Oregon is known for its abundant obsidian deposits, but they aren’t precisely conveniently scattered around like seashells on a beach. You’ve got to deal with rough terrain, dense forests, and large stretches of land, and it’s easy to get lost or dig in the wrong places.
Lucky for you obsidian hunters out there, there’s hope. We’ve looked all over Oregon (well, maybe not literally all of it) and found some great options to help you! You’ll learn more about the landmarks to look for and known obsidian sources.
With all these choices, you have a good chance of being a successful obsidian hunter in Oregon. So, don’t forget your sense of adventure and get ready to dig up some truly amazing obsidian!
What is Oregon Obsidian?
Obsidian is a type of volcanic glass that forms when lava cools quickly. This makes it smooth and glassy, without any crystalline structures. Oregon has many different kinds of obsidian, each of which has unique qualities and looks.
The most common places to find obsidian in Oregon are in volcanic areas all over the state. The Newberry Volcano in central Oregon is a well-known place where black, brown, and red obsidian, among other colors, can be found. Meanwhile, the Glass Buttes are known for their large amounts of black obsidian.
If you use our guide to find some obsidians, you can also use this article to find out how much obsidians are worth.
Finding snowflake obsidian in Oregon
You can find snowflake obsidian in Oregon. Snowflake obsidian is a type of obsidian that has spots or “snowflakes” of the mineral cristobalite that are white or grayish. Even though it isn’t as common as other types of obsidian in Oregon, snowflake obsidian has been found in some places.
Once you’ve exhausted all of the great spots in our state you can check out our large guide on where to find obsidian that covers other states.
The tools every obsidian hunter will need
When you're out looking for obsidian 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 obsidian 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 obsidian-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:
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 Obsidian in Oregon
Finding obsidian is fun for people who like to look for rocks. But it can be hard to find these valuable stones. Where obsidians are found in rocky places, people who don’t know the area well may get lost.
Even though the state has a lot of exciting places where you can mine gems in Oregon, only a few of them are great for finding obsidian.
East Lake is right next to Newberry Volcano, so a lot of volcanic activity is happening. Obsidian was made by this volcanic activity in the first place. When lava from a volcano cools down very quickly, it turns into obsidian.
Because East Lake is in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, there are places you can legally go to collect obsidian. Just follow the rules and regulations, like staying in the designated collection areas and being kind to the environment.
Read up on the most recent Oregon collecting rules before you bring your finds home.
Where we found obsidian at East Lake
The Obsidian Flow Trail is a well-known place in East Lake where obsidians can be found. It’s a designated trail that people can use to explore and collect obsidian. This trail takes you through a beautiful area with many obsidian rocks that are interesting to look at.
Newberry National Volcanic Monument is a great place to explore if you’re hunting for obsidian. This place has got it all—volcanoes, lava flows, and a whole bunch of cool volcanic features.
It’s an active volcano, but no worries, it won’t erupt soon. Newberry Volcano has left behind a bunch of obsidian all around its slopes. This volcano is what created all that obsidian you’re after.
It’s an excellent place for obsidian hunters because it’s an active volcano with old lava flows and designated places for collecting obsidians.
Where we found obsidian at Newberry National Volcanic Monument
At Newberry National Volcanic Monument in Oregon, obsidian can be found throughout the monument. The Lava Butte is one location that offers opportunities to find obsidian. Explore the surroundings and look for glassy black or colorful obsidian fragments amidst the volcanic rocks.
North Sister Mountain
North Sister Mountain is not just a stunning peak in the Three Sisters Wilderness; it’s also a great spot to search for obsidian. This majestic mountain, part of the Cascade Range, holds some obsidian treasures.
It’s a volcano that has had its fair share of volcanic activity. And where there’s volcanic activity, there’s a good chance of finding obsidian. The volcanic history of North Sister means there could be pockets of obsidian scattered around its slopes,
Where we found obsidian in North Sister Mountain
The mountain offers a mix of scree slopes, cliffs, and rocky ridges where obsidian can be found. Keep your eyes peeled as you navigate the rugged landscape, and you might spot those shiny obsidian fragments hiding among the rocks.
Obsidian Cliffs is a place where you can see how powerful nature is. These cliffs were made when hot lava from volcanoes hit cool air and turned into obsidian. This happened thousands of years ago.
These cliffs give you a chance to see obsidian up close and personal. You can hike up to the cliffs and see this attractive volcanic glass in all its glory. Imagine how exciting it would be to find a shiny obsidian among the rocks.
One thing to remember is that you can’t take obsidian from the Obsidian Cliffs. The area is protected so that its natural beauty can be kept. But it’s still a great place to learn about obsidian, see how mesmerizing it is, and enjoy the wonders of geology.
