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Guide: Best Rock Hunting Sites & Beaches in Wisconsin

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Wisconsin is among the best places for rockhounding due to its immense diversity in the rocks, minerals, gemstones, and crystals you can find there. It also has plenty of rockhounding locations where any rock collector can satisfy their needs.

In Wisconsin, you can find geodes, yooperlites, Petoskey stones, gold, silver, diamonds, agates, pearls, opals, jasper, sapphire, chlorastrolite (greenstones), corundum, and many others. The best locations are located in the northwestern, northeastern, southeastern, and southwestern parts.

These regions contain many rockhounding locations where you can collect various specimens, both free or by paying a small fee. Let’s explore some of the best rockhounding locations in Wisconsin and see what you can find!

If you are interested in checking out the best rockhounding book about rockhounding in Wisconsin you can find it by clicking here (Amazon link).

Best Rock Hunting Sites in Wisconsin
Best Rock Hunting Sites in Wisconsin

Where to Go Rock Hunting in Wisconsin? Best Sites

Some of the best rockhounding sites in Wisconsin include Ounce Creek, Big Falls Park, Iron County, Highway 182, Jackson County, Outagamie County, Saukville, Racine, Eastabrook Park, Oshkosh, Hazel Green, Platteville, Werley, Cobb & Mifflin, and Dodgeville, among many others.

Let’s take a look at some of these locations and see what you can find. Then I will present to you some of the best rockhounding locations in northern Wisconsin and the best hunting beaches!

Oshkosh

In Winnebago County, southeastern Wisconsin, there is a little city called Oshkosh. Here, head towards the Lutz Quarry. You can find calcite, pyrite, galena, marcasite, pyrite, sphalerite (possibly even crystals), and various fossils.

Dodgeville

Southwestern Wisconsin has plenty of areas similar to Dodgeville, such as Platteville, Werley, or Cobb & Mifflin, where you can find various minerals, crystals, and even fossils!

The area quarries and mines near Dodgeville are great for rockhounds to explore, as they can discover sphalerite, smithsonite, pyrite, marcasite, calcite, galena, or barite.

Jackson County

Jackson County is located in northwestern Wisconsin, and it definitely is a great spot for gem hunters!

Here, head to the Iron Mine dumps and search in the biotite schist. You can find a variety of minerals, such as sillimanite, magnetite, actinolite, almandine, andalusite, biotite, even kyanite!

Racine

The quarries near Racine in southeastern Wisconsin are excellent for gem hunters to satisfy their eyes! You can find a variety of gem crystals here, calcite crystals, various fossils, and even marcasite crystals.

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

Rockhounding in Northern Wisconsin

The northern parts of Wisconsin are the most abundant in the diversity of minerals, crystals, and fossils that you can find. This is also where most of the best rockhounding locations are located, such as Montreal Mine, Dresser Trap Rock Quarry, The Bend Deposit, Jennings Falls, or Ounce Creek.

Montreal Mine

In Iron County, northwestern Wisconsin, there is a city called Montreal, and near it lies the famous Montreal Mine, where various minerals and crystals can be found.

These specimens include quartz, rhodochrosite, siderite, goethite, calcite, selenite, Celestine, dolomite, hematite, marcasite, pyrite, braunite, barite, dickite, actinolite, talc, and many others!

Dresser Trap Rock Quarry

The Dresser Trap Rock Quarry is also situated in northwestern Wisconsin, and it is a fantastic place for gem hunters to venture into.

Here you can find zoisite, quartz, plagioclase, copper, epidote, magnetite, cuprite, chrysotile, augite, calcite, chalcopyrite, chlorite, bornite, or actinolite, among many other minerals and crystals.

The Bend Deposit

Situated in Taylor County, northwestern Wisconsin, the Bend Deposit is another excellent rockhounding location. You can find pyrite, tetrahedrite, gold, chalcopyrite, calaverite, malachite, krennerite, bornite, and azurite minerals.

Jennings Falls

In northeastern Wisconsin, just southeast of Jennings Falls trailhead, various minerals, gemstones, and crystals can be found.

Different specimens such as triphylite, muscovite, beryl, columbite-tantalite, elbaite, albite, or microcline are easily unearthed.

Best Rock Hunting Beaches in Wisconsin

Best Rock Hunting Beaches in Wisconsin
Best Rock Hunting Beaches in Wisconsin

The best rock hunting beaches in Wisconsin are connected to Lake Michigan. Some of them are Sandy Beach, North Beach Racine, Big Bay Beach, Schoolhouse Beach, Point Beach State Forest, Two Rivers, Simons Island Beach, or Devil’s Lake State Park Beach, among others.

At these places, several interesting specimens can be found, including pearls in mussels, agates, Lake Superior agates, Jasper, fossils, and several other types of cool rocks such as Petoskey stones or yooperlites, and even quartzite of various colors or beach glass.

