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Finding an agate is much more rewarding than just buying one – as any rockhound already knows. Not only are they beautiful and unique, but they’re also one of the most abundant rocks on Earth. This means that if you know where to search and what to look for – you’ll probably be able to find an agate in almost any country in the world! There are many types of agates and some can only be found in specific locations while others are found across numerous continents. So where can you find agates?
In the U.S. they’re prevalent in Oregon, Wyoming, Montana, Arizona, Idaho, California, Washington, New Mexico, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Utah, Colorado, Arkansas, and Nevada. They can also be found around the world in Australia, Germany, Brazil, Czechia, Botswana, Mexico, Morocco, Afghanistan, Argentina, Canada, Chile, India, China, and over 40 other countries.
But since they’re so widespread, you need to know exactly where they’re found in each country and state to save yourself a lot of time and effort.
There are very specific spots that are known to have agates and those are the locations you need to start from. Some of those places are public but others are private and rockhounding there is forbidden (or in some cases a fee needs to be paid).
If you are interested in checking out beautiful agate rocks you can find them by clicking here (Amazon link).
Where Can You Find Agates in the United States?
One of the most famous agates in the world is one that can only be found in the U.S. and Canada – The Lake Superior agate. As you can guess, it’s found on the shores of Lake Superior.
Lake Superior Agates
This lake is accessible from 3 different states: north-western Wisconsin, northeastern Minnesota, and northern Michigan. It’s also found near Thunder Bay in Canada which is also one of the shores of Lake Superior.
This agate can be distinguished from others by its vibrant red, orange or yellow bands that usually feature white bands in-between.
The redness comes from iron which leeches into this agate from other rocks and oxidizes. The oxidization level and iron concentration are the two main factors that decide the colors of the bands and their intensity.
Below are some of the best locations to find Lake Superior agates in all three states.
Little Girls Point
Muskallonge Lake State Park
St. Croix County
TIP: Agate is actually a very popular rock that is famous for its use in jewelry and decorations. However, not many people know what it’s made of or how it’s made. Find out the explanation in the article below:
What Is Agate And How Do Agates Form? Simple Explanation
Another very famous type of agate that can also be found in the U.S. is fire agate. Though this agate is much more abundant in certain parts of Mexico, it can also be found in Arizona, California (links to complete rockhouding guides), and New Mexico which shares a border with Mexico.
Its main color is reddish-brown but it features a beautiful play of orange, gold, or green when viewed from different angles. This is called iridescence and in the case of fire agate, it’s attributed to the iron oxide and limonite inside the stone. It’s often compared to opal in terms of iridescence.
The area near the south-eastern border between Arizona and Mexico actually houses a myriad of rocks other than agates, including obsidian, carnelian, thundereggs, jaspers, azurite, rhyolite, malachite, and chrysocolla. In other areas of Arizona peridot, amethyst, jade, opal, petrified wood, and turquoise have been found.
It can be found in numerous locations, some of which are private mines and cannot be accessed whereas others are public rockhounding sites where you can go digging whenever you want.
Some are private but offer a “pay to dig” service where you pay an entrance fee and are given permission to rockhound in that area. Many of these sites are on federal land and therefore managed by the “Bureau of Land Management” (BLM).
The following are some of the most famous sites:
- Saddle Mountain, Arizona (Rockhounding site and recreational area)
- Opal Hill, California (Mine, pay-to-dig)
- Black Hills, Arizona (Public rockhounding site, managed by the BLM)
- Round Mountain, Arizona (Public rockhounding site, BLM)
- Slaughter Mountain, Arizona (Mine)
- Oatman, Arizona (“Cuesta Fire Agate Mine”, pay-to-dig, $30-$50 entry fee)
Though some of these sites have been used for decades as rockhounding locations, you don’t need to worry about not finding any agates – annual rainfalls reveal buried rocks all the time and most of these places are very large (there are probably areas that haven’t even been properly explored because of the rough terrain).
There are a number of public rockhounding sites in Oregon (link to complete rockhounding guide), most of which are managed by the BLM and open to rockhounds. These include:
- Eagle Rock – where you can find moss and dendritic agate as well as rhyolite and different types of chalcedony. A hammer and chisel might come in handy here.
- Fischer Canyon – where you’ll not only find agate but also jasper and petrified wood.
- Maury Mountains – famous for its variety of moss agates (that come in different colors). You will probably need to dig a bit since most of the rocks on the surface have been collected by other rockhounds.
- North Ochoco Reservoir – which mainly offers agate and jasper. A hike is required to get there and tools (e.g. rock hammer) may be necessary.
