Lolo Pass Smoky Quartz, Idaho/Montana Collecting


About: This area is one of the most beautiful that one could ask to collect in with the scenic views and superb smoky quartz crystals. Very large specimens have been recovered in the Granite Creek basin and especially on the ridge. The old Granite Ridge Road follows the ridge from the Montana/Idaho border down to Lolo Hot Springs. It is gated partway up if you approach from Lolo Hot Springs.

There are plenty of public lands on which to explore and there are also private claims which should be respected. It is not necessarily an easy dig but in my two times visiting the most disturbing part is the total lack of assistance by the USFS. Both in Missoula and Lolo Pass all parties were less than helpful and in fact I wouldnt even mention that you are looking for crystals. Just buy the map for the general area which has some of the forest service roads - atleast the ones you will need. The best approach is from the Idaho side down to Granite Creek. You might also try the road down Crooked Creek in Idaho. I found some small white phantom quartz in some of the diggings there.

Remember if you dig a hole fill it back in again. You will understand if you make it to the main collecting area along Granite Ridge. All of the popular rockhound collecting books also have much to be desired since none of them even show you how to get to any of the classic local collecting areas.

Directions: As a service to fellow collectors I have created a detailed downloadable map in PDF format. To get a detailed map of the collecting area click here.



Here are some pictures of the area with some of the key points mentioned on the map.
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Quartz Crystal

Quartz Crystal

Quartz Crystal

Quartz Crystal

Quartz Crystal/Feldspar



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