TIP: Hunting for rocks at the beach is a pleasurable time. But the rocks you find can be dirty. Find out the best ways on how to clean rocks from the beach in the article below:


Cleaning Rocks From the Beach: 7 Ways How to Do It Properly


What Type of Rocks Are Found in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin has several interesting rocks that you can collect, such as geodes, obsidian, Petoskey stones, agates, Jasper, yooperlites, limestone, catlinite, quartzite, plagioclase, moonstones, or unakite, among many others! Generally, the best places to find them are near lakes or beaches.

RockLocation
GeodesEstabrook Park, Pepin County, Fayerweather Quarry
ObsidianSouthwestern Wisconsin
Petoskey StonesLake Michigan
AgatesChippewa County, La Crosse County, Devil’s Lake
YooperlitesNorthwoods, Lake Superior, Lake Michigan
Common Rocks You Can Find in Wisconsin

Finding geodes in Wisconsin isn’t so hard, and the best place to search for them is in the southeastern parts of the state. Filled with various crystals and minerals, Wisconsin geodes can be found outside Estabrook Park in Milwaukee.

Just search near the park boundaries. An old quarry in Pepin County, near Big Hill Road, is also filled with various types of geodes. Another great location to find Wisconsin geodes is the Fayerweather Quarry, very close to Prairie du Chien.

When it comes to finding obsidian in Wisconsin, things take a different turn. This igneous rock is found in the shape of artifacts in the southwestern parts of the state, and it is rarely found in its pure form.

Petoskey stones aren’t typically found in Wisconsin; however, if you travel to Lake Michigan, then your chances of finding these bizarre yet beautiful stones increase dramatically. These extinct fossil corals can be found along the lake.

If you find agates in Wisconsin, your best guess is to go to northwestern Wisconsin or southwestern Wisconsin.

Ashland County, Bayfield County, the Black River, and its tributaries or the banks of Ounce Creek are some of the best places to find agates in northwestern Wisconsin. In Southwestern Wisconsin, you can find agates at the Prairie du Chien, Cassville, or Muscoda.

In Chippewa County, you can find Lake Superior Agates and Menomonie, the stream gravels in Durand, in northwestern Wisconsin, or at the stream gravels at La Crosse County, Bluff of Miss. River, and the quartz deposits in Devil’s Lake in Southwestern Wisconsin.

If you want to find the beautiful glowing yooperlites rocks in Wisconsin, then you have to search for them in the Northwoods. Some other great locations where you are guaranteed to find them are Lake Michigan and Lake Superior.

What Gemstones Are Found in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin, apart from its variety in rocks, is also abundant in a variety of gemstones. Some of the gemstones you can find in this state include opals, pearls, amber, diamonds, rubies, sapphire, phenakite, chrysolite, cuprite, zoisite, or rhodochrosite, among others.

GemstoneLocation
OpalJackson County, Marathon County, Vilas County
PearlsMississippi River, Grant River, Wisconsin River
DiamondsDiamond Bluff, Plum Creek, Saukville, Burlington, Kettle Moraine
RubiesOutagamie County
SapphireStream gravels and pits in Outagamie County
Common Gemstones You Can Find in Wisconsin

Opal is hard to find in Wisconsin, but not impossible. Colorless opals were unearthed in the county of Florence, Wisconsin, and some were found in Dodge County, at the Mayville iron ore.

Some opals are present near the lake in Hixton, Jackson County, the Wausau pluton in Marathon County, or at the many lakes present in Vilas County.

Pearls, on the other hand, are easier to find than opals in Wisconsin. The southwestern parts of the state have some regions where you can easily find them.

Some of the best places include the mussels of the Mississippi River beds, the Wisconsin River beds in Boscobel, or the river beds of Grant River.

Diamonds are found in many places in Wisconsin, including its northwestern, southeastern, and southwestern parts. The area of moraine gravels near Diamond Bluff or the gravels in Plum Creek in northwest Wisconsin are the best Nordic regions of the state to find diamonds.

In southeastern Wisconsin, you can find diamonds at Eagle, and Saukville, in the area of glacial moraine gravels or at the quarries, pits, and gravels in Burlington.

In southwestern Wisconsin, just 2.5 miles southwest away from Oregon, you can find diamonds in the gravels of Kettle Moraine. You can also try your luck in the western boundary of the state at the bluffs of the Mississippi River.

TIP: Jaspers are beautiful minerals but can be falsified quite often. Check out the main differences between real and fake jaspers in the article below:


Real vs. Fake Jasper: Focus on These 4 Differences


What Minerals Are Found in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin is rich in its variety of minerals and crystals. There are so many that it would be mind-numbing to list them all here, so let me present just a few of the more popular ones to you.

You can find in Wisconsin minerals such as gold, Jasper, barite, copper, azurite, bornite, chlorite, diopside, epidote, malachite, pyrite, silver, almandite, hornblende, beryl, kyanite, calcite, dolomite, galena, siderite, muscovite, biotite, chalcopyrite, malachite, or albite minerals.

