The 29 Best Spots For Gem Hunting In Oregon In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

| Updated

The 29 Best Spots For Gem Hunting In Oregon In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD


With its rugged coastline, lush forests, and rich mountain ranges, Oregon is a gem hunter’s delight. From the Cascade Mountains to its coast, our state is home to a variety of gems and minerals, including agates, jaspers, and sunstones.

Whether you’re a seasoned gem hunter or a first-time prospector, our state offers some of the best spots in the West for a memorable gem hunting adventure. There are plenty of opportunities to search for beautiful gems in this stunning place. So, if you’re looking for the perfect spot to find that special gem, our state could be the perfect destination.

The best places to mine gems are going to be along the many creeks and rivers, dry lake beds, gravel deposits, mines and mine dumps, pay-to-dig mines, and along the Pacific coast. The Oregon Sun Stone Collection Area, Quartzville Creek, and the Juniper Ridge Opal Mine are especially great places that we will cover in more depth below.

How We Picked The Best Places For Gem Mining in Oregon
In order to find the absolute best places in Oregon for gem mining, we had to consider a lot of things. It can be really tough to find good information, so it took us a long time to put together a solid list like the one below. The main inputs to our recommendations are as follows:

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

Overall, we’ve been able to put together a great list that anyone can use to locate a lot of beautiful gems.

The Gemstones Found In Oregon You Can Mine

A beautiful Amethyst is among the gems that can be mined in Oregon

We are truly fortunate to have access to a wide variety of gorgeous gemstones here that can be mined. As we’ve found when putting together our guides to find gem mines near you for most states, most other places are not blessed with these! If you know the right locations to search and with a smidge of luck, you can find both the rare and common gems in this state.

Rare gemstone found in Oregon

  • Agates
  • Amethyst
  • Jasper
  • Opal
  • Oregon Sunstone

More common gemstones found here

  • Amber
  • Aquamarine
  • Azurite
  • Bloodstone
  • Calcite
  • Carnelian
  • Chalcedony
  • Chrysocolla
  • Diamond
  • Emerald
  • Garnet 
  • Jade
  • Malachite
  • Mesolite
  • Moonstone
  • Nephrite
  • Obsidian
  • Pearl
  • Pyrite
  • Quartz
  • Rhodonite
  • Ruby
  • Serpentine
  • Turquoise

Our Favorite Places For Gem Mining In Oregon

We created a list of our favorite places for gem hunting. These are what we consider the best spots for adults to do real gem mining. We also included some recommendations that are best for kids to explore and discover the wonders of gem hunting.

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.

Oregon Sunstone Collection Area

Visitors gem hunting Oregon Sunstone at the public collection area

1301 South G Street Lakeview, OR 97630 United States

Gem mining for Oregon Sunstone has been a popular activity for over 100 years. Oregon Sunstone Collection Area, located near the town of Plush, is where you can mine for these. The area was originally inhabited by the Northern Paiute people, who first discovered Oregon Sunstone and used it to create jewelry items.

Today, you can come to the Oregon Sunstone Collection Area and experience gem hunting firsthand by purchasing buckets of ore that have been mined from nearby claims or by renting equipment and searching for your own stones on public lands. Once you find a stone, you can take it home with you as a souvenir or have it cut into a beautiful piece of jewelry.

The Types of Gems Found In The Oregon Sunstone Collection Area

This area is best known for the Oregon Sunstone, a rare gem found exclusively in the high desert of the state. It is known for its beautiful orange and red hues, which are caused by copper inclusions.

The Best Time To Visit Oregon Sunstone Collection Area

The best time to visit this place for gem hunting is during the summer months, from June to August. The weather is typically warmer and drier during this time of year, making it easier to search for gems and enjoy the outdoors.

Rock pick being used

The tools every gem hunter will need

When you're out looking for gems it's very important that you bring the right tools with you. 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 gem miners which we outline in great detail in our complete rockhounding equipment 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 gem-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.

Quartzville Creek

An Agate found while gem hunting in Linn County where Quartzville Creek is located

1717 Fabry Rd., Salem, OR 97306

Quartzville Creek is a popular gem mining destination in the Cascade Mountains. The creek has long been known for its abundant deposits of quartz crystals and other gems and minerals, making it a popular spot for recreational gold panning and gemstone hunting.

The area was first discovered by prospectors during the mid-1800s and has been mined ever since. Today, Quartzville Creek remains a popular destination for rock hounds and nature lovers alike. You can pan for gold or search for gems while enjoying the beauty of nature in this remote corner of the state.

The Types of Gems Found In The Quartzville Creek

This area has different gemstones, but most abundant of them are the following:

  • Agate
  • Jasper
  • Pyrite
  • Quartz

The Best Time To Visit Quartzville Creek

The best time to visit Quartzville Creek is in the spring and summer months. This is when the water is at its lowest levels, allowing for more access to areas that may contain different kinds of gems. During this time, temperatures are also milder, making it more comfortable for gem mining.

Juniper Ridge Opal Mine

An uncut fire opal found at the Juniper Ridge Opal Mine

Lakeview, OR 97630 United States

Juniper Ridge Opal Mine, established in 1997, is well known for its unique and rare opal varieties, including hyalite, jelly, honeycomb, dendritic, blue-green, and crystal opals.

