A fellow member and I are thinking of heading to NM this summer to do a little(a lot) of rock hounding. I was trying to make some plans and was wondering if you might be able to give us some ideas about where we might hunt for turquoise? It is not the only thing we will be looking for, so if you have any other "spots" you can recommend? I have the book "Rockhounding New Mexico" but thought you might be able to give us some other ideas. Any information you can give would be greatly appreciated.
Club President Kyle Meredith wrote the following response, that we thought may be of interest to our other readers. Following Kyle's response are some photos of the area around Old Hachita.
First I should mention that most of the famous NM turquoise locations are not accessible to the public because they are under claim or owned by big mining companies. In our area that includes the Santa Rita/Chino and Tyrone turquoise.
Where we go is usually to Hachita down in the bootheel. The roads off the pavement require high clearance at the least and may require 4WD in spots. There are no services there, so be sure you fill up your gas tank before heading off Interstate-10, and have LOTS OF WATER. Another caution is that in the summer this place is VERY HOT and may not be suitable for rockhounding. And of course wherever you go in NM you must be vigilant for rattlesnakes. This is not an idle warning—we have seen them almost every place we have gone.
I should also mention that this area is near the border and you are likely to encounter the Border Patrol. (Less likely to encounter illegals, but possible.) I would also recommend that you have maps, whether GPS or topo atlas. A little internet research would be helpful.
There is a mine that may or may not be under claim called the Apache mine, but you can hunt in the arroyo below the mine. Unfortunately a lot of what LOOKS like turquoise is actually chrysocolla and other copper minerals, but they can be just as beautiful if you find a nice piece. There are other minerals like pyrite and calcite crystals there. To get there you go south from Hachita on hwy 81 four miles then turn left onto a dirt track for a mile then turn right for about 1 mile, then veer left at the fork for another 1/2 mile. The road to the mine is on the left across the arroyo. The pieces you find are usually quite small (fingernail size) and often in pebbles with other minerals.
The other place is Old Hachita where there are abundant dumps to search with varying results. It would be hard for me to send you to a specific location, and there are a number of roads going in all directions, but it is a fun place to explore. You head west on hwy 9 from hwy 146 in Hachita for 4.5 miles then turn off the pavement through a gate. The ghost town of Old Hachita is about 2 miles down the road, and very interesting to hike around. (It is illegal to collect historic artifacts from the site.) I recommend having a map in hand as you explore the area. The turquoise you find here is usually very soft and requires stabilization with something like sodium silicate (waterglass) or Opticon. Turquoise mountain is beyond the town, but searching the smaller dumps in the arroyo past the ruins can be productive.
I don’t have any information regarding turquoise sites in other parts of NM, such as Cerrillos near Santa Fe.
If you have any questions, I’ll try to answer them for you. Good luck.
Kyle Meredith-president, Grant County Rolling Stones Gem and Mineral Society.