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Treasure Hunt Ideas for the Great Outdoors

Updated on May 29, 2013
Finding seashells can be both fun and lucrative
Finding seashells can be both fun and lucrative | Source

Many of us enjoy outdoor activities like walking on a beach, strolling through a forest, hiking in the mountains, or even window-shopping downtown. To make these activities even more enjoyable, make extra money by finding treasures in the Great Outdoors. Below are 12 types of treasures to find outdoors. Finding them will not make anyone rich, but will turn your outing into an adventure!

Pine cones can be sold to craftspeople.
Pine cones can be sold to craftspeople. | Source

Pine Cones

People walking through forests or hiking in the mountains can find pine cones on the ground near their namesake trees. Pine cones are popular as holiday decorations and for arts and crafts. As a result, pine cones can be sold to craftspeople on eBay or other websites selling craft supplies. At this time, a search for “pine cones” on eBay yields no less than 204 pine cone listings. As an example, a lot of 25 twelve-inch sugar pine cones is currently listed on eBay for the buy-it-now price of $88.20.

Coins are probably the most common valuable you can find outdoors.
Coins are probably the most common valuable you can find outdoors. | Source


The easiest treasures to find in the Great Outdoors are coins. Pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters can be found wherever people spend money, and are especially easy to find in areas where people use coins to buy things, or where people sit, play or exercise. Great places to look for coins are parking lots, parking spaces with coin-operated meters, downtown sidewalks, parks with equipment for playing or exercising, benches where people sit, ball fields, or outdoor food/drink stands. The best way to find a treasure chest of coins is to stroll through the grounds of a festival, fair, concert, fireworks display or other outdoor event the morning after the event, especially if alcohol was served.

By picking up cans and bottles, you can earn money and clean up the environment.
By picking up cans and bottles, you can earn money and clean up the environment. | Source

Cans and Bottles

The next easiest treasures to find in the Great Outdoors are cans and bottles, if it’s a state with a cash deposit law. Each can or bottle will be worth 5 or 10 cents when redeemed. Empty cans and bottles are commonly found at the side of the road, in public parks, near ball fields, and on the beach. It’s possible to find large numbers of cans or bottles after big public events, such as road races, parades, fireworks, concerts, or fairs. It’s best to carry a plastic bag on walks through these areas to carry away any finds. A wonderful side effect of picking up empty cans or bottles is that it cleans up these areas. In areas where people go barefoot, such as on sandy beaches, picking up empty bottles also makes the areas safer.

Looking for golf balls on your walk is like going on an Easter egg hunt.
Looking for golf balls on your walk is like going on an Easter egg hunt. | Source

Golf Balls

Never underestimate the ability of a golfer to slice or hook a drive, or send a nine-iron shot past the green. As a result, golf balls can be found anywhere near a golf course, especially along streets or paths that parallel a fairway or are close to a green. Some golf courses permit people to walk along the fairways or ride bicycles on the cart paths after hours. People lucky enough to live near such courses can easily find golf balls while enjoying the peace and serenity of their walks or rides. Used golf balls can be sold at garage sales, flea markets or eBay. However, it’s easier to simply use them yourself rather than buy new golf balls, or give them to a friend or family member who enjoys golfing. As mentioned above, finding these treasures will not make you rich, but the hunt can be fun.

Searching for mushrooms can be lucrative.  But NEVER pick a mushroom for eating unless you are ABSOLUTELY SURE it is safe to eat.
Searching for mushrooms can be lucrative. But NEVER pick a mushroom for eating unless you are ABSOLUTELY SURE it is safe to eat. | Source


A great place to find wild mushrooms is the Pacific Northwest where more than 5000 types of mushrooms grow in the conifer forests that thrive in the moist climate between the mountains and the Pacific Ocean. There are, of course, other areas of the U.S. where edible fungi can be found in the wild, such as parts of the Northeastern, Midwestern and Appalachian U.S. Edible wild mushrooms can be eaten by their finders, or sold to local restaurants or at farmer’s markets. But anyone seeking wild mushrooms that will be eaten needs to be aware that mushrooms can be poisonous, and in some cases extremely poisonous. The adage for mushroom foragers to follow is: “If in doubt, throw it out”.

