The Red Cloud Mine is one of the most famous and recognizable mineral localities in the world. It is famous for the many iconic red and red-orange wulfenite crystal specimens that have been collected over the years. This past February, I made my second trip to the Red Cloud Mine, with my son Daniel Joyce and had some good fortune collecting. Check out the Articles" section of this website for a more extensive article of my first trip to the Red Cloud Mine. Here are some photos from the trip that Daniel and I made, recently.
On the way to the Red Cloud Mine, between Quartzite and Yuma, you'll recognize these unique mountain formations. Sorry, don't know the name(s).
How hard can it be to find the Red Cloud Mine when there is a "Red Cloud Mine Road"?! There are road signs that help you at the beginning. Your GPS will find this spot easily. After that, you have a hour or 1.5 hour drive out into the desert, some of it fairly desolate and on a very rough road. You'll need high clearance good traction. Four wheel drive is not absolutely necessary but I would not consider taking a normal car out there.
Much of your driving will be in dry river beds known as "washes" in Arizona. They aren't always dry but are most of the year. Some are lushly vegetated areas, compared to the rest of the desert!
The desert can be surprisingly beautiful in some areas with lots of flowers andinteresting vegetation. These yellow-flowered brittlebush plants were just starting to bloom during our trip in to the mine.
You'll know when you've arrived. When you are in THE most desolate part of the trip, you'll encounter the Red Cloud Mine sign (Open!) and see the headframe and some buildings in the background. Watchman and professional miner Roger is usually on-site.
Here is a view from the west side of the open pit, over the pit, and eastward towards the headframe.
Roger, the on-site professional miner and watchman, pointed out a promising-looking area high up on the west side of the open pit mine. The pit as mined, not for ore minerals but for specimens a couple of times in past decades. Here is Daniel setting up on the slope. You can see the vein structure and old underground openings in the bottom of the pit, hundreds of feet below.
The area we tried to collect in was richly mineralized with lots of quartz-fluorite veining perpendicular to the main vein. We dug in and found openings of different types.
There was a crack with traces of wulfenite, so I commenced chiseling away rock on the "soft side" of the crack. The rock was softer on the right side of the crack and very hard quartz-fluorite on the left side. Sure enough, after a foot or so of hard going, I was able to expose an opening with beautiful, lustrous, red, wulfenite crystals, associated with tiny mimetite crystals. Not large but beautiful! I was able to remove the right side of the pocket intact but (figures!) had but one tiny wulfenite crystal on it. All the good crystals were on the very hard, difficult to extract matrix. I did my best but was only able to extract small specimens.
A view of some of the wulfenite crystals in the "crack". field of view is about 6cm across
There were areas in the crack that were rich in tiny, red, hexagonal, mimetite crystals, that surrounded the wulfenite. Other areas had no mimetite.
A very nice thumbnail-sized specimen of wulfenite with small mimetite crystals around the base of the wulfenite crystals. 24mm across.
Daniel broke into a zone of amethystine quartz where he was working. This specimen is about 50mm wide. A nice surprise!
Daniel also ran into some well formed, platy, baryte crystals. This one on quartz crystals is about 10mm across.
Daniel also located some, what appear to be quartz epimorphs of baryte crystals. This specimen is 70mm across.
It was about a 6 hour drive from the Mine site back to our home near Tucson. Nice to have two drivers! Hope you enjoyed the record of this trip. As I mentioned, there is a more extensive article in the "Articles" section of this website.