Rock Picking on The North Shore

  • Rock Picking on The North Shore

    Summer is finally coming for us Minnesotans, which means it’s lake season! It’s time to pack our cars with sunscreen, swimsuits and floppy hats and head to the water. Oh and don’t forget your bucket for rock picking! Wandering up and down the north shore searching for precious stones is a common summer-afternoon activity in Minnesota. Throughout your rock search you may even come across the ultimate gem, a Lake Superior Agate. So just incase you do it’s important to know what an agate is and what they look like.

    The Lake Superior Agate is a type of agate stained by iron and found on the shores of Lake Superior. Its wide distribution and iron-rich bands of color reflect the gemstone’s geologic history in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. Agates may be found in various different kinds of rock but they are classified as volcanic rock. The Lake Superior Agate specifically is noted for it’s rich, red, orange and yellow coloring, so keep an eye out!

    Tips for agate picking on the north shore:

    • Head to Minnesota if you’re not already there!
      Lake Superior is one of the best places to search for agates. Sometimes the shore can get picked over so it’s best to wait until after a rainstorm when new rocks wash up.
    • Know where to look and what to look for
      Do your research on agates before you head out. Identify all different shapes, styles and colors so you’re able to spot one right away. You can always buy agates in a shop but it’s much more rewarding if you’re able to find one yourself.
    • Spring into summer is the best time of year to find agates
      Late spring is the perfect time to start looking for agates. Head up to Lake Superior for a weekend trip and relax on the shore. Get out there before it gets too hot and busy!
    • Best time to look is a sunny day in the early morning
      If you are serious about finding an agate then set your alarm early! Get out before everyone else and you’ll have a better chance at snatching one before someone else does. Keep in mind you’ll have better luck after a storm too.
    • Remember that it’s not always obvious which rock is an agate
      If you see a rock that vaguely resembles an agate pick it up, what’s the harm? Agates come in all different shapes and sizes so even if it doesn’t initially look like an agate there could still be a chance. And if it’s not you go home with a gorgeous rock anyway!
    • Translucent shell is a big sign
      Find a rock with a translucent looking shell? Pick it up! A translucent shell is often a big indicator of an agate.
    • Agates can come in many different colors from brown, greys and white, to bright orange, red or blue.
      Although agates are often an orange reddish color they can come in a few other colors too. If you see a blue, brown or grey looking rock with unique agate-type lines, you may have found your gem!
    • Bring tools
      Experienced agate pickers usually use specialized equipment to hunt but if you’re just starting out then a rock scoop will do. A rock scoop has a long handle that has a spoon shape at the end, which will help the digging process.
    • Agates are always out there!
      If you don’t find one your first time out, don’t give up! You never know when you could look down and find an agate when you’re least expecting it.

    Now that you know how to identify an agate get out there and start hunting! Even if you’re taking a casual walk along lake superior you never know what could show up. Always keep your eyes peeled for this Minnesota gem! Be sure to also visit the Agate Shop in Beaver Bay, which features agates from all over the world. Stop in with your agate find and they’ll help you identify it or if you’re looking for agate or stone jewelry and souvenirs this is the perfect place! The Agate Store is located a mere mile from Cove Point Lodge and right by the Beaver River – a great spot for agate picking.

    For more tips on how to find agates on the north shore CLICK HERE.