The 41 Guaranteed Sites To Find And Mine For Quartz In Minnesota In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

| Updated

The 41 Guaranteed Sites To Find And Mine For Quartz In Minnesota In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

Updated

Minnesota is an absolute treasure for geologists and rockhounds. But finding quartz here can be a bit of a challenge because it’s not as common as in other states. You have to be knowledgeable about the guaranteed sites where you can uncover them.

But if you’re up for the challenge, finding quartz in Minnesota is not impossible. After all, it’s so rewarding to have a piece of this gem. If you’re wondering where to start your quest for Minnesota quartz, our guide will walk you through them.

A few of our favorite places to explore here are the Vermillion Range, Mississippi River, Ely, Lanesboro, and Paradise Beach. These places not only have quartz deposits but also provide a glimpse into our state’s rich geological history.

The journey to find quartz in Minnesota is more than just a hunt— it’s also a chance to connect with nature. Our article will help you get ready for it!

What Is Minnesota Quartz Anyway?

Close-up look at the details of a raw rose quartz
Rose quartz photo provided by and available for purchase at ThrowinStones

Quartz is made up of silicon and oxygen, two of the most common elements in Earth’s crust. This makes it one of the most common minerals on our planet!

Although it comes in different colors, like clear, pink, or even black, identifying quartz is not too hard. It has a glassy look, and if you find a clear piece, it’s like looking through glass. It can scratch glass too, because it’s pretty hard.

Its many uses have influenced the value of quartz. It’s used in making jewelry and beautiful decorations. People love how it looks, especially when it’s cut and polished. But there’s more to quartz than just being pretty.

It’s also really important in technology. It’s used in watches, radios, and computers because it can make electricity when you squeeze it— this is called piezoelectricity. It’s also used in glass-making and in building materials, too.

Since it’s common, you can find quartz almost everywhere around the world. It’s usually found in rocks like granite and sandstone. Rivers, beaches, and deserts can have lots of quartz, too.

The Types Of Quartz Found In Minnesota

Below are the different types of quartz you have a chance of uncovering when you visit here:

  • Clear quartz
  • Rose quartz
  • Smoky quartz

There are also several different kinds of crystals in Minnesota and if you’re interested in finding them, too, you can check out the guide we created on that.

How We Found The Best Quartz Locations in Minnesota
When it comes to choosing the best options for finding Minnesota quartz there are plenty of things we consider. Many of the best locations are closely guarded secrets which can make it really difficult for more casual rock hunters to find success. The key factors in our recommendations are:

  • The deep experience and understanding of our team about the area
  • Recommendations from local groups and clubs
  • How easy it is to get the a particular location
  • Safety and potential hazards when collecting
  • Weighing private and public locations
  • The ability for both experienced and novice rock enthusiasts to find great samples

With these factors in mind we’ve been able to put together a fantastic list that just about anyone can use!

The Best Places To Find Quartz In Minnesota

A stunning cluster of clear quartz crystals
Clear quartz cluster photo provided by Alpine Crystals

Luckily, many gem mine sites in Minnesota have different rocks and minerals. But below are our favorite places to explore for some awesome quartz finds. We hope you’ll have the best time exploring them, too!

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.

Vermilion Range

Paint-like view of the Iron Range, where the Vermilion Range is a part of.

The Vermilion Range, located in northeastern Minnesota, is known for its rich mining history and stunning landscapes. Here, you’ll find yourself surrounded by beautiful forests, hills, and lakes— a perfect setting for an adventure.

This area is not just flat. It has a mix of dense forests, open spaces, and lots of lakes and rivers. Its terrain is a blend of rugged wilderness and tranquil landscapes, with trails that meander through some gorgeous areas.

Geologically, the Vermilion Range is part of the Canadian Shield, which means it’s made of some of the oldest rocks, dating back billions of years! It’s known for its layers of rock and minerals. In this range, you can find quartz in various forms.

This place is near the town of Tower, about a three-hour drive north of Duluth. If you want to go here, you’ll have a scenic driver, taking you through some of our lovely countryside.

Just remember to review Minnesota’s local collecting guidelines and comply with them as you explore here and on the other sites that we’ll share with you.

Where we found quartz in the Vermilion Range

To find quartz, you can search through the regional creeks, washes, and breaks in the Vermilion Range.

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.

Mississippi River

The long stretch of waters of Mississippi River in Minnesota surrounded by lush trees

The mighty Mississippi River starts as a small stream flowing out of Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota and winds its way through our state. As it travels, it passes through diverse landscapes, making it a great place to explore and hunt for rocks.

Geographically, this river is varied. In the north, it flows through thick forests and clear lakes. As it moves south, it passes through open farmland, bluffs, and urban areas like the Twin Cities. This means you get a mix of different terrains to explore.

The area around the river is often filled with greenery, and the bluffs along it are particularly beautiful. As it cuts through the landscape over millions of years, it has exposed a variety of rocks and minerals, including quartz.

Since the Mississippi River runs through many towns and cities, you can pick a spot that interests you and head there. If you start in the Twin Cities, you can follow the river by driving along the Great River Road.

