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Oregon is probably the best rockhounding state in all of the United States. This is because it is very rich in precious stones, minerals, gems, and even fossils. So where to rockhound in Oregon, and what can you find?
Oregon hosts numerous unique locations for rockhounds such as the Bear Creek, Eagle Rock, Fischer Canyon, Whistler, and White Fir Springs, Hampton Butte, and the Malheur and Jefferson counties. You can find marvelous agates, thundereggs, opals, geodes, quartz, jaspers, jades, diamonds, rubies, emeralds, pearls, sunstones, and moonstones.
Today, I will dissect the state of Oregon and unveil the best rockhounding sites available and what you can find. I will also inform you about the legality of rockhounding in certain places. Let’s begin!
If you are interested in checking out the best book about rockhounding in Oregon you can find it by clicking here (Amazon link).
Best Rockhounding Sites in Oregon
Naturally, the best rockhounding sites are always attributed to particular counties that are situated near magnificent geologic locations. In no particular order, here are the best rockhounding locations in Oregon.
Jackson County is located in the northwestern part of Oregon, and it is an excellent place for those interested to find petrified wood. You can find yellow and red jasper, agate, quartz crystal, and loads of petrified wood in the Bear Creek stream.
The Agate Lake is also present in this county, however, rockhounds are not permitted to take anything from here. It is though a great place to visit.
The county of Linn, Oregon, has numerous interesting places where rockhounds can fill their hunting desires. For example, the Willamette River, or the Calapooia River, is abundant in agates, jasper, geodes, carnelian, or petrified wood.
Many specimens and their respective varieties can be found on the gravel beds of these rivers, and when it comes to the Willamette River, the best place for collecting specimens is in the north of Salem, to the south of Corvallis.
The Quartzville Creek is also an awesome place in the county of Linn, Oregon, since you can find gold, pyrite, varieties of quartz, agate, jasper, or petrified wood as well. The North and South Fork of the Santiam River in Linn can also be a nice place to find agates, jasper, or petrified wood.
Probably the best place to rockhound in Oregon is the county of Crook. Here, several places are available for rockhounds to explore for a variety of specimens.
In the Bear Creek area, for example, you can find petrified wood, some of which is agatized. The Eagle Rock formation in Crook County is great for finding agates, while the Maury Mountains in the Ochoco National Forest is filled with varieties of moss agate.
The Congleton Hollow, in the area of South Fork Crooked River, is a great place to find both petrified wood and opalized wood. Another great place in Crook county is the Dendrite Butte. Here is where you might find limb casts, opalized wood, and petrified wood as well.
If you want to find the state rock of Oregon, the thundereggs, then it is also available in Crook County, specifically the Whistler Springs area of Ochoco National Forest. You can find thundereggs in the White Fir Springs and White Rock Springs in the Ochoco National Forest as well.
The Ochoco Reservoir in Crook County or the Hampton Butte, are great places to rockhound for agates and jasper, while the Fischer Canyon is filled with petrified wood, agate, jasper, calcite, or leaf fossils.
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):
- Smithsonian Handbooks: Rocks & Minerals
- Gemstone & Crystal Properties (Quick Study Home)
- Ultimate Explorer Field Guide: Rocks and Minerals (National Geographic Kids)
Best Rockhounding Beaches in Oregon
Over 1,400 lakes can be found in Oregon, and while they are very abundant in different specimens that rockhounds might find interesting, the beaches are even richer!
In Oregon, there are over 30 beaches and a couple of them are insanely good for rockhounds to satisfy their needs, are located in the north, central, and southern Oregon coast!
Most people go to these beaches to find agates since here they are the most abundant. With that being said, here are some of the best rockhounding or beachcombing places in Oregon.
Lincoln City Beach
The Lincoln City Beach is among the best beaches for beachcombing in Oregon! Here, you can find agate, jasper, petrified wood, or even fossilized agate. Marine fossils, carnelian, or bloodstones can also be found here, among many other things.
You can access this beach from Highway 101, from places such as Roads End State Park, D River Wayside State Park, Siletz Bay Park, Fogarty State Park, Otter Rock, and Devils Punch Bowl State Park, Beverly Beach State Park, Lost Creek, Ona State Park, or Seal Rock State Recreation Park.
The small town of Oceanside located in the county of Tillamook is home to several beaches that are great for rockhounding. The primary specimen which you can find on the beaches here are agates.
