The 56 Sure Sites To Find Agates In Nebraska In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

| Updated

The 56 Sure Sites To Find Agates In Nebraska In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

Updated

It’s easy to think of Nebraska as just fields of corn and wheat without a huge abundance of beautiful rocks and minerals. You would be wrong though! Beneath the surface and scattered throughout the state, you’ll find amazing geological wonders.

One of our most prized treasures is our beautiful agates. But here’s the thing: even though they’re abundant here, it can be tricky to find agates in Nebraska if you don’t know where to look.

And we’re here to help! We’re going to share some of the sure sites to find Nebraska agates, such as the aptly named Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, Pine Ridge, and the different rivers and creeks here.

Nebraska is also home to different kinds of agates, and we’ll share all these with you, too. With the help of this guide, the next time you go here, you’ll know where to mine for agates in Nebraska!

What is Nebraska Agate?

Seven pieces of raw moss agates
Moss agates photo provided by NewMoonBeginnings

Agate is a form of chalcedony, which basically means it’s made up of tiny quartz crystals. What makes it so special is its awesome colors and patterns.

When you cut an agate open, you might find stripes, spots, or even swirly designs inside. It’s like nature’s own tie-dye! This mesmerizing beauty is one of the primary reasons for agate’s value and worth in the market.

But how did this gem get this beautiful? It usually forms when lava cools and solidifies, and gas bubbles get trapped inside. Over time, minerals seep into these bubbles and start to grow, layer by layer. These give agates their unique patterns.

You can find agates in many parts of the world, especially in places that had ancient volcanic activity. They’re often found in rocky areas, riverbeds, and beaches. Luckily, Nebraska is one of those special places where you can hunt for agates!

Now, let’s quickly go through the different kinds of agates and whether you can find them in our state:

Moss Agates

Despite its name, moss agate doesn’t actually have moss inside it. Instead, its name comes from the rock’s beautiful patterns that look a lot like moss or plants. These patterns are made by mineral inclusions, mainly of manganese and iron.

The great news is that you can definitely find moss agate in Nebraska, particularly in areas like riverbeds and ancient volcanic sites.

While they might not be as common as some other types of agates here, with a bit of searching and a sprinkle of rockhound luck, you can stumble upon these little beauties.

Fire Agates

Fire agate looks as if it has been kissed by flames! Inside the stone, you’ll see iridescent flashes of reds, greens, golds, and sometimes even blues.

These colors aren’t just on the surface; they sparkle from deep within the rock. The magic behind it is in the way layers of iron oxide and silica catch the light.

Now, the burning question (pun intended!): Can you find fire agates in Nebraska? Well, it’s not commonly found here. Instead, fire agates are mostly found in the southwestern parts of the United States, like Arizona.

Blue Lace Agates

Blue lace agate is set apart by its beautiful patterns that look just like delicate blue lace. The stone is usually a soft blue with swirly, lace-like bands running through it.

These lovely bands make each piece unique and are what give the stone its catchy name. Blue lace agate is not only pretty to look at but it’s also believed by some to have calming properties, like a peaceful sky or a gentle sea.

While Nebraska boasts of a rich variety of agates and other minerals, blue lace agate is not naturally found here. This specific agate is primarily found in southern Africa, especially in Namibia.

Prairie Agate

Prairie agate is pretty awesome because it’s colorful and often has cool, speckled patterns. Think of a canvas splashed with reds, yellows, and browns, often looking like a sunset over the plains. It’s truly a beauty!

Now, here’s a fun fact: prairie agate is the official state rock of Nebraska. It was designated as such because it represents our state’s geological and natural beauty.

Of course, as our state rock, prairie agates can be found in Nebraska. In fact, it’s one of the best places to look for this specific type of agate.

Banded Agate

As its name suggests, banded agate has beautiful, wavy lines or “bands” in it. These bands can be colorful, ranging from clear and white to deep reds, blues, and even purples.

And the good thing about this type is that you can find it in Nebraska. Our state’s rich geological history has given it a diverse collection of minerals and rocks, and the banded agate is one of its star players.

Aside from agates, our state also has other equally beautiful crystals. If you want to venture here to find them, check out our article on the great crystal mine sites in Nebraska.

How We Know About Great Locations For Agate in Nebraska
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 Nebraska

A pile of bubblegum agates found in Nebraska
Bubblegum agates

Nebraska has many great gem mine spots, but not all of them are sure sites for finding agates, too. If you want to focus your search on agates, below are the best places for you to explore:

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.

These requirements are subject to change without notice and may differ from what we state below.

Always get updated information directly from the source ahead of time to ensure responsible rockhounding.

Agate Fossil Beds National Monument

Amazing rock formations at the Agate Fossil Beds National Monument

Agate Fossil Beds National Monument spans over 3,000 acres, showcasing the beauty of the Great Plains. Its landscape is vast and open, with rolling grasslands that seem to stretch endlessly under the big Nebraska sky.

But don’t let the tranquil surface fool you! Beneath these grassy knolls lies a fascinating record of our past. This area was once a hub of prehistoric activity, and over time, the remains of ancient creatures became fossilized in the sediment.

As the name suggests, you can indeed find agate here! These stones are intertwined with the remains of ancient mammals.

Getting to Agate Fossil Beds National Monument is a breeze. It’s easily accessible by car, with well-maintained roads leading directly to the park. Make sure to familiarize yourself with Nebraska’s collecting guidelines before starting your search.

Where we found agates in the Agate Fossil Beds National Monument

You can find fascinating agates if you explore the different nooks and crannies both inside the national monument and its immediate area outside.

Platte River

Scenic view of the Platte River and its surrounding greeneries

Platte River is one of Nebraska’s most iconic waterways. Stretching over 310 miles across our state, it flows eastward, eventually joining up with the Missouri River.

Over the ages, water flow has moved vast amounts of sediment, giving the Platte River a unique, braided appearance. This braided pattern has created countless sandbars and islands.

From a geological perspective, its sediments and gravels have trapped a treasure trove of ancient materials, including agates.

Reaching the Platte River is easy, especially given its significant length and accessibility. Major highways run alongside or cross it at various points, making it a favorite spot not just for rockhounds, but also for families, hikers, and nature lovers.

Where we found agates in the Platte River

You can spot stunning agates along the shorelines and sand pits of the Platte River.

Little Nemaha River

A view of the Little Nemaha River from atop a bridge

Little Nemaha River winds its way through some truly picturesque landscapes. Starting from its headwaters in the southeastern part of our state, it flows gracefully for about 75 miles before joining the Big Nemaha River.

Its journey paints a diverse picture of Nebraska’s terrain, showcasing both the gentle undulations of the land and the flatter, more expansive plains areas.

When it comes to terrain and geology, the Little Nemaha River has a lot to offer. Its banks, rich with sediment and soil, tell tales of ancient times through the presence of various minerals and rocks, including precious agates.

Reaching the Little Nemaha River is a straightforward affair. It runs through several towns and is crossed by roads at multiple points, making access quite easy.

Where we found agates in the Little Nemaha River

If you want to find agates, explore the gravels of the Little Nemaha River near Auburn.

Minnechaduza Creek

Aerial view of the stretch of Minnechaduza Creek surrounded by green fields and pastures

Minnechaduza Creek is a charming and often overlooked gem. Located in the north-central part of our state, it winds and weaves for several miles, creating a delightful scene of rippling waters and surrounding landscapes.

Along some stretches, the creek gently rolls over soft plains, while in other spots, it has carved more noticeable paths through the land, resulting in mini canyons and interesting rock formations.

Getting to Minnechaduza Creek isn’t a tough task. While it’s somewhat off the beaten path, there are roads and pathways that lead to prime viewing spots along the creek.

Its relative tranquility also means that you can have a more peaceful experience, without the hustle and bustle of crowded tourist spots.

Where we found agates in Minnechaduza Creek

To find agates, you can explore upstream and down on both sides of the Minnechaduza Creek and in the hills flanking it all the way to the South Dakota border.

Pine Ridge

Scenic view of Pine Ridge from below

Pine Ridge spans a vast area, showcasing a blend of rugged cliffs, deep canyons, and lush pine forests. It’s a stark contrast to the flatter landscapes Nebraska is often associated with.

Tall pine trees sway with the wind atop the ridges, while the canyons below tell stories of ages gone by. The canyons here have been carved out over millennia by the forces of nature, with treasures that are a dream come true for rock lovers.

If you’re thinking of visiting Pine Ridge, you’re in for a treat. It’s easily accessible by road, with well-maintained highways and trails leading into its heart. Once there, a network of hiking paths lets you explore the region’s beauty up close.

Where we found agates in Pine Ridge

The general area of Pine Ridge offers irresistible opportunities to uncover captivating agates.

Other Great Places To Find Agates in Nebraska

A beautiful pseudomorphs agate with interesting bands of yellow, brown, orange, and white
Agate photo provided by Turkish Agate Stones

Aside from our top recommendations, listed below are some more sure sites where you can find agates in Nebraska.

