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September-October 2012

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Collector's Note: Quartz Scepters from Crystal Park, Beaverhead County, Montana

Crystal Park, in the Pioneer Mountains of Beaverhead County, southwestern Montana, has been a destination point for mineral collectors for more than fifty years. It is well known for the large variety of quartz crystal habits that can be found there. Crystals span a color range from clear to smoky to amethyst, with combinations of these colors, and can also be found in sceptered and doubly terminated forms. In the 1980s the Butte (Montana) Mineral and Gem Club filed claims on the Crystal Park site to preserve collecting rights for the general public, and they were also instrumental in having 220 acres of the area withdrawn from entry under the federal mining laws in 1992. Their foresight and generosity give anyone who can pay the minimal $5-per-vehicle daily collecting fee an opportunity to dig for crystals. Crystal Park is overseen by the Beaverhead Division of the National Forest Service, which maintains the blacktopped, handicap-accessible trails, parking area, and pit toilets that were installed in the 1980s. Although many varieties of quartz crystals can be found at Crystal Park, this article highlights the highly desirable amethyst variety that is occasionally found.

Jim Landon, a high school science educator and freelance writer, is an avid collector of minerals and fossils and has had several articles on collecting localities published in periodicals in this field.

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