Minnesota is known for having a significant number of agate deposits, but they’re not easily accessible and require extensive knowledge of the geology and topography of the area.
Agates are typically found in gravel pits, stream beds, and along the shores of Lake Superior. Locating agates involves careful observation, persistence, and a keen eye for spotting these beautiful gemstones’ distinctive patterns and colors.
Once you’ve mastered the art of agate hunting in Minnesota, the rewards can be truly incredible!
What is Minnesota Agate?
Agates are known for their stunning beauty, complex banding patterns, and wide range of bright colors. They have a unique ability to let light pass through, which gives them a beautiful glow.
From rich reds and oranges to soothing blues and greens, agates come in various hues that make each specimen an actual work of art. Holding a polished agate in your hand can be an awe-inspiring experience, as it reveals the hidden beauty and complexity within these natural wonders.
It’s formed through a fascinating process in cavities or voids within volcanic or sedimentary rocks. The intricate banding, swirling, and color variations in agates result from different impurities and mineral traces during their formation.
When you use our guide to find some agates, you can also use this article to find out how much agates are worth.
Moss agates are typically translucent to opaque and can exhibit a range of colors, including green, brown, and black. The inclusions are formed by chlorite, hornblende, or manganese oxide.
While moss agates are not as commonly associated with Minnesota as other regions, finding them in the state is still possible.
Fire agates are a unique and mesmerizing type of agate with a beautiful play of colors that looks like flames. When chalcedony and iron oxide combine to make these agates, they get a beautiful iridescent effect.
Fire agates have layers and patterns that make them shimmer with colors that range from deep reds and oranges to bright yellows and greens. Gem collectors and people who like to wear jewelry love fire agates because they are so rare and beautiful.
While fire agates are primarily found in some areas of the southwestern United States, particularly in Arizona and New Mexico, they are not typically found in Minnesota.
Blue lace agates
Blue lace agates are a beautiful type of agate known for their intricate blue patterns. Most of these agates have bands or light blue and white layers that look like delicate lacework. Blue lace agates are very popular with gemstone collectors and jewelry makers because of their intricate patterns and soft colors.
People think they have calming and soothing effects, making them popular for meditation and spiritual practices. Blue lace agates are often cut and polished into cabochons, beads, and other jewelry pieces that show their stunning beauty.
Unfortunately, blue lace agates are not commonly found in Minnesota. The specific geological conditions required for forming blue lace agates are not prevalent in the state.
Lake Superior agates
Lake Superior agates are a type of agate predominantly found in the region surrounding Lake Superior, including parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. These agates are characterized by their distinctive banded patterns and various colors, including red, orange, yellow, and brown.
Over millions of years, volcanic activity and sedimentation have formed Lake Superior agates. The area’s unique geology, including the presence of basalt lava flows, glacial movements, and erosion, contributes to the formation and distribution of these agates.
Minnesota is one of the prime locations for finding Lake Superior agates. The state’s North Shore, particularly along the shores of Lake Superior, is known for its abundant agate deposits.
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:
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 Minnesota
Here’s our suggestion for the best places to look for agates in Minnesota. Even though there are many excellent locations to look for gems in Minnesota, only a few are the best for finding agates.
Agate Bay is a renowned destination for agate enthusiasts and rockhounds. It’s widely regarded as an excellent location to search for agates due to its unique geological characteristics.
The bay’s shoreline, with its rocky beaches and gravel pits, provides an ideal agate formation and deposition environment. The agates found in Agate Bay originate from the ancient lava flows and volcanic activity that occurred millions of years ago.
The area produces various agates, including Lake Superior, Thomsonite, and other colorful varieties. Agates in Agate Bay result from the continuous interaction between Lake Superior’s powerful waves, which act as natural agate polishers, and the underlying basalt rocks.
Ensure you know the latest rules for collecting in Minnesota before you bring your agate crystals home.
Where we found agates in Agate Bay
Agates can be found along the shoreline of Agate Bay, particularly on rocky beaches and gravel pits. Agate hunters often explore the area by walking along the water’s edge, scanning the exposed rocks and pebbles for agates.
The rocky beaches provide a natural deposition site for agates brought to the surface by Lake Superior’s waves.
The area surrounding Beaver Bay features rocky beaches, cliffs, and gravel pits, which provide an ideal environment for agate formation and accumulation. Its agate-rich shores result from the region’s volcanic history. The area’s ancient lava flows and basalt rocks provide a suitable foundation for forming agates.
The natural beauty surrounding Beaver Bay adds to the appeal of agate hunting. You can enjoy stunning views of Lake Superior and explore the rugged landscapes while engaging in the excitement of searching for these elusive gemstones.
Where we found agates in Beaver Bay
You can explore the beaches of Beaver Bay, carefully scanning the exposed rocks, pebbles, and gravel for signs of agates. It’s important to note that agates can often blend in with their surroundings, so a keen eye and careful observation are necessary for successful agate hunting.
Agates are found in the French River area because of their geological history, shaped by volcanoes and glaciers. Ancient lava flows and basalt rocks are good places for agates to grow, and the waves of Lake Superior wear away the surrounding rock to reveal these treasures.
