Oregon, as a whole, is a geologically diverse and unique state for gem collecting.
The rivers and mountains here are laden with volcanic mineral deposits that offer a wide range of precious stones to collect.
Here are some options for you to go on rockhounding trips from Portland, Oregon.
Rockhounding Trips From Portland, 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.
There are hundreds of miles of coast line with many gemstone-rich beaches that are great locations for finding shells, banded sandstone, chalcedony, agate, fossils, jasper and petrified wood.
On the eastern side of the state, you will find many locations to hunt for similar precious stones as the beaches with the addition of thundereggs, geodes and leaf fossils.
Here are five locations to get you started with your gemstone hunting driving from Portland.
Willamette River (Agate & Jasper)
The Willamette River stretches 187 miles through Oregon and you can find a variety of minerals and gemstones all along its banks that have been washed down from the Cascade Mountains.
The best time for collecting is from summer through early fall as the river will be calmer and the lower water level provides more areas to search for minerals, gemstones and petrified wood. Wear good hiking shoes.
Two great locations to look for Agate and Jasper are along the river banks between Portland and Eugene, and from Salem down to Corvallis.
Polka Dot Agate Mine (Agate & Thundereggs)
The Polka Dot Agate Mine, which is run by the West Coast Mining Company, is a well known agate bed located near the ghost-town of Ashwood.
This site produces wonderful Agates with small dots in a variety of colors throughout.
This is a fantastic adventure for the whole family and perfect for rock hounds looking to share their love of precious rocks with their kids.
Priday Polka Dot Agate Beds are also known to produce a variety of agatized Thundereggs as well.
The Polka Dot Mine dig site is usually open from the start of May to November.
Hours of operation are 8am to 8pm from mid week (Wed) through Sunday.
Be sure to call ahead if you are travelling a fair distance so that you know for sure they will be open when you arrive.
You can find the contact information for the West Coast Mining Company here, or by doing a google search of the Polka Dot Agate Mine itself.
The Nehalem River (Carnelian Agate, Plume Agate & Jasper)
Another river great for finding gemstone hunting is the Nehalem River to the west of Portland along US-26 to Mishawaka.
It’s best known for having Carnelian Agate that comes in a variety of colors including orange, red and yellow.
The gravel bed and banks of the river contain these wonderful gems as well as other volcanic minerals and stones.
There are a number of campgrounds along the river, and any location where the river widens out providing safe searchable areas is good for rock hounding.
As with any river, it is recommended to wait until the spring runoff has receded to do any kind of river side hounding.
You will be safer and have more areas to search for gemstones.
White Rock (Thundereggs, Agate, Chalcedony, Opal)
For a great camping excursion, the White Rock Campground on Wildcat Mountain has a lot to offer outdoor and rock hounding enthusiasts.
Great hiking trails and plenty of precious gemstone hunting all around the area.
Make a weekend trip or stay for a week and you will find no shortage of places to explore.
Bring your camping, hiking and lapidary equipment and prepare for a great adventure.
The best time to go is the warmer months of the year, from the end of April through to October.
The road to the campground can be a bit rough and a high clearance 4×4 is recommended to reach the campsite without problems.
There are no amenities available at the campground other than an outhouse and a few fire pits and picnic tables, so plan accordingly.
The Wildcat South Trailhead is just a short walk from the campground and on your way into the campsite, you will also pass by the White Fir Springs agate beds.
For more information about the campground and reservations etc. check out the forest service website here.
Oceanside (Agate, Chalcedony, Jasper, Banded Sandstone, Seashells)
With so many beaches to choose from in Oregon, it can be a little overwhelming to make a solid choice for a family trip that will please all, especially for rock hounding enthusiasts, because the entire coastline has plenty to find.
Oceanside is a great choice because of its location and amenities and the variety of finds to be made in one place.
From Chalcedony and Jasper to Seashells, Agates and Fossils, you are sure to find multiple treasures during any length of outing to the beach here.
The best places to search are the exposed gravel beds at low tide for the heavier stones, but you will typically find Agates and Sandstones will be closer to shore, further from the water, as they are lighter and will wash ashore with the tidal waves.
This is a beautiful destination to get away from the hubbub of the everyday and relax in a restaurant or on a café patio with a view of the ocean for breakfast, lunch or dinner and to go for long beach walks and search for rocky treasures.
Bring your swimwear too. The beaches are lovely.
Hopefully, this list will be of some help and may your gem hunting be fruitful.
Please remember to be courteous wherever you go rock hounding and abide by collection rules for the area as well as federally.
Make sure to fill in your divots and close the gates behind you if you open them. Know the rules and hound within them!
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:
Rockhounding Oregon: A Guide To The State’s Best Rockhounding Sites
Central Oregon Rockhounding Map (By the US Forestry Service)
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