Thunder Bay, Ontario is a rockhounder’s dream.
It has so many different varieties of rocks, minerals, stones, and more.
The most abundantly occurring crystal is amethyst.
In fact, it is so common that it is the region’s official stone.
The area is also rich in other rocks that were formed billions of years ago, ensuring that you take home a little piece of history.
Check out this list for places to go in Thunder Bay, what you need to find your favorite rocks, and other useful information.
Rockhounding Thunder Bay, Ontario (Let’s Go)
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.
Cascades Conservation Area
The Cascades is located along the Current River in Thunder Bay’s conservation area.
It is a huge expanse with spectacular views. The poplar and birch forest is stunningly situated along the banks of the Current River.
This area has countless trails, some for a more challenging hike and others for a serene nature walk, allowing you to choose your own adventure every time you go.
There are even trails that people with accessibility concerns can visit.
Parking is free and it’s a great place to take your dog (on a leash, according to regulations).
The Cascades is known for its rich geological history.
The rocks are some of the oldest found in the world, dating back farther than 1.2 billion years.
It is chock full of different rocks, stones, and minerals.
Amethyst can be found, along with agate, hematite, local silver, copper, and, if you’re lucky, even diamonds.
The sedimentary rock in the region is often rich in iron, creating beautiful red banding in the stones.
There are shallow areas in the river that have unique growths of chert poking out of the water, which, when cracked open, can contain agate or red jasper.
While this is not an official mine or rockhounding location, it is a wonderful area to explore at your leisure.
The Blue Point Amethyst Mine
Since amethyst is so abundant in southern Ontario, there are some very famous mines that you can visit to find your own.
For just $20 (Canadian dollars), you can collect up to two gallons of amethyst crystals.
This is one of the most popular destinations for rockhounders visiting Thunder Bay.
They offer guided tours or the freedom to mine by yourself.
It is located a little over an hour outside of the main city of Thunder Bay, about 30 miles northeast.
Although it’s a bit of a drive, it is very scenic, taking you through the forest with a beautiful view of Lake Superior.
You drive along a well-maintained dirt road (don’t worry, there are lots of signs), and arrive at the mine, where they equip you with a gallon-sized bucket, adequate wrapping for damage-free crystal travel, and what is almost a free-for-all inside the mine.
The gift shop has many different stones that you can buy for reasonable prices, as well.
Keep in mind that boots, gloves, and bug spray are all highly recommended.
It may be unsafe for people who are unsteady on their feet or for small children.
Also be aware that there are no amenities on site, so plan accordingly.
Amethyst Mine Panorama
About 60 km (37 miles) east of Thunder Bay is not only another amethyst mine, but North America’s largest.
They offer both guided and self-guided tours where you can dig for the beautiful violet quartz.
This mine is a little bit more beginner friendly than the Blue Point Amethyst Mine, as it is completely above ground.
It has areas that are less rocky and easier to walk on.
However, remember to still wear appropriate clothing – close toed shoes and comfortable clothes. Remember, it can get pretty dirty!
In addition to rock hunting, it also has classes for kids, jewelry making, and displays of different amethyst crystals that you can view at your leisure.
It is $10 (Canadian dollars) per person over 5 years old, and $4 plus tax per pound of amethyst you dig.
Pails, digging tools, and water are provided to assist you in digging.
It is an easy drive from the city of Thunder Bay, but keep in mind that it is only open June 1st to October 1st.
Less than an hour and a half outside of Thunder Bay is the beautiful land of Nipigon.
If you’re looking for hiking trails on which to find a variety of rocks instead of mines, this ancient mountain is the place to go.
It’s a great area for all different skill levels, with longer trails, well-maintained trails, unmarked trails, and trails of varying steepness.
There is also fishing, canoeing, scenic views, and snow activities in the winter.
It is situated between two lakes – Nipigon River and Lake Helen.
These two lakes provide ample spots for great rock hunting.
On the trails and around the lake you can find all different rocks and stones.
Amethyst is the most abundant stone, followed by beautiful agate. Hematite is also commonly found, as are other quartz crystals.
There is no fee for this gorgeous town. It is a scenic drive along Lake Superior from Thunder Bay.
Or, if you prefer not to drive, there are many buses that can take you from Thunder Bay to Nipigon ranging from $19 to $65.
Any hiking trail or area along Lake Superior
Lake Superior is full of different stones and minerals.
Any bank you go along the lake can be a great area for you to find gems, crystals, and stones.
All of the stones mentioned above – amethyst, agate, hematite, and more – can be found along these trails, as long as you have a keen eye and patience.
And, when you need a break, take a moment to enjoy the gorgeous view of the lake and trees.
Or, if you want to brave an even longer trek outside of Thunder Bay, you can check out the historic ghost town of Jackfish, about a two and a half hour drive away.
This region of Ontario is historic.
Any rock that you find there will be accompanied by a long history of billions of years.
It is a gorgeous place, so don’t hesitate to plan your next trip along Lake Superior in Thunder Bay.
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