The 31 Proven Locations To Find Agates In Idaho In 2024

By Keith Jackson - Geologist

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The 31 Proven Locations To Find Agates In Idaho In 2024

By Keith Jackson - Geologist


Idaho has everything— from mountains and valleys to meandering rivers and beautiful creeks. But among its many geological wonders, one of the most exciting things to find here is the colorful and mesmerizing Idaho agate.

Our state is especially blessed with a lot of these gems, but finding agates in Idaho isn’t always easy. They hide in plain sight, and without the right tips and hints, they can be tricky to spot.

That’s why we’re going to spill the beans on some of the proven locations to find agates in Idaho. Places like the Salmon River, Little Wood River, Grouse Creek, Indian Bathtub, and Malm Gulch are known for their bountiful deposits of this beauty.

You’ll also discover in this article how diverse the types of agates are in our state. Get ready to be in awe of Idaho’s hidden agate treasures!

What is Idaho Agate?

Moss agate photo with visible plant-like white inclusions
Moss agate photo provided by and available for purchase at TurquoiseAgate

Imagine a stone that isn’t just one plain color but has layers of amazing patterns and colors: that’s an agate! With its naturally captivating looks, it’s no wonder agate’s value and price can go through the roof sometimes.

Agates are formed inside volcanic rocks when pockets of gas get filled with minerals over a long, long time. As the minerals build up, they create those awesome patterns.

Lucky for you, Idaho is one of the awesome places where you can find agates! In fact, our state has many spots where these beautiful stones wait to be uncovered.

But before we proceed to that discussion, let’s first go through the different types of agates and whether you can find them in Idaho:

Moss Agates

Even though it’s called “moss” agate, it doesn’t actually have any moss in it. Instead, it’s named for the awesome green and sometimes reddish-brown patterns inside the rock that look a lot like tiny forests or mossy scenes.

These patterns are caused by minerals like iron and manganese that get trapped inside the stone. And if you’re wondering whether you can find moss agates in Idaho, the answer is a resounding YES!

Fire Agates

When you look at a fire agate, you’ll see mesmerizing flashes of reds, oranges, and even greens and blues. It’s almost like a sunset is caught in a rock! This glow is thanks to super thin layers of iron oxide that get sandwiched in the agate.

So, can you strike gold, or should we say fire, by finding this gem in Idaho? Well, while our state is home to many incredible gems, fire agate isn’t super common here. The best places to find them are actually in the southwestern U.S. and Mexico.

Blue Lace Agates

Blue lace agate has delicate bands of blue and white that weave together, almost like waves in the ocean or ribbons in the sky. The gentle, calming colors of this stone make it a favorite for many rock lovers.

Unfortunately, despite Idaho’s wide variety of gems and minerals, blue lace agate isn’t one of the more common finds in our state. This lovely stone is actually most famously found in southern Africa.

Iris Agate

What makes iris agate so special is its ability to display a rainbow of colors when light shines through it. When you hold up a thin slice of this rock to the light, you’ll see a burst of colors, just like when you see a rainbow after a rainstorm!

The exciting news is that you can definitely find iris agates in Idaho. Indeed, our state is full of geological surprises and stunning stones to uncover!

Seam Agate

Instead of forming in round nodules or pockets like some other agates, seam agates are found in, you guessed it, seams! These are like long, thin layers or ribbons sandwiched between other rocks.

Each layer of seam agate represents a different moment in time, and sometimes these moments are thousands or millions of years apart! And if you’re wondering if you can find it in Idaho, you’re in for a treat. Our history of volcanic activity and flowing water has created the perfect conditions for these gems to form.

Plume Agate

Plume agate has these incredible feathery or plant-like patterns inside the stone. These “plumes” can be a bunch of different colors, from red to black to yellow, that look like miniature forests or plants that got trapped inside the rock.

These plumes are from minerals like manganese or iron that got into the silica-rich solutions where agate was forming. Great thing, Idaho has the ideal conditions for this type to form, so you can find plume agates here.

Purple Agate

Purple agate stands out because of its dreamy purple hues, ranging from soft lavender to deep violet. Like all agates, it’s made up of tiny crystals that give it a smooth and shiny appearance.

While purple agates are not very common, Idaho is one of the places where you can find this rare beauty. Pretty awesome, right?

Banded Agate

Banded agate has beautiful, parallel lines or bands that stack up on top of each other. These bands can come in all sorts of colors, from earthy browns to vibrant reds and cool blues.

Now, for the moment of truth: Can you find banded agate in Idaho? Absolutely! Known for its fantastic geology, our state is home to many types of agates, including this beautiful banded variety.

If this discussion on the different types of agates has sparked your interest in stunning and mesmerizing natural wonders, you can also check out our article on the great crystal mine sites in Idaho.

How We Know About Great Locations For Agate in Idaho
With agates being so beautiful you can image that the best spots are not always advertised widely. In fact, it isn’t unusual for good places to find agates to be secrets known by just a few locals. Fortunately, you do know someone who has been around the block!

