Best Spots for Gem Mining in Michigan

gem mining in michigan

The United States has plenty of gem mining spots for rockhounders. One popular state for gem mining is Michigan because of its rugged terrain and geological formations. Today, we will explore the best spots for gem mining in Michigan. 

Michigan, known for its picturesque landscapes and rich geological diversity, is also a hidden gem for those seeking to unearth treasures beneath its surface.

From the shores of Lake Superior to the creeks hidden in the Upper Peninsula, you will find plenty of spots to dig gems in Michigan. The state offers plenty of sites to choose from, so we have shortlisted the best spots to visit for gem mining.

How We Picked the Top Spots for Gem Mining in Michigan

To find the best gem mining spots in Michigan, we had to consider various factors. We understand it can be tough to find the information needed to shortlist the best places, so we have done the work for you.

Here are a few important things we took into consideration:

  • Input from local gem hunting associations and groups.
  • The accessibility of the mining spot.
  • The safety of the mining location and the potential hazards.
  • Private and public locations.
  • Locations for both beginners and experienced gem hunters.

What Kind of Gemstones Can Be Found in Michigan?

Because of its terrain, Michigan is home to some magnificent rocks and gemstones – both rare and common. Let’s take a look at some of the gemstones that you can expect to find in Michigan.

Rare Gemstones Found in Michigan

  • Agates (Lake Superior)
  • Chlorastrolite

Common Gemstones Found in Michigan

  • Calcite
  • Coral
  • Chalcedony
  • Diamond
  • Datolite
  • Feldspar
  • Garnet
  • Jasper
  • Obsidian
  • Quartz
  • Sapphire
  • Pyrite
  • Marcasite
  • Natrolite

Also, take a look at popular gem mining spots in Kentucky and gem mining spots in New Hampshire

Our Favorite Spots for Gem Mining in Michigan

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular spots in Michigan for gem mining. We have also included some locations for kids as well.

1. Huntington Creek in Ontonagon County


Ontonagon County, situated in the western part of the Upper Peninsula, is a hidden gem in itself for rockhounds and gem enthusiasts. Huntington Creek, flowing through this region, is known for its deposits of agates and other colorful stones.

Gem hunters can explore the creek’s banks, especially after a rainfall when newly exposed stones are more likely to be found. The vibrant hues of the agates found here make the journey worthwhile.

Some of the common gems found here are:

  • Jasper
  • Yooperlites
  • Datolite

2. Isle Royale National Park

For a more immersive gem mining experience, consider a trip to Isle Royale National Park, located in the northwest part of Lake Superior.

While primarily known for its pristine wilderness and wildlife, the park also boasts diverse geological formations that harbor a variety of gemstones.

Visitors can find copper minerals, thomsonite, and even greenstone along the park’s trails and shores. The park is open from April to October when the weather is warmer. The water levels are usually low, so you can also take your kids here.

Some of the common types of gemstones found here are:

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

3. McClain State Park

McClain State Park is located on the south of Lake Huron in Presque Isle County. The park is a popular spot for gem mining, camping, hiking, and other outdoor activities.

You can enjoy hunting for gems with your family here. Just take a bucket and sift through the sand for precious gems. The best time to visit the state park is between June to August when the weather is warmer.

Some common stones you can expect to find here are:

  • Jasper
  • Chalcedony
  • Keweenaw Agate
  • Petoskey stone

4. Coldwater Spring in Alpena County

colwater springs

Coldwater Spring, nestled in Alpena County, is a haven for gemstone enthusiasts. Known for its unique agate varieties, Coldwater Spring offers visitors the chance to find Lake Superior agates, which are highly sought after for their distinctive banded patterns.

The tranquil setting and the potential for discovering these beautiful gems make Coldwater Spring a favored spot for gem mining in Michigan.

Some of the most common gemstones found here are:

  • Quartz
  • Epidote
  • Datolite
  • Calcite
  • Feldspar

5. Lake Michigan Shoreline

Lake Michigan Shoreline 

The Lake Michigan shoreline is a vast and diverse region that offers gem hunters the chance to find a variety of treasures. From colorful agates to fossilized coral, the beaches along Lake Michigan provide ample opportunities for those willing to explore.

Popular spots include Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, where the combination of stunning landscapes and gem-rich shores creates a perfect gem mining destination.

Some of the popular stones you can find here are:

  • Chalcedony
  • Jasper
  • Datolite
  • Isle Royal Greenstone (Michigan’s state gemstone)

6. Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness

Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness

If you’re up for an adventure and want to explore Michigan’s wild side while gem mining, the Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness in the northern Lower Peninsula is the place to be.

This pristine wilderness area not only offers breathtaking scenery but also provides opportunities to find agates, jasper, and other minerals along the riverbanks.

The remote and rugged nature of the Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness adds an element of excitement to the gem-hunting experience.

The best to visit her is during the warmer weather, typically from June to August as long days make it easier to search for gems.

Other Gem Mining Spots in Michigan

In addition to the popular gem mining spots mentioned above, there are some other excellent sites in Michigan that you can check out. Here’s a list.

  • Cedar Panning Co (great for kids)
  • Thunder Bay Mining Company (great for kids)
  • Jasper Hill
  • Keweenaw Point
  • Woodland Park Beach
  • Indian Lake State Park
  • Champion Mine
  • Carnelian Beach
  • Rockport Recreation Area
  • Manitou Island
  • Torch lake beach
  • Gull Point

(Source: Rockhoundingresource)

Important Tools to Have for Gem Mining in Michigan

Gem mining in Michigan requires a set of professional tools and equipment. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

  1. Shovels and Trowels: For digging into softer soil, you need a sturdy shovel or a trowel. It also helps clear away the debris on the surface.
  2. Buckets: As you uncover gems, you need buckets to place them. Make sure you have durable buckets for the job to make sure your gems remain undamaged.
  3. Picks and hammers: To split rocks, and extract gems, you need a pick with one pointed end, and the other flat that serves as a hammer.
  4. Magnifying glass: For a closer inspection of your specimen, you need a magnifying glass to reveal details that are not visible to the naked eye.
  5. Zip-lock bags: As you collect gems, you need clear plastic containers or bags to store them. It also allows you to see the gems without having to open the bag.
  6. First aid kit: Mining is a risky venture, so make sure to keep a first aid kit with you at all times so you can address accidents or injuries promptly.

Is Gem Mining Legal in Michigan?

Gem Mining is considered legal in Michigan as long as you are not visiting a location under the National Park Service. For example, the state does not allow mining in Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore, and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. 

Moreover, according to State Land Rules by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, it is illegal to remove over 25 pounds of any rock. 

For your safety and preservation of land, we recommend all hunters to look at rules and regulations at the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy website.


Gem mining in Michigan is a rewarding and educational activity that allows enthusiasts to connect with the state’s rich geological history.

Whether you’re seeking the vibrant hues of agates, the fossilized beauty of Petoskey stones, or the historic significance of native copper, the best spots for gem mining in Michigan promise an adventure filled with natural wonders and hidden treasures.

So, grab your gear, explore the state’s unique geological features, and uncover the gems waiting to be discovered around Michigan.

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