Many beaches are littered with shells.
Many beaches are littered with shells. | Source


Some of the most scenic places to find treasures in the Great Outdoors are beaches. Some beaches offer bounties of beautiful seashells that are in high demand by craftspeople, tourists and decorators looking to bring the beach feeling into people’s homes. The only equipment needed to find seashells are a bucket, shovel and sunscreen. Seashells can be sold online, fairs or garage sales. Seashells can also be sold in many ways, including collections of shells or as parts of necklaces, bracelets or other craft items. Non-professional seashell hunters can also sell their finds to local gift-shop owners.

Some sharks teeth can be worth more than $1000 each!
Some sharks teeth can be worth more than $1000 each! | Source

Sharks Teeth

Beaches along parts of the Gulf Coast are littered with prehistoric sharks teeth, especially after storms. Prehistoric sharks teeth can be black, brown or grey depending on the minerals they were in contact with. The teeth can range in size from 1/8 inch up to 3 inches or more. Some people have found teeth from prehistoric Megalodon sharks longer than 6 inches which sell for more than $1000! Some of the best beaches for finding sharks teeth are located in the Venice, Florida area. While it’s possible to simply stoop down to find them, many shark teeth hunters use a sand shovel and sieve.

Bodie, CA was a gold-mining town.
Bodie, CA was a gold-mining town. | Source


Gold is a true treasure and can still be found in the Great Outdoors. A simple method to find gold is panning. Panners find a stream with a streambed containing small bits of gold, and then filter the streambed material using a gold pan. By agitating the material in the gold pan, the heavier gold bits are separated from the water and other materials. Gold panning typically is used to find gold dust rather than nuggets, so it would be difficult to get rich from gold panning. Anyone lucky enough to find a nugget or a larger amount of gold dust in their pan will find it very easy to sell.

Lost diamonds can be found in parking lots.
Lost diamonds can be found in parking lots. | Source


Oddly, it’s possible to find diamonds in parking lots. The physical act of getting into or out of cars, combined with temperature changes, can cause diamonds to work their way loose from rings and fall to the pavement. By walking through empty parking lots, it’s possible to find lost diamonds by using their sparkle to distinguish them from bits of broken glass. Jewelers are ready and willing buyers of diamonds, since they can use them to fashion new rings, necklaces and other jewelry.

Raw gemstones can be found in many places throughout the United States.
Raw gemstones can be found in many places throughout the United States. | Source


There are many areas in the U.S. to find precious or semi-precious gemstones. The first trick is to find areas where gemstones can be found. The second is to know enough to distinguish raw gemstones from worthless rocks. The best way to get started is to buy a guidebook describing the areas in the U.S. that different gemstones can be found, and including photos and other information for identifying them. Many gem hunters use a shovel and sieve to help find the gemstones.


Meteorites can be found just about anywhere, but there are certain places where they are more likely to be found. Deserts are popular for meteorite hunting since they have few plants or dirt to obscure meteorites, and because the infrequent rain keeps meteorites from rusting or eroding. Craters and “strewn fields” are especially good places to find meteorites. As with gemstones, it can be difficult to distinguish a meteorite from ordinary rocks. Experienced hunters look for a “fusion crust” burned into the meteorite by the heat of friction when it entered Earth’s atmosphere. They also use metal detectors and magnets. Meteorites can be extremely valuable due to their scarcity and an avid collector base. For example, eBay currently has 9 meteorites listings with prices of over $100,000!


Fossils are found in sedimentary rock built over many years with layers of material. Some fossil hunters use hammers and chisels to split and break sedimentary rocks to reveal the fossils. Other fossil hunters hunting in soft sediments like sand or clay use shovels, sieves, flat-bladed trowels and brushes to find the fossils. There are many fossil collectors, so selling fossils is easy via the Internet.

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