It’s known as an excellent place to look for agates because its geology and agate deposits make it a good place to do so. Around the French River, there are rocky shorelines, beautiful beaches, and gravel pits, which is a fantastic place for agates to form and gather.
Where we found agates in the French River
French River agates can be found along the shoreline of Lake Superior. The rocky beaches and exposed cliffs are excellent locations for agate hunting.
You can explore these areas, carefully scanning the rocks, pebbles, and gravel for agates. Pay close attention to agates’ distinctive patterns and colors, as they can blend in with their surroundings.
Gooseberry Falls State Park is renowned for its stunning waterfalls, breathtaking scenery, and fantastic location for agate hunting. The park offers unique geological features and access to Lake Superior’s shoreline, making it an excellent spot to search for agates.
While the primary draw of Gooseberry Falls State Park may be its majestic waterfalls, its geological features, including its access to Lake Superior, make it an appealing destination for agate enthusiasts.
Where we found agates in Gooseberry Falls State Park
You can always explore the park’s shoreline and have the opportunity to discover hidden treasures. Lake Superior’s waves’ continuous action helps erode the rocks and reveal agates. Patiently scanning the exposed rocks, pebbles, and gravel along the shoreline may lead to exciting agate finds.
Gooseberry Falls State Park offers gravel pits and streambeds that can yield significant agate discoveries. Sifting through the gravel using screens or examining the stream sediment can reveal agates transported and deposited by water currents.
Lake Superior’s rocky shorelines, gravel beaches, and diverse mineral-rich deposits create favorable conditions for the formation and accumulation of agates. Its rocky shorelines, gravel beaches, and diverse mineral-rich deposits create favorable conditions for the formation and accumulation of agates.
With its vastness and various geological features, Lake Superior provides a rich hunting ground for agate enthusiasts. The combination of natural beauty, geological history, and the thrill of finding these unique gemstones makes agate hunting along Lake Superior’s shores an exciting and rewarding experience.
Where we found agates in Lake Superior
Lake Superior offers gravel pits and streambeds where agates can be found. These locations provide additional possibilities for you to discover these captivating gemstones. Sifting through the gravel or sediment using screens or other tools can help separate the agates from the surrounding materials.
Other Great Places To Find Agates in Minnesota
Even though we’ve listed the best places to find agates in Minnesota above, we’ll give you more options on where to look for them in the state. To make things easier, we put them in order by country.
Our recommendations by county
|Crow Wing||Cuyuna Range|
|St. Louis||Mary Ellen Mine|
|St. Louis||Brighton Beach|
|St. Louis||Grand Rapids|
Additional areas you can find agates
Because Minnesota is so big, we want to ensure your search goes well. It’s essential to look for the key and at places where agates are often found.
Lake shores are excellent locations for agate collectors to find these captivating gemstones. The unique geological dynamics and processes along lake shores contribute to agates’ formation, accumulation, and exposure.
The constant action of water, waves, and erosion on the shoreline gradually reveals agates hidden beneath the surface for long periods. Water movement, particularly in lakes with strong currents or waves, helps to dislodge agates from their original locations and transport them along the shore.
Rivers and riverbanks
The continuous flow of water in rivers, along with the eroding force of the current, plays a crucial role in the movement and deposition of agates. As rivers meander through the landscape, they pick up agates from their surroundings, transporting them downstream and creating pockets of concentrated agates along their banks.
The exposed riverbeds and gravel bars provide many opportunities for agate collectors. These areas often contain a variety of rocks and pebbles, making it easier to spot the distinct patterns and colors of agates against the surrounding materials.
Streams and creeks
The natural flow of water in streams and creeks, combined with geological processes, creates favorable conditions for agate formation and deposition. The constant movement of water helps dislodge agates from their original locations and transport them downstream.
The water’s force carries agates along the stream or creek, eventually depositing them in calmer areas such as bends, eddies, or gravel beds. Collectors can carefully search these areas, examining the exposed rocks, pebbles, and gravel to uncover these hidden treasures.
Common Agate-Hunting Questions
It’s important to know the answers to the following questions that are often asked about agates in Minnesota
Is it illegal to collect agate in Minnesota?
You can pick up agates in Minnesota if you follow the rules. When you’re in a public place, you should obey the rules. Make sure you have permission to be on private land.
The Best Places To Buy Agates In Minnesota
Not everyone likes to look for agates in the woods all day. Sometimes all you want is a display or a sample to add to your collection. Here’s a list of places where you can buy agate crystals.
- Awakenings – 4165 Minnehaha Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55406
- Crescent Moon Metaphysical Shop – 26789 Forest Blvd, Wyoming, MN 55092
- Crystal Zones Rock Shop – 1595 MN-36 #662, Roseville, MN 55113
- Designed in Stone – 1400 E Maple Ave, Mora, MN 55051
- Enchanted Boutique – 8 W 66th St, Richfield, MN 55423
If you have any recommendations for our list please leave a comment below!