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You are here: Mtn Home Outdoor Not so local Outdoor News Quartz Hill Rock Hounding near Dewey Montana

Quartz Hill Rock Hounding near Dewey Montana

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This is our trip report for a Thursday July 22nd, 2010 rock hounding trip to Quartz Hill. Quartz Hill is located about 5 miles south of Dewey, Montana and off Highway 43.

Quartz Hill Montana Ghost Town


We headed out of Melrose around 9:00 am, taking the Frontage Road north to Divide, Montana and then west on Highway 43. About 100-200 yards past the small town of Dewey, take the road heading south that is plainly marked by a National Forest sign as Quartz Hill. Within 100 yards the road turns into a semi good condition gravel road. We parked our truck in a pullout just as the road turned to gravel, unloaded the Arctic Cat ATV and were on the way up into the mountains by 9:35 am.

Ghost Town Coordinates: 45.715551, -112.901037
The road heads straight south into the Pioneer Mountains and gains elevation rather quickly as opposed to the Calvert Mine road. The scenery was wonderful so we took our time and soaked in the pine tree smell and cool air as we puttered up at 10-15 mph. At about the 5 mile point we came upon a old mining town (ghost town?) with about 5 or 6 weathered and decaying wood buildings. We spent some time looking over a few of the old buildings before heading north up a road just past this ghost town.

Free Standing Chimney Coordinates: 45.715993, -112.902250
It didn't take long for us to find some "cool" rocks. We parked the ATV in a pull out at the old free standing chimney. There are interesting rocks just laying on the road so there is no use in digging into the road cut or disturbing the soil. I classify the rocks we found at this location as "shiny and glittery coated" quartz. Nothing that will make you rich and famous but some samples certainly will be displayed prominently in our house. Just plain cool rocks!!!!!

Open mine shaft in Quartz Hill area
Fenced mine shaft - Click for bigger photo

Really Shiny and Glittery Rock Mine Tailing Coordinates: 45.731615, -112.903436
We continued heading north on this primitive and rough road better suited for ATV's but definitely passable for a 4 wheel drive truck (Yours, not mine). There is evidence of mining all along this road and right to the top at an elevation of about 7,835 feet. There are a few fenced off mine shafts at the top of this road and mine tailings at this sight. We continued heading north on this very rough and narrow road until we found some old mine tailings and a few old building. These mine tailings contained some more very cool rocks in the "really shiny and glittery" category. Again there is no need to dig around as all the rocks are just sitting on the surface. Sure you could dig and find some even better rocks and maybe something valuable but that's not our style. We spent about 30-40 minutes poking around this pile of old rocks before figuring we had enough.

We had planned on continuing heading further north but the road got steep, rocky and "sidehilled" so we changed plans. While researching this area before coming to Montana I discovered a small lake located off another spur road further to the East. I got out the GPS unit headed for that lake.

Coordinates of "Knoby Park" or "The Big Meadow": 45.742554, -112.886419
The scenery along this road was amazing even for Montana standards. There are a lot of small meadows along the ridge line and each meadow was covered in wildflowers. And then there are vistas of the surrounding mountains and distant mountain chains. Stunning scenery...we thought! That was until we got closer to the lake where there is a huge meadow covered in deep green grass and views that stretched forever. We stopped along the road as close to the lake as we could get and walked to the ridge line above it. After the last few days we were concerned that deer flies and mosquitoes would probably enjoy living near the lake so we stopped about 1/10 of a mile before getting to it. The saddle we were on, more commonly call Knoby Park had a nice cool breeze and the deer flies weren't too interested in us. So we had lunch in the middle of a wonder high mountain meadow in almost perfect weather conditions. There may be some heartless people living in this world that might not see the beauty and peacefulness of this very special place but they'd have to be just plain evil to not be at least a little impressed with Knoby Park of the Pioneer Mountains.

Knoby Park of Montana's Pioneer Mountains
Click photo for bigger version of Knoby Park

More Rocks and Places
With our stomachs full from lunch and our brains filled with great memories of Knoby Park headed back to the mining district. With all the old mine tailings right along the return road, the hard part would be not stopping at each one of them. We make a few stops as we headed back towards Quartz Hill Road collecting a few more amazing "cool rock" specimens. I don't think we had to get more than 3 feet off the road to find rocks we wanted to take home.

