Cave Creek Jasper

As the saying goes, don't believe everything you hear. (or read).

One of the books I own is Gem Trails of Arizona by James R. Mitchell. It's a pretty good field guide for most of the well-visited rockhounding locations of Arizona. Besides using it as a field guide, I have also read it cover to cover. What discourages me is that for many of the sites the author includes a disclaimer that the site has been cleared of float. What this means to the layman is that the easily obtained material off the surface has been removed by 50 years of scavenging. Further stating that remaining material is either low quality or you need to dig for the good stuff.

One such site I have ignored because of its close proximity to the city, along with Mitchell's disclaimer is the Cave Creek Red Jasper site. Last weekend the kids suggested we go rockhounding somewhere that we didn't have to drive hours to. Okay, twist my arm.

We got on the road to Seven Springs with no real destination in mind. Having driven this road many times over the years, there were some potential sites that I wanted to explore. The kids hadn't seen the Sears Kay ruin, a 900 year old Hohokam dwelling, so we stopped there for a quick hike. Then we went further up the road to explore the giant golf ball on the mountain top (actually an aircraft positioning device I'm told).

Toward the end of the day we were close to one of the sites mentioned in the book that I hadn't visited. Site A of the Cave Creek jasper locations. We found the tracks veering off with a marker indicating the correct spur trail (254) and followed it for a half mile as explained. It was a rough road but nothing requiring locked hubs.

It was obvious we were in the right spot, the ground was littered with bright red jasper in various sizes. We all jumped out of the truck and started scanning the terrain. Before long we'd filled a bucket half way with interesting specimens. A short hike revealed even more bright red material along with some with interesting quartz and agate inclusions.

We met a friendly hiker carrying a metal detector. He reported not finding much besides shell casings but said the hills were saturated with red jasper along with some ancient encampments littered with broken pottery.

After a satisfying hunt, we filled our bucket with potential cutting material and started back to the city as the sun was getting low to the west.

I couldn't help but wonder what the author of the book meant by 'exhausted float' -- it seemed like there was still plenty of good material for the plucking. Then again, perhaps there was once some top grade material that had already been picked over. Also, we arrived just after a snow melt so the rocks were wet and glistening in the sunshine, begging to go home with us.

Anytime I get to be with my family, in the desert is a good time, coming home with a full bucket of rocks... perfect!