While in Iowa with his family, Jeremy had a list of things to do.
On his list was hunting for geodes! He remembered doing this as a kid and he wanted his girls to have the experience too.
So, we picked a day and ventured down to the Keokuk area of the Mississippi and spent a day hunting geodes. This is where the greatest number of geodes in our country can be found.
In our truck, we had Jeremy and I and our nephews who just happened to be the ring bearers in our wedding 13 years ago! Now they are 6’4 and had a hard time in the half bench of our truck with their long legs! What a memory!
Instead of Keokuk, we actually ended up at a park just over the border in IL for our hunt. Wildcat Springs was the perfect place to go. FREE with a playground, clean creek area, picnic tables, an outhouse and trash bins. For a group of all different ages, it was perfect.
Even us “big kids” had some fun on the playground!
Jeremy went down to the creek first to find a few geodes to show the kids what they were looking for in the water and along the creek beds.
You’ll need to have some buckets to carry the geodes and a good hammer and chisel to break open the geodes. When breaking the geodes, you want to make sure that everyone is far enough away so that pieces don’t shoot up into anyone’s eyes. This is hard to do with kids looking on but having an adult present is a good thing!
For the most part, once the kids knew what to look for, we saved the geode opening/breaking for when we got home but bring your tools along to open a few at the river.
When geode hunting with kids, watch out for creek dangers. Stinging Nettle, sharp rocks, muddy paths, rushing water, broken glass are all possibilities when you visit a creek or park!
I happened to rub my hand against some Stinging Nettle. It hurt and swelled up! But, I quickly put my hand in the creek and the cold water helped so much. Within a few minutes the swelling and stinging was gone.
Rubber boots, well fitting sandals or hiking/water shoes are appropriate for a day in the creek. Good shoes will help keep your feet steady on wet rocks and muddy paths.
Unless you are like my middle daughter who happened to end up bootless by the end of the trip. Her pink boots are now at the bottom of the creek somewhere… we couldn’t find them. She wore her socks and thankfully, her feet stayed safe on the hike out of the creek.
Sunscreen is big too… and bug spray. And water to drink.
But the geodes are worth it. My girls felt like they were on a big treasure hunt.
When we got back to Jeremy’s parents’ house, Jeremy and Elayna spent hours cracking open geodes and filling his mom’s flower beds with pretty, sparkly rocks!
A few other tips:
Call ahead to where you are going geode hunting. Some places charge for a guide or for the geodes themselves. You can also ask if they have been finding any geodes in a particular spot. Depending on rain fall and water levels, you might arrive and not find any geodes!
Along with your hammer and chisel, having a sand bag or something soft to lay the geode in will make it much easier to crack open without the geode rolling all around while you try to hit it with a chisel and hammer. This was a big help for Elayna when she was trying to crack them open. Here is a pack of 10 basic bags that you’ll be glad you have on hand after your geode hunt.
Have time. It takes time to hunt the river, search the rocks, hike in and out and then crack the geodes. Plan on a good afternoon of fun!
If possible, take the time before you go to study geodes. There are different kinds, colors, values, and sizes. Take a look before you go so you know if you find a really good one! Or bring this book along to study as you go: Ultimate Explorer Field Guide: Rocks and Minerals (National Geographic Kids)
Also, a great activity, whether you don’t find some on your hunt or you live too far away from this part of the country to go, order this 10 geodes science kit from National Geographic for a great day of family fun and learning.
Have you ever hunted for geodes?