Rockhound:Red Shirt Ridge
In South Dakota, United States
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The cache is located in the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands on Hwy 40 east of Hermosa and is one of my favorite rockhounding hotspots. At the Cheyenne river bridge turn on a dirt NG Rd 7053 at the provided coordinates. DO NOT drive this road in wet conditions, you will probably will get stuck. A 4 X 4 vehicle is recommended as the roads are not the best shape.
To get to the cache site, park at the coordinates below & then you can follow the NG road most of the way in by foot. A few years ago the government closed off most of these roads so you can only drive in so far. Some of the old road is still visible, but starting to become overgrown. There is a steep climb to the top of the bluff where you will be rewarded by a spectacular view of the Cheyenne River valley, Red Shirt Creek valley and the surrounding colorful earthen bluffs with the Black Hills rising in the distance. If you choose to search for the elusive Fairburn Agate look at the base of the bluffs and draws where erosion occurs. You will find jasper, petrified wood, feldspar, rose quartz, milky quartz, prairie agates, bubblegum agates, chalcedony and maybe even a Fairburn Agate if you’re lucky. I have even been so lucky as to find a few fossils such as ammonites, fossilized clams & bacculites.
The Fairburn Agate is South Dakota’s State Gemstone & was first discovered in the early 1900’s approximately 10 miles east of the town of Fairburn. Although most prevalent in this particular area, they can be found all along the eastern slope of the Black Hills and Badlands. However, the Fairburn agate may only be taken from the National Grasslands & private property with permission. The US Forest Service does restrict the collection of any rocks for commercial purposes; trading and bartering are also considered commercial purposes. So therefore you can collect mineral specimens for your own private collection. It is forbidden to take any mineral specimens or fossils from the Badlands National Park or reservation land. The Fairburn’s are most noted for there colorful scalloped banding of patterns. They are found in a variety of color combinations-red, orange, blue, purple, yellow, white and brown. Fairburn Agates are getting more scarce and have increased in value over the years. The most common size are valued at $100-$200. Some Fairburns have been found in this area valued from $1000-$2000.
After finding this cache you can find Rockhound:Red Shirt Creek Agate Beds (GC1W7KB) .3 miles away. Either follow the ridgeline along the fence or go back down the hill and follow the old NG road to the cache. The benefit of the ridgeline is that it offers spectacular panoramic views in all directions.
Note: When re-hiding the cache, PLEASE be sure to use the carabiner clip to refasten the ammo can in it’s secure hiding spot so it does not slide down the hill. Please be very cautious of snakes in the warmer months and be on the look out for cactus. Also be sure to bring plenty of water to keep hydrated, especially in the summer when it can feel like an oven out there. A hat would be good to shield yourself from the sun as there is not much shade. Wear good boots as the terrain is quite challenging. Wearing long pants instead of shorts would be a good idea due to the brush and cactus. Good luck and enjoy the hike and the views.
Side Note: After a long day of rockhounding we like to stop at Lintz Bros Pizza in Hermosa off of Hwy 36. My favorite is the Boulevard Wheat Beer pizza crust. After hiding the cache we stopped and grabbed a pizza on the way home. N 43 49.492 W103 12.211
The cache is loaded with all sorts of good swag including some nice mineral specimens and beautiful agates. There is also some basic survival gear items just in case. The FTF gets the Geocaching patch and first dibs on the swag.
7-bags of assorted polished stones
2-fossilized shark teeth
First aid kit
Deep woods towelettes
Last Updated: on 7/13/2013 6:21:38 PM Pacific Daylight Time (1:21 AM GMT)
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum