The 32 Surefire Sites To Find and Dig For Crystals In Minnesota In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

| Updated

The 32 Surefire Sites To Find and Dig For Crystals In Minnesota In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

Updated

If you’ve done crystal hunting before, then you’ll surely agree that finding these natural wonders is such a rewarding and fun activity. But if your search hasn’t been exactly fruitful, most probably, it’s because you didn’t know where to look.

Minnesota, in particular, is known to have a diverse range of crystal formations, but it can be tough to pinpoint the surefire sites to find them. That’s why we set out to explore all over our state, scouring the land for the best places to find crystals in Minnesota: Lake Superior Beaches, Little Falls, Osseo, Bronk Quarry, and the entire Carlton County. With our expert recommendations, you’ll be able to discover the hidden beauty of Minnesota’s crystal formations and have a great time doing it!

How We Picked The Best Places To Find Crystals in Minnesota
We spent a lot of time determining which of the many options for digging and mining for crystals that we have available would be recommended. We wanted to have a good mix of locations for experienced and novice crystals hunters in a variety of settings. Here are the main factors we used when determining the recommendations we set out :

  • The extensive local experience and understanding of our team
  • Input from multiple local crystal hunters and crystal collecting groups
  • The accessibility of the crystal mining locations
  • Safety and potential hazards when collecting
  • Private and public locations
  • A desire to include locations for both experienced crystal hunters and those who are just starting out

Using these weights we think we’ve put together the best list out there for those who love finding new crystals for our collections!

The Types of Minnesota Crystals You Can Find

A sample of a golden Chalcopyrite crystal

Minnesota is undoubtedly rich in breathtaking crystal formations, which you can find in plenty different sites here. Overall, the variety and beauty of crystals in our state make it an exciting destination for crystal enthusiasts and collectors alike. Here’s a list of the different ones that you can find here:

Rare crystals found in Minnesota

  • Agate (Lake Superior)
  • Garnet

More common crystals found here

  • Calcite
  • Chalcedony
  • Chalcopyrite
  • Galena
  • Hematite
  • Jasper
  • Pyrite
  • Quartz

The Best Locations For Crystal Mining in Minnesota

A bunch of pretty bluish-gray Chalcedony crystals

We’ll share first with you our top 5 recommended places, in case you only have limited time to visit our state. We had the best time and success finding crystals here:

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

Lake Superior Beaches is Our Favorite Crystal Mine in Minnesota

A stunning view of the waters and rock formations at one of the Lake Superior Beaches

Lake Superior, MN

As experienced crystal collectors from Minnesota, we highly recommend visiting the beaches of Lake Superior, a treasure trove of beautiful and unique crystals! In fact, if you want to expand your search to include gemstones, these locations also prove to be one of the best sites to find Minnesota gems.

The Lake Superior region has a rich geological history dating back over a billion years, and this has created a diverse range of crystal formations that can be found on its beaches. The rocks here are a mix of basalt, sandstone, and conglomerates, with mineral deposits that are just waiting to be discovered.

One of the best things about Lake Superior’s beaches is that they are accessible to anyone. The region has a number of public beaches that you can visit, and some of the best ones for finding crystals include Agate Beach in Two Harbors, Park Point in Duluth, and Grand Marais Beach in Grand Marais. These beaches are all located on the shores of Lake Superior and offer ample opportunities for crystal hunting.

Where we found crystals at Lake Superior Beaches

You can find the most amazing samples of Lake Superior Agates in the area gravels of Lake Superior Beaches.

Rock pick being used

The tools every crystal hunter will need

When you're out looking for crystals having the right tools for the job is very important. 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 crystal miners which we outline in great detail in our complete rockhounding supplies 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 crystal-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.

Carlton County

A scenic view of 2 adjoining streams in Carlton County

Carlton County, MN

Carlton County is located in the northeastern part of our state.This is among our top recommended places because the region’s diverse geological formations, including basalt, gabbro, and sandstone, have created a variety of crystal deposits that can be found throughout the area.

