How Much Does A Truckload Of River Rock Cost?

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart
River rock is one of the best materials for a rocky driveway, and it can take a full truckload to get the job done. Homeowners choose river rock because of its look and fair price, and you can expect to spend $450 per ton for a truckload. Whether it be volume, distance, or type of rock, let’s take a look at the important factors that determine how much you’ll spend for a truckload of river rock.

Having a rocky driveway, or adding rocks to your garden? Using rocks as a way to “feather the nest” at home is a commonplace thing, no matter where you are. River rocks are considered to be one of the more popular types, not to mention one of the more affordable. If you’re considering doing a landscaping project using these rocks, it’s a good idea to know what you should expect.

The average cost for a truckload of river rock is $450 per ton. It costs an average of $650 to have a truckload of river rock delivered to your home or a construction site. One yard of river rock costs $600 on average before delivery or installation fees.

Figuring out the full cost of river rock will depend on what you’re trying to do, the size of the rocks you want to buy, as well as other factors. This guide will give you a better idea of what to expect when using this popular landscaping material.

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River Rock Prices At A Glance

It’s important to know where you stand when it comes to your landscaping supplies. Because of the wide variety of ways river rock can be bought and used, it’s good to know what to expect by size. It’s also worth noting that the pricing can vary wildly depending on the merchant that you’re going through, so this chart tends to show the basic costs that you can expect.

Rock SizeLow Price Per TonAverage Price Per TonHigh Price Per Ton
Gravel (Pea)45100280
Small to Mid-Size100280350

How Much Would A Ton Of River Rock Cover?

The good news is that buying a lot of river rocks means you can expect good coverage. How much coverage you can expect will be based on how deep you want the rocks to go. A ton of river rock will cover a very impressive 166 square feet at up to three feet of depth. For most projects, like a driveway, three inches of rock ideal.

If you choose to just stick to a two-inch depth instead, you can expect to get around 250 square feet of coverage through every ton that you buy. That’s more than enough for a mulching endeavor, not to mention a large majority of landscaping projects. Due to the matter of coverage, many places will sell river rocks in cubic yard form.

The Price Of River Rocks Per Cubic Yard, At A Glance

If you’re using cubic yard coverage as your go-to method for pricing your river rock, it’s good to know what to expect through coverage measures. This chart will give you the typical prices that are offered for shoppers that use coverage rather than weight to shop for their landscaping rocks.

LowMediumHigh Average

One cubic yard of river rock usually weighs slightly over a ton. However, it all depends on the size of the rocks as well as their individual weight. That means that the price you get quoted per yard may vary when you try to convert it to tonnage.

Why Do River Rock Prices Vary So Much?

Admittedly, this was a hard topic for me to research, simply because there is so much conflicting data when it comes to river rock prices. It was hard to figure out the difference between prices in cubic yards, versus prices in weight. It also became abundantly clear that different rock types, sizes, and polishes would mean wildly different price ranges.

Knowing this, the best way to get a realistic price quote is to approach multiple quarries and landscaping supply companies for your specific rock type. Otherwise, many of the prices that are listed here might not make sense.

What Will Make River Rock More Expensive?

Size aside, there are other factors that can change your price tag. These include:

  • Rock type
  • Polished/unpolished
  • Mining location
  • Uniformity
  • Color

Generally speaking, the more uniform, colorful, and glossy your river rock selection will be, the more expensive they will become. That being said, most people will find any type of river rock to be an amazing addition to their landscaping endeavors.

The Types (And Price) Of River Rocks

The term “river rock” actually refers to a wide range of different rocks, all with a smooth, circular build. To get a better idea of the price you’ll be paying, it’s a good idea to understand what kinds of river rocks are available to you. Take a look below to find out more, but note that we’re talking about small rocks rather than gravel, okay?


Smooth and beautifully colored, Colorado river rock tends to have pebbles that are slate grey to purple in hue, with just a little red. This type of river rock is notably wide in its price range. Most will charge an average of $210 to $800, depending on the size and polishing style of the rock.

Missouri Rainbow

There are several different types of rainbow river rocks, but they all have their wide range of colors in common. Missouri rainbow river rocks are the most commonly purchased, and they tend to go for $155 to $210 per ton for very small to small sizes. If you go for a larger stone, you can expect far higher prices.

