From weekend beachcombers to geologists, rock hunters agree that Wisconsin is a great state for finding rocks, minerals, gems and fossils.
Even precious stones, including rubies and sapphires have been discovered in different parts of the state.
Creek and river gravels, lakeshores and cuttings in roads are all recommended as promising sites in rock and mineral-rich Wisconsin.
This article zeroes in on the best rockhounding opportunities near Green Bay.
Beaches all around Green Bay offer possibilities for finding beautiful beach glass, worn into smooth shapes from decades of weathering, marine fossils, coldwater agate, and jasp-agates (jasper and agate forming in the same rock, a rich rusty brown.)
Trips to other sites within a few hours of Green Bay also offer rich rewards.
Rockhounding Near Green Bay (A Visitor’s Guide)
The information provided in this article by YesDirt.com 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.
Farr Lake Region
Farr Lake is one of the best areas in Northeastern Wisconsin for good sites.
One of them is near the town of Mountain, in the Waupee Lake State Swamp Natural Area.
About an hour and ten minutes from Green Bay, Beryl, Quartz, Spodumene, and Zinnwaldite have been found in a pegmatite dike southeast of the lake.
Take 41N from Green Bay.
In Pound, take a left at the first cross street onto County Road Q, turn left onto WI 64 W, turn right onto Twin Pine Rd, and take it to coordinates 45.157028, -88.362056.
Specimens have been recorded in many areas of Marathon County, including Rib Mountain. Rhodochrosite and quartz crystals have been found along Summit Road in Wausau, the nearest town.
Moonstone is found in streams in the mountain’s vicinity. Locals have also found garnets and gold.
Marathon County is known for its mineral-producing pegmatites but collecting is forbidden at most quarries and at the Rib Mountain State Park.
Even so, the park is a good place to start to learn the area’s terrain and look for crystals, even if you can’t take them.
Allow an hour and a half to get from Green Bay to Rib Mountain.
At Howard, just west of Green Bay, take WI 29W to Wausau.
Take exit 188 and head west on Rib Mountain Drive.
This becomes State Park Road and leads into the park.
The Lake Michigan Coast
One of the best rockhounding areas on the coast of Lake Michigan near Green Bay is the area near Two Rivers and Manitowoc.
This coast is also well known for its beautiful beach glass, stone-like specimens of glass worn smooth over the years in beautiful colors including aqua, emerald green, cobalt and amber.
According to Jason Ring, Executive Director of the Manitowoc Area Visitors and Convention Bureau, “The best beach glass collecting is where you know there might have been trash dumped offshore or a sunken ship.
After storms is a good time to go search, as the lake bottom gets churned up and can move new items to the shore.”
One of Youtube’s intrepid beachcombers, “Green Bay Rock Huntress”, has posted beautiful finds not only of sea glass, but of honeycomb coral, cold water agates, Omarolluks and Unakite stones (a combination of quartz with pink feldspar and green epidote.)
Other locations she suggests include Kewaunee beaches, 28 miles east of Green Bay, and those near Algoma, 12 miles south of Kewaunee.
One beach in between these towns, near Alaska WI, used to have fishing piers and is known for good finds of sea glass.
Years ago, around the turn of the 20th century, this area was known for freshwater pearl hunting.
Resources were tapped long ago, but a few pearls can still be found in clamshells in the area.
In northeastern Wisconsin, just southeast of Jennings Falls trailhead, various minerals, gemstones, and crystals can be found.
Triphylite, muscovite, beryl, columbite-tantalite, elbaite, albite, or microcline are reported as being easily unearthed.
Jennings Falls Trailhead is a five minute drive from the town of Fern.
Head north on Town Hall Rd to WI-101N, and in two miles turn right on Mulberry Lane.
The trailhead is on this road after half a mile.
Fern is two hours north of Green Bay.
Pine River Reservoir (Flowage)
Rockhounds report findings of quartz, kyanite and hematite in veins near the Pine River Reservoir.
One location is near the eastern shore, close to Commonwealth, at coordinates45.832806, -88.264028.
Take US-141 from Green Bay, one and a half hours north until you reach Route 8, north of Beecher.
Then take US-8W to County Highway U in Dunbar.
Continue on County Highway U until you reach Riverflowage Road, in Commonwealth. It’s about an hour and a half to Dunbar, and about 20 more minutes to the site in Commonwealth.
Morris Pit near Green Lake
In Green Lake, an hour and twenty-three minutes southwest of Green Bay, is a small quarry called Morris Pit.
Red, pink and brown quartz; white, pink and orange agate and brown to orange jasper are some of the finds from there, as well as dolomite and sphalerite.
The location is less than three miles northeast of Green Bay, at coordinates 43.87481877239642,-88.93052101178911.
From the town of Green Lake, take WI-23 to State Highway 49. Go north to until you see McConnel Road to the right, turn and Morris Pit will be on the left.
The University of Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey also lists several other rockhounding sites in Greenlake County.
Townsend is less than an hour and a half north of Green Bay and is listed as a location where quartzite is found, the quartz cross-cut with quartz crystals and hematite.
Rockhounds describe the site as being on Carter Tower Lane, at coordinates 45.374056, –88.632972, on the left side of the road.
To reach Townsend from Green Bay, take route I-41N to 64W near Pound. Stay on 64 as it becomes 32N into Townsend.
Road cuts and stream gravel in the area are also great places to hunt for rocks.
There is often confusion about where it is legal to hunt for rocks.
Obviously, permission from owners of private land is always needed. Rock hunting in national and state parks is usually not allowed.
However, it is often permitted on other public lands.
The federal Bureau of Land Management allows rockhounding on its properties as long as it is for private use, not commercial use.
Many islands of Wisconsin are owned by BLM.
The National Forest Service owns one and a half million acres in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, and permits rockhounding as long as small quantities are taken and the land is not disturbed.
The best practice is to check with Rangers of public lands or private land owners, to see whether there are any restrictions, such as sacred sights.
The State of Wisconsin forbids rockhounding on state land without a permit from the property manager.
Quantity is limited too – only five pounds per day and a total of 50 pounds per year of rock, mineral or fossil material are allowed.
Rockhounding in Wisconsin is most productive after the last spring thaw and before it gets to cold in the fall.
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