Michigan is one of the best states in the U.S. for rockhounding thanks to its proximity to the Great Lakes and recent geological history. Famous for their Petoskey Stones, the extensive shorelines of Michigan are must-visit destinations for any rockhound. The Upper Peninsula is particularly noteworthy for its long history of copper mining and the presence of agates and Isle Royale Greenstone.
Rockhounding in Michigan will generally involve either searching the shorelines of the Great Lakes for agates and Petoskey stones or scouring through the tailings and dumps of old mines. There are too many old copper mines to count and they produce a wide variety of copper-associated minerals. The Upper Peninsula beaches are best for finding agates, while the Lower Peninsula is the place to go for Petoskey Stones.
The best places to rockhound in Michigan are the Keweenaw Peninsula, Isle Royale, Manitou Island, Marquette County, and the shorelines of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. A wide variety of rocks and minerals can be found including Petoskey Stones, Chlorastrolite, Agate, Chalcedony, and copper minerals.
|State Rock||Petoskey Stone|
|State Gemstone||Isle Royale Greenstone|
If you’ve already found a rock and you’re not sure what it is, I would highly recommend checking out my Practical Rock Identification System. This bundle of information includes a book, videos, and online tools. It is, simply put, the most comprehensive and easy-to-understand rock identification system you’ll find anywhere.
You can also read through my free rock identification guide and mineral identification guide which are filled with useful information and tools.
Through quite a bit of research and cross-referencing of available literature, I have compiled this list of some prospective locations in Michigan which I would recommend to people looking to do some rockhounding. These are mostly comprised of beaches, old mining prospects, streams, and historically known rock and mineral collecting sites. For additional reading, I’d highly recommend these books you can find on Amazon:
- Lake Michigan Rock Picker’s Guide
- Michigan Rocks & Minerals
- Rockhounding & Prospecting: Upper Midwest
Please remember that rock collecting locations are constantly changing. Specimens may become depleted from other collectors, the location may have been built on or altered, locality information in literature may be inaccurate, and property ownership may have changed hands. Though there are many locations listed here, this list is far from exhaustive. A location’s listing here is not a guarantee of accuracy. Be safe, never go underground, and make sure to get permission from the landowner to search for and collect specimens.
If you’re planning on heading to the field, make sure you have all the gear you’ll need! To get started, you can check out my recommended gear page which contains my full reviews for every Geologist’s favorite rock hammer and the best hiking backpack I’ve ever owned.
Michigan Rockhounding Locations
Important Disclaimer: I have not been to these locations myself, and I do not know if they are currently open for collecting. Use this resource as a guide to get you started. Follow posted signage and always get permission from the landowner to collect.
NOTE: All the locations listed in these tables are clickable, and will take you to the location on Google Maps.
The Keweenaw Peninsula (which I’ll loosely define here as Keweenaw, Houghton, and Ontonagon Counties) is one of the most prolific and exciting locations for rockhounds in Michigan. Its beaches are littered with stunning agates and jaspers, and the countless regional mines produce a wide variety of minerals including native copper.
|Location||Rocks & Minerals|
|Beaches N of Ahmeek||Agate, Adularia, Chalcedony, Chert, Jasper, Thomsonite|
|Keweenaw Point, local beach gravels||Keweenaw Agate, Adularia, Chalcedony, Chert, Jasper, Thomsonite|
|McClain State Park, beaches||Adularia, Chalcedony, Chert, Jasper, Keweenaw Agate, Thomsite|
|Torch Lake beach gravels||Fossils, Petoskey stones|
|Lake Superior beach gravels||Adularia, Keweenaw Agates, Chalcedony, Chert, Jasper, Thomsonite|
|Gull Point, area beach gravels||Keweenaw Agates|
Isle Royale & Manitou Island
Isle Royale and the Manitou Islands are both managed by the National Park Service and therefore rock collecting isn’t allowed. However, rockhounds can find, photograph, and appreciate many specimens including agates, thomsonite, onyx, quartz, and Michigan’s state gemstone Chlorastolite, colloquially known as Isle Royale Greenstone. Determined rockhounds can scuba dive off the shores of these islands and enjoy prolific collecting on the bottom of Lake Superior.
