Rockhounding China Creek: A First Time Visitor’s Guide

Rockhounding China Creek at the Muriel O. Ponsler Memorial State Scenic Viewpoint is totally worth it for those who love hunting for agates, jaspers, at petrified wood.

This is also another alternative to scout when you strike out at Strawberry Hill or Bob’s Creek because fewer people know about this spot.

Rockhounding China Creek: What You Need To Know


The information provided in this article by is for informational purposes and is subject to change. Laws are updated. Accessibility guidelines and restrictions change. Be sure to confirm the land status and collection rules before you travel to an unfamiliar location or collect any material.

What Can You Expect To Find At China Creek?

Like many of the popular Oregon beach locations, the primary materials collectors can find here at agates, shells, and pretty rocks, in addition to some jaspers, carnelian, sea glass, fossils, shells, petrified wood, and driftwood.

One of the reasons people love the confluence of China Creek and the ocean is that this is a spot where a huge amount of material accumulates.

There is a huge amount of gravel along the creek and to the north and south of the parking area.

Plus, the beach is narrow here, so there are many opportunities for the waves to pound the gravel, shifting it and pushing around the sand which helps uncover interesting specimens to collect.

Where Is China Creek?

You can find China Creek at the Muriel O. Ponsler Memorial State Scenic Viewpoint.

This little viewpoint is located around milepost 174 on highway 101 north of Florence and south of Waldport.

If you are planning to visit Bob’s Creek and Strawberry Hill, it is about 5 miles south on 101.

The great thing about this being an actual state scenic viewpoint is that the parking lot is well signed, and there is actually quite a bit of parking.

Though there are only about 10 established parking spots, people get away with parking along the sides of the one-way loop which is off of 101, so you don’t have to worry about losing your car door to a big rig.

The walk down to the beach and short and sweet, just a straight path.

Quick note for folks with mobility issues. The parking lot is good looking and well-maintained, but the path dumps you onto the gravel bar area, which can be difficult for some folks to walk on and navigate.

Where Should You Look For Agates and Other Treasures At China Creek?

We always start in the gravel.

If the tide is out, we look for gravel that is as close to the waterline as possible.

The more the waves hit the gravel, the more likely stones and other materials buried in the sand have a chance to surface.

If there’s no gravel out on the beach, we check the gravel at the high tide line.

Then all the rest of the gravel.

Then we head along the banks of the creek, and as far into the creek as we can reach.

Then we’ll walk around scan the beach proper for anything that got washed up by the waves but didn’t get buried.

Most people who love to rockhound go to the gravel bars area of China Creek to rockhound (that’s our experience), though there may also be cool stuff in the creek if you follow it up and away from the ocean.

You can also bring a shovel and dig down into the gravel beds to see if you can find anything that is just below the surface. Just re-fill your holes when you are done.

When Is The Best Time To Rockhound China Creek?

The best times to find agates and other pretty specimens is in late fall, winter, and in early spring.

Summer brings the sun, but also the wind, and sand tends to blow in and cover much of the rockhounding areas.

We also like to hit the beaches right after a big storm, king tides, or a good rain.

All of these events tend to expose agates and make them easier to find.

Finally, go in the morning, regardless of the time of year, during the first low tide of the day, before other people get there and pick over whatever is available.

If you hit China Creek and don’t find anything (or there just isn’t any gravel exposed), consider jumping back in the car and trying some of the other nearby local spots on the beach with gravel, like Tenmile Creek and Bob’s Creek.

The Hobbit Trail is nearby too, which is always a cool little hike that is worth doing at least once if you’ve never done it.

China Creek Rockhounding Limits

You can take home up to a gallon of agates and non-living specimens such as rocks and shells per day, but not more than three gallons per year.

It is not legal to collect native american artifacts.

For more information, here’s the link to the Oregon laws specific to collecting on Oregon’s beaches.

China Creek Services

There are miles of beach to the north and south of the parking lot for you to walk, unlike some of the other smaller rockhounding popular beaches which are hemmed in by rocks and cliffs.

Thus, even if the rockhounding doesn’t produce anything spectacular, you can still get your steps in on the beach and enjoy the beautiful views.

There’s no bathrooms, water, or garbage service, though there is a small grassy area and some picnic tables.

Wrap Up

We’ve created an ultimate guide to gifts for rockhounds with helpful links directly to Amazon to make looking for and checking out potential gifts quick and review easy!

Still looking for other ideas for places in Oregon to visit to hunt for rocks? Check out Glass ButteHampton Butte, and the Wheeler High School Fossil Hunting Beds.

Oregon Rockhounding Resources

If you are interested in having a physical book in hand while exploring Oregon (when wi-fi/cell signal is not reliable), consider:

Rockhounding Oregon: A Guide To The State’s Best Rockhounding Sites

Central Oregon Rockhounding Map (By the US Forestry Service)

Gem Trails Of Oregon

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