Fairy Stone State Park, VA
July 2015
By Mark Stadul

I found myself in Roanoke, VA with a free morning and decided to head out on a bit of adventure. Some cursory Internet searches led me on the trail of a collecting site named 'Fairy Stone State Park' about 50 miles south.

The first thing you need to know is, DON'T GO TO THE PARK. The park has a $5 admission for people wanting to swim. I went in, paid, then drove around it a bit and eventually asked a park employee where the collecting area was. 'Head back out on 57 and look for a gas station.' Sure enough, the collecting area is just to the left of that station. You can see my van there to the left of the building, before its handsome new paint job.

There is plenty of parking at the collecting area. A sign marks the entrance, and another gives you an idea of the shape of the crystals you are searching for.

(sign edited for clarity)

I headed immediately to the right after entering the woods and up the hill. I sat down on the ground and scanned carefully with my eyes. It didn't take long to notice a few small crystal formations. I found some spots under trees where rain had carried the water away and gravels were apparent on the ground.

The staurolite crystals are slate gray and opaque, the host rock they erode from is sort of a brick red color. 60 degree crystals are most common, though 90 degree crosses can be found as well. If you walk forward (instead of gonig directly up the hill like I did) you can see long sections of host rock on the ground in the small valley as they are being eroded away.

I saw a dozen other people collecting there as well, for the most part parents or grandparents with young children in tow. One of the other collectors showed me his best find of the day, a 90 degree cross, well formed and about an inch square. I wish I had taken a picture :( I collected for about 90 minutes and filled a few pill jars, when rain shortened my excursion.

This site is an easy one to collect from, the collection area is very close to parking. Once you see for yourself what you are looking for you don't need any tools at all - surface collecting is abundant. Look for the shape and not the color, and you'll have a successful day hunting.