It is wise to verify land ownership before you schedule a rockhounding trip. A good place to start is at your local Bureau of Land Management office. If you can point to a location on a topographical map the Bureau of Land Management can determine if the site is on public lands.
Before you start, check out these safety tips from the Cochise County Sheriff's Office.
In most instances, public lands are open to rockhounding. However, no collecting is permitted in National Monuments. The Bureau of Land Management can help you determine whether your proposed location is suitable. For more information contact the local BLM office or the Arizona Department of Mines and Mineral Resources, 1502 W. Washington Street, Phoenix, Arizona 85001, (602) 255-3795
Free Rock, Mineral & Semi-Precious Gemstone Collection Limits
Rocks, minerals and semiprecious gemstones may be collected on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management without charge or permit as long as the following rules are obeyed:
Collecting Artifacts & Fossils on Public Lands
Pre-historic and historical artifacts
To get a permit you must present a letter from a BLM-approved repository for the materials you wish to collect, verifying that the fossils or artifacts collected will be accepted. These items must then be placed in the repository and cannot be kept by the collector.
Like many outdoor activities, rockhounding entails hazards, but most of them can be avoided by using care and common sense. Rattlesnakes are common in Arizona and are active during warm months. They may be found in damp, dark areas such as under old buildings as well as in the open. Any mining or rockhound district is susceptible to hazards created by digging. Be wary of holes dug by others and be courteous to those who follow you by filling any holes you create. Many BLM lands are used for cattle grazing or wildlife management. Do not work or camp in any manner that prevents wildlife or cattle from reaching water.
Blair, Gerry. Rockhounding Arizona. Helena, MT: Falcon Publishing Inc., 1992.