The 47 Amazing Washington Rockhounding Sites In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

| Updated

The 47 Amazing Washington Rockhounding Sites In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD


Washington is a fantastic place for rockhounding enthusiasts to explore and discover unique rocks, minerals, and gemstones. The state boasts various geological formations, from volcanic mountains to glacial valleys, so there are plenty of opportunities to find different types of rocks and minerals.

One of the great things about rockhounding in Washington is the variety of options available to rockhounds of all experience levels. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced collector, there are plenty of locations to choose from, including beaches, rivers, mountains, and forests. From hunting for garnets in Cowiche Creek to searching for jade in Jade Cove, there’s something for everyone!

One of the most rewarding aspects of rockhounding is the thrill of the hunt. There’s nothing like discovering a beautiful rock or mineral in its natural habitat. So if you’re a rockhound looking for your next adventure, grab your tools and get ready for an unforgettable experience!

How We FoundThe Best Places For Rockhounding in Washington
We spent a lot of time putting together the list of which of the many options for Washington rockhounding we were going to recommend. We wanted to have a nice variety of locations for experienced and novice rockhounds 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 rockhounds and rockhound groups
  • The accessibility of the various locations
  • Safety and potential hazards when collecting
  • Private and public locations
  • A desire to include locations for both experienced rockhounds 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 rocks, gems, and minerals for our collections!

What You Can Find Rockhounding In Washington

A dazzling luminous opal with a diamond shape
Photo provided by and available for purchase at HouseofGEMsCreations

Due to their incredible diversity, we couldn’t reasonably include all the rocks and minerals found in Washington. The following are most of the uncommon and more prevalent specimens that rockhounds look for in the state:

Rare rocks and minerals found in Washington

  • Benitoite
  • Cookeite
  • Rhodochrosite
  • Wavellite

More common desirable rocks, minerals, and gems found here

In-depth guides to finding specific types of rocks in Washington

You should also have a look at the supplementary instructions we have already developed to locate certain specimens if you’re seeking something specific.

We’ve created an extensive guide on rock hunting places near you with more than 3,000 spectacular locations you can explore. Continue reading this article to learn more about what Washington state offers.

A rare and unique cookeite crystal with white and pink hues

The Best Places To Find Rocks and Minerals in Washington

To start things, we wanted to list some of our favorite rockhounding spots in Washington. Although there were many choices, we concentrated on our top picks. These are locations where you may have a blast exploring and locating some extremely beautiful rocks and minerals.

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.

Green River

A tranquil Green River where you can rockhound and find various minerals

Green River is a region in western Washington known for its rich geological history and unique rock formations. The Green River Formation is a layer of sedimentary rocks formed millions of years ago during the Eocene Epoch.

The area offers many rock-hounding opportunities, including exploring the surrounding rivers and streams, digging through rock formations, and searching for fossils in the area’s many quarries.

What you can find there

The area is known for its unique and diverse rare minerals like stilpnomelane and cookeite. It also produces agate, carnelian, chalcedony, jade, and jasper in the surrounding rivers and streams.

Rock pick being used

The tools every rockhound will need

When you're out looking for rocks and minerals 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 rockhounds 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 rockhounding 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.

Lucas Creek

A foggy area and rushing water at Lucas Creek

Lucas Creek is a small tributary of the Snoqualmie River located in King County. The creek flows through a steep, rocky gorge, which has exposed a variety of geological formations, making it a popular destination for rock-hounding enthusiasts.

The history of Lucas Creek dates back to the late 1800s when European-Americans first settled in the area. The creek was named after one of the early settlers, Henry Lucas, who built a cabin there. The region was also home to several mining operations, including the Eagle Mine, active in the early 1900s.

What you can find there

Many minerals, including garnets, pyrite, and quartz crystals, are produced in the area.

Mt. Adams

Mt. Adams covered with snow with pine trees and grasslands at its foot

Mt. Adams is a volcanic mountain in the Cascade Range of Washington state. The mountain stands at over 12,000 feet and is the second-highest peak in the state. Mt. Adams is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, offering hiking, skiing, and mountaineering opportunities.

Mt. Adams has a long history of human habitation, with evidence of human activity dating back thousands of years. The mountain holds cultural significance to several Native American tribes, who have long considered it a sacred site. European-American settlement began in the mid-1800s, and mining operations were active there for several decades.

What you can find there

The area around the mountain is known for producing a variety of minerals, including agates, carnelian, chalcedony, jasper, and quartz.

Mt. St. Helens

A picturesque view of Mt. St. Helens with snow on the mountains and blooming purple flowers and trees

Mount St. Helens is an active stratovolcano located in Skamania County, Washington. The mountain is best known for its catastrophic eruption on May 18, 1980, one of U.S. history’s most destructive volcanic events.

The eruption caused significant damage to the surrounding area, including destroying forests, homes, and infrastructure. However, since the eruption, the area around Mount St. Helens has become a fascinating destination for geologists and rockhounding enthusiasts alike.

What you can find there

The Toutle River flows through the area and is known for producing high-quality agates, carnelians, chalcedony, jasper, and quartz. The surrounding forests and trails offer opportunities for finding other unique geological specimens.

Sultan Basin

A nice view of the Sultan Basin with clear blue waters and lush green trees

Sultan Basin is a region in Snohomish County known for its unique geological features and rich mineral deposits. European-Americans settled in the area in the late 1800s and were a significant logging and mining center for several decades. Today, the area is a popular destination for rockhounding enthusiasts, offering opportunities to find a variety of minerals and crystals, including agates, jasper, and petrified wood.

The Sultan Basin is home to various rock formations, including sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rocks, making it a great place to explore and discover unique geological specimens.

What you can find there

The Sultan Basin offers opportunities to find various minerals and crystals, including azurite, malachite, and garnet.

Our Other Favorite Spots Around Washington

A scenic view of the Cathedral Peak with a lake in the middle surrounded by trees

Many stunning and distinctive rocks and minerals can be found in Washington. In addition to the top picks, we’ve included some options below for you to check out and explore to uncover more specimens.

Rockhounding sites in Northern Washington

Northern Washington is known for its rich geological history and diverse landscape, making it an excellent destination for rock-hounding enthusiasts. The area is home to various geological formations, including ancient seabeds, volcanic mountains, and glacial valleys, which offer a wide range of unique and fascinating minerals and crystals to discover.

From agates and jasper to garnets and petrified wood, northern Washington is a treasure trove of rocks and minerals just waiting to be found.

Location Minerals & Rocks
Cathedral Peak Wolframite
Crescent Beach Agate, Jasper
Deep Lake Hematite
Forty-Five Mine Chalcopyrite, Pyrite
Gravels of Dungeness River Agate, Jasper
Josephine Mine Smithsonite
Lake Crescent Jasper
Loon Lake Azurite, Malachite, Pyrite
Sacheen Lake Garnet
Skagit River Hematite
Tunk Creek Corundum, Quartz

Rockhounding sites in Southern Washington

Southern Washington is a region with a diverse geological landscape and a rich history of mining and rockhounding.

The area is known for its unique and interesting rocks and minerals, including agates, jasper, petrified wood, and thundereggs, which are a type of volcanic rock formation containing pockets of agate or other minerals.

The region also offers opportunities to find rare minerals such as stilpnomelane and cookeite.

Location Minerals & Rocks
Ceres Hill Carnelian
Cloverdale area Agate, Carnelian, Chalcedony, Geodes
Columbia River Agate
Mercury Mines Chalcedony, Cinnabar
Salmon River Carnelian, Geodes
Washougal area Amethyst

Rockhounding sites in Central Washington

Central Washington is home to various geological formations, including volcanic mountains, glacial valleys, and ancient seabeds, which offer a wide range of exciting and beautiful rocks and minerals to discover.

Central Washington is known for producing a variety of minerals, including agates, jasper, petrified wood, and pyrite, among others.

Location Minerals & Rocks
Carbon River Pyrite
Crystal Mountain Blue Chalcedony Geodes
Horsehoe Basin and Railroad Creek Chalcopyrite, Galena
Number One Canyon Onyx
Sigmund Ranch Amethyst
Teanaway Ridge Blue Agate Geodes

Rockhounding sites in East Washington

Eastern Washington is a region with a rich geological history and a diverse landscape that offers a variety of unique rocks and minerals for rock-hounding enthusiasts to discover.

The area is home to several geological formations, including basalt columns, flood basalts, and glacial deposits, which offer a wide range of exciting and beautiful specimens.

Location Minerals & Rocks
Little Spokane River Garnet, Quartz
Silver Hill Cassiterite

Rockhounding sites in West Washington

Western Washington has a diversified geological terrain and distinct rock formations. Many geological formations in the area, such as glacial valleys, volcanic mountains, and sedimentary rocks, provide a wide range of fascinating and stunning rocks and minerals to find.

Location Minerals & Rocks
Fifteen Mile Creek Amber
Long Beach and Ocean Park Agate, Chalcedony, Quartz
Moclips area along ocean beaches and in regional streams gravels Agate, Jasper
Willapa River Chalcedony

Where To Find Garnet In Washington

Although it can be challenging to find garnets, our state is fortunate to have them. Garnets have long been treasured for their rarity and beauty; today, collectors and rockhound enthusiasts place great value on them.

Ruby Creek is our favorite place to look for Garnets

An area full rocks at Ruby Creek where you can locate garnet crystals

Ruby Creek is a location in Washington that is well known for its rich deposits of garnets, making it a popular destination for rock-hounding enthusiasts. The area is located in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and is accessible by a forest service road. The creek gets its name from the deep red of the garnets found in the area, often referred to as “ruby garnets.”

Ruby Creek is a great place to look for garnets because the minerals are often found in large concentrations and can be easily visible on the creek’s bedrock or surrounding soil.

Other good options to find Garnet

  • Cedar Ponds
  • Greenwater

Where To Find Jade In Washington

Although jade can be hard to find, our state is lucky to have them. Because of their scarcity and beauty, jade has long been prized. Today, collectors and rock hound lovers place a high value on them.

Jade Cove is our favorite place to look for Jade

A nice quiet area at the Jade Cove where Jade can be found

Jade Cove is a location in Washington that is well known for its deposits of high-quality jade, making it a popular destination for rock-hounding enthusiasts. The area is located on the Olympic Peninsula and can be accessed by hiking or boat. The jade in the area is primarily nephrite jade, known for its durability and beautiful green color.

Jade Cove is an excellent place to look for jade because the mineral can be found in large concentrations in the surrounding rocks and boulders. With its stunning natural beauty and abundant jade deposits, Jade Cove is a must-visit destination for rockhounding enthusiasts in Washington.

Other good options to find Jade

  • Cowiche Creek
  • Denny Creek
  • Wenatchee River

Where To Find Pyrite In Washington

Despite the difficulty locating pyrite, our state is fortunate to have it. Pyrite has long been treasured due to its rarity and beauty. Nowadays, rock hounds and collectors appreciate them highly.

Spruce Ridge is our favorite place to look for Pyrite

A very beautiful view of Spruce Ridge where pyrite can be located

Spruce Ridge is known for its rich pyrite deposits, making it a popular destination for rock-hounding enthusiasts. The area is located in the Wenatchee Mountains and can be accessed by hiking or using a forest service road.

Pyrite, also known as fool’s gold, is a mineral commonly found in sedimentary rocks and often associated with gold deposits. Spruce Ridge is an excellent place to look for pyrite because the mineral can be found in large concentrations in the surrounding rocks and boulders.

Other good options to find Pyrite

  • Blewett Pass
  • Greenwater
  • Iron Mountain

Public Rockhounding Options For Kids

The Crescent Beach at Washington where kids can explore and rockhound

Although rockhounding may be an exciting and instructive pastime for kids, many great rockhounding locations can be challenging. But, some places for rockhounding that are family-friendly might be a terrific way to get children involved in the sport.

The while family will enjoy the more accessible terrain and prospects for easy-to-find specimens offered by these locations.

  • Crescent Beach – 2860 Crescent Beach Rd. Port Angeles, WA 98363
  • Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park – 319 Second Ave S. Seattle, WA 98104
  • Rock Creek Wildlife Area – NF-1701, Goose Prairie, WA 98937
  • Rock N’ Tomahawk Ranch – 2590 Upper Green Canyon Rd, Ellensburg, WA 98926
  • Shi Shi Beach – Shi Shi Beach Rd, Clallam Bay, WA 98326

Washington Rockhounding Clubs

Kitsap Mineral and Gem Society members gathered for an event

Rockhounding clubs are an excellent resource for both newbies and experienced collectors alike. These clubs provide a community of like-minded individuals who share a passion for rockhounding and opportunities to learn from one another and share knowledge about minerals and crystals.

Members of rockhounding clubs often have access to exclusive locations for collecting, and the clubs may organize field trips and other events to explore new areas for mineral collecting. Additionally, joining a rockhounding club can be a great way to connect with other collectors, build relationships, and share the excitement of discovering new specimens.

Rockhounding clubs in Washington worth checking out

Washington Rockhounding Laws And Regulations

Rockhounding and collecting minerals is legal in Washington State, but it is essential to follow all local and state laws regarding mineral collection. The state has regulations to ensure that the collection of minerals is done responsibly and sustainably, with minimal environmental impact.

The Washington Department of Natural Resources administers some general rules governing the use of public lands for recreational purposes, including rockhounding. Any of those who intend to use public lands for recreational rockhounding must obtain valid permission from their office.

Our Favorite Rock And Mineral Shops In Washington

Earthlight Crystals and Minerals rock shop in Washington where various rocks and minerals are available for purchase

Others prefer the comfort of buying specimens from reputable rock shops, while some people enjoy the thrill of looking for rocks and minerals in the wild. We have recommended the top Washington rock shops and mineral stores where you can find a wide selection of exceptional and top-notch specimens are recommended below.

Additional places to rockhound in nearby states

Once you’ve visited each of the locations we mentioned above, visit the guides we created for our recommended areas to rockhound in the bordering 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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