The key factors in our recommendations are:

  • The deep experience and understanding of our team about the area
  • Recommendations from local groups and clubs
  • How easy it is to get the a particular location
  • Safety and potential hazards when collecting
  • Weighing private and public locations
  • The ability for both experienced and novice agate enthusiasts to find great samples

With these factors in mind we’ve been able to put together a fantastic list that just about anyone can use!

Rock pick being used

The tools every agate hunter will need

When you're out looking for agates having the right tools for the job is really going to make or break your success. You don't need a lot for most trips but there are a handful that are critical and will make your life a lot easier.

We get asked a lot about the equipment we use. Over the years we've found a handful of tools that we recommend to both new and experienced agate hunters which we outline in great detail in our complete rockhounding tools and kit guide. These are quality options that also happen to be relatively inexpensive.

Below are the basic tools that make your life so much easier and save you a ton of time. Check out the full guide to see everything we recommend bringing. One quick note, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases but we try very hard to only recommend gear we would use ourselves and often recommend brands you can't find on Amazon.

At a minimum you should have:

1 - Sturdy rock hammer: The Estwing Rock Pick is our standard

2 - Rugged chisels: Try Kendo' 3-piece Chisel Set

3 - Compact shovel: The Koleiya 28-inch shovel works well

4 - Rock screen pan: The Wazakura Soil Sieve Set fits the bill

5 - Eye protection: DeWalt Safety Glasses are cheap and comfortable

6 - Head protection: Malta's Safety Helmet has been our go-to

7 - Jewelers lens with at least 20x magnification: Jarlink's Jewelers Loop is perfect

The agate-finding books that we use most

There are also a few books that have been extremely helpful in the search for gems. These books have great recommendations and tips:

National Audubon Society Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals: North America 

Northwest Treasure Hunter's Gem & Mineral Guide 

Earth Treasures: The Northwestern Quadrant 

We provide links to find these tools on Amazon but some can also be found at your local hardware stores. For more recommendations check out the link to our full tool guide above.

The Best Spots To Find Agates in Idaho

A deep purple agate
Purple agate photo provided by Caitlin

Our state is not one to quickly run short of natural wonders, so it’s no surprise that there are many great gem mine sites in Idaho. But if you want a guide that’s focused on the proven locations where you can find agates, below are your best shots:

Always Confirm Access and Collection Rules!

Before heading out to any of the locations on our list you need to confirm access requirements and collection rules for both public and private locations directly with the location. We haven’t personally verified every location and the access requirements and collection rules often change without notice.

Many of the locations we mention will not allow collecting but are still great places for those who love to find beautiful rocks and minerals in the wild without keeping them. We also can’t guarantee you will find anything in these locations since they are constantly changing. 

Always get updated information directly from the source ahead of time to ensure responsible rockhounding. If you want even more current options it’s always a good idea to contact local rock and mineral clubs and groups

Salmon River

Breathtaking view of the Salmon River and its surrounding landscapes

Salmon River, often referred to as the “River of No Return,” stretches over 400 miles, making it one of the longest free-flowing rivers in the lower 48 states. It winds its way from the Sawtooth Valley all the way to the Snake River. Along its journey, it carves through deep canyons, some even deeper than the Grand Canyon!

The geology around the Salmon River isn’t just stunning to look at; it’s also a rockhound’s paradise. Among the treasures you can find here is the beautiful agate.

If you’re thinking of visiting, there are many access points along this river. Highways like the Salmon River Scenic Byway run alongside significant portions of the river. But before you head out, make sure to review Idaho’s latest collecting guidelines.

Where we found agates on Salmon River

You can find agates if you search in the gravels and sands of Salmon River and all its tributaries.

Little Wood River

Aerial view of the winding waters of the Little Wood River

Originating in the Pioneer Mountains, the Little Wood River stretches over a picturesque landscape before finally joining the Snake River. As it flows, it creates a series of beautiful scenes, from meandering streams to more rapid currents.

The land surrounding the Little Wood River is a treat for anyone interested in geology. It boasts of an array of rock formations. The presence of agate here is a testament to the rich mineral history of the area.

If you’re eager to visit, the Little Wood River is relatively accessible. Roads like the US-26 offer scenic routes that provide glimpses of its beauty. There are also multiple points where you can approach the river.

Where we found agates in the Little Wood River

With a keen eye and a bit of patience and luck, you can uncover moss agates in the gravels near Carey and south along the Little Wood River.

Grouse Creek

Grouse Creek falls surrounded by astounding rock formations

Grouse Creek is a charming waterway that begins its journey in the Albion Mountains and winds through various landscapes before eventually flowing into the Snake River. The journey of this creek offers captivating sights of shimmering waters, tall trees, and rugged terrains.

The geology surrounding Grouse Creek is the result of a mix of geological events over time, from the slow layering of sedimentary rocks to the fiery display of volcanic eruptions. Among the exciting finds here are pretty agates.

If you wish to explore Grouse Creek, the roads leading to it are well-marked, so it will be a straightforward journey for you. There are also several access points where you can approach its waters.

Where we found agates in Grouse Creek

You can find stunning banded agates and iris agates if you explore the area of Grouse Creek which is near Eaton.