Once back on Quartz Hill Road we continued south looking for some uncharted rock hounding finds. The road starts heading even higher and tops out at about 8,300 feet just two road miles south of the ghost town. We found a few small deposits of opalized quartz along side the road but it wasn't in the best condition. Maybe some other day we could explore more places along Quartz Hill Road but we had enough for one day.

Just a Side Note
We actually planned this rock hounding trip to Quartz Hill because we heard there are some quartz crystals to be found in this area. We found nothing in the quartz crystal category so if you head up there for some rock hounding, let me know what you found. Of course, I'm pretty sure anyone who reads this article will take the information I provide them and never bother returning the favor. I have just two words for this "Karma Bus". But one can hope that common courtesy still exists somewhere out there in this rude and crude new digital age.

Link to a few more pictures of our rock hounding trip to Quartz Hill Montana:
http://picasaweb.google.com/tim.bondy/RockHoundTripToQuartzHillInMontana#

Map of Quartz Hill, Montana:
http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&ie=UTF8&ll=45.731468,-112.88744&spn=0.046432,0.132093&t=p&z=14


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


Tim Bondy
The Bondyweb.Com author


Comments (19)
  • Anonymous  - Visit to Quartz hill

    Hello!

    Thanks for posting your visit to this location. I was on my way to Southern Idaho, and stopped to look for some quartz. I didn't find any crystals, only quartz rocks. They were still beautiful. I took my Mazda 626 up the road and it did totally fine. I made it to the chimney and turned around to get to my destination on time. I found one open entry to one mine, and lots of quartz rocks! Beautiful area.

    Thanks for posting.

  • Anonymous  - P.S.

    From who did you hear that quartz can be found? Were they specific at all as far as location goes?

    -Trevatk

  • Trevor  - You might find this very helpful.

    I just looked on the internet for locations in Idaho to go rockhounding, and it gave me a map of southwestern Montana! One of the places on there is right by where we went near Dewey. A few miles up the road is wise river, turn south there and drive 17 miles to a quartz crystal dig site. Thanks so much for posting this!

    P.S. This site should get you the map. It has a bunch of sites in SW MT to rock hound. It says there is a $5 service fee per vehicle to dig for quartz here. Thanks again

    Trevatk

  • Tim

    To Anonymous and Trevor: Thanks for commenting! I think the information about quartz crystals near the ghost town came from a rock hounding book we have. The exact location from my bad memory is in the road cuts in this area. We checked the road cuts but didn't come up with anything cool.

    The road past the chimney gets pretty bad in places but I suppose you could drive it in a regular car. Then again you could also tear up the car so I'd hike before heading up the ridge.

    Trevor...We had the Forest Service run rock collecting site south of Wise River on our itinerary but it looked like it would have been a hot buggy place to dig around and I wanted to go fishing. We'll likely hit that place next year.

  • Sean Wheeler  - Dewey, Montana

    My Grandparents live in the town of Dewey, They have a Cabin right next to the new bar in town. Its a cool place to visit. My brother and I are going up to quartz hill the first of October. 2010 Cant Wait!!. Its the best to see the real history of Montana Mining. We head out on the Fisrt to Helena and then off to grandma and grandpas we go!!

  • Sean Wheeler  - Quartz Crystals

    If you go up to Wise River and take a left at the store you follow that road for a long time and you will come to quartz hill, which you can dig quarts crystals, you find some huge ones as well, purple colors and clear!

  • Tim Bondy

    Thanks for the info Sean. Have a good time at Quartz Hill. We certainly had a good time in the Pioneer Mountains and will be back next year. If you find any good spots for rock hounding, let me know. Yeah, I understand most people try to keep their spots secret...but???

  • Wilma Immonen

    You missed the best part - at least you didn't mention it. When you reach the "top" the big open park is called Vipond Park. Tons of wildflowers in the spring. If you continue on the road you reach the overlook to Canyon Creek. Go down the mountain and you will eventually come to charcoal kilns used in the Glendale smelter. Continue on and the road finally branches at a ranch (once the town of Glendale) with the right fork going up trapper Creek and the left fork going to Melrose.

    Lots of interesting rocks, however quartz crystals are found on another road (paved) out of Wise River, MT.