This place can offer you a variety of ways to experience gemstone mining from their location in Lake County. You can take part in the “bucket” program where you get to sift through dirt for gems or join an underground tour of the mine with experienced guides. The mine also offers workshops and classes that provide insight into the history and science of opal mining.

The Types of Gems Found In The Juniper Ridge Opal Mine

There are different kinds of gems in this place, but opals in different colors and shapes are the most bountiful here.

The Best Time To Visit Juniper Ridge Opal Mine

The best time to visit the Juniper Ridge Opal Mine for gem mining is during the summer months of June, July, and August. The weather is usually warm and dry during these months, which makes it easier to search for gems. Additionally, the days are longer so you can spend more time outside looking for opals.

Spectrum Mines – Great for kids

Actual photo of Oregon sunstones mined from the Spectrum Mines

Plush, OR 97637, United States

Spectrum Mines is a family-friendly gem mining place that offers a unique and educational experience for children of all ages. You can search for gems, minerals, and fossils in the sluice boxes provided by the place.

The staff help teach children about the different types of rocks and minerals they can find, as well as provide guidance on how to identify them. After their mining adventure, kids can take home their finds and learn more about them with the educational booklets provided by the mines. There is also an on-site gift shop where visitors can purchase souvenirs from their trip.

The Types of Gems Found In The Spectrum Mines

This area is known for plenty different kinds of gemstones that can be found in the state. Because of this, kids get to learn about a variety of gemstones while having fun doing gem mining.

The Best Time To Visit Spectrum Mines

The best time to visit Spectrum Mines is during the summer months of June through August. This is the peak season for gem mining and the perfect time for families with kids to enjoy an outdoor adventure. The mine’s staff are also full on during these months, so you can get all the help you need when it comes to finding gems and learning about the different types of gems available.

Sand Master Park – Great for kids

Kids enjoying gem panning at the Sand Master Park

4981 Highway 101, Florence, OR 97439-8896

Sand Master Park is built on a sand dune near the state’s coast. This state-of-the-art facility offers visitors a unique experience in sandboarding.

But more than this, the park is an outdoor gem mining facility. It features various activities, such as gem panning, sluicing, and rockhounding. Sand Master Park also offers educational programs on geology, mineralogy, and paleontology. With its unique blend of outdoor activities and educational opportunities, it has become a popular destination for visitors of all ages.

The Types of Gems Found In The Sand Master Park

This place features different kinds of gems that can be found in the state, both rare and more common, making it a great place for kids to see, touch, and learn about different varieties of gemstones.

The Best Time To Visit Sand Master Park

The best time to visit Sand Master Park is during the summer months of June through August. The weather is usually warm and sunny during this time of year, making it a great time to enjoy outdoor activities like gem mining. Additionally, the park is open every day during the summer months, so it’s easy to plan a visit that fits your schedule.

Other Great Options For Real Gem Mining in Oregon

A snakeskin Agate found while gem hunting

Aside from the best places that we shared above, there are plenty other places here where adults can experience authentic gem mining. Below is a list of these places for those of you who want to do real gem hunting.

  • Agate Lake County Park – Agate
  • Bear Creek Stream – Agate, Jasper, Quartz
  • Priday Agates Bed – Agate, Chalcedony, Jasper, Opal
  • Short Beach – Agate, Jasper, Calcite, Quartz
  • Umpqua River – Agate, Carnelian, Chalcedony, Jade, Jasper
  • Rome – Snakeskin Agate
  • Graveyard Point – Agate
  • South Oregon Coast – Agate, Jasper
  • Fischer Canyon – Agate, Calcite, Jasper
  • McDermitt – Agate, Jasper
  • Succor Creek – Agate, Chalcedony, Jasper
  • Santiam River – Agate, Jasper
  • Biggs Village – Jasper
  • Nehalem River – Agate, Carnelian, Jasper
  • Eagle Rock Formation – Agate
  • Shirttail Creek – Agate, Chalcedony, Jasper, Jade
  • Ochoco National Forest – Agate, Jasper
  • Lincoln City Beach – Agate, Jasper
  • Columbia River – Turquoise
  • Mt. Pisgah – Agate, Calcite, Jasper, Malachite, Mesolite, Quartz
  • Althouse Creek – Agate, Garnet, Quartz

The Top Public Gem Mining Locations in Oregon

Kids enjoying gem mining in the public gem mining sites in the state

For families who want to explore the wonders of gem mining with their kids, here are some of our recommended family-friendly public gem mining places in the state:

Oregon Gem Mining Laws And Regulations

Recreational gem hunting is allowed on certain public lands within the state. All activities must be conducted in accordance with state laws and regulations under the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries.

A permit must be obtained from the appropriate land management agency in order to collect gems from public land. The permit must include information about the location of where gems will be collected and any applicable fees associated with the activity.

In addition to a valid license and permit, you should follow established safety guidelines when searching for gems. This includes using caution when walking on unstable or slippery surfaces, wearing protective clothing such as gloves and closed-toed shoes, avoiding areas that may contain hazardous materials or wildlife, and refraining from entering areas that are closed off due to hazardous conditions. It is also important to always respect private property boundaries while searching for gems.

You should also remember to properly dispose of any trash or debris generated during your hunt and practice Leave No Trace principles whenever possible.

For more information on the state’s gem mining laws and regulations, visit the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries link above.

Additional Places To Mine For Gems 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.

Leave a Comment