another beautiful day in the cool pines. A bonus at this location is fossilized sponges in gray chert and a few brachiopods.

5/15/2024 – Christopher Creek, AZ

Trip Leader: Rollo Pool

The Club tried a new location just west of Christopher Creek on May 15th, hunting fossils and agates at two locations. The majority of the group (20+) spent their time in the lower section of the road – with bountiful results. Four vehicles took the 4wd road to a mine pit to look for Pennsylvanian-aged fossils embedded in a coal layer. In the hour we had at the second spot, our results proved to be fair. Hats off to member Tim Erhardt who hiked the 2.1 miles to the mine and back.

5/9/2024 – Parks, AZ

Trip Leader: Rollo Pool

On a sunny, cool May 9th, fifteen Rimstones members drove 2+ hours to collect obsidian near Parks, AZ, at a longtime club-picking site. Joining us was new member Shelly Duran – who easily caught on to obsidian hunting. We climbed the lower reaches of Government Hill – finding some mahogany and banded obsidian, but most was jet black. In the afternoon, Polly Haessig and I explored a few additional sites – locating a new spot for our club next time.

April 2024

4/27-29/2024 – Apache Creek and Reserve, NM

Trip Leader: Rollo Pool

Our first overnight trip of the year (Apr 27-28) took us to Apache Creek, NM and nearby areas (Luna, Reserve and Alpine) to hunt banded agates of various colors, geodes, jaspers and miscellaneous rocks. This was a big group, 28 Rimstones members driving from Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, as well as several locations in Arizona, and flying in from MN and FL. There were four members who had not been on field trips with us. And we are not telling where we saw a 200+ pound agate that remains in NM. After the two-day NM hunt where we dodged snow flurries and rain, several Payson and Show Low members joined us on Mon Apr 29 – in Springville, AZ – for a visit to a dino museum with expert and owner Doug Wolfe. Later, under perfect sunny weather, Doug took us on a field trip to see shark teeth and petroglyphs along the Little Colorado River. Both trips will not likely be forgotten.

4/17/2024 – Camp Verde, AZ

Trip Leader: Rollo Pool

On Apr 17, our club, along with members of the Daisy Mountain Club, headed to Camp Verde and the site of the Lost Onyx Mine where no mine structures remain. This was a hike, about 6/10 of mile down a ravine, up to the mine, and return. The reward for the effort paid off – with swirly, banded pieces of onyx-travertine, some with dendrites, that look divine when cut. It was a hot day, and no one wanted to make a second trek for more. We will save that for another day. In all, we had a group of about 30 rockhounds, including 10 from the Rimstones.

4/13/2024 – Sycamore & Slate Creeks, AZ

Trip Leader: Rollo Pool

Our first April trip that took us to Mt Ord/Upper Sycamore Creek and then to Slate Creek was a success. We had 20 Rimstones rockhounds, including 8 members on their first field trip. We picked in Upper Sycamore Creek and along its banks – looking for jaspers big and small, quartzes, conglomerates and quartzites. In the afternoon, on the way back to Payson, we paused along slate creek, near the Mt Ord Mine, for green, red and gray slates. One new member found a nice chrysocolla – azurite piece in Slate Creek.

March 2024

3/6/2024 – Cave Creek/Seven Springs, AZ

Trip Leader: Rollo Pool

Mike Morrow Onyx Souvenit

Mike Morrow Onyx Souvenir

Fifteen Rimstones Rockhounds rendezvoused northeast of Cave Creek, AZ on Wed March 6th for a morning and afternoon gathering onyx that ranged from tumbling size to several pounds. The weatherman cooperated with warm temps, overcast skies and little wind until the afternoon when it was time to depart. Everyone came away with great banded onyx souvenirs – and a little bonus of small chrysocolla pieces. We picked in the hills and washes near an old, abandoned onyx quarry – which, for years, has been a favorite field trip location for many clubs. After the Rimstone picking was done, most of the group enjoyed a picnic lunch together.

3/2/2024 – LGF Museum, Phoenix

Trip Leader: Rollo Pool

Over 30 Rimstones members went to the private museum of the LGF Foundation in Scottsdale on Sat March 2nd and met with owner Michael Fleeman to see his amazing displays of meteorites, petrified wood, specimens, fossils and artifacts. Michael told about his plans for a huge natural history museum in Phoenix, and he relayed stories behind many of his specimens. Since last May, more than 55 club members have visited this up-close-and personal museum.

February 2024

2/21/2024 – Hewitt Canyon, AZ

Trip Leader: Rollo Pool

This was a joint hunt with the Daisy Mountain rock club for marble. In all, nearly 40 rockhounds got striped marble souvenirs from washes and hillsides. This trip was worth it – just for the scenic eye candy.

January 2024

1/27/2024 – Camp Verde, AZ

Trip Leader: Rollo Pool

On Sat Jan 27, Johann Glauber was smiling down on the two dozen of us as we combed two areas near the closed Salt Mines, scrambling for interesting-shaped minerals called glauberites, or more technically correct, Pseudomorph Glauberites. The weather was perfect – 65 degrees, sunny, no wind… and plenty of material to take home. We had two new members on their inaugural trip and a couple of very interested kids (ages 4-6) who were expert glauberite hunters by the day’s end. A few of our mountain goats hiked the soft soil to the top of the mountain behind the mine to find some beautiful glauberite pseudomorphs with clear to gray selenite crystals.

1/21/2024 – Dobell Ranch, AZ

Trip Leader: Rollo Pool

This pay-to-collect site, SE of Holbrook, always pleases us rockhounds. Rhonda and her crew pulled some amazing beauties from their underground hiding places and placed them around her yard for our pickers. Our group was part of a coalition of members from several clubs, led by Bill Freese. If you missed this trip, don’t worry. We will have a couple more chances to visit this year.

October 2023

10/3/2023 – Wild, Windy Weekend of Field Trips

Trip Leader: Rollo Pool

Holbrook FindWe closed September and launched October on wild, windy weekend of field trips, including 4 locations and 6 stops in Holbrook and Snowflake. Nine Four Corners’s rock club members (from Colo, NM and KS) traveled to Arizona for a Petrified Wood Safari led by the Payson Rimstones Rock Club –which brought two dozen members from Tucson, Sedona, Forest Lakes, Phoenix as well as Payson.

The Holbrook area is one of those Western-US expanses where the parched, scenic grandeur surpasses the beauty of the rocks collected. Well, almost – that is probably a bit too poetic. We really love our varieties of fossilized woods. Members also found rounded agates (capable of taking a fine polish) and a few marine fossils.

We had 27 on field trips on Saturday, 38 to Dobell Ranch for petrified wood and 30 to Triassic Park. At one point we had a motorcade of 18 vehicles – and no one got lost. One member of the Four Corners club drove 11 hrs from Kansas. He liked what the Rimstones do so much that he joined our club, too. During the two days on BLM land, the rockhounds only saw a couple of other vehicles near collecting sites and none were looking for rocks.

An add-on trip to “Triassic Park,” near Snowflake, AZ, was the trip finale. Here, members saw recently unearthed pre-dinosaur footprints at a private ranch. A second trek is planned on Tues Oct 17th to James Lang’s Triassic Park where he explains how he found these prints and shows the small quarry where he extracted them.

Members of the two cordial rock clubs exchanged information about rock collecting sites and gave out contact details – with hints of joint trips to the Four Corners area, New Mexico or closer to Payson, AZ.

September 2023

9/23/2023 – Cross-Town Yard Rock Giveaway, Payson

Trip Leader: Rollo Pool

Free rocks to a rock club and located a few feet from a paved street. That was a no-brainer for the two dozen of us who showed up that September Saturday – including several brand-new members. Rocks were donated by Betty and Gordon Kennedy (long time Rimstones members) through new homeowner, Charlene Creech. To new Payson homes went sandstones, flagstones, jaspers, obsidian, chalcedony and more yard and other rocks than you could shake a stick at. Several crews led by Lynne Wheeler preceded the event and sorted rocks by size and type. Member, John Metzer, moved a couple tons of rock from the back yard to a spot near the street – using a wheelbarrow and muscle.

9/2/2023 – East of Heber, AZ

Trip Leader: Rollo Pool

Enjoying Field Trip East of Heber

From Payson to Heber, the Heberwood Express once again chugged back to our Pet-wood club location (with an extension) and to two new sites (Summer 2023). Lots of smiles from happy hunters (including four on their inaugural rock hunt with Rimstones). All found petrified woods of various shapes, sizes and colors. Two of the sites will remain for-our-Rimstones-members’-eyes-only – meaning not shared with other clubs.

"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 some members 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.

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.

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).

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