These agates are quite beautiful and they end up washes on the beaches from the creeks. On the north of Oceanside, you can find the famous “agate beach” known as the Short Beach.
This place is located south of Cape Meares, and it is a hidden gem! You will find plenty of agates here, and perhaps something more if you have a good eye.
South Oregon Coast
The South Oregon Coast has plenty of places available for the public to rockhound. You can find a wide variety of fossils, petrified wood, jasper, agate, and serpentine. Some great areas reside here as well, such as the Coos Bay and Brandon, Port Orford, Gold Beach, Merchants Beach, and Bookings.
Access to the beaches is also done from Highway 101, through Whiskey Run Lane, Cape Blanco State Park, Otter Point State Recreation Site, South Jetty of Chetco River, or McVay Rock State Recreation Site.
TIP: Petrified wood is a common gemstone in Oregon so it is quite easy to find it. But do you know how valuable the petrified wood is? Find out more in the article below:
What Kind of Rocks Can you Find in Oregon?
Oregon is rich in many different types of rocks due to its impressive geologic formations. Here is a list of the most sought out rocks in this state:
These beautiful rocks are spread throughout Oregon, and they can easily be found if you know where to look for them, and thus, let us tell you about a couple of places to search.
Where To Find Rocks In Oregon?
If you want to find the rocks mentioned above, here are some of the best locations you can find them:
You can find geodes in the high desert near Prineville and Mandras and the great forests of Central Oregon, such as the Ochoco National Forest. Another great place to find geodes is in the Eastern Succor Creek Canyon of Oregon.
The Calapooia River in the county of Linn is also noted for its geodes. Thus, the best places to find geodes are generally in the state’s Eastern and Southeastern sides.
Thundereggs are the official state rocks of Oregon since 1965. They form in silica-rich rhyolitic lava flows and vary in size.
They are commonly found in Central Oregon and the John Day Formation of the Eastern part of Oregon and are abundant in counties such as Malheur, Wasco, Jefferson, Wheeler, and Crook.
The Ochoco National Forest, the Succor Creek Canyon, and the high desert near Prineville and Madras cities are also great spots to find Oregon’s famous thundereggs.
TIP: The beauty of thundereggs is hidden inside them. So to see this beauty you need to open them. And that’s when the time for cutting and polishing comes. Check these six simple steps on how to do it:
Agates are plentiful in Oregon as stars in the sky! Most of them can be found near beaches where they are washed up. Beaches such as Depoe Bay – the area south from Newport until the north of Lincoln city, or the Beverly Beach (also in Lincoln County), situated between Beverly Beach State Park and Yaquina Head, are excellent for finding agates!
The Moolack Beach and the Yachats town in Lincoln county are also abundant in agates. Still, we should also mention the Oceanside town near Tillamook County and the Gold Beach located between the Pacific Ocean and the Rogue River.
You can find obsidian, especially in central Oregon, around 30 miles southeast of Bend, at Paulina Lake which is part of the Newberry Volcano.
You can also try and hunt for this beautiful rock in the hills of Glass Buttes, south of Highway 20, and located 80 miles from east of Bend county. Obsidian is noted to be abundant in these places.
The specimens can be found quite free of impurities, such as dirt or ash, so it is well worth the trip! They vary in color, so don’t expect to find only the typical black obsidian specimens.
If you want to find soapstone in Oregon, you should probably go to Elliot Creek Ridge in the Squaw Lakes campgrounds western part.
You will find soapstones in the north road, just cross the Applegate Dam and go for around 8 miles towards the Squaw lakes trailhead. Here you can also find garnet among other things.
What Metamorphic Rocks Can You Find in Oregon?
Many interesting rocks are to be found in Oregon. Here is a table with some pretty metamorphic rocks:
The Blue Mountains,
|Schist||Klamath Mountains, |
Snake River Mine,
|Gneiss||Aldrich Mountains, |
Up next, let’s see what sedimentary rocks you can find in the state of Oregon.
TIP: Did you know quartz is often used in watches or radios, and microprocessors? Or what is the most expensive mineral? Check out these cool and interesting facts about rocks and minerals in the article below:
What Sedimentary Rocks Can You Find in Oregon?
Sedimentary rocks are pretty common everywhere, and this also stands true in the case of Oregon. Some specimens are more beautiful than others, however, here is a couple of them and where you can find them.
|Shale||Clarno Formation, |
John Day Formation,
|Sandstone||Tyee Formation, |
|Limestone||Elkhorn Ridge, |
If you visit these locations in Oregon to find sedimentary rocks, look out for other things as well, as you never know what you might find! Now that you know where to find sedimentary rocks in Oregon, let’s talk about igneous rocks.
