Lolo Pass.

Spending a few days in Missoula with my daughter, Leilani, I convinced her that I had to spend at least a few hours at Lolo Pass digging for smokey quartz crystals.  She didn’t take much convincing, but insisted that we wait until 7:00am to leave.  I used the usual argument about wasting daylight, but to no avail.  We pulled out of the drive way at 6:50am and  arrived at the parking area at about 8:30am.

Parking spot

The truck is in the shade now but when we got back to it the sun was baking it.

Fortunately it was only a five minute walk to the digging spot.  This spot is the same one I have been to on previous trips, and since I only had a few hours to dig, I figured I would have the best chance to find something by staying at a known spot.  There is a large boulder here that I dig around, and the last time I was here I almost got skunked.

Dig site

Looks like I’m not the only one who digs here.

I started digging near the stump, while Leilani poked around the boulder.  My first find was a nice quarter sized crystal with a tinge of smoke at the top.


A nice sharp crystal is always nice.

I continued to dig, and was not being very successful, when after about an hour Leilani decided to go exploring.  She headed off down the trail.  She returned after about fifteen minutes without any success, and started digging near the boulder again.  It was at this point that I found the nicest crystal as well as two small clear ones.  The large one is about 1″ long and dark.  I think I need to keep Leilani near me when we are digging.  She seems to bring me luck.


Three of the ones we found.

Leilani finally found a nice smaller crystal, but it was imbedded in the boulder and she decided it wouldn’t come out without breaking.  She did find one in the hole she was digging, but was having a hard time reaching the back where the crystals seemed to be.  I decided to give up on my spot and help her out by removing some of the overburden.  While doing that I found another dime sized crystal with a tinge of smoke.

Leilani was getting tired so she headed back to the truck while I continued to work.  She gave me fifteen minutes, but I ended up spending about forty five.  I did find one more long thin crystal that looked like a miniature black Washington Monument.

Here is a look at all the crystals we found today.


I think it was a pretty good haul for a few hours of digging.

I made it back to the truck and Leilani had decided to walk out to the main road, so after cleaning up a little I hopped into the truck and headed after her.  I picked her up at Granite Pass and we headed back to where we are staying.

Thanks for joining us.


4 thoughts on “Lolo Pass.

  1. Jeff

    from Alberta, aug 4-6th 2013, taking a few days to spend at lolo looking for smokies….its been years since i was there…any ideas on nice spots to dig,,,

    1. chasfire Post author

      Jeff: If you have a high clearance vehicle I would suggest going to Granite Pass and following FS Road 2198 as far as you can. There are dig spots both above and below the road. I found the ones in the report above the road. Without a high clearance vehicle check out spots along Granite Creek. I think the area is good for smokies, and if you have the time exploring(ie: hiking the hills looking for float or pegmatites) might be a good option. Good Luck.


  2. Garry

    Those are nice smokies. It looks like you will have to get yourself a faceting machine pretty soon.


    1. chasfire Post author

      Garry: I am not sure I have the patience to do faceting, so I will leave that aspect of the hobby to you.


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