Other than the sites mentioned above, there are hundreds of places to look for rocks in Oregon, since it’s situated right next to the ocean, which means tons of mineral deposits have historically been carried into the state via rivers, not to mention deposits that have built up near the coastline.
Areas that the Willamette River and its tributaries run through, Oregon’s forests, desert areas, and the coastline house numerous types of agates, thundereggs, jaspers, petrified wood, fossils, obsidian, and more. There’s even a map that shows you where to look for rocks in Oregon.
Montana Moss Agate
The “Montana Moss Agate” is another interesting agate that’s found in the Yellowstone region, especially Yellowstone National Park, which is a part of Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho (links to ultimate rockhounding guides). They’re translucent, orange/brown agates with black dendrites.
Montana is actually quite famous for its agates which have been one of their official state gemstones since 1969, along with sapphire.
Another famous agate that’s found in Montana is the “Dryhead Agate”, which is most often found in the form of nodules that feature red, orange, white, and brown fortification banding surrounded by darker colors. They’re found near the Big Horn River and the Pryor Mountains.
Another well-known agate is the “Mojave Blue” agate which is found in the “Mojave Desert” of California. It has a blue/blue-grey color and is often used in jewelry. A lot of agates are also found along the coast of California and this map shows the main locations.
The best rockhounding spots for finding agates in Colorado are Wolf Creek Pass on route 160, Felch Creek, and Houselog Creek.
TIP: Agates look quite dull from the outside. It is when they are cut and polished that their intricate wavy patterns and colors are revealed. Check out the complete guide on cutting and polishing agates in the article below:
How to Cut and Polish Agates? Follow These Simple Steps
Where Can You Find Agates in Europe and the Rest of the World?
Agates can actually be found in almost every European country and the chart below shows regions where agates have been previously found (this chart shows only a small amount of the locations – for the whole list of agates found all over the world and more details, check out this site.
|Slovakia||Mt Veľký Gápeľ|
Buñol (Cemex quarry)
|United Kingdom||Godolphin mine|
Lyme Regis Beach
Australia is well-known for producing a number of unique agates with brilliant colors and patterns, many of which come from Agate Creek in Northern Queensland.
Some agates that were found in this area display different colors depending on which side the rock is illuminated from.
Most of the world’s agates come from Brazil and Uruguay so these two countries have to be on this list. In Brazil, most of them are found in the South, in the Rio Grande do Sul. Other prominent agate-producing states include Minas Gerais, Goiás, Pará, Piauí, Paraíba, and the Tocantins.
In Mexico, you can find both fire agates and Laguna agates. The fire agates are found south of Arizona whereas Laguna agates are prevalent in Estacion Ojo Laguna, in the state of Chihuahua in northern Mexico.
TIP: Fake agates have flooded online shops these days. Find out the main differences between real and fake agate in the article below:
Real vs. Fake Agate: You Should Know These 7 Differences
Where Should You Look for Agate?
As a general rule of thumb you should search places where agates have previously been found, but other than that here are a couple of tips to remember:
- Coastlines/shores often house agates, though most are hidden in the sand and need to be dug up,
- Agates can sometimes be found in gravel pits and on dirt roads,
- Road cuts, construction, and other areas where mountainsides, soil, and other land is cut and exposed.
When you look is also very important – storms have a tendency to uncover rocks and minerals by removing large portions of sand from beaches and changing the topography.
You should also pay attention to areas where there’s erosion – rocks often show up here as well.
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)
FAQ about Finding Agate Rocks
Still did not find the answer to your answers about finding agate rocks? Find frequently asked questions in the section below:
Are Agates Valuable?
Agates are generally not expensive rocks on their own (in terms of material) but some types are rarer than others, harder to find, or more difficult to extract (labor costs) making them a bit more expensive than the others.
Certain agates can only be found in one or two locations worldwide, some have very vibrant colors and some even feature beautiful and unique landscapes (scenic agates) – all of which can significantly increase their price.
How Can You Tell if the Rock You Found Is an Agate?
Agates come in all sizes, shapes, and colors but they do share some common features that will help you identify them.
These include translucency (if you hold a flashlight behind or in front of the rock, you will notice transparent areas, especially near the edges), a waxy exterior (especially if the rock is broken or chipped and the exposed area has a waxy feel) and bands inside the rock (once you open it). Lake Superior agates often have a reddish hue which is a result of iron oxide staining.
TIP: Agate can be found almost anywhere on Earth, but is it a valuable rock? Check out values for different types of agate in the article below:
Are Agates Valuable rocks? The True Worth of Agates