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September 20, 2017

Colorado Gem prospecting

by oakley711

Colorado Gem prospecting

We met a fellow prospector last year at a gem show, who offered us a chance to go dig on his undisclosed crystal claim. (Due to a rash of “High-graders” and irresponsible hikers) We happily exchanged our time and labor to get his spot, “Up to snuff.” in time for the opening of this season and, for a chance to dig in one of his harder to reach digs. He said the digs were sweet but on the far corner of his claim, and only Smokey’s and Fluorite were there….What we find surprises us all.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

There are seven major collecting areas within the Pikes Peak granite. All of the collecting areas have the same basic assemblage minerals, predominately consisting of smoky quartz crystals and amazonite, with topaz, phenakite and other rarer minerals in certain areas. Although most collecting areas have this same basic assortment of minerals, each area is distinctive and tends to feature certain minerals over others.

Microcline feldspar variety amazonite with smoky quartz from Two Point Claim, Teller County

The collecting area, starting from the southern-most localities, include:

Colorado Gem prospecting

Gold Camp Road

The Gold Camp Road is old railroad grade that runs from Colorado Springs to Cripple Creek. It was one of the three railroads that served the Cripple Creek Mining District at the turn of the 20th Century. It can be reached from Colorado Springs by driving up North Cheyenne Cañon.

The collecting areas start around Helen Hunt Falls and extend south to St. Peter’s Dome and to the North as far as the High Drive. In addition to the typical smoky quartz crystals and amazonite, the Gold Camp Road area contains several minerals that are relatively rare in other parts of region. The area has an abundance of fluorine minerals such as fluorite and more rare minerals such as cryolite, bastnäsite and tysonite. Several localities contain the rare amphibole riebeckite and the even more rare mineral astrophyllite. Finally, there are several locations where large and colorful crystals of zircon can be found.

Crystal Park

To the north is Crystal Park. Crystal Park is situated on the eastern slope of Camerons Cone, a 10,700-foot (3,300 m) conical peak southeast of the summit of Pikes Peak. Just to the east of Camerons Cone, the mountains form a protected, bowl-shaped valley called Crystal Park. It can be reached by a well maintained automobile road from Manitou Springs and by several trails from the southeast and east. Currently much of the park is a private home development. The collecting area ranges from the Northern slopes of Camerons Cone to Specimen Rock on the south. Much of this area is National Forest.

Like all the other Pikes Peak collecting areas, Crystal Park contains the usual smoky quartz and amazonite crystals. In addition, topaz is more abundant here than in the Gold Camp road area.



Colorado Gem prospecting

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