These are directions for the Brown Springs collecting site from Camp Verde:
Time to visit: Fall/Spring (the Summer temperatures out along here are not pleasant, especially when a good deal of hiking is required to find good specimens!)
If you are traveling on Interstate 17 take the turn off to Camp Verde, follow the road towards Camp Verde but take the second turning on your right (down the hill on an intersecting road) onto Salt Mine Rd (Forest Road 574) south towards Brown Springs. You will stay on this road all the way to your destination, but you will need to take the right fork onto the gravel road (still 574 at 6.5 miles) and not follow the paved road to the left, 334 to Beasley Flat.
Take the right hand gravel road
Continue on this road for quite a few miles (another 7 miles or 13.6 from the start of Salt Mine Road), you will reach Chasm Creek about a third of the way along (9.8 miles from the start of Salt Mine Road). The Creek is signposted and after rain has an active wash at the bottom. I would recommend 4wd and good clearance specifically for this wash and the later third of this road that deteriorates (again, especially after heavy rain).
The latter part of the road twists downwards to Brown Springs and just before the parking area you will cross another wash (again active during the Winter months), I think ‘Gap Creek’. Directly after this take a sharp left to park, do not continue right to Brown Springs Ranch, you will only have to turn back!
The Corral building just after the second wash, turn left here.
The parking site.
The Brown Springs Ranch is well posted and delineated (if you look on the Forest Map of the area you can see that it covers quite a small area), you get the feeling that the owner cherishes his privacy, so please stay outside it’s boundaries (if in doubt check the forest map).
To reach the various collecting areas follow the wash down from the car park to the river, a five minute walk. You will reach a gate before a large expanse of pebbly wash by the side of the Verde River, from this point you can explore the surrounding area.
The last gate to the pebbly expanse of wash besides the Verde
Having arrived rather late in this area it is difficult to work out where the good agate collecting locations once were! Most of this surrounding area looks pretty cleanly picked. I have heard stories of veins of agate that used to be mined here but am not sure where (any information on this would be greatly appreciated).
If you backtrack 20 odd ft. from the gate mentioned you will find another cattle gate with a path ascending the hill (to the south of the small wash)
The area on the southern bluff is a small strip of land bordered by a cliff on your left and the boundary to the Ranch land on your right. This and the cliff face down to the beach area would seem to be a best bet for an older historical association to collecting at this site (please correct me if I’m wrong). Good material can still be gathered here, but a lot of work (or digging) is needed to find only a few specimens.
Great views are found along this stretch of the Verde.
There is a path running along the fence line, this provides a short cut over a bend in the river, if you continue along and down to the river past the Ranch boundary (again respect the boundary fences and postings) and into open National Forest land, there is and expanse of wilderness in front of you running a number of miles to Verde Hot Springs. This is pretty rugged country and will take you a few miles to reach from the parking area (take plenty of water and pair up with another rock hound, there are no easy outs from this land).
I have collected along here and found some of my best material to date, there are miles to explore only metered by your own enthusiasm and the year round intense heat.
The area on the opposite side of the Verde River should also be productive, I have only collected in the Winter months where through a general swelling of the river it is very difficult to cross. The Summer should provide opportunity to ford the Verde and explore further, that is if you can deal with the heat!
The north bluff (backtracking to the end of the path down to the Verde) also has collecting potential. Again you run into remote scrubland and wilderness area pretty quickly. There are white misty fortification agates along this stretch, but the further you go the more unformed and opaque the material becomes. (Again my experience of these areas is limited to what is available at this site now, so if you have any further info and would like to share about past collecting please let me know)
Please respect the wilderness areas and if you dig holes or disturb the area, try and leave it in the condition that you found it.
© C W Pates 2010