Southcentral Oregon is a great place to hunt for rocks!
There’s tons of beautiful country, hikes, creeks, and lakes (and not too many people).
In this article, we’ll cover our six favorite rockhounding spots for you to check out if you are visiting near Roseburg, Oregon.
Rockhounding Near Roseburg, Oregon
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.
When you go rockhounding near Roseburg, Oregon, six publicly-owned sites fall within an hour and a half drive or less.
These rockhounding sites include Swiftwater Park near Glide, Myrtle Creek, the South Fork Umpqua River Bridge at Days Creek, the South Fork Umpqua River Bridge at Tiller Trail Highway, Three C Rock Campground, and the Calapooia River near Sweet Home.
Among the rocks, minerals, and fossils you will discover, you can expect to retrieve plenty of the following:
Swiftwater Park Near Glide, Oregon
Located 18 minutes northeast of Roseburg, east of Glide, Oregon, along Highway OR 138, you will encounter agate, jasper, quartz, and carnelian.
If your luck runs high, you may also find samples of petrified wood in the gravel banks along this North Fork of the Umpqua River.
Call (541) 496-3532 to reach the North Umpqua Ranger District, located in Glide, at 18782 North Umpqua Highway to stay at nearby campgrounds while you hunt for your daily rockhounding limits of each mineral, rock, or fossil your encounter.
Head 18 minutes south of Roseburg to reach Myrtle Creek, one of four excellent rockhounding locations along the South Fork of the Umpqua River.
Here, you will encounter similar samples of agate, quartz, jasper, carnelian, and petrified wood along riverside gravel bars, as you did at Swiftwater Park.
Surveyed in 1846 and founded in 1893, this pit stop on the Scott-Applegate Trail still boasts successful gold panning.
After discovering gold near Myrtle Creek in 1899, the area produced more than half a ton of gold between 1900 and 1955.
So bring your panning gear, and you might go home with a bit of gold dust in your pocket.
Heading south on I-5, a 36-minute drive brings you to Day’s Creek, making Roseburg a better jumping-off point for ardent rock hounds than the town of Medford, Oregon.
Expect to find exceptional jasper, agate, pyrite, and schist examples in the accumulated gravel below the South Umpqua Bridge.
However, avoid heavy rains in April, May, and June if you intend to bring your children or any senior citizens along since the trail from the road above turns quite precarious when wet.
Look well above the waterline for overlooked gold nuggets, despite years since anyone found anything more significant than a few specks at the end of a day of gold panning.
If anyone mocks your efforts, tell them you had the complete prospector’s experience.
South Umpqua River Bridge at Tiller Trail Highway
Drive another 19 minutes to reach the South Umpqua bridge.
There, you can spend the day hunting for rocks, minerals, and petrified wood, and then cross the South Umpqua River to speak with the park rangers at the Tiller Ranger station to request campsites on US Forest Service land.
The South Umpqua Falls Campground features 20 campsites, three accessible vault toilets, and gray water stations, making it a great overnight camping place for rockhounds when open.
At $10 per night plus an additional $5 for a second vehicle.
You may bring leashed dogs but no ATVs or off-highway vehicles, and the 35-foot maximum vehicle limit precludes many fifth wheels and Class A campers.
Check ahead, however, or drive on through to the Three C Rock Campground instead.
Unlike at Days Creek, children, people with mobility issues, and family elders will find it easier to reach the river here and at the Three C Rock Campground if they wish to engage in rockhounding.
Three C Rock Campground
Located a little over an hour southeast of Roseburg, this Civilian Conservation Corps campground, created in 1930, features eight campsites with picnic tables and fire pits but no drinking water, showers, or flush toilets.
However, the sites do feature a fully accessible vault toilet if your rock hunting group includes anyone who uses a wheelchair or other mobility aid.
Like the Tiller Trail Campground, overnight camping costs extra for your second vehicle. Again, keep dogs leashed and under your control at all times and practice good stewardship by bagging your dog’s waste and policing your campsite for trash before you leave.
As with other US Forest Service campgrounds, do not bring ATVs or off-road motorcycles into the park.
Camping so cheaply means spending more time at this site rich in examples of agate, jasper, quartz, carnelian, and petrified wood.
Bring five-gallon plastic buckets to hold your samples, and adhere to the daily limits for each mineral, rock, or plant fossil you collect.
Nearby Cathedral Falls Trail leads to a seasonal waterfall.
The waterfall runs dry in the summer, making it an ideal spot to gather any surface stones you can retrieve without using tools.
However, do not remove samples from the cave, cliff face, or the ground below the falls.
Instead, photograph everything where you find it, note its measurements and distinguishing features, and leave your rocks, minerals, or fossil finds in place for future visitors and rockhounds to discover and enjoy.
Calapooia River Near Sweet Home, Oregon
This is a cool spot if you don’t mind driving a bit.
Driving northeast for an hour and 43 minutes from Roseburg via I-5 N, you stand an excellent chance of finding specimens of the Linn County native Holley Blue Agate.
Also known as lavender chalcedony, this stone makes stunning jewelry when turned into a pendant.
You will also find petrified wood, carnelian, geodes, and jasper here, especially in late July through the end of August.
Unfortunately, due to limited public access to the primarily privately-owned riverbanks, you will need to follow the river along Upper Calapooia Drive to find the public parking pullouts along the shoulder that allow you to walk down to the river.
If you bring gold panning equipment, you might find a few flecks of genuine gold in the Calapooia River since the Blue River Mining District used to rank third in gold production in the Cascade Mountains.
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:
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Legal Restrictions on Rock, Mineral, and Fossil Collection in Oregon
Areas in Oregon that fall under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management or the United States Forest Service do not require a permit to collect rock, mineral, and fossil samples for personal use.
Personal use means that each person removes no more than 25 pounds of material plus a single additional piece daily, using only standard hand tools and non-motorized devices such as metal detectors.
You cannot retain any specimens with a backbone if you find fossils, only invertebrates such as mollusks or insects.
Common plant fossils, however, do not require a permit to collect.
When in doubt, leave your finds in place and document them by taking photographs and making measurements and notes.
For this reason, you should carry a measuring tape or folding ruler to provide accurate size data when you record your finds.
You must not disturb or remove human or humanoid bones from any site, whether fossilized or not, nor move or collect sacred artifacts, burial items, or anything with historical and cultural significance.
If you encounter any such artifacts, you must adhere to ORS 97.740, ORS 97.745, and ORS 97.750.
Consequently, if you accidentally disturb any such relics, you must reinter the remains while supervised by members of the Native tribe to which the remains pertain, with all appropriate reverence and ceremony befitting the situation.
Equipment Needed for Rockhounding Near Roseburg, Oregon
Bring a collapsible wheeled cart, plastic contractor buckets, a rock hammer, picks, and shovels, along with a few brushes in case you happen across fossils or petrified wood.
Since the area abounds in poison oak, poison ivy, and brambles, bring calamine lotion and ointments that counter the effects of urushiol.
Snake bites while clambering around the riverbanks happen frequently enough that carrying an antivenin kit makes sense.
Identifying Oregon Fossils
Fossils found on public land, whether plant, vertebrate or invertebrate, belong to the Bureau of Land Management in Oregon.
Therefore, you must report your finds to them. However, the Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History will happily identify any fossils you find by contacting the manager of the Condon Fossil Collection.
If you choose to do so, you may make a fully tax-deductible donation of your fossils to the museum.
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