MineralLocation
GoldPlum Creek, The Bend Deposit
JasperAshland County, Bayfield County, Sawyer County
GalenaMontreal Mine, Oshkosh, Dodgeville, Hazel Green
BariteWerley, Montreal Mine, Cobb & Mifflin
PyriteOshkosh, Platteville, Hazel Green, Dodgeville
Common Minerals You Can Find in Wisconsin

Gold is not a hot topic when it comes to Wisconsin. However, there are some places where you can find it, just head towards the northwestern parts of the state.

You can find placer gold in the gravels of Plum Creek, and if you are lucky, diamonds as well. If you want to find gold and a variety of crystals and minerals, go to The Bend Deposit.

Jasper is a mineral commonly found in the northwestern parts of Wisconsin. You can search for it in the stream gravels of Ashland County, Bayfield County, Owen, Iron County, Sawyer County, or the Black River, and its tributaries, and Chippewa River.

Galena is the official state mineral of Wisconsin, and if you want to find this beautiful mineral, go to the Montreal Mine.

Here, on dumps, you will find more than galena, though. Some other great places to find galena in Wisconsin include the Lutz Quarry, in Oshkosh, Hazel Green, Platteville, Werley, Monroe, and Dodgeville area mine dumps and quarries.

What Crystal Can You Find in Wisconsin?

The most popular crystals you can find in Wisconsin are quartz crystals, calcite crystals, Zinnwaldite, triphylite, elbaite, sphalerite, cuprite, kyanite crystals, millerite crystals, tetrahedrite, thomsonite, or selenite crystals, among many others.

CrystalLocation
Quartz CrystalsCassville, Abelman’s Gorge, Chippewa County
SphaleriteOshkosh City, Dodgeville, Werley, Hazel Green
CupriteCobb & Mifflin, Dresser Trap Rock Quarry
Kyanite CrystalsOutcrops between Sandy Beach and Mud Lake, Highway 182
Millerite CrystalsOutside areas near Estabrook Park
Common Crystals You Can Find in Wisconsin

Quartz crystals are found throughout Wisconsin. In the regional pits and stream gravels of Chippewa County, some excellent high-quality quartz crystals can be found.

Just north of Townsend, you can also find them in the quartz outcrops, or the road cuts, and area stream gravels of Cassville, or Abelman’s Gorge area.

Where Can You Find Beach Glass in Wisconsin?

You can find beach glass of various qualities, shapes, and colors in Wisconsin. Some of the best places to search for it are near the city of Milwaukee, along Lake Michigan’s shore, or at Grant Park Beach, Simmons Island Beach, or Wisconsin Point, among others. 

Can you Find Shark Teeth in Wisconsin?

You can find various marine fossils, including shark teeth, in Wisconsin. Some of the best places to find them are situated in Brown County, Crawford County, Dodge County, Dane County, Fond du Lac County, Grant County, Iowa County, or Lafayette County. 

TIP: Beryls can be found in Wisconsin but they are often confused with emeralds. Find out the most common differences for these two beautiful rocks in the article below:


Beryl vs. Emerald: 7 Key Differences (Are They The Same?)


FAQ About Rockhounding in Wisconsin

Still did not find the answer to your answers about rockhounding in Wisconsin? Find frequently asked questions in the section below:

Can You Find Gold in Wisconsin Rivers?

There are no natural lodes in the state of Wisconsin which significantly decreases the chances of finding gold in rivers. Suppose you want to find gold in Wisconsin. In that case, there are higher chances of encountering placer gold deposits in areas such as Plum Creek or The Bend Deposit.

What is Wisconsin’s State Fossil?

The official state fossil of Wisconsin is the trilobite species Calymene celebra since 1986. It inhabited the shallow seas of the Late Ordovician and Silurian Periods that covered the state around 460-400 million years ago. These trilobites are commonly found in dolomite and limestone deposits.

What is Wisconsin’s State Rock?

The official state rock of Wisconsin has been the igneous red granite rock since 1971. This igneous rock is present throughout the state, and it was once used as a building material. Granite is made out of several minerals, such as feldspar, mica, quartz, and hornblende.

What is the State Gemstone of Wisconsin?

The state of Wisconsin doesn’t have an officially designated state gemstone as of 2021, despite various gems being present within the state. However, agates appear to be the unofficially designated state gemstone. Yet, it is uncertain if this decision will officially be recognized anytime soon.

What is Wisconsin’s State Mineral?

The official state mineral of Wisconsin has been galena since 1971. Galena is also known as lead glance, and it is the natural form of lead and a significant source of silver. Galena is present throughout the state, especially in the southwestern parts, and it is formed in hydrothermal environments.

Conclusion

The state of Wisconsin shines above many in its diversity of minerals, crystals, rocks, and it doesn’t disappoint when it comes to fossils and gemstones. It is truly a gem of a state, and any rockhounding enthusiast should give it a shot!

TIP: Beach rocks are even more beautiful when they are tumbled. Have you ever thought about tumbling rocks? Check out how expensive rock tumbling is in the article below:


Is Rock Tumbling Expensive? Complete Cost Breakdown