Your guide to rock hunting on Lake Superior

Michigan’s western Upper Peninsula is a rockhound’s delight—visitors to our beaches and shorelines will find not only outstanding scenic vistas but also dozens (if not hundreds) of different types of rocks and minerals, including Yooperlites, agates, and more. Here’s what you need to know about rock hunting in the Porcupine Mountains and Ontonagon County.

What kind of rocks can I find?

Michigan’s shorelines are home to an astounding variety of rocks and minerals, from varieties native to the area to rarer types that were brought to the area by the glaciers during the last ice age. Depending on where you go along Lake Superior in the western Upper Peninsula, you’ll encounter any number of different rocks and minerals, including:

  • Agates: Probably the quintessential rock of Lake Superior rockhounds, agates are known for their impressive coloring (white, red, gray, black, yellow)
  • Yooperlites: A combination of syenite and sodalite, these rocks look like normal gray stones when they’re on the beach, but when put under a UV light, they glow orange and yellow
  • Pudding stones: These layered conglomerates can be made of quartz, red jasper, and chert and came to Michigan via glaciers from Canada
    Man-made products like beach glass and ceramics

What kind of equipment do I need?

You don’t need much to go rock hunting in the Porcupine Mountains—just a sense of adventure! One important piece of equipment is a good pair of shoes, since you’ll be walking in (or at least near) the water and you want to keep your feet comfortable and avoid slipping. For some rocks and minerals—like the Yooperlites mentioned above—you’ll need a UV light to best spot the stones.

Where should I go rock hunting?

The rocks listed above can be found throughout the Porcupine Mountains and Ontonagon County—beaches can be found at Ontonagon Township Park and Union Bay in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park and can be accessed at several area lodging properties.

The Presque Isle River sits on the western edge of the state park and is home to a scenic walking trail (and three sets of iconic waterfalls) that will take you to the shore of Lake Superior. There, you’ll find a small beach where you can look for agates and other stones.

Head west of the Porcupine Mountains and Ontonagon County to find Black River Harbor (located at the end of the Black River Scenic Parkway, known for its easily accessible waterfalls), a scenic beach where you can find lots of different types of rocks, including agates.

Another good western U.P. rock hunting beach within driving distance is Misery Bay, located close to Twin Lakes State Park on Misery Bay Road in the Keweenaw Peninsula. Don’t let the name fool you—it’s a popular spot for swimming and rockhounding.

Rocks and minerals (and many other gifts) can also be found at Gitche Gumee Landing Gift Shop in downtown Ontonagon.

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