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Minnesota Rockhounding Location Guide & Map

Minnesota Rockhounding Location Guide & Map

Minnesota is one of the best states in the U.S. for rockhounding, mostly thanks to the widespread distribution and high quality of its agates. Rockhounds flock to Minnesota from all over the world to search for the Lake Superior Agates for which the state is famous. These beautiful rocks can be found in localities across almost the entire state due to the relatively recent glacial activity which is responsible for transporting and exposing these unique specimens.

Lake Superior Agates can be found extensively throughout the Midwest, but perhaps most commonly in Minnesota. These agates are unique for their vibrant reddish-orange colors, translucency, and characteristic banding patterns. The glacial activity which carved out Minnesota’s many lakes transported these rocks from the basalt flows to the north and left them behind in glacial till deposits for us rockhounds to find.

The best places to rockhound in Minnesota are the public beaches of Lake Superior, stream gravels, riverbanks, gravel pits, and the many quarries and mining dumps across the state. The Lake Superior beaches north of Duluth are particularly notable for their Lake Superior Agate specimens.

State Symbols
State Mineral
State Rock
State GemstoneLake Superior Agate
State FossilGiant Beaver
Minnesota: Source

Agate
Lake Superior Agate

Rocks & Minerals Found in Minnesota

While Minnesota is a great state for rockhounding, it is relatively lacking in the variety of mineral types that can be found. By far the most common and popular rock in the state is the Lake Superior Agate which is present in almost any gravel pit, beach, or stream. In select locations such as old mining dumps and quarries, rockhounds can hope to find specimens of other minerals including jasper, lintonite, and thomsonite.

The most commonly found minerals in Minnesota are:

  • Lake Superior Agate
  • Jasper
  • Chalcedony
  • Lintonite
  • Thomsonite
  • Garnet
  • Quartz
  • Marcasite
  • Pyrite

For high-quality, ethically sourced rock and mineral specimens I highly recommend checking out Throwin’ Stones online shop. I have found many gorgeous, reasonably priced minerals and fossils here ranging from small cabinet pieces to large museum-quality displays.

Rockhounding Sites in Minnesota

Through quite a bit of research and cross-referencing of available literature, I have compiled this list of some prospective locations in Minnesota 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:

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.

Northern Minnesota Rockhounding Sites

The best places to rockhound in Northern Minnesota are the many public access beaches along Lake Superior. Almost any beach along the lake can be accessed by US 61, and offers a very fun and accessible location to hunt for Lake Superior Agates. In addition to these beaches, there are several gravel pits and old mining dumps where rockhounds can hope to find a variety of specimens including agates, thomsonite, lintonite, jasper, and quartz crystals.

LocationRocks & Minerals
Cloquet, area streams, gravels, excavations, etc.Agate (Lake Superior Agate)
Cloquet, area mine dumpsAgate (Lake Superior Agate), Garnet, Greenalite, Magnetite, Marcasite, Minnesotaite, Pyrite
Carlton, area mine dumpsAgate (Lake Superior Agate), Garnet, Greenalite, Magnetite, Marcasite, Minnesotaite, Pyrite
Grand Marais, beaches to E and WLintonite, Thomsonite
Thomsonite Beach, area basalt outcropsChlorastrolite, Lintonite, Thomsonite nodules
Arrowhead Park, area beachesAgate (Lake Superior Agate)
Pigeon Point, area minesChalcocite, Chalcopyrite, Pyrite
Beaver Bay, area beach gravels to E and WAgate (Lake Superior Agate), Thomsonite
Biwabik, Mary Ellen PitAgate (Lake Superior Agate), Iron minerals, ‘Mary Ellen’ Jasper
Biwabik, Corsica PitAgate (Lake Superior Agate), Iron minerals, ‘Mary Ellen’ Jasper
Ely, area creeks, streams, washes to SWJasper (gem-quality), Quartz crystals, Chalcedony
US 169 btwn Eveleth & Grand Rapids, all mining dumpsAgate (Lake Superior Agate), Iron minerals, Jasper
Hibbing, area gravel pits, stream beds, etc.Agate (Lake Superior Agate)
Hibbing, regional mining dumpsIron minerals, Agate, Jasper, Marcasite, Pyrite, Goethite
Winton, area gravels, streams, etc.Agate (Lake Superior Agate), Jasper (Evergreen Jasper)
French River beach gravelsAgate (Lake Superior Agate)
Knife River beachesAgate (Lake Superior Agate)
Kelsey BeachAgate (Lake Superior Agate)
Gull Rock, beach gravelsAgate (Lake Superior Agate)
Little Marais River, beach at mouthThomsonite, Zeolites
Mine in northern Lake of the Woods CountyFeldspar

Central Minnesota Rockhounding Sites

As is the case with most of the rest of the state, Central Minnesota contains many great sites for finding Lake Superior Agates. The best rockhounding locations are the many area stream gravels, old mining dumps, and gravel pits. Beyond agates, you can find an assortment of mineral specimens including chalcedony, jasper, garnet, and staurolites.