Indian Bathtub

A series of basin-like springs in the Indian Bathtub

Indian Bathtub is not your typical bathtub. This natural formation is a kind of pool or basin created by the relentless force of water over countless years. It’s surrounded by a landscape of rolling hills, dense forests, and rugged rock formations.

The geology here is rich and varied. The bathtub itself is evidence of the power of water to carve out spaces within solid rock. As you explore, you have the chance to come across agates.

Since this place is located off the beaten path, getting here is an adventure. It offers a more secluded experience, so it might require a bit of a trek. The nearby towns can be a good starting point, and locals often share tips and directions for the best routes. Of course, you can also rely on your trusty GPS and maps.

Where we found agates in the Indian Bathtub

You can uncover elusive purple agates if you explore the general area and the different nooks and crannies of the Indian Bathtub.

Malm Gulch

Unique rock formation at the Malm Gulch

Located in the southern part of our state, Malm Gulch offers a landscape that’s both captivating and full of geological intrigue. It’s a place where rugged terrains meet the gentle touch of nature.

Malm Gulch’s geology is like a page out of Earth’s history book. Over the ages, this area has seen a mix of volcanic activity and erosive forces. These events have left behind an array of rocks and minerals that include fascinating agates.

If you’re thinking of paying a visit to Malm Gulch, you’re in for a journey that’s both scenic and accessible. While some parts of the gulch might require a bit of trekking, there are routes that are more straightforward, making it possible for people of various adventure levels to explore.

Where we found agates in Malm Gulch

You can find agates if you explore and search through the petrified forest ridge in Malm Gulch.

Other Great Places To Find Agates in Idaho

A slab of Moroccan seam agate

Seam agate photo provided by earthlend61116

Aside from the first five proven locations that we’ve shared, there are plenty of other sites where you can find Idaho agates. We’ve listed them below by county:

Our recommendations by county

County Location
Ada Roads, prospects, and almost anywhere
Butte Big Piney Mountain
Custer Lime Creek Road
Custer Meyers Cove
Custer North Fork of Lost River
Fremont Island Park Caldera
Gem Squaw Butte
Idaho South Fork in Kooskia
Idaho Salmon River and all tributaries
Idaho Slate and McKinsey Creeks
Lemhi Parker Mountain
Nez Perce Regional streams in Lewiston
Owyhee Bruneau Desert
Owyhee South near the border in Homedale
Owyhee Graveyard Point
Owyhee Succor Creek
Owyhee Long Gulch mine dumps
Valley Big Creek
Washington Hog Creek
Washington Little Weirser Creek
Washington Weiser Cove

Additional areas you can find agates

If you’re exploring a generally broad area, you may want to focus on the following specific spots where agates usually hide:

Rivers and Riverbanks

Rivers and riverbanks are like nature’s conveyor belts for gemstones, especially agate. With their flowing waters, rivers carry downstream the agates that were formed from volcanic activities. The movement of water tumbles it, smoothing and rounding its edges.

When these agates reach riverbanks, they get deposited among gravel and sand, waiting to get uncovered. So, wandering along Idaho’s riverbanks increases your chances of spotting these hidden gems.

Streams and Creeks

Streams and creeks are nature’s treasure troves for agate hunters! Here’s why: agates form in volcanic areas, and over the years, the forces of nature wear away the volcanic rocks, setting the agates free. Streams and creeks then act like natural slides for these stones.

Packed with volcanic history and a network of flowing waters, Idaho is a perfect stage for this process. In our streams and creeks, agates settle among the pebbles and stones.


Mountains are like giant puzzle boxes hiding many geological treasures. Agates often begin their journey deep within volcanic rocks that form many mountain ranges. These rocks have pockets and holes that turn into agates. As mountains face nature’s forces, they slowly wear down, releasing hidden agates into the open.

Now, think about Idaho with its grand mountains. These mountains have been holding onto agates for millions of years! When you explore these heights, you’re diving into a world filled with potential agate treasures.

Common Agate-Hunting Questions

A plume agate with vivid inclusions that look like soft paintbrush strokes
Plume agate photo provided by Maldonado Gems LLC

Before you start your exploration, we’ll answer the most common question of those who have tried their hand at finding agates in Idaho:

Is it illegal to collect agate in Idaho?

In Idaho, collecting agates for personal use on public lands, like the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) areas, is generally allowed. However, there are rules and guidelines to follow.

You should avoid designated wilderness areas, archaeological sites, and other sensitive areas. It’s also crucial not to disturb wildlife or their habitats.

Before collecting agates, it’s always a good idea to check specific regulations for the area you plan to visit and obtain any necessary permits or permissions. For more information, visit the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) website.

The Best Places To Buy Agates In Idaho

Front store window and building of the Astro Gallery of Gems

If you want a more stress-free and relaxed way of observing and bringing home an agate, you can visit our trusted local rock and mineral shops that showcase these gems. Below are some of them:

If you have any recommendations for our list please leave a comment below!

About Keith Jackson - Geologist

Keith Jackson is an avid rockhound who is constantly exploring new sites to expand his collection. He is an active Geologist with a wealth of experience and information from across the country that he loves to share with the Rock Chasing crew.

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