Snowbird Mine – Fluorite – Lolo Pass, Montana

Snowbird Mine – Fluorite – Lolo Pass, Montana

Fluorite deposit

We had quite the adventure locating this collection site. It is a high elevation off of Fishtrap Road near the Montana/Idaho border. The scenery is breath-taking with all the little noble fir trees and lakes on top of the mountains. We were there in mid September and some of the gates were closed off by the forest service so we had a hike that was longer than we expected. What was supposed to be a one mile hike in and a mile out turned out to be 4 miles in and 4 miles out. We did not know if we were on the right track until we were a half mile from the mine when we saw a sign. It is downhill going into the mine and the last half mile is steep going back up to the mountain. This makes it difficult to carry your treasures back out with three and a half miles back up the mountain with 30 pounds of rocks on your back. We started out with 60 pounds for the first half miles then had to dump half our beautiful treasures because we became too exhausted and needed to hike back out before it became dark. On our way back out we also came across what looked like a fresh cougar track. We made it to the car just before dark. We were so tired that we snacked on a few chips, but did not eat any dinner. We made our beds in the car because we were concerned about the wildlife and did not want to risk sleeping in a tent.

Snowbird Mine looking out from the cave

This is a free collection site and you can find beautiful fluorite in greens, blues, purples and even black. In the caves you can find the beautiful cobalt blue, purple and black fluorite. It chips out easily with a rock hammer. Much of it is fractured, but you can find some pieces that are larger. There are deposits of fluorite all around the mine. Any time you are digging or using your hammer be aware of your surroundings and safety. A hard hat and safety goggles are always a good option to avoid injury ( ). You will find a lot of what we called sugar crystals. This is more like a fluorite gravel. When wet it looks like wet raw diamonds. I think it would be beautiful in a fish tank. I would like to go back some time, but I think I will contact the forest service to find out when the gates are open to get closer and not hike so far. (Note: I will add better directions when I fine my notes for the forest service road numbers.)

Snowbird Mine Caves

Digging Fluorite in the cave with a rock hammer

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