The 16 Verified Spots To Find Agate In North Carolina In 2024

By Keith Jackson - Geologist

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The 16 Verified Spots To Find Agate In North Carolina In 2024

By Keith Jackson - Geologist


The 16 Verified Spots To Find Agate In North Carolina In 2024

Agates have been around for a very long time, and they come in lots of different colors and patterns. If you want to find agate in New Carolina, you’re in luck! This region offers some cool spots to search for these pretty stones.

Generally, agates form in different kinds of areas. Walking along a stream, river, or shoreline after a rain can sometimes lead to exciting discoveries!

For those who are really passionate about finding more than just agates, there’s a lot more to explore. Dive deep into the world of gemstones by checking out our guide to learn where to mine gems in New Carolina.

What North Carolina Agate Is

banded agate with grainy white and gray bands
Agate provided by AbstractRockShop

Agate is known for its brilliant patterns and colors. It’s a form of quartz, which means it’s made up of tiny crystals.

The unique patterns we see in agate come from the way these crystals slowly grow over time. The layers and colors build up, similar to how rings form in a tree trunk.

If you’re wondering about how to find agate in North Carolina, it’s good to know the common places they pop up. It can also help to know which general areas are known to have agate deposits.

While agate is beautiful to look at, it’s also valuable in other ways. The value of agate goes beyond its appearance. Whether for its beauty, history, or personal meaning, agate remains a cherished stone by many.

Moss agates

Moss agate stands out because of its cool patterns. These patterns look a lot like moss or ferns, but they’re actually made of minerals. The green, red, or brown patterns appear against a translucent or milky white background.

Now, for those hunting for North Carolina agate, there’s good news. Moss agate can indeed be found in certain places in North Carolina. While there are several locations where this stone can be spotted, some places are more promising than others.

For everyone eager to hunt for this beautiful rock in the state, stay tuned! Recommendations on specific places to find moss agate in North Carolina will be shared soon.

Fire agates

Fire agate is a dazzling gemstone that catches the eye with its fiery and shimmering colors.

What makes it special are the bright iridescent flashes of red, gold, green, and, sometimes, even blue-violet, which seem to glow and dance beneath the surface.

These brilliant colors are caused by light bouncing between thin layers of iron oxide and silica inside the stone.

Unfortunately, fire agate isn’t known to be naturally found in North Carolina. In fact, there are only a few unique places in the world that boast fire agate.

The desert regions of Arizona, southern California, and central Mexico are where this vibrant gemstone calls home.

Blue lace agates

Blue lace agate is a lovely stone known for its soft, delicate patterns that resemble the waves of the ocean or the threads of lace. With its calm and soothing shades of blue, it’s a favorite for many rock collectors. 

However, those in North Carolina hoping to stumble upon blue lace agate in their backyard might be a bit disappointed. This particular agate isn’t native to the Tar Heel State.

Instead, blue lace agate has made its home in various parts of the world. Some of the best-known sources of this gem are in Africa, Brazil, and other areas of the United States.

For those interested in exploring more about the mineral wealth of North Carolina, there’s much to discover beyond blue lace agate. Dive into our comprehensive guide to uncovering crystals in North Carolina.

How We Know About Great Locations For Agate in North Carolina
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 

Southeast Treasure Hunter's Gem & Mineral Guide 

Earth Treasures: The Southeastern 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 North Carolina

rough moss agate slice with red inclusions
Moss agate provided by MouGemsArt

Finding agate can be a bit like searching for a needle in a haystack; it’s not always easy, and sometimes you might come up empty-handed. The trick is to know where to look and to have the right tips on your side.

North Carolina, with its diverse landscapes and geological history, presents its own unique challenges. Having the right guidance and a keen eye can make the journey of discovery more successful and enjoyable.

Cumberland County

wooden pier facing a lake

The terrain of v is primarily part of the coastal plain, which means it’s relatively flat with some gentle rolling hills.

As we dive deeper into its geology, the region consists of sedimentary rocks, mainly sand and clay, which were deposited over time by ancient rivers and seas.

The county is bordered by rivers and streams, making it a hub of waterways. These water systems have played a crucial role in shaping the land, eroding away older rocks and depositing new materials.

The ground beneath is rich with stories from millions of years ago, waiting to be explored by curious enthusiasts and geologists.

If you want to collect rocks on public lands, first consult with the Bureau of Land Management Southeastern States District Office. They provide necessary information on the guidelines and rules to ensure ethical and legal rock collecting.

Where we found agates in Cumberland County

Agates in Cumberland County often nestle within stream gravels and alluvial deposits that span the county. Additionally, gravel pits, excavations, and even road cuts might surprise you with a hidden agate.

Granville County

covered area with picnic tables on the shore of a lake
Lake Rogers Park by City of Creedmoor NC

Granville County boasts a diverse landscape that captures the interest of rock enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. Positioned within the Piedmont region, its terrain features a mix of rolling hills, fertile plains, and meandering waterways.

The county’s geology reveals a history of sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous rock formations. Several areas across the county offer up good spots where to mine for agate.

Additionally, the county’s rivers and streams, which have carved their paths through the landscape, also play a key role in revealing hidden gems and providing insights into the land’s geologic past.

Where we found agates in Granville County

Reed’s Creek gravels are known spots where agates can be found. Other notable locales include Oak Hill Township, Butner, and Creedmoor.

Mitchell County

street with two-story buildings in Spruce Pine, North Carolina

Mitchell County’s terrain is predominantly mountainous, offering scenic vistas and challenging hiking trails.

The county’s geology is shaped by a blend of metamorphic rocks, like schist and gneiss, which have been transformed by heat and pressure over time.