|Location||Approx GPS||Rocks & Minerals|
|N shore and islands of Tobin Harbor, towards Blake Point||48.165421, -88.463458||Agate, Carnelian, Quartz crystals|
|Carnelian beach, beaches of Siskiwit Bay||47.904708, -89.003825||Agate nodules, Carnelian, Quartz crystals|
|S shores of Siskiwit Lake, gravels||47.988714, -88.807382||Chlorastrolite (Isle Royale Greenstone)|
|Manitou Island, beaches surrounding island||47.414991, -87.627943||Lake Superior Agates|
|Manitou Island, N shores of bays||47.415681, -87.601344||Lake Superior Agates|
Like most of the Upper Peninsula, Marquette County is littered with old mines and mining dumps. There are also several nice pegmatites and outcrops in the area that make for good rockhounding destinations. Minerals to be found in the area include hematite, gold, pyrite, chalcopyrite, jasper, quartz, chalcedony, and garnet.
|Location||Rocks & Minerals|
|Champion Mine dump, in pegmatite||Hematite, Sapphite, Sericite, Specularite|
|Rope Mine, tailings||Gold, Pyrite, Chalcopyrite|
|Jasper Hill, Ishpeming||Jasper, Jaspilite, Hematite, Quartz|
|Mt. Shasta, in outcrops||Garnet|
|Michigamme Mine||Chalcedony, Hematite, Jaspilite|
Lake Michigan Shoreline
While not as prolific as the shoreline of Lake Huron, the beaches of Lake Michigan are very popular rockhounding destinations in their own right. The beach gravels and inland exposures from Petoskey all the way south Oceana County are well known for their Petoskey Stones and other fossils.
|Location||Rocks & Minerals|
|Beach gravels, W from Petoskey||Petoskey Stones|
|Beach gravels, N from Norwood||Petoskey Stones, fossils|
|Beach gravels, W of Hart||Petoskey Stones, fossils|
Lake Huron Shoreline
The beach gravels of Lake Huron are world famous for their Petoskey stones, making the area a must-visit for rockhounds. For more variety, the area around Presque Isle has been known to produce nice agates, beautiful veined sandstone, and even chalcedony geodes. The Rockport Recreation Area is a very popular destination for families looking to collect Petoskey Stones and other fossils.
|Location||Rocks & Minerals|
|Burt Lake beach gravels||Petoskey Stones, Fossils|
|Presque Isle, area beach gravels||Agate, Chalcedony geodes, Sandstone with calcite veins|
|Rockport Recreation Area, quarry||Fossils, Petoskey Stones, Pyrite|
|Area around Pointe Aux Barques, in shales||Marcasite|
Michigan is home to several fee-to-dig rockhounding sites thanks in large part to its extensive copper mining history. These sites will allow you to search for and collect your own mineral specimens in a safe and controlled environment. Here is a brief list of some of the more popular fee-to-dig sites in Michigan and where you can find more information about them.
|Site Name||Town||Best Contact|
|Thunder Bay Mine||Frankenmuth||Website|
|Delaware Copper Mine||Copper Harbor||Website|
Where to Find Petoskey Stones
For many rockhounds, finding their own Petoskey stones will be high on the priority list when collecting in Michigan. These unique looking rocks are the state stone of Michigan and are composed of calcified Hexagonaria coral. They are often well-rounded due to the weathering they experience on the shores of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, and can be found on many beaches in the area.
The best places to find Petoskey Stones are on the gravel beaches of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, particularly the beaches of the NW Lower Peninsula between Petoskey and Norwood such as those of Fisherman’s Island State Park, Michigan BeachPark, and North Point Nature Preserve.
Tip: Check out my Complete Rock Tumbling Guide to make your rocks and gemstones really shine!
Michigan Rockhounding Laws & Regulations
One of the most common questions rockhounds have is whether or not they are allowed to collect at a certain location. It is the responsibility of each rockhound to obtain permission from a landowner to search and/or collect on a piece of property.
The ownership and status of land can and does change frequently, making it impossible to document accurate information on this page. However, I have compiled a list of resources here so that you may investigate and obtain permission for any locations (found here or elsewhere) for yourself.
Public Land Resources
I have written entire articles which cover the rockhounding laws and regulations for nearly every type of public land you can think of. I encourage you to check them out if you are curious about the legalities of rock and mineral collecting.
- Rockhounding on Public Land: Laws and Regulations
- Can You Collect Rocks in State Parks? All 50 States Answered
To determine what type of public land a particular location is on, I would recommend starting with the land and mineral ownership maps from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Private Land Resources
As with most states, each county in Michigan will have records of who owns each piece of property. Unfortunately for rockhounds, the law prohibits them from publishing their names or contact information online. You can get the landowner’s name and address by visiting the county records office. This site from MSU would be a great place to start.
Sources & Further Reading
The locations and information contained in this article are primarily derived from academic papers, online resources, and other outside sources. If you would like to read some of the source material for yourself I have listed them below. The majority of these locations are my interpretation of Robert Beste’s A Location Guide for Rock Hounds in the United States. Other sources include: