Materials: Quartz Crystals
GPS: 48.47581, -117.05982
When using GPS coordinates to navigate to locations in the backcountry sites like Google will often make mistakes. Please watch this video before venturing out. https://youtu.be/hQr1l7dnCE4
Tools: Shovel, 1/2″ Screen, rock hammer and a geopick.
Date Visited: July 2019 & September 2022
Additional comments: If you watch the first video of this location that I filmed in 2019 I was rather unimpressed in it, however since the filming of this video I have learned so much about rockhounding and the location in general. I’m going to leave that video up here for archival purposes but feel free to skip it and look at some of the more modern content below it.
Any Location Updates Since Visit: The USFS posted the following statement regarding this location.
NORDMAN, Idaho, October 31, 2023— The U.S. Forest Service has temporarily closed an approximately 5-acre parcel on the Priest Lake Ranger District to manage significant safety hazards and damage incurred from amateur mining activities.
The Solo Creek quartz site, located just over the Washington border in Pend Oreille County, has long been a destination for rockhounds seeking to dig quartz crystals. In recent years, it has become so full of holes as to create significant hazards related to undermined trees, slope stability and drainage issues from bare soils, and giant holes and tunnels. The site contains dozens of hazard trees at risk of falling into the diggings, and some trees have fallen recently as a result of the extensive digging beneath their roots.
The Forest Service plans to mitigate the hazards within the site this coming year by removing those dead and dying trees that present a hazard to public safety, of which there are dozens. Unstable slopes will be contoured, holes will be filled, and the site will be seeded and planted with trees for long-term recovery.
The current order closes the site to public entry through October 23, 2024, unless rescinded sooner; however, it should be noted that digging for rocks and leaving huge holes is not a permitted activity in the first place. Rockhounding activity is limited to “little to no surface disturbance.” More extensive diggings that could result in significant surface disturbance, such as that seen at the Solo Creek site, is classified as mining activity and requires a permit with a reclamation plan to be approved by the District Ranger.
Regardless, digging large holes and leaving them unfilled is never OK; nor is killing trees by digging up their root systems.
For more information on this closure, contact the Priest Lake Ranger District office at (208) 443-2512.
I was given a few large specimens from solo creek recently (12/22) and one of them had a rather odd texture to it.
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