Rockhounding Vacation in Big Sky Country
A great vacation shouldn’t break the bank account, should offer something for everyone in the family and provide wonderful memories for years to come, not just souvenirs, which will collect dust and eventually be forgotten. Most people wouldn’t automatically think of digging for rocks and precious minerals when considering how to plan their next great vacation, yet this is just the sort of trip that can be an easy sell to the entire family.
There is a reason Montana is called ‘Big Sky Country’. The landscape offers wide open vistas, which are easy on the eyes and make for some truly wonderful photographs to go into the family vacation memories book. A short flight from practically anywhere in the USA, Bozeman, Montana is rockhound Nirvana. Rolling hills and road cuts provide a bonanza of easy mineral finds including garnet and feldspar. Nearby lakes, rivers and creeks can be easy pickings for gem quality sapphires and you will have no difficulty finding a local jeweler willing to cut your new found treasure into a stone to be beautifully mounted in a new piece of jewelry. Besides, how many people have the pleasure of being able to tell others they found the precious gem they are wearing?
Before your day starts, stop into the Nova Cafe in downtown Bozeman where breakfast is homey, hardy and the coffee is strong. Nova has best been known for their sourdough pancakes and waffles but you should love anything you try. Down the street, staff at Earth’s Treasures is happy to provide digging recommendations with clear GPS directions to mineral sites throughout the ‘Treasure State’ and there are several terrific day trips in and around Bozeman, offering up everything from lake panning for garnets to collecting petrified wood. Your trip is incomplete without visiting the jaw dropping rock and fossil exhibits at the Museum of the Rockies on campus at Montana State University. I have seen great museum fossil collections around the world and none even come close to the quality and breadth of this collection. Surprisingly, Peter Fonda’s (yes, the actor) name can be seen attributed to many of the fossil finds in the collection. After a hard day of rockhounding, grab a pint of craft micro-beer and the best meal in that region of the Rocky Mountains at the Montana Ale Works. Even a vegetarian will be happy eating at this family friendly watering hole.
Combine adventure, romantic scenery, beautiful gems and other earthly treasures with friendly people and great food and you have the formula for an amazing vacation to be remembered for a lifetime by the entire family. That your travels turn out to be easy on your wallet doesn’t hurt either. After this trip, you will think you have died and gone to Heaven.