Where we found obsidian at the Obsidian Cliffs
At the Obsidian Cliffs, you can find obsidian right within the cliffs themselves. The cliffs themselves are composed of obsidian layers, showcasing the sheer power of volcanic activity from ancient times.
Paulina Lake sits within the incredible Newberry National Volcanic Monument. That means you’re in prime obsidian territory! The area’s volcanic history has left behind a plethora of obsidian deposits for you to discover. It’s like Mother Nature’s own gift to rockhounds and adventure seekers.
Just remember that while you can collect obsidian in certain designated areas, it’s crucial to respect the rules and regulations. Let’s keep the natural beauty of Paulina Lake intact for generations to come.
Where we found obsidian at Paulina Lake
Obsidian is easy to find along the shoreline of Paulina Lake. When old lava flows meet the water, they often reveal pieces of obsidian and small rocks. If you stroll along the lake and keep your eyes open, you might find some beautiful pieces of obsidian.
Other Great Places To Find Obsidian Beds in Oregon
After we recommend the best places to find obsidians, we’ll give you a list of more great locations in Oregon where you can locate them. We’ve put them in order by county to make things easier.
Our recommendations by county
Additional areas you can find obsidian
Because Oregon is so big, we want to ensure your search goes well. Looking for the key and paying attention to places where obsidian is often found is essential.
Fresh rock exposures
Fresh rock exposures are a goldmine for obsidian collectors, and here’s why. When we talk about fresh rock exposures, it’s often due to natural erosion or human activities like excavation or road construction. These locations are a treasure trove for obsidian enthusiasts seeking to uncover pristine specimens.
Obsidians offer a higher chance of discovering new, unweathered pieces. Obsidian is susceptible to weathering over time, dulling its luster and making it less visually appealing. In contrast, fresh rock surfaces reveal obsidian in its full glory, with its glossy texture and stunning colors intact.
Lake shores often serve as natural collectors and concentrators of obsidian. Over time, erosion and wave action can wear away the surrounding rock, revealing obsidian fragments and pebbles that have washed up onto the shore. Buffed by the water, these polished obsidian pieces can be easily spotted amidst the sand and rocks.
Lake shores provide access to areas that were once submerged underwater. As the lake levels fluctuate over time, previously submerged areas are exposed. These newly accessible areas can yield pristine and untouched obsidian specimens that collectors covet.
Streams and creeks
Streams and creeks act as natural pathways for the erosion and transportation of rocks, including obsidian. As the water meanders, it deposits these obsidian pieces along the streambed or accumulates them in gravel bars.
Collectors can search these areas, sifting through the gravel and examining the exposed riverbanks to uncover beautiful obsidian treasures. Follow the flow, search the gravel bars, and embrace the excitement of discovering these mesmerizing volcanic treasures amidst the gentle babble of water.
Common Obsidian-Hunting Questions
It’s essential to answer the following questions about obsidians in Oregon that are often asked.
Is it illegal to collect obsidian in Oregon?
Obsidian collecting is legal in Oregon as long as you follow the rules. You should abide by the regulations if you’re in a public place. Make sure you have permission to collect when you’re on private land.
Black rock obsidian vs. Snowflake obsidian
Black rock and snowflake obsidian are distinct varieties, each with unique characteristics. Let’s explore the differences between them.
Black rock obsidian is named for its deep black color. Its striking appearance comes from its rich black hue, often consistent throughout the piece. Its sleek and reflective surface makes it highly sought after for various practical and ornamental purposes.
Snowflake obsidian features white or grayish “snowflake” markings across its black surface. These markings are slight mineral inclusions called cristobalite, formed during the obsidian’s solidification process. The contrast between the dark background and the snowflake-like patterns creates a visually stunning effect.
While both varieties are formed from the same volcanic processes, their distinct features set them apart. Black rock obsidian boasts a consistent black color, while snowflake obsidian showcases unique and beautiful patterns.
Collectors and enthusiasts appreciate both types for their characteristics and use them in various applications, from jewelry making to decorative pieces.
The Best Places To Buy Obsidian In Oregon
Not everyone wants to spend the whole day outside looking for obsidian. Sometimes, all you need is a piece to show off or collect. This is a list of rock shops where you can buy obsidian crystals.
- The Crystal Guide – 8145 SE 82nd Ave, Portland, OR 97266
- The Crystal Mirror – 180 SE Mill St, Dallas, OR 97338
- The Crystal Tower – 12550 SW Main St, Portland, OR 97223
- Dragon Crystals – 107 W 1st St, Phoenix, OR 97535
- Flower of Life Crystal Gallery – 40 N Main St, Ashland, OR 97520
Additional Places To Find Obsidian 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 for our list please leave a comment below!