If you’re planning to go here, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, be respectful of the natural environment and only take what you need. Second, make sure you have the right gear, including a sturdy bag or bucket for collecting, gloves for handling rough rocks, and a good pair of shoes for walking on the rocky beaches. Finally, be prepared to spend some time searching, as finding crystals here can take some patience and persistence.

Where we found crystals in Carlton County

Carlton County has plenty specific sites where you can chance upon beautiful crystals, like Lake Superior Agate, Garnet, Pyrite, and so much more. Here’s where you can look into for these wonders:

  • Twin Lakes Township Quarry in Blackhoof area
  • Carlton area mine dumps
  • Carter Gravel Pit
  • Cloquet area gravel pits, excavations, and mine dumps
  • Along the shores of Moose Lake and other lakes and streams nearby
  • Moose Lake area mine dumps

Once you find a specimen, you’ll start wondering how much are crystals worth. We’ve got you covered!

Little Falls

A river at Little Falls with its surrounding formations and bridge

Morrison County, MN

Another great spot you’ll definitely want to check out is Little Falls located in central Minnesota. It’s home to a long history of glacial activity. The area is characterized by rolling hills and valleys, which are formed by the movement of glaciers over millions of years. This movement has also created a variety of rock formations, including basalt and sandstone, which are the perfect environments for crystals to form.

When you’re here, you can visit Hard-Rock Quarry, which is known for producing a variety of crystals. The quarry is open to the public and is a popular spot for rockhounds looking for unique and beautiful specimens. Another great spot to find crystals is at the Pine Grove Park, which hides crystals along its riverbank and in the surrounding woods.

To visit Little Falls, you can take Highway 10 and exit at the Little Falls exit. From there, follow the signs to where you want to start your search.

Where we found crystals in Little Falls

We had the best of time— and success— finding crystals here when we explored the streams, gravels, and quarries of Little Falls. Some of the crystals you’ll find here are Lake Superior Agate and Garnet.

Osseo

An open field that meet a stream at Ossea

Hennepin County, MN

Osseo is a small city located in the southeastern part of our state. The area has a rich history of mining and quarrying, which has resulted in a unique landscape and a variety of mineral formations. The rocks in this area are primarily sedimentary, with layers of sandstone, shale, and limestone that have been shaped by the forces of erosion and weathering.

A great place to find crystals in Osseo is at the Cedar Valley Quarry, which is known for producing a variety of crystals. Another one is the Crystal Mine, located on a private property and requires permission from the landowner to access.

If you’re eyeing to visit Osseo, you can take Highway 169 and exit at the Osseo exit. From there, follow the signs to the place that you specifically want to visit.

Where we found crystals at Ossea

You can explore the area gravel pits of Ossea to find Lake Superior Agate, Chalcedony, Jasper, and other different kinds of crystals.

Bronk Quarry

An aerial view of Bronk Quarry

Winona County, MN

The Bronk Quarry is located in the city of Caledonia in southeastern part of our state. It’s situated in the bluffs above the Root River, which has been eroding the limestone formations in the area for millions of years. This has created a variety of rock formations, including the distinctive Niagara Escarpment, which is known for its unique geology and crystal formations.

The quarry was first opened in the early 1900s for the production of crushed limestone. Over the years, rockhounds and collectors have discovered the unique crystals and minerals that can be found in the area. Today, it’s owned by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and is open to the public for collecting.

To get to Bronk Quarry, you can take Highway 44 and turn onto Old Mill Road. Follow Old Mill Road until you reach the quarry entrance. The quarry is open from dawn to dusk, and there is no fee for collecting.

Where we found crystals in Bronk Quarry

Since this is a quarry, it’ll be easy to find different samples of Dog Tooth Calcite, Hematite, Pyrite, and other crystals if you explore its nooks and crannies.

Our Other Favorite Places For Crystal Hunting

Three small samples of deep red garnets laid on a person's finger

Aside from our top 5 recommendations, there are still other great places where you can find crystals here. In fact, some of these sites may also be abundant sources of Minnesota geodes.

Where you can find crystals for free in Minnesota

Who doesn’t want to find crystals for free, right? If you agree, we got you! Here are the best free-to-search places in our state.

County Location
Blue Earth All regional quarries, gravel pits, and stream gravels of Mankato
Cass At Pillager area
Chippewa Area gravel pits, excavations, and stream gravels of Montevideo
Dakota At the gravel pit adjacent to Vermillion River
Faribault Area and regional quarries, gravel pits, stream beds of Blue Earth
Fillmore In road cut at Lanesboro area
Goodhue Area gravel pits and in Mississippi River bluffs in Red Wing
Houston Area sand quarry in Caledonia
Morrison Under Northern Pacific railroad bridge over Platte River
Olmsted Area and regional road cuts and banks of Rochester
Scott Shakopee area gravel pit
Wabasha Adjoining gravel pit of Wabasha
Winona In gravel pit beside US 61 of Goodview (suburb of Winona)

Other great places to dig for crystals

On the other hand, if you don’t mind spending some dime for sure crystal finds, here are the best pay-to-dig spots here. Take note, the fees may vary depending on season and time, so reach out to the place first before heading out. Who knows, they might even be offering free digging on your time of visit!

County Location
Cook Area mines of Grand Portage
Crow Wing At the Arco and Portsmouth mines
Itasca Grand Rapids area mine dumps
St. Louis Area mine dumps of Aurora, Ely, Eveleth, Floodwood, Hibbing and at Corsica Mine Dump, Mary Ellen Mine dump, Dormer Mine dump, and Wade Mine dump

How to find crystals in Minnesota

A spherical sample of Galena and Quartz crystals

A lot of our recommendations above cover wide bases, so if you want to narrow your search, here are some of the usual areas where crystals abound. We recommended searching through these places first when you visit here:

Beaches

The beaches in Minnesota are known for being an excellent source of crystals, and there are a few reasons why. First off, these beaches are located the shores of Lake Superior, one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world. Over the centuries, the movement of the lake’s waves and currents have eroded the surrounding rock formations, creating an abundance of different crystals and minerals that are easily accessible along the shoreline.

Mines and Mine Dumps

Mines are often located in areas with abundant mineral deposits, which can translate to an abundance of crystals. Additionally, the mining process itself can sometimes reveal crystals that would otherwise be inaccessible or difficult to find. When rocks are blasted or drilled, it can sometimes reveal crystal pockets that were hidden within the rock formations.

Streams and Creeks

Streams and creeks are a natural way for crystals to be exposed and made accessible for rockhounds to find. The running water can erode the surrounding rock formations and expose crystals that were previously hidden or underground. This means that there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to find some great specimens just by sifting through the sand and rocks in the creek.

Minnesota Crystal Mining Laws And Regulations

Mining crystals in Minnesota is legal for as long as you abide by the local laws here, especially the ones from Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Firstly, make sure to secure any necessary permits or permissions from concerned government offices. If you’re exploring a private land, you’re required to secure the owner’s permission before you proceed. Also, make sure you know all about any environmental rules and regulations. After all, we would want to make sure that crystal mining remains a sustainable activity in our state for years to come.

The Best Crystal Shops In Minnesota

A look at the interior and available items at ZRS Fossils and Gifts

Doing the physical work of searching and digging for crystals may not be for every collector and enthusiast, so if you prefer to get your hands on these natural wonders the easier way, your best bet is to visit the local crystals shops here. We’ve made a list of the best ones below:

Additional places to find crystals in nearby states

If you’ve already tried all of our recommendations above or are planning a trip out of the state, you should check out our guides for neighboring states:

If you have any recommendations we haven’t covered, please leave them in the comments 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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