While many Idahoans are spending free time hanging out at state lakes and rivers seeking solace from the extreme heat, others are lugging water canisters and packs of tools throughout the southern portion of the state trying to unearth rare stones. The southwestern region of Idaho is known as one of the best areas for rock hunting.

Southern Idaho is rich in precious and nonprecious stones. Garnet, jasper, amethyst, and a good number of other rocks, crystals, and minerals are scattered throughout the desert, lava beds, and buttes that are just a short drive from the Magic Valley. Opals are one of the most expensive stones that collectors sell at gem shows, and for good reason. The opal is a dazzling, colorful result of the combination of cooling temperatures, water, and silicon dioxide.

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Squaw Butte can be located approximately 160 miles northwest of Twin Falls, and is at an elevation of just under 7,000 feet in the mountains north of Boise near Emmett. Dried lava beds, biking trails, and impressive lookouts dot this portion of the Gem State. The beds surrounding the butte are said to be littered with beautiful fire opals just waiting to be dug up.

Remember when rockhounding to never enter private land, and areas known to possess Native American artifacts are off limits for those that enjoy the hobby. Bring plenty of water when visiting Squaw Butte, as the area is very dry and shade is in short supply.

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