Lake Superior Agates are Minnesota’s state rock and the agates that can be found throughout the North Shore region of Lake Superior. They are well worth the work it takes to find one. Every time I find one I feel like I’ve found buried treasure, although they are way less rare than actual treasure…
Hunting for Lake Superior Agates
The Lake Superior agate is different from other agates found around the world because of its lined, or banded pattern, color scheme: its rich red, orange, and yellow coloring. The colors are caused by the oxidation of iron.
Know what to look for.
These images show how beautiful agates are once polished, but they won’t be so obvious and shiny when you’re searching for them.
While agates stand out from other rocks and stones they may not always be entirely obvious. Sometimes they’re dirty or have pitting that can make it hard to tell. You want it to have tranluscency, some sort of banding, and some sort of glossy sheen to them. Getting them wetting them you can tell some of these things better.
Patience is key to finding the perfect agate. You probably won’t have much success if you hunt for 10 minutes and then give up.
Work with the sun, as an agate will almost glow when hit right by the light. Sunny days are best for agate hunting as they stand out more. Walking with the setting or rising sun during Golden Hour light is also a great time for hunting, as the sun is hitting the rocks from a better angle from which they stand out more.
Gravel pits and gravel roads are some of the best places to find great agates. Because everything in a pit or road is so gritty and dirty the glow of the agate stands out 10x better than on a wet beach surrounded by other wet stones.
If walking the shores of Lake Superior then try to find a sandy beach so that the agates stand out more. If walking along a rocky beach then don’t hesitate to swoop down and check out any rock that catches your eye.
Agates were left behind by glaciers so they are all over in Northern Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. Sometimes your best luck may be somewhere unexpected. Just make sure to always get permission before you enter private land.
It’s always a good idea to stop and dig deeper. Someone has probably already seen what’s on the surface, but not what lies a layer below. Dig and check it out. Like with any beach searching, it’s best to walk the shores after a big storm.