  • Tim Bondy

    Wilma: Thanks for the info. We made it to Vipond Park but that was it for us old folks. I would have liked to continue further and next year we will explore other areas along this road. The Pioneers are on our list of "must visit yearly" so hopefully my vacation hours hold out and we can make up there again.

  • Anonymous

    Crystal park is what sean and wilma are talking about. you do have to dig for the crystals there. 8 miles west of twin bridges there is a place called crystal butte where the whole top of the hill sparkles with quartz and crystals are just on the ground. it looked like someone blasted the whole top last time I was there. its on BLM land. I have also been on quartz hill road. I was underwhelmed.

  • Jeanne

    Since you like rock hounding, take a look at our new book 4x4 Routes of Western Montana. It is a 225 page book based on 40 trails, mostly out of Missoula, covering historic mining sites, high altitude lakes and scenic vistas. Look at facebook.com/pages/4x4-Routes-of-Western-Montana/348141278544425

    By this time next year we should have another book out based on the Hecla, Vipond and Quartz Hill areas.

  • Ardy

    If you want quartz crystals, you'll do better up behind Crystal Park (follow the creek) or staying in Homestake by Butte. I found 31 crystals a couple of weekends ago just by walking the roads in Homestake. The pioneers have a lot of minerals, but crystals are difficult to find. Calvert Hill Mine has ton of epidote & potential of Aquamarine (if you break the white rock). If you wander anywhere in the Big Hole Valley, carry Bear Spray. I hunt around Wise River every year and you'd be surprised on how many grizzlies call the area home. There is even a young male above quartz hill mine during the early fall before people start shooting a lot.

  • Tim Bondy the Admin

    Holy Smokes Ardy...I never even considered the possibility of grizzly bears in the Quartz Hill/Calvert Mine area. Thanks for the heads up.

    I am unfamiliar with "Homestake". While I doubt I'll have the means to head back up to Montana this year unless I find a job, it would be nice to "armchair rock hound" the Homestake area.

    I certainly appreciate you commenting along with everyone else who has in the past. Makes me feel like there is helpful community out there living in the parallel "all take and never reply back" world of rock hounds.

  • Chris  - Quartz Hill

    Just went by this site this week - found it by accident just checking out the road. Did find a couple rocks with some very small crystals accross the road from the three tier site. Wandering around the mountain saw a tremendous amount of digging sites, and not all of them closed up or fenced - be careful! Was speculating on the age of the diggings based on the shacks - drywall and some cutouts for electrical boxes make me think 30's/40's? Any info on the history of the site woudl be appreciated.

  • Tim Bondy the Admin

    Chris: I don't have any history for this area. Hopefully someone will see your question and chime in. I assume you have done an internet search on this subject?

  • Mary/John  - Quartz Hill

    We have been to Quartz Hill, Calvert Hill Mine and Homestake/Pipestone areas. The Homestake/Pipestone area is very productive for white and smoky quartz. Living in Butte, this is one of our favorite places to recreate. Quartz Hill and Calvert Hill were, frankly, disappointing to us. White quartz is abundant south of Pipestone Pass (Highway 2) just above an abandoned railroad grade opposite the highway. Take all you want. We know of a site for white quartz that would blow your mind, but we are very protective of it only sharing it with a few close friends. Smoky quartz seems to be very popular and can be found by touring the spur roads just off Interstate 90 taking the Homestake exit. We can direct you to specific sites if you will be in the area. Sometime we will return to Calvert Hill and bust up some more of that white stuff. :D

  • Tim Bondy the Admin

    Mary and John:

    Thanks for the info. I may take you up on the offer for some "private" rockhounding places in Montana. And thanks for your comment. I appreciate anyone who takes the time to enrich the rockhounding world!

  • Anonymous

    hello!
    if you are ever in Washington there are a few good spots to dig crystals.
    At Hansen Creek near Northbend there is a wonderful site to dig for quartz! you will definitely find good specimens here.
    Also, Walker Valley in Mount Vernon has geodes. those are a bit more difficult to find but still quite possible.
    Hope you get to check out our crystal spots here in WA!
    Just thought I'd show you that there are still lots of kind and courteous people on the web :)
    Enjoy

  • Tim Bondy the Admin

    Thanks for the tips on Washington rockhounding. Yes there are many very considerate folks out there but only a few jerks can/do ruin it for the masses.

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