LocationRocks & Minerals
Brainerd, area streams, gravels, lake shores, etc.Agate (Lake Superior Agate)
Portsmouth MineAgates, Chalcedony, Jasper, Binghamite, Manganese, Iron minerals
Arco MineAgates, Chalcedony, Jasper, Binghamite, Manganese, Iron minerals
Little Falls, area streams, gravels, quarries, etc.Agate (Lake Superior Agate), Garnet, Staurolites
Charles Lindbergh State Park, area stream sandsStaurolites
Royalton, both sides of Mississippi RiverStaurolites
Pine City, area exposures along Snake RiverChalcocite

Twin Cities Area Rockhounding Sites

There are several great rockhounding sites in the Twin Cities area, most notably the gravel pits in Osseo. Almost any local creek bed or gravel pit is a great place to search for Lake Superior Agates. While rare, trace amounts of gold have been panned out of glacial drifts, especially near Jordan. For a day of rockhounding, residents of the Twin Cities would do best to drive north to the shores of Lake Superior.

LocationRocks & Minerals
Osseo, area gravel pitsAgate (Lake Superior Agate), Chalcedony, Jasper
Jordan, panned from area glacial driftsGold
Stillwater, a deposit along Browns CreekTripoli
Quarry IslandAgate (Lake Superior Agate)
Minneapolis, area creeks, gravels, etc.Agate (Lake Superior Agate)
St. Paul, area creeks, gravels, etc.Agate (Lake Superior Agate)

Southern Minnesota Rockhounding Sites

Southern Minnesota offers a wealth of rockhounding locations, but little in the way of variety when it comes to mineral specimens. Lake Superior Agates can be found in almost any regional stream gravels, gravel pits, or quarries. For specimens other than Lake Superior Agate, try the Bronk Quarry where you may find dog tooth calcite, dolomite, goethite, marcasite, and pyrite.

LocationRocks & Minerals
Mankato, regional gravels, streams, quarries, etc.Agate (Lake Superior Agate)
Montevideo, area streams, gravels, etc.Agate (Lake Superior Agate)
Blue Earth, area streams, gravels, quarries, etc.Agate (Lake Superior Agate)
Red Wing, area streams, gravels, quarries, etc.Agate (Lake Superior Agate)
Caledonia, area sand quarriesCalcite crystals
Kasota, area quarries near Minnesota RiverFossilized coral (gemmy)
Pipestone National Monument (no collecting)Catlinite (red pipestone)
Appleton, area gravels, streams, excavations, etc.Agate (Lake Superior Agate)
Wabasha, gravels near railroad stationAgate (Lake Superior Agate)
Winona, area quarries, gravels, streams, etc.Agate (Lake Superior Agate)
Lake Winona, along shoresAgate (Lake Superior Agate)
US 61, along right of wayAgate (Lake Superior Agate)
Bronk QuarryCalcite (dog tooth), Dolomite, Goethite, Hematite, Marcasite, Pyrite
Olmsted County, all area stream gravels (by panning)Gold
Rochester, area streams, gravels, road cuts, etc.Agate (Lake Superior Agate), Chalcedony, Fossils
Rochester, quarries to the EAgate (Lake Superior Agate), Fossils

Where to Find Agates in Minnesota

Agates are some of the most commonly collected and sought-after rocks by collectors, and it’s easy to see why. Lake Superior Agates, which Minnesota is famous for, are particularly beautiful even when compared to other agate types. Their characteristic banding and reddish-orange coloring are exceptionally aesthetic and unique to the area. Luckily for rockhounds in Minnesota, there Lake Superior Agates can be found almost anywhere across the state. Agates can be found on almost any public beach, in stream and river gravels, and in gravel pits across the state.

The best places to find agates in Minnesota are:

Tip: Check out my Complete Rock Tumbling Guide to make your rocks and gemstones really shine!

Minnesota 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.

To determine what type of public land a particular location is on, I would recommend starting with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Maps.

Private Land Resources

As with most states, each county in Minnesota will have records of who owns each piece of property. Unfortunately for rockhounds, the law in most states prohibits them from publishing their names or contact information online. You can usually get the landowner’s name and address by visiting the county records office. In Minnesota, I would recommend starting with the Minnesota Geospatial Information Office records.

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 you can utilize include: