Are you looking for the best places to go rock hounding near Tacoma, Washington?
Luckily for you, we did all of the research for you, and you don’t have to risk going to a place only to discover there are no crystals in the area!
Within this blog post, you’ll find the ten best places to go rock hounding near Tacoma, Washington.
Rockhounding Near Tacoma (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.
It’s also important to note: Rockhounding within the metropolitan areas of Tacoma and Seattle, Washington can be difficult.
Therefore, the places within this post will be within two hours away from Tacoma, Washington.
Just within the foothills of the Cascade Mountain range is Hansen Creek, which is a little over an hour away from Tacoma.
It contains a number of high-quality quartz crystals, including amethyst and calcite.
Crystals are most commonly found on Humpback Mountain just west of Snoqualmie Pass.
Unfortunately, despite the cliffs’ stunning beauty, the trail up to them is steep, making it harder to reach.
In addition, the roads around Hansen Creek can be rough, and it is best to hike or ride off-road vehicles to reach the landslide zone.
The Hansen Creek Trail usually closes during the winter due to snow and dangerous conditions.
So, the best time to visit this area is during late spring, summer, and fall. The trail is also free to enter, and there are parking spaces nearby.
Located in southwest Washington, the Chehalis River is a peaceful place with an even landscape.
The Chehalis River is about an hour and five minutes away from Tacoma, Washington.
Carnelian agate, jasper, and petrified wood can all be found there.
There are also carnelian agate deposits near the Newaukum River and Salmon Creek.
During the summer months, the water here can get a bit muddy, so make sure to wash your hands after digging for rocks.
Also, it’s best to avoid searching for crystals around the Chehalis River during the winter months due to snow.
The Newaukum River has camping areas nearby.
It is also free to go on the trails of the Chehalis River.
The perfect ski resort is at Crystal Mountain near Lions Rock.
Although you might not be expecting to find a variety of excellent-quality deposits in the area.
Some of the crystals you can find near Crystal Mountain is the following below:
- Fluorescent Stones
Four quarry sites are spread throughout the mountain, from the base to the summit. For those who do not wish to hike, most of these sites are accessible by car.
However, if you would like to go hiking around Crystal Mountain Resort, you will need a season pass.
Walker Valley is a bit far from Tacoma, and it is estimated to be a little over 2 hours away.
At this gem site two miles south of Mt. Vernon, near Big Lake, there are deposits of quartz geodes, rhodonite, jade, and other minerals.
It is open year-round and has camping facilities.
The 10-mile off-road vehicle trail in Walker Valley is also a popular pit stop, making for a scenic, yet bumpy, ride.
If you would like to go hiking within the area, you will need a Washington State Discover Pass to gain access.
It’s essential to note that access to Mount Higgins is not easy.
There’s a four-mile road walk that’s a long trek to a forested summit near Darrington.
Hikers are not allowed to travel along the road, as it is on private property.
Trail #640 on the West Summit and Middle Summit is closed for the time being due to logging activity.
At the moment, there is no disruption to accessing the Main (East) Summit.
A few miles down Lake Cavanaugh road, there’s a quarry where you can find pink rhodonite and serpentine deposits.
Mount Higgins is about two hours away from Tacoma, Washington.
Grand Canyon of Fifteen-mile Creek
A little less than an hour away from Tacoma, there’s a secret entrance to the creek near Tiger Mountain.
The trail is well-marked and leads deep into the recesses of the “Grand Canyon.”
The trail is only accessible by vehicle if you have a key to the entrance gates.
If you do not, you will have to walk 4 miles, or bike ride using the route meant for the public.
East of the fifteen-mile Creek, many people have found the mineral Amber, agate, and petrified wood.
The best time to visit the creek is during spring, summer, and fall.
Stubbs Hill has a wide selection of rocks for you to pick from.
You can find jasper, petrified wood, leaf fossils, and gold at four different sites at this location.
In Cedar Pond, jasper is found in the form of pebbles along the creeks and bridges.
Once a hotspot for gold mining, Sultan River is two miles away, where traces of gold are still visible.
There are no known fees to enter the area, and parking is a couple of miles away from the location where you can find minerals.
The best time to visit this area to dig for crystals is during late spring and summer.
The Skykomish River is located about an hour and thirty minutes away from Tacoma, Washington.
Near the Gold Bar sands of the river, you can find an abundance of gold.
You can also find Jasper, Chert, and quartz crystals.
There are no known fees to enter the area, and you will have to walk to reach the location for rock hounding.
It is a bit far to get to the Kalama River, about two hours and thirty minutes from Tacoma, Washington.
However, the drive is worth it as you can find several different kinds of rocks and minerals.
Below are some of the crystals and minerals you can find around the Kalama River:
- Fortification Agate
- Quartz Crystals
- Amethyst Geodes
There are no known fees for entering the area, and you should follow the dawn to dusk hours of operation.
Parking is accessible, and you will have to hike to reach the location for rock hounding. The area is open for hiking all year long, although it is best to visit during the summer.
Lucas Creek is under an hour away from Tacoma, Washington.
A short drive of 43 minutes is an area where you can find an abundance of rocks and minerals.
Some of the crystals and minerals you can find near Lucas Creek are listed below:
- Petrified wood
It is to note the site was closed due to people not wanting others to go rock hounding near the creek.
However, you may still be able to go rock hounding if you know someone who lives close to the area.
As the site is considered private property, you will have to ask before you can go digging for rocks near Lucas Creek.
In general, we don’t recommend that people invest or spend much (if any) money to enjoy rockhounding. Much of what you need to know you can access online.
That being said, when you are planning on going out into the woods or off the cell-tower grid, you are going to need to have information in hard copy.
If you are experienced and know where you are going, simply having a physical map of the area where you are driving/hiking can make all the difference.
If you are a beginner (or unfamiliar with the area), we suggest that you check out a book called Gem Trails of Washington.
(This is an Amazon affiliate link. As an Amazon affiliate, I may earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you).
Written by an avid rockhounder and geologist, this particular publication has easy to understand maps with collecting locations all throughout Washington, some of which you won’t find mentioned on the internets.
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!
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