Minerals & Geology

Your national forests and grasslands are a great place to experience a wide range of minerals and geology related recreational opportunities. 

General Information and Guidance

Recreational Prospecting

  • Prospecting, rockhounding, and fossil hunting are among the many outdoor pursuits visitors enjoy in the Northern Region of the Forest Service.   
  • "Be advised that the unauthorized collection of archaeological artifacts, such as arrowheads, old bottles, other historic artifacts, etc. is prohibited on National Forest Lands" (R1-10-07) 

Mining Information

  • For further information about rules, regulations, and permit requirements, call or write the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest (please see the left hand navigation for contact information), or contact your local Ranger District office. 

Unpatented Mining Claims

  • It is important for any prospective buyer to understand what an unpatented mining claim is and what the rights of an owner of an unpatented mining claimant are.

Rock Collection Permits (e.g. landscape rock or boulders)

  • The collection of a small quantity of rock for personal uses, such as backyard landscaping or garden stepping stones, requires a permit.  Please contact your local Ranger District office for more information.

Abandoned Mine Lands

Mine Safety


 Useful Links

A page full of websites to visit for more information within the Forest Service and other agencies to help answer any question you may have in regards to Mining, Reclamation, Land management in regards to geological activities, college degree information and much more. Visit the Mining - Useful Links page.