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(19 April 2014)  My name is Tim Bondy and the owner of this website.  As of Jan 1st, 2014 we moved to a different domain.  Please head over to the Bondy Blogs Website at  Different address, different system but same type of great articles, photos, stories and information. 

You are here: Mtn Home Outdoor Not so local Outdoor News Montana's Calvert Hill Mines Rock Hounding

Montana's Calvert Hill Mines Rock Hounding

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This is our trip report from day two of our vacation in the Melrose, Montana and Pioneer Mountain area. Calvert Hill Mine rock hounding was our goal for Tuesday July 20th, 2010.

Bryant Creek Road to Calvert Mines in Montana
Dirt road and view from Bryant Creek Road on the way to Calver Hill Mines

After a good nights sleep at the Sportsman Motel in Melrose, Montana we headed up Interstate 15 and west on Highway 43 past the small town of Wise River. About five miles past Wise River and just before Dickie Bridge, we made a left on Bryant Creek Road. We unloaded our Arctic Cat ATV near a small camp ground right off the highway.

Getting to the Mine
Coordinates of Turn off Highway 43: 45.850049, -113.068342
Bryant Creek Road is a dirt/gravel road that gradually climbs and heads west into the Pioneer Mountains. The scenery is the typical excellent Montana stuff with plenty of pine trees and steep hillsides. The road is rather rough in places and the higher you go the more rutted it gets. Still, the road is something most cars could handle. Approximately 6 miles from where we turned off Highway 43 we entered the flats that mark the Calvert Mine area and its many tailing piles.

The Mine Area
Coordinates: Big Pond Area - 45.847303, -113.154007 and Little Pond Area - 45.848965, -113.153672
As you travel the dirt road through the mine area you'll start heading north. The mine tailings on the left once you see a large blue pond is a good place to find some very cool rocks and some small green crystals embedded in bigger rocks. There are mine tailing all around this flat area. We only explored a few places so you might have better luck searching further off the beaten path. If you go past the lake you'll come to a dead end spur road containing a large horseshoe shape mine tailing area. I've read that during the wet season, there is a small pond in the deep depression in the area. On July 20th, 2010 it contained only a large puddle. The rocks in the "little pond" area are quite amazing and somewhat different than near and around the "big pond" area. Overall, you'll likely not find any rocks or gems that will make you rich. But some of the rocks will knock your socks off for their beauty and coolness.

Big Pond at Calvert Hill Mine in Montana

The Big Pod
I heard the "big pond" is quite deep and has some nice sized trout in it. The two times we have been up to Calvert, I've checked out this pond and never seen a fish in it. The water is crystal clear and has a very cool blue/green coloring. I know the rock hounding in this area can become all consuming if you let it but take some time to really check out the big's quite stunning. Rumor has it parts of the pond are over 200 feet deep.

What We Found
We spent about 3 hours digging through the mine tailings and came out with about 35-40 pounds of cool rocks. I'd say 97% of them will end up in our garden while the coolest rocks will end up on display somewhere in our house.

Red Calcite of Montana's Pioneer Mountains
Is this red calcite?  I don't know

More Hounding and Some Sightseeing
We decided to head west out of the mine on Calvert Loop Road to see if some other tailings could be found. The road was the same rough and rocky dirt road winding through some magnificent scenery. There is a large meadow about one mile past the mine area that is quite scenic and is a must see if you have the time. In one road cut we found some type of blood red crystallized rock we think is calcite? But for the most part we didn't find anything else exciting.

Other Things You Might Want to Know
The deer flies and mosquitoes were horrible on this day. I have the welts and bite marks to prove it. We were in this same spot on June 1st, 2010 and the biting bugs were non-existent. My advice is to try rock hounding early or late in season. While it may be unusual for this area, this day was also quite sweaty and hot even at the 7,100 foot elevation of the mine area. Maybe another reason to come in the spring or fall. Crowds at the Calvert Mines? We had the entire area to ourselves on this Tuesday rock hounding trip. I think one truck was headed up the road when we left. But there are stories of this place becoming somewhat crowded.

Check Back
The rocks we found on this trip are soaking in water and soap. In the coming week or so I should have time to take some pictures of the wonderful things we found at Calvert Mines. Sometimes knowing what the rocks look like before cleaning or polishing makes rock hounding easier. But to full appreciate what we found, getting the dirt off may be the only way to photograph our specimens. Come on back in early August 2010 and some pictures should be posted by then.

Link to a few more photos of our Calvert Mine trip:

Thanks for visiting and commenting on this Montana outdoor rock hounding adventure.

Tim Bondy
The Bondyweb.Com author

Comments (8)
  • Mark Kirkpatrick  - Calvert Loop

    When you went there, you clearly looked around to the point on the left side of the pond. I recognise much from the pics you posted. I know the little pond area asa well as I found a lot of epidote at the top of the hill face. Did you go to any other areas there? There is not a follow up on the site unless I just can't see it. I am going to return there in Sept and wonder what else you found that was cool.

  • Tim Starns  - Calvert loop Rockhounding

    We're going there this spring. Thanks for the info, and how did your pickings turn out. ? I'd like to see some pictures. Especially if you found any aquamarine. drop me a line please.

  • Joshua Messenger  - Calvert Geology

    Nice pictures! I'm a graduate student at Montana Tech and doing my thesis on the Calvert skarn deposit. I will be back to the mine late August through early September on the weekends to complete some mapping and sampling. Swing by and find me if you'd like to see where some good outcrops of garnet, epidote, quartz, and coarse-grained scheelite are located.

  • Ross

    Hello Josh,

    I would be very interested in any help you might provide to find a few rocks?? I live in Dillon, and have been up there once, but it was late and I was out of time to snoop around... :)

  • Tim Starns  - took a trip

    The wife and I went to CL last week. We didn't have time to do a good pick, but brought back some samples. I'd like to get an update on your finds and whether or not you ever have found Aquamarine in the calcite rock? We are definitely going back again in july so I'd like to hear from you. Thanks for responding.

  • Mark kirkpatrick  - nothing

    My last two trips to MT/ID were a bust for CL. Never got to go due to violent storms both times. Sept was a total bust for almost all of the trip and this past May was only a bust for the second half which was where CL would have fit in. Maybe next time.

  • Mark kirkpatrick

    I am glad you all are commenting on this now.

  • Joshua Messenger  - aquas

    I personally have not found aquas there, or pyrite. I met a couple hounders and asked them to accompany me on a night excursion with the black light to locate dense scheelite localities and they told me they found some. He then sent me pictures.......very nice, good sized aqua. He also found good cubic pyrite (

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