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Look Around Rockhound

A pick, a pan, and a curious eye leads to a lifetime of fun

VanIsle is a gemstone hotspot thanks to complex geology, glaciation, and miles of accessible shoreline

People love rocks. In fact, there are nearly 20,000 of them right here on Vancouver Island; or at least 20,000 people who belong to the Vancouver Island Rockhounds.

The rockhound is an obsessive character. They will travel great distances in their RVs, planning road trips punctuated with stops at rock and gem shows throughout the American southwest.  

Or they’ll gather closer to home, like at the upcoming Alberni Valley Rock and Gem Show on March 12-13. But rockhounding is also a great way to explore the beaches and backcountry of Vancouver Island.

We live on a well-known hot spot for gemstones.

Vancouver Island has complex geology, from sedimentary chert and limestone karst caves to basalt bluffs of volcanic origin and pretty wave-polished beach stones. Add to that the ancient uplifting of tectonic plates, and it makes for excellent rockhounding.

For example, Meade Creek near Youbou has ample Laurelstone, while rockhounds often travel to the Kokish Main logging road near Telegraph Cove to look for Gordonite.

The abundance and accessibility of beaches on Vancouver Island are a gold mine for rockhounds. Most beaches are public and full of treasure at low tide.

The glaciers that once covered almost all of Vancouver Island 10,000 years ago left behind large deposits of rocks with fascinating geology visible along Vancouver Island and Gulf Island shores. In addition, powerful winter storms constantly churn up the coastline, offering a renewed bounty for the rock enthusiast.

Columbia Beach near French Creek is one of those popular spots where you can find Red Jasper, Dallasite, Quartz and Flowerstone, among other gems.

For a great Vancouver Island rockhound resource, get your hands on a copy of A Field Guide to Gold, Gemstone and Mineral Sites of BC; Volume 1 Vancouver Island, by Rick Hudson.