Sunstone Public Collection Area is only one free public place in Oregon where visitors can collect sunstones for personal use. Managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), this site is located in the northern part of the Rabbit Basin in Warner Valey, 23 miles north of Plush. The public collection area was established in 1970 to allow people to access and collect the beautiful Oregon treasure.
Oregon Sunstone Uniqueness & Value
Recognized as the state gem, Oregon Sunstone is unique transparent or translucent feldspar that contains small amounts of copper inclusions. Called Cuprian Labradorite Sunstone, this mineral is found only in the high desert of Southeastern Oregon.
The flat reflective mineral platelets produce shimmering glitter effects known as schiller or aventurescence.
Color relates to the amount of copper in the sunstone. The red stone contains the highest concentration of copper, over 200 parts per million (0.02%). Green - 100 parts per million (0.01%). Yellow - 20 parts per million (0.002%). The highest copper concentration makes Oregon sunstones highly-prized. It is therefore not surprising that this mineral also known as “Plush diamonds”.
A value of sunstones is defined by transparency, color, and the quality of aventurescence. Colorless and light yellow specimens are low in price. Large carved stones with intense green or red colors may cost over 10,000 dollars.
Oregon Sunstone Public Collection Area
This part of the Oregon high desert sits at an elevation of 4,650 feet. The public collection area is marked by orange plastic and wooden posts and corners with BLM signs. Private mining claims are within close proximity to the public site. Before collecting sunstones, make sure you are within the public collection area.
Mostly small and medium-sized pale yellow sunstones can be found in the free public collection site. Tiny pieces of sunstones are sparkling everywhere. For larger pieces you may need to go farther from the main parking area. The road goes diagonally through this site with a few spur roads and trails. You can use a shovel, geology pick and screwdrivers. Minerals are easily separated from soil by simple sieving through a quarter-inch screen. Some sunstones might be detached from partially decomposed rocks by hands. When you are done, do not forget to fill in your holes. Mechanized equipment for digging is not allowed.
If you want to find colored sunstones, go to one of the commercial mines. Currently, three mines are available to the public: Dust Devil, Spectrum Sunstone and Double Eagle Mines.
Covered by low-growing sagebrush and desert grass, this part of south-central Oregon is characterized by extreme seasonal temperature changes. Be prepared. You can camp for free within the Sunstone Public Collection Area. There are a pit toilet and picnic tables.
Oregon Sunstone Collection Area | General Description
Open: Year-round; Best time: May-October
Location: Rabbit Basin
Rocks & Minerals: Oregon Sunstones
Tools: Shovel, geology pick, screen
Activities: Rockhounding, camping, hiking, and wildlife observing
Accommodations: Camping is allowed within the boundaries of the site
Distance from the parking: Vary
Road access: Any vehicles when roads are dry; Unpaved roads can become impassable in wet conditions even for four-wheel drive vehicles; Contact BLM Lakeview District for current weather and road conditions
Day-use fees: None
Elevation: 4,650 ft (1,417 m)
Oregon Sunstone Public Collection Area is located:
65 miles northeast of Lakeview
108 miles southwest of Burns
256 miles southeast of Eugene
336 miles northeast of Portland.
From the north end of Plush,
- Take County Road 3-10 or Hogback Road (the road is gravel after 5 miles) and travel 10 miles to County Road 3-11
- Turn right onto County Road 3-11 and go 0.5 miles to BLM Road 6155
- Turn left onto BLM Road 6155 and follow 8.4 miles to BLM Road 6115
- Turn left onto BLM Road 6115 and continue 5.5 miles to "Y" intersection after the Dust Devil mine
- Bear right and go 0.6 miles to the main parking area.
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