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Rock Hunting in Michigan: Best Locations & What You Can Find

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Renowned for its abundant copper and extensive iron ore reserves, Michigan stands as a prime destination for rockhounds. In addition to these treasures, the state offers a diverse array of geological wonders, including jasper, chert, banded agates, and the iconic Petoskey stones, among others.

But where exactly can one indulge in the joy of rockhounding in Michigan, and what treasures await discovery?

The Northern side of Michigan is particularly interesting for amateur geologists. The Upper Peninsula is where you can find the Petoskey stones, the state’s official rock. You can also find chlorastrolite, agates, beach glass, gold, geodes, amethysts, pudding stones, topaz, beryl, tourmaline, quartz, shark teeth, and other fossils. 

Now that we’ve uncovered the wealth of fascinating treasures awaiting discovery in Michigan let’s gather our gear and embark on a rockhounding adventure at Wolverine State!

Rockhound in Michigan: Best Locations & What You Can Find
Rockhound in Michigan: Best Locations & What You Can Find

If you are interested in checking out the best books about rockhounding in Michigan and Lake Superior, you can find them here and here (Amazon links).

Where to Go Rock Hunting in Michigan?

Michigan is a prosperous state from a geological point of view. Rockhounds can find exciting things all over the place, especially in the Upper Peninsula. A simple walk on one of Lake Michigan’s beaches might turn out to be treasure hunting.

Different types of rocks, gemstones, crystals, or fossils can be found in this state. Whether going on a rockhounding trip or just visiting with the family, you can find numerous Michigan attractions.

Even the glass pieces scattered on the beaches are naturally tumbled and polished so that you can add them to your rock collection. 

Let’s see what the most exciting locations are from a geological point of view.

Marquette County

A passionate rockhound should visit Marquette County at least once in a lifetime. Also known as the Rockhounds Paradise, this county has many points of attraction for amateur geologists. 

Significant goethite deposits are found in this county, particularly in Jackson Pit and on Cliff’s Drive. 

In the abandoned dumps of Holmes and Cliff Shaft  Mine, you can find cuttable blue steel ore. However, permission is required before searching for rocks in these two places. 

You can look for jaspilite on Jasper Knob, near the Negaunee Tourist Park, S. Jackson Pitt, and near the Greenwood Mine. 

You can rockhound for magnetite, grunerite, martite crystals, or aphrosiderite garnets in the area near Greenwood Mine and Champion Mine. 

Marquette County is the home of many bismuth, cadmium, cobalt, copper, and gold mines. If you are interested in panning for gold, you can test your luck in the area surrounding the Ropes Mine in Ishpeming. Placer gold can be found throughout several creeks and streams.

TIP: If you want to know more about gold prospecting in Michigan, check out the complete guide in the article below:
Gold Prospecting in Michigan: 7 Best Locations & Laws

Isle Royale

Another captivating destination for rockhounds is Isle Royale, nestled in Keweenaw County. Here, you’ll encounter Michigan’s official gemstone, the chlorastrolite, also known as the Isle Royale Greenstone.

However, as Isle Royale is part of the Isle Royale National Park, collecting these gemstones within its boundaries is strictly prohibited.

But don’t be disheartened; you can still hunt for chlorastrolite in the mine dumps scattered throughout Keweenaw. For top-notch specimens, consider exploring the Central Mine near Calumet.

While Isle Royale is renowned for its copper deposits, digging or collecting them is prohibited. Nevertheless, the island boasts an array of other minerals, including porphyrite, barite, calcite, datolite, natrolite, prehnite, epidote, and more.

Although rockhounding is restricted, a visit to Isle Royale is still highly worthwhile. Engage in activities such as hiking, paddling, or observing the diverse wildlife. Please note that due to harsh weather conditions, Isle Royale closes to visitors during the winter season.

BTW: Do you want to know more about rock and mineral identification? The books listed below are the best ones you can find on the internet (Amazon links):

The Best Rock Hunting on Lake Michigan

The area surrounding Lake Michigan is one of the best places for rockhounds. These Southwest beaches offer beautiful stones to collectors. Rock hunting on Lake Michigan can be very satisfying as you may find agates, corals, quartz, or obsidian.