Our recommendations by county

County Location
Adams Ayr Gravel pits
Adams Little Blue River
Cass Snyderville Quarry
Cherry Upstream in Dry Creek
Cherry Bear Creek and the hills on both sides
Cherry Leander Creek and the hills flanking it
Cheyenne Upstream in Rush Creek and down to Garden County border
Cheyenne Lodgepole Creek
Clay Both sides of Little Blue River
Dawes Breaks of the White River
Dawes Regional Federal grazing lands in Crawford area
Dawes Lone butte near the Orella railroad station
Dawes Niobrara River
Deuel Regional surfaces and breaks in Chappell area
Deuel Upstream along South Platte River
Dodge Fremont area
Douglas Lyman-Ritchie gravel pit
Douglas Valley area
Hooker Upstream on South Fork along both shores to Jefford Lake
Jefferson Regional gravel pits and stream gravels in Fairbury
Jefferson Area gravel pits, quarries, and stream gravels in Steele City
Johnson Sterling area
Keith Upstream along the south bank of North Platte River to Kingsley Dam
Lancaster Lincoln area
Madison Norfolk area gravel pits
Morril Area gravel pits, sandhills, and stream gravels in Bayard
Nance Local gravel pits in Fullerton
Nance Upstream on both sides of Loup River
Nemaha Auburn area
Nemaha Brock area
Nemaha Johnson area
Nuckolls Oak area gravel pits
Otoe Gravel pits in Palmyra and Dunbar
Otoe Lorton, Syracuse, and Unadilla area gravel deposits
Pawnee Du Bois area gravel deposits
Pawnee Table Rock area gravel deposits
Red Willow South shore of the Republican River and Red Willow Creek
Richardson Dawson area
Richardson Stella area gravel deposits
Richardson Along Nehama River in Humboldt
Sheridan Area gravels, cut banks, and breaks in Hat Springs
Sheridan Whiteclay Creek
Sheridan All breaks, badlands, cut banks, erosion features in Whiteclay area
Sioux Area gravel beds and cut banks of Hat Creek
Sioux Waldron Hills
Sioux Area gravels in the Montrose area

Additional areas you can find agates

If you’re exploring wide areas, here are some of the specific spots you should focus on if you want to find agates. Oftentimes, these are the areas where they hide:

Streams and Creeks

Streams and creeks carry treasures from the past right to our feet! Over time, their waters erode the surrounding land, breaking down larger rocks into smaller pieces.

As these pieces tumble and roll along the stream or creek bed, the softer material wears away, leaving behind harder substances, like agates.

Agates are tough and resistant to wear, so as water flows over Nebraska’s landscape, it uncovers hidden agates and transports them downstream. Over time, these gemstones get trapped in the gravel beds of streams and creeks.

Rivers and Riverbeds

As rivers flow, they pick up rocks and minerals from their sources and carry them downstream. Over the journey, its waters act like nature’s sandpaper, grinding away the softer materials and leaving behind the tougher ones. Among these tough treasures are agates!

Agates, with their splendid patterns and bands, are hardy gemstones. They resist erosion better than many other rocks. That’s why, as a river erodes its surroundings, these beautiful stones often remain intact.

In Nebraska, rivers meander through this geologically rich land. In doing so, they unearth and transport agates to different parts of our state.

Sediment Deposits

Sediment deposits are formed from particles that settle over time, often in layers. Among the treasures found in these layers are agates, which are both beautiful and resilient.

Since agates are harder than many surrounding materials, they endure as softer particles erode away.

Nebraska’s history of ancient volcanic activities and river movements has resulted in rich sedimentary layers. As these layers have been laid down over millions of years, they’ve captured and preserved many agates within them.

Common Agate-Hunting Questions

Brown agate with beautiful swirls and bands of white
Agate photo provided by tidewateragates_pnw

Here, we’ll answer the most common questions by those who have gone agate-hunting in Nebraska, in case you have the same question in mind.

Is it illegal to collect agate in Nebraska?

The legality of collecting agates varies based on where you are and whose land you’re on.

On private property, you need the landowner’s permission to collect anything, including agates. On public lands, regulations can differ. Some areas may allow casual rockhounding for personal use, while others might prohibit collection entirely.

That’s why it’s essential to check the rules of the specific area you’re interested in, such as national parks, state parks, or other protected lands. For more information, visit the official website of the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy.

The Best Places To Buy Agates In Nebraska

A look at the different rocks and minerals at the Prairie Agate Rock Shop

Another great way for you to take a peek into the wonders of agates in Nebraska is by visiting our local rock and mineral shops. Below are some of the great ones that we have:

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

About Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

Keith Jackson is an avid rockhound who is constantly exploring new sites to expand his collection. He has worked as a professional Geologist for over 20 years and holds a PhD in Geology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a Masters Degree in Geology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and a Bachelors Degree in Geology from the University of Connecticut.

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