What Igneous Rocks Can You Find in Oregon?
Oregon has its volcanoes, and its igneous rocks well mapped and researched. Down below you can see in the table what kind of igneous rocks are in Oregon, and where you can find them.
|Obsidian||Newberry Volcano at Paulina Lake, |
Glass Buttes hills,
|Rhyolite||Elko County, |
|Granite||Klamath Mountains, |
Lane County Oregon
Now that we’ve covered some of the most awesome rocks in Oregon, and the rocks from sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous classes. Now let’s see what crystals can you find in Oregon.
Where To Find Crystals in Oregon?
Though Oregon is famous for its gemstones, minerals, and rocks when it comes to crystals, things take a different turn. The most famous crystal found in Oregon appears to be jade.
Jade can be found in Oregon predominantly in its middle zone. You can find jade in places such as Central Oregon, at the Polka Dot mine, or the Lucky Strike mine, while the Lakeview and Old-Perpetual Geyser, or the Unique Fort Rock Ghost Town in Oregon, are also great places to find jade.
Now let’s see what gems and minerals you can find in Oregon next!
TIP: Do you know what are the best locations for finding different crystals in the United States? Check out the article below and find out where to go:
Where to Find Gems and Minerals in Oregon?
Now that crystals are out of the way, it’s time to talk about the gemstones and the minerals which you can find in Oregon, and they are plenty, beautiful, and of high value.
There is even a mineral named after the state, oregonite. It, along with josephinite, is officially Oregon’s twin minerals. Now that this is out of the way, here are some of the best gems and minerals you can find in Oregon!
The best place to find opal in Oregon is in the area known as Opal Butte, which is located in Morrow County. In the mines of the Oregon Cascades – specifically the eastern side, opal is quite abundant, or in the eastern side of the Owyhee Mountains near the border with Idaho. The Juniper Ridge Opal Mine is also famous for its many-colored opals.
It is located in southern Oregon. Many types of opal are present in Oregon, but the two most abundant variants of opal are the common opal and the fire opal.
Some thundereggs have opals in them, however, the Owyhee blue opal is the rarest, and would make for a great addition to any rockhounds collection!
Sunstone is a beautiful gemstone of the feldspar family, and it can be found in the central, southern, and southeastern parts of Oregon where it meets the borders with California. Places such as Harney County or Lake County are filled with sunstones, but the best place to collect them is at the Oregon Sunstone Public Collection Area, situated in the Rabbit Basin.
The Dust Devil’s Spectrum Sunstone and Double Eagle mines are also a great place to collect sunstones, and it is quite near. These two locations are also legal for rockhounds to collect.
It is important to note that sunstones come in almost all colors, and it is the official gemstone of Oregon since 1987.
The color of sunstones usually determines their value, with red being among the most valued due to its high concentration of copper. The green sunstones come in second place, while yellow is the cheapest.
There are many different types of Jasper that you can find in Oregon.
Jasper is predominantly found in the eastern parts of Oregon, such as the Sherman County, Deschutes River, Malheur County, or the Willamette Valley, specifically the local river. The most popular type of jasper in Oregon is Biggs Jasper, which you can find in Biggs village.
Deschutes jasper or the Owyhee jasper is also pretty sought after. Jasper is commonly found near rivers since they are carried by the water from volcanic origins.
Many amethyst deposits have been found in the Western Vein or the Shellrock Mountain of the Bohemia Mining District. Though this district is famous for its gold mining, amethyst is abundant as well.
Though amethyst is rare, it is most likely that you will find it in Central Oregon, perhaps in places such as Crook County, which is also known as the capital of rockhounds.
The amethyst specimens found in Oregon are noted to be paler in comparison to the standard amethyst. For this reason, they are highly valued and sought after.
The Alvord Desert in Oregon is noted for its small and big specimens of turquoise. In general, the southern parts of Oregon are where you can find this beautiful mineral. Places such as the Ferruginous Bauxite Deposits in western or northwestern Oregon are also popular places where turquoise is found.
The swamps near the Columbia River are also highly likely to contain turquoise. In Central Oregon, the White River which is a tributary of the Deschutes River is also known for this mineral and many other better ones.