Petoskey stone, the state’s official rock since 1966, may be collected from the Fisherman’s Island State Park near Charlevoix or the south end of the beach from Petoskey State Park. 

Apart from the previously mentioned rocks and minerals, you can also find fossils, ores, septarian brown rocks, geodes, chalcedony, granite, and many more. 

Some of the best places for rockhounding in the area are Van’s Beach, Empire Beach, or Lake Superior’s beaches – Point Betsie Lighthouse Beach or Frankfort Public Beach. 

Let’s see what gemstones you can find on Lake Michigan.

TIP: Check out the article below for a complete guide on rockhounding on Lake Michigan beaches:
Guide: Best Rock Hunting Beaches on Lake Michigan

What Gemstones Are Found on Lake Michigan?

Now that we have seen the best places for rockhounding and what treasures an amateur geologist can find in Michigan, it is time to check what gemstones are present in the area. 

A wide variety of gemstones can be found on Lake Michigan’s shorelines and other areas of the state. 

Chlorastrolite, or the Isle Royale greenstone, has been the state’s official gemstone since 1973. It can be found along the shore of Lake Superior and on Isle Royale. However, Michigan is the only place where chlorastrolite can be collected.

Lake Superior agate is another interesting gemstone. Present on Lake Superior’s shorelines and in the Upper Peninsula, this is a gemstone that any collector appreciates. 

Other gemstones found in Michigan are chrysocolla, beryl, hematite, malachite, quartz, jasper, and diamonds, just to name a few. Check the table below to see what gemstones can be collected from Michigan.

Gemstones Locations
Chlorastrolite Great Lakes beaches and Isle Royal National Park
AgatesLake Superior shoreline: Grand Marais beach,
Muskallonge State Park beach, Woodland Park beach
HematiteLake Superior shoreline, Iron County, Houghton County
DiamondIngham County, Iron County, Kent County
Gemstones you can find on Lake Michigan

We already mentioned Lake Superior and Lake Michigan, so it is time to speak about the beaches and the treasures they hide for rockhounds to find.

TIP: One of the most beautiful rocks you can find on the beach is quartz. Find out more about how to find this beautiful rock on the beach in the article below:
Can You Find Quartz on the Beach? It Depends How You Look

The Best Rock Hunting Beaches in Michigan

In addition to the beaches mentioned above on Lake Michigan, here are a few other options for you to go rockhounding.

  1. Lakeport Day Use beach

Michigan’s official rock, Petoskey stone, can be found as smooth, rounded pebbles on the Lakeport Day Use beach.

  1. Oval Beach in Saugatuck

Another place very important for rockhounds is Oval Beach in Saugatuck. Here is where you can find different fossils and stones that are perfect for your collection. Crinoids, bryozoans, brachiopods, clam fossils, Petoskey and Charlevoix stones, clam fossils, stromatolites, or coral varieties like horn, favosite, and chain corals can be found on this beach.

  1. Pier Cove Beach

Pier Cove Beach reveals many wonders, especially during the Spring after the ice meltdown. Different fossils, septarian brown rocks, or gray basaltic rocks. The septarian stones are very rare and can be found only in Michigan and India. 

Now that we spoke about the beaches and the treasures they hide, let’s check what rocks can be found in Michigan and where.

What types of rocks Are found in Michigan, and where are they found?

Rockhounding in Michigan offers a bounty of unique specimens owing to the state’s rich geological history. This abundance is unsurprising, given the age of its geological formations.

Not only are they of significant economic importance for the state’s development, but these rocks also hold allure for amateur geologists.

Spanning an ancient Precambrian surface, the Michigan Basin comprises a sequence of sedimentary rocks. Some of the ancient igneous and metamorphic rocks date back at least 3.5 billion years, adding to the geological tapestry of the region.

The state’s official rock, the Petoskey stone, is actually a fragment of a Devonian coral reef that disappeared at the Paleozoic Era’s end. During the Pleistocene, glaciers reshaped the surface of Michigan and revealed the Petoskey stones in the process. 

In Michigan, you can find sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous rocks. We will discuss each category, starting with the sedimentary rocks.

TIP: Without information and preparation, you might not have the opportunity to collect some of the most interesting and eye-catching rocks and minerals that lie waiting in Michigan’s terrain.
11 Common Rocks & Minerals You Can Find in Michigan

What Sedimentary Rocks can you find in Michigan?

The Michigan Basin had a tumultuous past, starting with the early Ordovician period. Sediments started to settle above the Cambrian sandstones and continued to add new layers until the Jurassic period. 

Coarse or sand-sized fragments, fossiliferous or chemical, Michigan has almost all the sedimentary rocks. The most important sedimentary rocks are sandstone, breccia, siltstone, limestone, dolomite, shale, chert, gypsum, and salt. 

Michigan is an important player in the salt market. The Detroit Salt Mine was opened in 1910 and is located 1,100 feet under Detroit. It covers 1,500 acres underground and today is one of the safest mines for its miners. The salt deposits are also far from depleted. 

Check the table below to see what sedimentary rocks you can find in Michigan and where.

Sedimentary RocksLocation
ShaleAntrim County, Charlevoix County, Branch County
LimestoneMenominee County, Mackinac County, Presque Isle County
SandstoneEaton County, Keweenaw County, Monroe County
Sedimentary rocks you can find in Michigan

Our next topic relates to metamorphic rocks found in Michigan and the best places where you can collect them.

TIP: Finding rocks is satisfactory. But what about radioactive rocks? Do you know what are the most common radioactive rocks? Find out more in the article below:
What are Radioactive Minerals? 6 Common Radioactive Rocks

What Metamorphic Rocks You Can Find in Michigan?

Normally, metamorphic rocks are present in the Western Upper Peninsula. However, due to the glaciers moving towards the South, these rocks can be found now in any gravel pit in Michigan.

Different varieties of schists appeared due to a series of factors like the mineral composition, intensity of metamorphism, and the chemical substances involved in the process. Two good examples are the staurolite schist and the cummingtonite schist from the western northern peninsula. 

The most important metamorphic rocks that you can look for in Michigan are slate, phyllite, schist, gneiss, quartzite, and marble. 

Let’s see what metamorphic rocks are in Michigan and where they can be found.

Metamorphic rocksLocations
GneissMarquette County, Gogebic County, Mecosta County
MarbleDickinson County, Branch County
QuartziteMarquette County
SchistDickinson County, Marquette County, Houghton County
SlateBaraga County, Iron County
Metamorphic rocks you can find in Michigan

The next category of rocks that we must look into is the igneous type.

TIP: Pebbles are stones that everyone can easily find. There are kilometers of pebbles on the beaches, in rivers, and in lakes. Find out more about pebbles in the article below:
All About Pebble Rocks: What Type of Rock, Forming & More

What Igneous Rocks Can You Find in Michigan?

Igneous rocks can be found in Michigan at Harbour Horseshoe in Copper Beach and Black Rock Volcanic Formations in Presque Isle. So, if you look for these types of rocks, you should head towards the Upper Peninsula. 

The igneous rocks you can find are granite, felsite, rhyolite, andesite, basalt, diorite, granodiorite, gabbro, or serpentine. 

Diorite was quarried in Marquette County for road stones, while there is no production of granite in Michigan. 

Check the below table to see what igneous rocks can be found and where they are located.

Igneous RocksLocation
AndesiteKeweenaw County, Ontonagon County, Gogebic County
BasaltKeweenaw County, Isle Royale, Marquette County
DioriteMarquette County
GraniteMarquette County, Huron Islands
Igneous rocks you can find in Michigan

An interesting fact about igneous rocks is that they contain different beautiful crystals, a real treasure for rockhounds. Our next topic relates to crystals and the best places where rockhounds can find them.

TIP: Did you ever think about making money by selling rocks and minerals? Do you know if it is even possible? If you are interested in this topic, read the article below and find out more:
The Ultimate Guide: Making Money by Selling Rocks & Minerals

Where to Find Petoskey Stones in Michigan?

Where to Find Petoskey Stones in Michigan?
Where to Find Petoskey Stones in Michigan?

The state’s official rock, Petoskey Stone, has an amazing history. A warm saltwater sea once covered Michigan, and the colonial coral Hexagonaria Percarinata blossomed in the depths. 

However, the Earth’s tumultuous development moved Michigan up north above sea level. The corals turned into beautiful sedimentary rocks featuring patterns that resemble the sun’s rays.

Today, the Petoskey stones can be found along Lake Michigan’s beaches and in gravel pits or farmers’ land. Some of the hot spots where you can look for these stones are Petoskey State Park, Magnus City Park Beach, and Bay Front & Sunset Park.

Can You Find Crystals in Michigan?

Yes, you can find crystals in Michigan. Moreover, the state’s official gemstone, chlorastrolite, is a beautiful crystal with a star pattern and the shape of a turtle. 

Crystals are found all over the state, hidden on the beaches or deep in the mountains. A rockhound can search for chlorastrolite on Isle Royale, agates on any Michigan beach, carnelian on Siskiwit Bay, and thomsonite (a variety of zeolite) on Thomsonite Beach. 

Other important crystals spread all over the Michigan beaches and mountains are prehnite, amethyst, rose quartz, chalcedony, datolite, or epidote. 

Let’s take a closer look at these rockhounding treasures and their best locations.

Different Crystals You Can Find in Michigan

We already mentioned some species of crystals, but Michigan has more to offer. 

If you search the old mines’ dumps, you can find many beautiful specimens of tourmaline, beryl, garnets, topaz, and tremolite. An interesting reddish type of chert is found in Charlevoix County, on the north side of Norwood. Brown calcite crystals are present in Bayport, Huron County. 

Check the table below for some of the most important Michigan crystals and the places where you can find them.

Crystal typesLocation
QuartzAntrim County, Charlevoix County, Marquette County, Huron County
BerylBaraga County, Dickinson County, Marquette County
TremoliteDickinson County, Gogebic County, Gratiot County, Iron County
ChertLeelanau County, Charlevoix County, Saginaw Bay
Different crystals you can find in Michigan

As you can see, Michigan will not disappoint determined rockhounds. Furthermore, if you visit the right places, you may stumble upon some ancient fossils. Let’s check where you can find some of these.

TIP: It is always good to know where exactly your favorite rockhounding location is and how to come back to your car after rockhounding. And the best way not to get lost is to use GPS. Check out the best GPSes for rockhounding in the article below:
Best GPS For Rockhounding: 3 Best GPSes of the Year 2021

Where Can You Find Fossils in Michigan?

Michigan’s official fossil is the mastodon. During the Pleistocene, this state was the home to huge animals like mammoths and mastodons, so there is no wonder that Mammut americanum remains were chosen as the state’s symbolic fossil. 

The only known mastodon trackway was discovered in Washtenaw County, near Saline. Mastodon fossils are found in the Great Lakes Region and Upper Midwest. 

An interesting fact is that the Petoskey stone, the state’s official rock, is actually a fossilized coral. Hexagonaria percarinata is an example of tubular coral that formed the Paleozoic reefs. 

Other fossils that can be found in the Wolverine State are fish fossils from the Devonian period. Placoderms, antiarchs, arthrodires, tycoons, or acanthodians are included in the sedimentary rocks of Michigan. 

Some people found shark teeth on the Michigan beaches. Good places for hunting shark teeth seem to be the area of Port Huron, Isle Royale, or Lake Michigan’s beaches. 

Fossils of ferns, scale trees, and other plants are abundant in Michigan; however, no dinosaur remains have been found so far. 

If you don’t want to spend time searching for fossils, you can visit the Cranbrook Institute of Science, Gitche Gumee Agate & History Museum, or the Besser Museum. A mastodon display can be seen at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.


Whether embarking on a rockhounding adventure or enjoying a family vacation in Michigan, there are abundant opportunities to collect captivating mineral specimens.

For families and kids, some of the top rockhounding sites include the Petoskey beaches, renowned for the discovery of Petoskey stones; the Delaware Copper Mine, where collecting copper specimens is permitted; and the Keweenaw Peninsula, famous for its stunning crystallized copper specimens.

While certain locations may have restrictions on rock collection or require permits, the experience of visiting these sites remains invaluable. So, pack your gear and set off for Michigan’s treasure troves!

BTW: Check out this amazing metal sign (Amazon link), which is perfect for everyone who loves rockhounding in Michigan!

TIP: Are you looking for tips on what to buy for your loved, passionate rock seekers? Find out the best and not-so-common tips on gifts for rockhounds in the article below:
13 Best Gifts for Rockhounds You Should Buy