Cherokee River

Also known as “Red Cherokee” or “Cherokee Red,” these stones have a very rusty, reddish-brown hue to them that makes them ideal for Southwestern style landscapes. If you go for small rocks, you can expect to pay between $95 to $130 per ton, for unpolished specimens. If you get larger, tumbled ones, you may see prices as high as $600.

Mexican Beach Pebble

Though most people might consider this its own building material, we’re going to include it in here, simply because it’s so popular. MBP, as it’s known in the industry, is the most expensive type of river rock on the market. This is because it’s the smoothest, and generally is seen as a luxury item. These pebbles are pale in color and feel great on your feet.

If you go for standard MBP, expect to pay between $800 and $900 per ton. Some brands may kick the price even higher, with quotes as high as $1200 being reported.

Lava River Rock

Volcanic lava rocks are a popular choice, primarily because they are available in such a wide range of colors. You can get them in white, red, and black pretty easily. If you choose to get this type of rock, you can expect a total price tag around $100 to $300 per ton. So, it’s really not a bad choice for people on a budget.

Salt And Pepper

As the name suggests, salt and pepper river rock is black and white, with an occasional splash of grey. This makes it very appealing for modern landscapes, as well as for river beds that are meant to have a more exotic twist to them. They’re fairly pricey, with an average cost between $175 to $210 per ton for unpolished, petite stones.

How Much Does It Cost To Install River Rock In Your Landscaping Area?

There’s a fair amount of people who are totally fine with pouring their own gravel and rocks. It’s easy to do, though it may be a little more physically taxing than you’re used to. If you decide to go the DIY route, there’s nothing that you’re going to have to pay. However, there is still a lot of reason why you might want to go the professional route.

The cost of labor will vary greatly depending on where you are. However, most people will want to charge between $50 and $100 per hour of rock pouring and landscaping, and that’s just fairly basic work. If you are going to be moving in large, decorative boulders, the price might be higher, simply because of the effort it takes to get the boulder in the right place.

Most rock installations will take two to eight hours. Simple jobs will cost less and take less time to work. Even if you decide to do the DIY thing, it’s important to remember that you still have to pay for rock delivery. Most places will charge around $650 for delivery.

River Rock Alternatives

River rock is, admittedly, a pricier pick as far as landscaping supplies go. This is especially true if you include Mexican beach pebbles under that umbrella. There are other options that you can consider, depending on what you want to do. These include:

  • Mulch. River rocks are often used as an upgrade on mulch, especially when it comes to gardening beds. Mulch may need to be added periodically, but it’s far cheaper. A cubic yard of mulch will only cost $15 to $65 per cubic yard!
  • Decomposed Granite. Need rock, but don’t want to have too much out of pocket costs? Decomposed granite can cost as little as $25 per tonThe downside of this swap, of course, is the fact that it will be a much finer type of rock. This may or may not make it a good match for your project.
  • Glass Gravel. If you want a seriously eye-catching option that’s also earth-friendly, consider getting glass gravel. This is gravel that’s made of broken (and tumbled) glass. It often takes on striking hues like blue, green, or earthy brown. This is usually used as a focal point, which is why it’s bought at 50-pound bags. You can buy it for around $60 per bag.

Cost To Remove River Rock

Tired of the river rock look? Need something else instead? Removing river rock is something that you can choose to get done professionally. A typical river rock removal project will cost between $150 and $450, depending on the size of the rocks and the quantity that you’re removing.

Do You Need Mulch, Soil, Sand, or Rock Delivery?

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Our Final Take

River rock is most commonly used as an upgrade for mulch, a way to add flair to a yard, or as a material for a gravel driveway. With the amount of versatility that you get with this stuff, it’s not surprising that it’s pricier than your typical mulch. That being said, most people will spend around $1000 in total, at a bare minimum, for river rock and its delivery.

If that’s a little too pricey for you, that’s okay. It’s possible to get other alternatives that are cheaper, such as mulch or even landscaping glass. Before you jump the gun on any project, make sure that you talk to a landscaping expert for a specific quote regarding your project. Due to the varied nature of rocks, it could be the only way to get a realistic quote.


Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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