Rockin the Rockies

Rockin the Rockies
Stowe Mtn

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Crystal Hunting at Devil’s Head Colorado

View of Devil's Head looking east
My digging buddy Bob and I go to an area near Devil’s Head along the front range of the Rocky Mountains once a year or so. This region is known for topaz and large smoky quartz crystals. After rock hounding a few times up at Devil’s Head I believe the name comes from the fact that the devil messes with every crystal I find there. Almost every crystal I find in this region has issues. The quartz crystals are either broken or have a lot of white quartz overgrowth and I think the Devil got away with most of the topaz long ago. 
We got an early start to rock hounding this day and were somewhat surprised at the number of vehicles parked along Rampart Range road. Most of the vehicles have ATV trailers so perhaps these are early season hunters or folks just out for one last vacation before winter sets in. Bob had a spot he had dug last year and I decided to do a little prospecting. I noticed a tree nearby had a lot of quartz at its base so I decided to poke around that a bit and see what I could find. Almost immediately I started finding quartz crystals. Unfortunately the smoky quartz crystals were hooded with milky white quartz which makes them unattractive and somewhat uncollectable. Still I pressed on hoping there might be a pocket with better quality crystals up the slope. I found a rather interesting alligator skinned quartz piece and hoped for better. After a couple hours of digging I hit some larger pieces of pegmatite and reddish dirt. Red dirt is often a sign of iron leaching out of a crystal pocket and such was the case again today. I discovered about a 4 foot long lenticular pocket. Most of the host pegmatite was damaged and no crystal plates were found. All the crystals in the pocket also have milky white quartz hodding them.
Lots of hooded quartz crystals
As I neared the edge of the pocket I started to uncover clunky heavier material that I hoped might be topaz. As I examined the first couple of pieces I quickly realized they were fluorite and pressed on. Some of the fluorite in the pocket were fairly well preserved while other fluorite I found down the hill from the pocket had internal fractures and a lot of grooves or heavy etching on them.
Somewhat unsightly fluorite( a little cleaning may help) :-(
I found about 100 quartz crystals of mostly poor quality up to 6 inches in length and about a dozen beat up fluorite with the largest being about tennis ball size. There were shattered pieces of smoky quartz crystals in excess of 6 inches but they were either poorly formed or entirely shattered. While I didn’t get any crystals to donate to the Smithsonian today I still had fun discovering a quartz crystal pocket along with some large fluorite. For me a great deal of the fun is in the finding of the crystals and not in the cleaning or even displaying the crystals, still a few better formed crystals could have made this an outstanding pocket.

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