Where we found quartz in the Mississippi River

You can find quartz if you explore the Mississippi River bluffs in the Red Wing area.

Ely

Clear waters reflecting the sky and landscapes in Ely

Nestled in the northeastern part of our state, Ely is known for its stunning wilderness. It’s close to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and is a paradise for anyone who loves the outdoors and rocks.

This area is surrounded by forests, lakes, and rugged terrain. It’s dotted with crystal-clear lakes and thick forests. The terrain around Ely is varied: you have gentle areas near the lakes and more challenging rocky areas, which are perfect for exploring.

Ely is part of the Canadian Shield, an area rich in different types of rocks and minerals, including quartz.

If you’re interested, going here is an adventure in itself. It’s about a four-hour drive north of Minneapolis. This journey takes you through some beautiful parts of Minnesota, with forests, lakes, and small towns along the way.

Where we found quartz in Ely

We highly recommend searching for quartz in the area mine dumps of Ely, where they have been typically found.

Lanesboro

A picturesque dam surrounded by trees during autumn

Lanesboro is a charming small town nestled in southeastern Minnesota. It’s known for its scenic beauty and outdoor activities.

It sits in the Root River Valley, surrounded by rolling hills and lush green landscapes. Its terrain is a mix of gentle river valleys and steeper bluffs, which are not only beautiful to look at but also great for exploring.

Lanesboro is part of the Driftless Area, a region that was untouched by the last ice age glaciers. Because of this, its landscape has unique features like limestone bluffs and deep river valleys. This means there are lots of opportunities to find quartz.

It’s about a two-hour drive southeast of Minneapolis if you’re interested in paying a visit. The drive is scenic, taking you through the beautiful countryside of southeastern Minnesota.

Where we found quartz in Lanesboro

Quartz in this area can be found in the limestone and along the riverbanks. You can also find quartz in a road cut northeast on SR 16 in Lanesboro.

Paradise Beach

Calm waters of Paradise Beach and its pebbly shores

Paradise Beach is located along the North Shore of Lake Superior, near Grand Portage. This spot is famous for its stunning views of the lake and its pebbly beach.

Lake Superior is nestled right here, and Paradise Beach offers a beautiful view of its clear, blue waters. It’s mostly pebbles and rocks, not sand, and the terrain around it is a mix of rocky shores and forested areas.

The beach area is rich in a variety of rocks and minerals, thanks to Lake Superior and the ancient geological forces that shaped this region. Quartz, in particular, can be found here.

This place is about a 5-hour drive north of Duluth. You can take Highway 61, which offers stunning views of Lake Superior and the surrounding landscapes.

Where we found quartz in Paradise Beach

Walking along the shoreline of Paradise Beach is the best way you can find Minnesota quartz here. You might find it in different colors mixed in with other rocks on the beach.

Other Great Places To Find Minnesota Quartz

Two translucent crystals of raw quartz
Raw quartz photo provided by Weinrich Minerals

Besides our top recommendations, there are many other great places to find quartz in Minnesota. We’ve listed them by county for your quick reference:

Our recommendations by county

County Location
Carlton Arrowhead mine
Carlton Alsted Mine
Chisago Taylors Falls
Cook McFarland Lake prospect
Cook Cross River
Cook Spalding Mine
Cook Bluefin Bay
Crow Wing Cuyuna North Range
Crow Wing Rabbit Lake Mine
Crow Wing Hillcrest Mine
Crow Wing Sagamore Mine
Crow Wing Arko Mine
Crow Wing Milford Mine
Houston Beneke Quarryr
Itasca Hill Annex Mine
Itasca Lind-Greenway Mine
Koochiching Bushyhead Island prospect
Koochiching Grassy Island prospect
Lake Sonju Lake intrusion
Lake Gooseberry Falls State Park
Lake/td>

Winston area mine dumps
Lake Silver Bay
Lake Agate Bay
Morrison Blanchard dam
Pine Kettle River
Renville Cold Spring Granite Quarry
St. Louis Brighton Beach
St. Louis Steamboat Islet prospect
St. Louis Knife River
St. Louis North American Mine
St. Louis Zenith Mine

Common Quartz-Hunting Questions

Sharp, lustrous smoky quartz drusy
Smoky quartz drusy photo provided by The Blessed Crystal Co

To further guide you through your quartz-hunting plans, we’ll answer one of the most common questions when it comes to it:

Is it illegal to collect quartz in Minnesota?

Collecting quartz is generally legal in Minnesota, but it’s important to be aware of specific rules and locations where collecting might be restricted.

If you’re on private property, you must have the permission of the landowner to collect rocks. On federal lands, meanwhile, like national forests, collecting small amounts of rocks and minerals for personal use is often allowed.

On state lands, such as state parks and scientific and natural areas, rock collecting is usually prohibited to protect natural resources.

However, on public lands managed by counties or cities, the rules can vary, so it’s always best to check local regulations. Visit the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) website for more details.

The Best Places To Buy Quartz In Minnesota

Front store window and entrance of Crystal Zones where the rocks and mineral on display can be seen

If you prefer to purchase quartz pieces, you may visit our trusted local rock and mineral shops. A few of them are:

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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