If you want to find a carnelian in Oregon, you should head to Columbia County. Here head towards the Nehalem River and the Clear Creek.
Another great place to find a carnelian is in the county of Linn. You can find a carnelian in the gravel bends along the Calapooia River, and this isn’t the only thing you will find.
Other specimens such as petrified wood, agates, geodes, or jasper are also present here. As you explore the river head towards the Willamette National Forest. On the gravel bars or hillsides, you can find carnelian, plum agates, and even jasper.
Where to Find Cool Rocks and Precious Stones in Oregon?
Oregon has some cool rocks and precious stones just waiting to be picked up by curious rockhounds! These specimens include emeralds, rubies, amber, aquamarine, moonstone, and even diamond.
Rubies, emeralds, and moonstones are quite rare, but they might be found encased in other metamorphic or igneous rocks.
If you wish to hunt for amber, you might find it on Oregon’s beaches, but it is extremely rare. Aquamarine, on the other hand, is typically found on high elevations, perhaps on Mount Hood in Oregon, but this is unconfirmed.
In the Smith River drainage, both gold and diamonds were found. Typically near the Oregon-California border. Most accounts point out the fact that California is where diamonds are the most abundant, being found even on beaches on several occasions.
TIP: Actually, what are cool rocks? Just random but beautiful rocks? Find out more about cool rocks in the article below:
What Fossils Can you Find in Oregon?
Oregon is an awesome place to find different kinds of fossils. For example, the official state fossil of Oregon is the metasequoia since 2005. It is a fossil leaf from conifer trees, which are distant relatives of pines, and they date back from the Miocene Epoch, between 5 and 25 million years ago.
Fossilized clams and snails can be found in western Oregon, with the occasional crab or shark’s tooth, however, most marine fossils can be found in Vernonia, or along the south-central Oregon coast.
However, take note that collecting these specimens is allowed only by an owner’s approval if the land is private. Also, fossil collecting is prohibited in most places across Oregon, but you can have a collecting permit to do so.
This is especially true if you want to collect in certain places such as federal lands, or parks. If you ever go to the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, keep your hands in your pocket, as collecting fossils there is strictly forbidden.
TIP: A lot of fossils come from prehistoric animals. So have you ever think if rocks have their own DNA? Or DNA of these animals? Find out more in the article below:
FAQ about Rockhounding in Oregon
Still did not find the answer to your answers about rockhounding in Oregon? Find frequently asked questions in the section below:
If you want to take rocks from rivers in Oregon, you should check if the river is designated as Essential Salmon Habitat. If so, then you are allowed to collect only one cubic yard of rocks per year if you are using non-motorized equipment. You won’t need a removal-fill permit for this.
If the river is designated as State scenic Waterway, you will need a removal-fill permit to collect anything. For all other waterways, you can only collect up to 50 cubic yards of material per year without the need for a removal-fill permit.
Some beaches are part of the Oregon State Park and thus you must follow certain rules or regulations, however, there are some general ones to follow as well.
When it comes to rockhounding on Oregon beaches, you are allowed only one-gallon container per person a day, but this only applies if you wish to collect agates or non-living items. When it comes to fossils, you are permitted three gallons per person per year.
The state rock of Oregon is the famous thunderegg. This specimen has been the state’s official rock since 1965. These rocks form in silica-rich rhyolitic lava flows. They range in size from less than an inch to over four feet in diameter.
They typically have a cavity in which agate, jasper, or opal is found. Most thundereggs are found on the eastern side of the state.
The best place to search for agates in Oregon is upon its shores. Plenty of agates are collected on Oregon’s beaches since they are washed up. Be careful about the regulations though, and if you are ready, head towards Depoe Bay, Beverly Beach, Moolack Beach, Gold Beach, or Oceanside town. These are but a few of many places where you can find agates in Oregon.
Oregon is among the best places to rockhound in the United States, due to its agate-filled beaches, its rivers filled with petrified wood or carnelian, or its mountains and national parks where almost anything can be found.
The famous thundereggs, sunstones, or the different colored obsidians will make a great addition to any rockhounds collection.
There is much to be said about Oregon, but alas to conclude it all, it is beautiful, rich, and one might never know what he or she will stumble upon its landscapes!
BTW: Check out this amazing metal sign (Amazon link) which is perfect for everyone who loves rockhounding in Oregon!
TIP: And it’s rockhounding time now! But wait, do you know what tools you need for rockhounding? Check out the list of all needed tools and equipment for rockhounding in the article below: