Our Best Suggested Places To Find And Dig For Crystals In North Dakota In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

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Our Best Suggested Places To Find And Dig For Crystals In North Dakota In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD


Discover the dazzling world of crystals in the beautiful state of North Dakota, a true treasure trove for crystal enthusiasts! The journey of uncovering these magnificent gems is an exhilarating adventure and an opportunity to immerse yourself in the region’s breathtaking landscapes. As you delve deeper into this, you’ll be captivated by these natural wonders’ incredible diversity and striking beauty, with exquisite specimens waiting to be found!

North Dakota boasts a wealth of locations for crystal hunters to explore, with fascinating geological formations and mineral-rich sites promising a bountiful harvest. From mesmerizing agates to enchanting calcite specimens, the possibilities are vast and inspiring for both novice and seasoned crystal collectors.

How We Picked The Best Places To Find Crystals in North Dakota
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 North Dakota Crystals You Can Find

A big pretty agate with a small hole in the middle

The magnificence of nature’s artistic creativity is displayed in crystals. Every specimen has a unique fascination. The delight of discovering a sparkling gem buried beneath the surface is unmatched. Thanks to our extensive list of crystal hunting spots in North Dakota, your adventure into this mineral-rich haven will be amazing!

Rare crystals found in North Dakota

  • Calcite
  • Halite

More common crystals found here

  • Agate
  • Chalcedony
  • Jasper
  • Selenite

The Best Locations For Crystal Mining in North Dakota

A distinct red calcite with different surfaces in its area

Here are our most recommended spots in North Dakota to go crystal hunting, which you should also include on your list of places to visit.

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.

Cannonball River

A quiet area at the Cannonball River surrounded with green grass and trees

The Cannonball River is known not only for its rich historical background but also for its alluring treasure trove of precious crystals. As a prime location for crystal hunting, the river’s geological formations and mineral-rich deposits offer enthusiasts an array of dazzling gems to discover. You can add this place to your top spots to find gems in North Dakota.

Originally named “Inyan Paha,” meaning “Stone Hill” by the indigenous Lakota Sioux people, the Cannonball River played a crucial role in the lives of the local tribes. Its abundant waters, fertile soil, and lush vegetation provided sustenance and resources for generations. Moreover, the river has been a silent witness to many historical events, from fur trade expeditions to the legendary clashes of the Great Sioux Wars.

Where we found crystals at the Cannonball River

Most of the crystals we found along the entire course of the Cannonball River and steep hillsides on both sides of the Cannonball River were agate, chalcedony, jasper, and selenite crystals.

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.

Cottonwood Lake

A scenic view with a slanted tree at Cottonwood Lake

Cottonwood Lake is a tranquil haven for nature lovers and crystal hunters alike. This serene body of water has been a cherished destination for outdoor enthusiasts for generations, providing a peaceful retreat away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Steeped in local history, Cottonwood Lake was originally an essential water source for the region’s early settlers, helping shape the communities that still thrive today. Over the years, the lake has evolved into a beloved recreational spot, attracting visitors eager to experience its charming beauty and abundant outdoor activities.

Where we found crystals at Cottonwood Lake

Halite crystals are primarily found around several highly saline lakes like Cottonwood Lake. If you want to determine how much are crystals worth, visit our guide to learn more!

Lake Agassiz

Wide area of sand dunes at the prehistoric glacial Lake Agassiz

Returning to the remarkable Lake Agassiz, a now-vanished glacial lake that once covered a vast expanse of North Dakota and its neighboring regions. Formed approximately 13,000 years ago during the retreat of the Laurentide Ice Sheet, this colossal body of water was one of the largest lakes in Earth’s history, spanning an area larger than all the Great Lakes combined.

The geological history of Lake Agassiz has created an array of mineral-rich environments that provide rock hounds with ample opportunities to uncover dazzling treasures. From enchanting quartz crystals to captivating agates, the former lake bed holds many sparkling gems that reflect its fascinating past.

Although Lake Agassiz has long since receded, its legacy lives on in the fertile soil, unique landforms, and bountiful mineral deposits left in its wake. These remnants have transformed the area into a haven for crystal hunters, offering a rich and varied assortment of gemstones just waiting to be discovered.

Where we found crystals at Lake Agassiz

Agate and jasper crystals can be found in the area gravel pits in the bed of the prehistoric Lake Agassiz.

Little Missouri River

A picturesque aerial view of the Little Missouri River

This meandering waterway of the Little Missouri River is steeped in history, as it once served as a vital lifeline for Native American tribes and early settlers alike. Today, the river remains a testament to the region’s rich heritage and a thriving ecosystem teeming with diverse flora and fauna.

Flowing through the awe-inspiring badlands and the breathtaking Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the Little Missouri River offers crystal hunters an incredible opportunity to explore the diverse geological formations and mineral-rich deposits that make up its rugged terrain. The area’s unique geological features testify to the river’s fascinating history, which dates back millions of years.

Where we found crystals in the Little Missouri River

Agate and jasper crystals are widely distributed in the gravels of the Little Missouri River.

White Lake

The National Wildlife Refuge area at White Lake

Immerse yourself in the serene beauty of White Lake, a hidden gem nestled among the vast plains of North Dakota. The local communities have cherished this picturesque body of water for generations, providing an oasis for both people and wildlife amid the surrounding landscape. With its tranquil waters and lush surroundings, White Lake has become a beloved destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.

As you explore the shores and surrounding area of White Lake, you may be fortunate enough to unearth alluring gleaming crystals or enchanting specimens. Whether you’re a seasoned collector or just embarking on your crystal hunting adventure, White Lake provides a captivating backdrop for your quest.

Where we found crystals at White Lake

Some extremely salty lakes, including White Lake, are where you’ll mostly find halite crystals.

Our Other Favorite Places For Crystal Hunting

A gorgeous chalcedony with blue and red crystals

We wanted to help you out with extra information after giving you our picks for the top five crystal hunting places. There are many great places to go crystal hunting, including places to find geodes in North Dakota. You could also visit the following locations:

Where you can find crystals for free in North Dakota

Let’s start by talking about places to find crystals at no cost. Even if many of the best attractions need an entrance fee, certain destinations are still free to visit.

County Location
Hettinger A broad area along both sides of Route 8 for agate, chalcedony, jasper, and selenite
McKenzie Gravels of the Yellowstone, Missouri, and Little Missouri rivers for agate and jasper
Morton At the area hills, draws, and washes of Mandan for agate and chalcedony
Stark Area land surfaces at Dickinson for agate, chalcedony, and jasper
Williams Regional stream gravels for agate

Other great places to dig for crystals

You can search for crystals in the following locations if you’re willing to pay. Depending on the season, the cost may change or possibly be free. Before visiting these locations, get in touch with them.

County Location
Kidder In regional gravel pits of Tappen for agate, chalcedony, and jasper
Pembina Area blue-gray limestone exposures, regional limestone quarries for calcite

How to find crystals in North Dakota

A stunning pink halite with a diamond shape

Here are some more thorough suggestions for enhancing your experience by maximizing your time in a certain area. Some of the best places to look for crystals include the following:


Lake shores present a delightful opportunity for crystal enthusiasts to uncover some of nature’s most enchanting gems. The serene beauty of lakes offers a tranquil setting for a crystal hunting adventure, and the geological features of these locations often yield a fascinating variety of sparkling treasures.

When searching for crystals on lake shores, it’s essential to be mindful of the local regulations regarding rock and mineral collection, as some areas may have restrictions to protect the environment. Also, be respectful of private property and obtain permission when necessary.


Quarries are undeniably fantastic locations for crystal hunters seeking to uncover nature’s most mesmerizing treasures. These sites typically used for extracting large quantities of rocks and minerals, often reveal hidden pockets of crystals, which can be a treasure trove for enthusiasts.

One of the reasons quarries are excellent for crystal hunting is the ease of access to mineral-rich layers exposed by the excavation process. The constant digging and extraction bring to light previously hidden geological formations, enhancing the chances of finding various sparkling gems.

Rivers and riverbanks

Rivers and riverbanks provide an exciting and dynamic environment for crystal hunters searching nature’s captivating treasures. These ever-changing landscapes offer a wealth of opportunities to discover stunning gems as the constant flow of water uncovers hidden geological formations and mineral deposits.

Rivers and riverbanks are ideal for finding crystals because of the natural sorting and erosion processes within the watercourse. As water flows, rocks and soil wear away, revealing various sparkling specimens along its path. The river’s current may also transport and deposit crystals in crevices or gravel bars, which are prime locations for unearthing mesmerizing crystals.

North Dakota Crystal Mining Laws And Regulations

Familiarize yourself with the ownership of the land you wish to explore in North Dakota. If it is private property, always ask for permission from the landowner before entering or collecting any minerals. If the land is under federal or state jurisdiction, be aware of specific rules and regulations that apply to that area, specifically those governed by the North Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks Department.

The Best Crystal Shops In North Dakota

Treasures of Sea and Earth crystal shop in North Dakota where you can find and purchase various crystal specimens

For someone who merely wants to bring home something outstanding for their collection, the abundance of crystals dispersed throughout our state’s numerous areas may be frightening. If you don’t mind spending a little money to see so many different crystals in one location, you might want to look into the nearby crystal shops:

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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