Streams and rivers carve through the landscape, revealing rock layers and mineral deposits. The land tells stories of tectonic forces, erosion, and sedimentation that have taken place over millions of years.

For those with a passion for rocks and minerals, Mitchell County provides a rich backdrop for exploration and discovery.

Where we found agates in Mitchell County

Agates are often nestled within countywide stream gravels, making waterways a promising spot to start the search. Local gravel pits also serve as potential areas to unearth these beautiful gems.

Chapel Hill

walkway in a park

Chapel Hill offers a captivating blend of landscapes and geological features. The terrain is characterized by rolling hills and dense forests, presenting picturesque views and natural beauty.

Beneath the surface, the geology is shaped by a mix of igneous and metamorphic rocks, which have undergone transformation due to heat and pressure over time. These rocks are rich in minerals and tell tales of the area’s geological history.

Numerous streams meander through Chapel Hill, further enhancing the terrain and offering insights into the underlying bedrock.

Where we found agates in Chapel Hill

Knowing which areas to search in Chapel Hill is vital to understanding how to find agate in North Carolina.

Chapel Hill’s woods and fields occasionally reveal these moss agates, especially after a good rain. Additionally, the creek gravels in the area are known to house agates, with water exposing and shifting them over time. 

Cape Fear River

wooden walkway overlooking Cape Fear River

Cape Fear River is a prominent river, winding its way through diverse landscapes. Starting from its headwaters, the river traverses through rolling hills, gradually flowing towards the coastal plains and finally emptying into the Atlantic Ocean.

This journey influences the geology along its banks. The upper stretches are dominated by sedimentary rocks, evidence of old marine environments, while closer to the coast, sandy and clayey soils prevail, shaped by the river’s ebb and flow.

Numerous tributaries feed into Cape Fear River, enriching its waters and affecting the sediment load. As the river carves its path, it uncovers and deposits minerals and rocks.

Where we found agates in Cape Fear River

You can often stumble upon intriguing stones along the banks and bed of Cape Fear River, including agates. Many enthusiasts find agate nestled among the river gravels and sandbars, especially after periods of heavy rainfall.

Exploring areas where the river slows its pace, like bends or wider sections, can increase the chances of spotting these beautiful stones.

Other Great Places To Find Agates In North Carolina

agate with white bands
Agate provided by Fossilera

With its rich geology and varied terrains, it’s no surprise that North Carolina is home to many agate locations. Here’s a list of areas to consider on the next rock-hunting adventure in the state.

Our recommendations by county

County Location
Cabarrus County Concord mines, regional fields, stream gravels
Cherokee County Unaka; Beaverdam Creek gravels
Cleveland County Casar
Henderson County Lake Summit
Iredell County Mooresville
Iredell County Statesville
Mecklenburg County Caldwell
Orange County Hillsborough area fields, stream gravels, road cuts
Stokes County Danbury area stream gravels
Vance County Henderson area surfaces, gravels
Wilkes County Traphill area fields, cuts, gravels

Additional areas you can find agates

Agates have a knack for showing up in diverse settings throughout North Carolina. From the gentle slopes of hills to the banks of bustling rivers, these stones have made their mark.

Exploring varied terrains can lead to the exciting moment of spotting a beautiful agate.

Riverbeds and creekbeds

Riverbeds and creekbeds are dynamic places where water constantly shifts and sorts rocks and sediments. Over time, as water erodes the land, it can uncover North Carolina agates.

Exploring the gravels and sands of these waterways can lead to delightful discoveries of these unique stones.

Coastal areas

The constant motion of waves and tides in coastal areas churns the sands and gravels, often revealing hidden gems like agates.

These regions, with their mix of land and sea, offer a unique environment where agates get polished by the ocean’s waves.

Exploring beaches, dunes, and coastal cliffs can lead to exciting finds of these beautiful stones.


Quarries are fascinating spots where the Earth’s layers are exposed, often revealing hidden gems. Deep excavations often unearth rocks and minerals, making quarries prime locations for finding agates.

For those with a keen eye, exploring a quarry can lead to the thrilling discovery of these unique and colorful gems.

Area exposures

Area exposures, where the Earth’s layers are visible above the surface, can be hotspots for discovering agates. These exposures, often resulting from natural processes or human activity, reveal hidden layers of rocks and minerals.

Agate beds near these areas can be a treasure, holding clusters of the gem. Exploring these sites offers a chance to find agates in their natural setting, making the hunt both exciting and rewarding.

Common Agate-Hunting Questions

rough moss agate slice with red and green inclusions
Moss agate provided by Cabochonsforyou

Many rock enthusiasts and curious minds turn their attention to the topic of agates in North Carolina. The state’s rich geology and diverse terrains spark interest and lead to numerous inquiries.

People are often eager to learn more, from where to find these stones to understanding their formation. It’s exciting to delve into the most frequently discussed aspects of North Carolina’s agate treasures.

Is it illegal to collect agate in North Carolina?

Collecting agate in North Carolina is generally allowed, but there are some important guidelines to follow.

First, always ensure you have permission if you’re on private property. Landowners have the right to their minerals, so always ask before collecting.

On public lands, rules can vary. Some areas, especially protected parks and preserves, may prohibit collecting any rocks or minerals to preserve the natural environment.

There might also be restrictions in areas designated for scientific study. It’s essential to research the specific location you’re interested in visiting ahead of time.

Always adhere to ethical rockhounding practices: take only what you need, fill in any holes you dig, and respect the land and its resources.

The Best Places To Buy Agates In North Carolina

shelves and display cases full of rocks, gems, and minerals
Crystal Mountain Gem Mine

North Carolina has several stores that cater to those seeking agates and other minerals. For those eager to add to their collections or just starting out, there are reputable places to explore.

Here’s a list of top spots in North Carolina to purchase agates.

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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