The 18 Best Spots For Gem Hunting In Michigan In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

| Updated

The 18 Best Spots For Gem Hunting In Michigan In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD


Who doesn’t love the thrill of gem mining? Michigan is the perfect place to hunt for precious gems because of its rich history, rugged terrain, and abundance of beautiful lakes and geological formations.

From Lake Superior’s shore to the Upper Peninsula’s depths, you’ll find plenty of spots to dig for gems.

This state offers something for both beginners and professional gem hunters alike. With so many sites to choose from, we know it can be difficult to pick the best place in this state for digging gemstones. So, read on to discover and try the best spots we’ve found!

The best places to mine gems in Michigan are along lakebeds, creeks, and rivers, loose along the shoreline, mine dumps, and pay-to-dig mines. Below, we go into greater depth about some fantastic options, including Isle Royale, Caledonia Mine, and McClain State Park.

There are a lot of different rocks and minerals found in Michigan but we’re going to cover those that are truly beautiful.

How We Picked The Best Places For Gem Mining in Michigan
In order to find the absolute best places in Michigan for gem mining we had a lot of things to consider. 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 Michigan You Can Mine

A few pieces of pretty carnelians discovered while gem hunting in Michigan

Fortunately, Michigan is home to some magnificent gemstones. We have prepared these tips for you since we know that every state is blessed differently and finding good mining spots can be really tough after putting together many guides to help people find gem mines near them. Both rare and more common gems can be discovered here with the correct knowledge and a little luck.

Rare gemstones found in Michigan

  • Chlorastrolite
  • Lake Superior Agates

More common gemstones found here

  • Calcite
  • Carnelian
  • Coral
  • Chalcedony
  • Datolite
  • Diamond
  • Epidote
  • Feldspar
  • Garnet
  • Hematite
  • Jasper
  • Marcasite
  • Natrolite
  • Obsidian
  • Prehnite
  • Pyrite
  • Quartz
  • Sapphire
  • Thomsonite

Our Favorite Places For Gem Mining in Michigan

We’ve created a list of our favorite gem hunting locations for adults and children to enjoy. Adults can look for gems in these locations, and we made sure to include our suggestions for where kids may learn about and engage with gemstones.

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.

Isle Royale National Park

A pretty Datolite discovered at Isle Royale National Park

Keweenaw County, MI, United States

Isle Royale National Park is located near the northern tip of Lake Superior. This remote area is known for its rugged beauty and abundant natural resources. You can search for gemstones in the park’s streams and rivers or purchase bags of “mining rough” from local vendors containing various gems.

For those looking to explore this unique location even further, there are guided tours available to learn more about the history and geography of Isle Royale National Park.

The Types Of Gemstones Found At Isle Royal National Park

  • Barite
  • Chlorastrolite
  • Datolite
  • Epidote
  • Natrolite
  • Prehnite

The Best Time To Visit Isle Royal National Park

The park is open from mid-April to mid-October, and the warmer months are the best time to search for gems. The water levels are usually lower, making it easier to access the shoreline and dig for gems in the riverbeds.

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 rockhound 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 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 

Northeast Treasure Hunter's Gem & Mineral Guide 

Earth Treasures: The Northeastern 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.

Caledonia Mine

A group of gem hunters at Caledonia Mine

Caledonia Rd, Ontonagon, MI 49953, United States

Caledonia Mine is a former copper mine located in Houghton County. The mine operated between 1843 and 1972 and was one of the largest copper mines in the country during its peak production in the early 1900s.

Today, the mine allows you to search for gems and minerals and pan for gold at the mine. The mine also offers guided tours of the historic Caledonia Mine and its underground tunnels. And if you’re looking for Michigan crystals, this place belongs to your must-visits here.

The Types Of Gemstones Found At Caledonia Mine

High-quality minerals and gems are found in this area. The most common kinds of gemstones found here include:

  • Calcite
  • Datolite
  • Epidote
  • Feldspar
  • Quartz

The Best Time To Visit Caledonia Mine

The best time to visit Caledonia Mine is during the summer months, from June to August. You’ll have the best chance of finding gems in the mine during this time. It’s also important to remember that searching for gemstones is a weather-dependent activity, and certain conditions must be met for mining to be successful.

McClain State Park

Children searching for gems at McClain State Park

18350 M-203, Hancock, MI 49930, United States

McClain State Park is located on the south shore of Lake Huron in Presque Isle County. The park features a variety of outdoor activities, including gem hunting, hiking, camping, and more. The park lets you enjoy the beauty of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the Great Lakes region.

This state park is home to a unique gemstone mining experience, where you can purchase buckets of sand and sift through them for precious gems. It’s the perfect way to spend a day outdoors at McClain State Park with family or friends!

The Types Of Gemstones Found At McClain State Park

The gemstones and minerals found here are:

  • Chalcedony
  • Jasper
  • Keweenaw Agate

The Best Time To Visit McClain State Park

The best time to visit McClain State Park is typically in the summer, from June to August. The warmer temperatures and long days make it easier to search for gems. Additionally, the park is open year-round, and you can enjoy finding gems regardless of the season.

Thunder Bay Mining Company – Great for kids

Kids gem hunting at Thunder Bay Mining Company

925 S Main St D-3, Frankenmuth, MI 48734, United States

Thunder Bay Mining Company is a family-owned and operated business located in the state’s Upper Peninsula. Founded in 2020, the company provides a unique and exciting experience for those looking to explore the beauty of nature through locating gems.

You can purchase kits that contain everything they need for an enjoyable gem hunt experience. Whether for fun or educational purposes, the Thunder Bay Mining Company offers an unforgettable adventure for all ages!

The Types Of Gemstones Found At Thunder Bay Mining Company

Here you may discover some of the most common gemstones, including:

  • Adventurine
  • Amethyst
  • Calcite
  • Citrine
  • Emerald
  • Fluorite
  • Garnet
  • Moonstone
  • Obsidian
  • Peridot
  • Pyrite
  • Quartz
  • Raspberry Quartz
  • Rose Quartz
  • Sapphire
  • Smoky Quartz
  • Sodalite
  • Topaz

The Best Times To Visit Thunder Bay Mining Company

Thunder Bay Mining Company is open from 10 AM to 7 PM, Mondays to Sundays. It’s best to visit during the summer months of June, July, and August since they are closed in winter. During the summer, you can also join guided tours to learn about geology and mining techniques.

Cedar Panning Co – Great for kids

Children finding gemstones at Cedar Panning Co

4820 French Rd, Alpena, MI 49707, United States

Cedar Panning Co is an experience perfect for families, groups, and individuals looking for a unique adventure. With their on-site sluice, you can sift through sand, gravel, and water to uncover gemstones. They also provide tools and instruction to help you find your treasures, and their knowledgeable staff is always available to answer any questions and provide assistance. Children may take their gemstones found at Cedar Panning Co home. 

The Types Of Gemstones Found At Cedar Panning Co

You can seek various gemstones in this location. Most gem hunters will discover these in particular:

  • Amethyst
  • Aquamarine
  • Citrine
  • Garnet
  • Peridot
  • Quartz
  • Rose Quartz
  • Sapphire
  • Topaz

The Best Time To Visit Cedar Panning Co

The peak season for gem searching at Cedar Panning Co runs from May through September.

Other Great Options For Real Gem Mining in Michigan

A woman doing real gem mining in Michigan

In addition to the famous spots mentioned above, the state has many other excellent mining sites. Here’s a list of some of the best destinations for adults looking for a real gem mining experience.

  • Carnelian Beach – Agates, Carnelian, Quartz
  • Champion Mine – Hematite, Sapphire
  • Jasper Hill – Jasper, Hematite, Quartz, 
  • Lake Michigan – Agates, Chlorastrolite, Corals, Obsidian, Quartz
  • Mt. Shasta – Garnet
  • Muskallonge State Park beach – Agates
  • Keweenaw Point – Chalcedony, Jasper, Keweenaw Agate, Thomsonite
  • Point Aux Barques – Agates, Marcasite
  • Presque Isle – Agate, Chalcedony
  • Rockport State Recreation Area – Pyrite
  • Rope Mine – Pyrite
  • Woodland Park Beach – Agates

The Top Public Gem Mining Locations in Michigan

A kid doing public gem mining in Michigan

We also have some excellent suggestions on public gem mining for families who want to introduce their kids to the activity of gemstone mining.

  • Silver Town Mini Golf and Gem Mining – 8424 W Hazel Rd, Mears, MI 49436, United States

Michigan Gem Mining Laws And Regulations

Michigan allows recreational gem hunting in several areas throughout the state. The state requires that all rockhounds obtain a license or permit before engaging in hunting activities. All hunters must also abide by the rules and regulations of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (DEGLE). To obtain a permit for recreational gem hunting in Michigan, individuals must complete an application with the DEGLE and submit it along with payment for any applicable fees.

For more information, visit the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (DEGLE) site link above.

Additional places to mine for gems in nearby states

Once you’ve been to every location we listed above and intend to visit the neighboring states below as well, take a look at the guides we’ve made for our suggested places to mine for gems there:

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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