Magazine article

The Background on my Third Rock&Gem Article

Today I received my writers’ copies of Rock&Gem’s August, 2016 issue (external link). It details my trip to Garnet Hill, Nevada. Garnet Hill is just outside Ely (pronounced EEE-LEE), some 240 miles north of Las Vegas. The collecting site has been scavenged for over a hundred years and is still producing. At least for most folks.

While I didn’t have much luck finding garnets, I did enjoy my trip. Ely is a brave, isolated town with much to see. There’s a world class railroad museum and Great Basin National Park is only an hour away.

Look for the full 2,800 word article at a large bookstore near you. Barnes&Noble should have it soon. Here’s the opening:

References to Nevada’s Garnet Hill kept popping up whenever I scoured my rock and gem guides. It’s just outside Ely, in the central far-east of the state. The site seemed promising by its very name. Gold prospectors have a saying: “Find gold where it has been found before.” That should apply, too, to any gem or mineral. A closer look at my books revealed Garnet Hill to be a century old collecting site. The garnets might be dark and small but they were there. I was planning a trip from Las Vegas to Sacramento in late April. Making no sense at all, I decided to take a huge detour to Ely and then on to California. 562 miles’ worth of detour.

As a disclaimer, I should say that I found little on Garnet Hill. It is a better side trip and not an end destination if you don’t have at least half a day to look. But I did gain some important insights that should help you on your visit. This trip reminded me of my gold seeking adventures. I might get skunked but I also might find antlers. No gold but perhaps the sight of a soaring Bald Eagle. On the drive out of Ely I saw my first antelope. That’s worth something to me. Perhaps to you, too. . . 


Always nice to see a nice layout.


Garnets are dear to Ely’s heart.


View from the hill. I went in late April when it was still snowing lightly mixed with rain. Gigantic copper mines in the distance. These copper mines are close to the city of Ruth. In unadjusted dollars, copper has produced more money here than Nevada’s silver and gold Comstock strike.


This soft pink rhyolite contains the garnets. You have to look long and carefully to find them. Professional ecologist Jim Boone identified the lizard. “Your new friend is a Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis), or using the subspecies name: Great Basin Fence Lizard (S. o. longipes). They are also commonly called ‘Blue Bellies.'” Jim’s fascinating website is here (external link).


What you are looking for. This garnet has been separated from the rhyolite matrix.


Sturdy picnic tables. Good tent or small RV camping. No water or facilities on the hill. This is BLM land in Nevada, which generally means camp where you want.

By thomasfarley01

Business writer and graphic arts gadfly.

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