Rockhounding Olympic Peninsula: 10 Breathtaking Locations with Unique Treasures

More tourists and visitors are planning their own rockhounding Olympic Peninsula adventures every year.

Caches of amazing rocks lie about 100 miles of beach along the Pacific Coast, surrounding the inland rivers from Mt. Olympus, along the northern coast.

Where To Go Rockhounding In the Olympic Peninsula

Our journey across the Peninsula will start at Port Angeles.

We’ll drive east to the Northern Beaches.

But first we’ll head straight south to Hurricane Ridge.

Disclaimer

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.

Hurricane Ridge

Rocks: Pillow basalt, Sedimentary, Gemstone

Attractions: Seasonal activities including skiing, Hurricane Ridge Visitors Center, Guided Walks, Klahhane Ridge Hiking trail, Amazing Overlooks.

Directions: 43 minutes and 20 miles south of Port Angeles. Get onto S Race St. Continue onto Mt. Angeles Rd. Slight right onto Hurricane Ridge Rd. Travel about 17.7 miles and you’re there!

Drive south from Port Angeles and arrive at Hurricane Ridge.

Hurricane Ridge is at the tip of the crescent uplift from the Olympic Massif (at the center of the Olympic Peninsula).

Eocene basalt rocks exist here.

We’ve noticed pillow basalt rocks by the Hurricane Ridge Road.

Pillow Basalts are volcanic rocks cooling underneath a body of water.

The rocks look like mushrooms.

We were looking at an outdoor exhibit and noticed a very large Roosevelt Elk standing within yards of us. He appeared without warning.

We were close enough to notice steam from the Elk’s nostrils in the chilly mountain air.

We could count his antler points. We witnessed breathtaking wildlife! Fringe benefits of rockhounding Olympic peninsula.

Elwha (Clallam County)

Rocks: Gold (Mines), Manganese, Jade, Agates, Fossils.

Attractions: Elwah Valley, Olympic National Park, Elwah River. Amazing Wilderness Vistas and Overlooks. Camping (Not in Elwah Valley), Boulder Creek Trail, Humes Ranch Loop. Fishing (catch and release).

Directions: 14 minutes and 10 miles East of Port Angeles. Turn left onto WA-117 S/S Tumwater Rt. Slight right onto US-101 W and travel 7.4 miles. Turn left onto Herrick Road, then left at old State Road. You’ve arrived!

The Elwha watershed restoral is encouraging for environmentalists.

Congress restored marine life by removing pre-existing, man-made dams.

Salmon are returning to the area to spawn, and visitors can see them.

Some of the day hikes are more advanced, and not for everyone.

This was a great stop to eat crab and go rock hunting.

We made a stop at the Lyre River for agates and jasper.

Fed by the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Lyre River is a green rolling river in heavy forestation.

It’s gorgeous. You can use the campgrounds there, but there aren’t many more attractions.

Lake Crescent

Rocks and minerals: Native Copper, MN Carbonate, Calcite, Bementite, Hematite, Cinnabar. A mixture of limestone and Basalt. Coal at Pillar Point.

Attractions: Lake Crescent, The Crescent Mine, Olympic Discovery Trail. Spruce Railroad Trail, Marymere Falls. Rafting activities. Cycling, mountain biking, camping, mountain climbing, Lake vistas.

Directions: About 28 minutes south of Port Angeles. From Marine Drive, turn left onto WA-117 S/S Tumwater Truck Rt. Slight right onto US-101 W and continue for 20 miles.

Lake Crescent was a fabulous experience.

Lake Crescent is within Olympic National Park.

It is a short hike to the Crescent Mine.

We found the mine through undergrowth at the end of a partially covered trail.

You can find the Crescent Mine off the Olympic Discovery Trail Coordinates 48.0775, -123.94333.

We noticed reddish grey rocks—a conglomerate of Pyrolusite and Hematite, strewn about.

In the past, these hydrothermally altered basalts were in demand.

The Crescent mine was active between 1941-1946.

Manganese was in demand during WWII.

If you take the 112 further West, you’ll get to Pillar Point.

They mined high-quality coal at the Thorndyke Mine.

Cape Flattery

Rocks: Gold (Historic), Gabbro (Point of the Arches), Sandstone and Shale, Granite and other igneous rock, Coal at Pillar Point.

Attractions: Shi Shi Beach and Point of Arches. Camping and hiking.

Directions: Approximately 2 hours and 3 minutes. 88 miles. From Port Angeles, take US-101. Turn right on WA-112 at Sappho. Then go left on WA-113 at Clallam Bay. Continue along the coast until you reach Cap Flattery.

Cape Flattery is worth the drive.

We found old gold deposit landmarks.

You can find historic landmarks for gold rush claims from Cape Flattery to Grays Harbor.

They made about 70 miles of claims along the beach. Staking a claim in the past raised issues for prospectors.

Tides and wind gusts would wash away prospecting and mining equipment.

Prospectors and miners used innovative approaches, re-inventing mining equipment with a variety of safeguards and convenience.

Visitors will need a Makah Recreation Pass (Available at Neah Bay), and an Olympic National Park Wilderness Permit (Available at the Olympic National Park Visitor Center in Port Angeles or the South Shore ranger Station at Lake Quinault)

Rockhounders can find Gabbro (minor sandstone shale and basalt) at the Point of the Arches.

These are rocks from the Pre-Tertiary period.

Most rocks of the Olympic Peninsula are between 16 million and 65 million years old.

Older rocks are found in the Northeast and east formed by pressure from plate tectonics.

However, rockhounds can locate Gabbro on the east coast at this location.

An unconventional mixture of rocks from the old and new continents.

Rialto Beach

Rocks: Basalt rock beds, Jasper, Agate, Quartz

Attractions: Camping, hiking, beach combing, spectacular vistas.

Directions: From Cape Flattery Take WA-112 East to Clallam Bay. Continue south on WA-112 to WA-113 and continue south on US-101, 110 to Mora Road. You have arrived at Rialto Beach.

We’ve arrived at one of the best locations on the Olympic Peninsula.

Rialto Beach allows drive-up access to wilderness areas.

Rocks and basalt beds litter the beach, perfect for rialto beach hunting.

In the distance, we notice tall sea stacks.

You can’t help but notice figurines of petrified wood that look twisted and complex, like works of art.

We love the natural beauty, strolling down the beach trail. La Push has amazing beauty as well.

We’re here for the rocks, but bird watchers abound!

Beautiful sea birds and rare inland species fly about, including the bald eagle.

The beach is a gray-pebble rather than your typical fine-sandy beach.

We’ve noticed the ocean at high tide creates a surf that crashes against the shore.

It is a noise, surrounded by the deep quiet of the wilderness.

We’ve got a permit to camp from the Wilderness Information Center in Port Angeles.

Hoh—Kalaloch

Rocks/Minerals: Sandstone, siltstone, and conglomerates. Ruby Beach Crescent basalts. Oil deposits and vents near the Hoh River.

Attractions: Oil city remains, beach walks, tide pooling, Kalaloch Creek Nature Trail, Whale watching.

Directions: Travel 1 hour and 3 minutes south from Rialto Beach. Head north on Mora Rd. Turn left onto WA -110 E, La Push Road. Turn right onto US-101 South until you reach Kalaloch.

Begin at the oil well remains at Hoh Head.

It’s north of Kalaloch but we couldn’t resist mentioning it.

It was worth the trip.

Oil vents out, visibly accumulating above ground.

We visited the Hoh rainforest.

By following the Hoh river, travelling East, you’ll run right into it.

A stunning emerald—mossy green wilderness, everything you’d expect a rainforest to look like.

It amazed us when we reached the open sand flats of the Kalaloch Beaches.

The beaches span about 15 miles north of Ruby Beach.

At low tide, beach walking is amazing.

Many tide pools with colorful sea life abound.

Lake Quinault

Rocks/Minerals : History of gold claims on the North Fork of the Quinault River. Quartz near Lake Quinault.

Attractions: Hiking, Boating and Fishing, Camping. The Quinault Rainforest.

Directions: About 36 minutes South and East from Kalaloch. Head south on US-101 S toward Kalaloch Road. Turn left onto 9. Slight left onto 93400/S Shore Road. You’ve reached Lake Quinault Lodge.

The Quinault River forms a natural barrier between sedimentary rocks and volcanic rocks from the lower tertiary.

The river bisects the lower part of the crescent formed by the Oceanic Plate, pushing in towards the continental margin.

Sedimentary rocks located further west are younger, and the volcanic rocks to the East are older, about 55 million years old.

We looked for Quartz crystals around Higley Park.

If you find granite, it’s from a quaternary glacial deposit.

It’s a beautiful location with great hiking trails, lakeside activities and rainforest hiking trails.

Quinault Valley was formed from a receding glacier.

The heavily forested area has amazing hiking.

We needed a recreation permit for some of the trailheads.

Please head to the Pacific Ranger District Information Center (Quinault office) and obtain a permit.

The Staircase

Rocks/Minerals: Gold, Copper, Iron, Manganese, Various gemstones

Attractions: Hiking, Camping, Family Nature Trails, Magnificent Vistas,

Directions: About 114 miles and 2 hours and 28 minutes. Follow 93400/S Shore Rd to US-101 S, turn left and it becomes US-101 S. Go to US-12 E from 51800 and 95190/Wynoochee Valley Rd. Continue US-12 E to WA-108 E. Get on US-101 N. Follow N Lake Cushman Rd to NF-24. You’ve arrived at the Staircase Campground.

Our trip to The Staircase took time.

We traveled around the southern base of the Olympic National Forest.

They reported prospectors finding gold on the North Fork of the Skokomish River.

We found no gold, but we didn’t bring our pans, nor did we see anyone panning for gold.

The Staircase is part of a deformation zone at the edge of the Olympic Massif.

Further east of the zone, basins have formed, creating beautiful lakes, surrounded by dense forestation and scenic uplifts.

The North Fork of the Skokomish River has been a mineral mining landmark since the 1900s.

North Beach (Glass Beach)

Rocks: Sea Glass, Agate

Attractions: Beaches, Waters Edge Hiking, North Beach State Parks

Directions: 3 hours and 30 minutes and approximately 92.2 miles from Port Angeles. Take US-101 E and WA-20 E to Port Townsend-Coupeville Ferry in Jefferson County. Take the Port Townsend-Coupeville Ferry to Coupeville. Continue from WA-20 E to Anacortes. Continue to R Ave. Take Q Ave to Guemes island-Anacortes Ferry. Take Guemes Island-Anacortes Ferry. Continue straight onto Guemes Island Road.

This location is worth the drive, especially if you’ve come to Washington State for Rockhounding.

The North Beaches in Grays Harbor County are 3 hours east of Port Angeles.

Be prepared to ferry your way there.

We went for the Sea Glass.

All these locations are rich in Sea Glass and Agate: Marrowstone Point, Pont No Point, and Glass Beach.

We followed Tim Blair’s expedition from the fall of 2020.

You can pick them up along the beaches, and we really enjoyed the ocean views and easy beach-combing.

The Sea Glass colors you can find are all along the spectrum.

Purple, emerald, pink, aqua, and blue. We were hoping to find a red piece, but we weren’t that lucky.

Uniquely colored with different opacities.

Sol Duc

Rocks: Jasper, Agate

Attractions: Seasonal Sporting Activities, camping and hiking trails, Coho Salmon Spawning, Hot Springs, Waterfalls, Scenic Views.

Directions: About 35 miles, and 1 hour and 4 minutes south from Port Crescent. Take US-101 W and Sol Duc-Hot Springs Road.

Sol Duc is one of the more diverse ecosystems we’ve encountered.

It’s deep into the forest almost to the north foot of Mt Olympus.

There is heavy forestation, some ancient forestry, valley vistas, rivers and waterfalls, and snowy mountainsides for cross-country skiing.

The Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort is catering and has every amenity you can think of, not to mention delicious dining.

Sol Duc lies on the Olympic Massif and boarders the Olympic National Forest.

This area has a fascinating mix of Upper Oligocene to middle Miocene rocks with small Eocene basalts to the north.

We traveled through the Olympic Peninsula on a rockhounding trek.

First, East through Crescent Lake, exploring the North Central beaches.

Continuing east, we reached gold rush locations on the Eastern beaches and inland along the rivers.

Setting a northward course for Sea Glass, we scored big off the peninsula.

Ferrying to the North Beach, we found some great beach-combing while rock hunting for sea glass.

The Olympic National Park and the North Beaches are amazing natural attractions containing a treasure-trove of spots for rockhounding enthusiasts.