Where are the best places to find agates in Oregon?

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Where are the best places to find agates in Oregon?

We often get asked “Where are the best places to find agates in Oregon?” 

Our favorite answer is agate hunting the Oregon Coast of course! We might be a little biased but some of the best and easiest agate hunting in Oregon is found on the central and southern Oregon coast due to the waves eroding ancient volcanoes, springs and other geology leaving behind agates for you to find simply by taking a walk on a beautiful beach. 

Agates are easily found on the Oregon Coast on both sunny and cloudy days, but different strategies might be needed. When hunting for agates in other places in Oregon, dirt, dust and plant life can easily make it a million times harder than on the beach. 

Just about any beach from Rockaway to the California border has the potential to have cool treasures as long as there are rocks to look at. 

Why not north of Rockaway? Well they are there and can be found on rare occasions at places like Hug Point, near Cannon Beach, but the closer you get to the Columbia River the more sand and more young basalts covering up the older agate filled volcanoes. 

How do you find an agate? Strategies for finding agates are the same no matter if you are on the beach, forest or the desert:

First, look for where the rocks like to hang out; that may be a gravel bar on a beach or on a river in the forest. It could be a dry creek bed, scree trail (trail of rocks eroding out of a hill) or a “dry wash” in the desert. 

Next, I always look for where water has moved, water tends to move the lighter rocks away faster than the heavy ones. Always look on the upstream side of tree roots (no digging) in the flood zone of creeks as heavy rocks will settle there over time. 

Agates are harder than steel, made from quartz and will allow light to pass through them. They have what's called a conchoidal or shell like fracture or they break like glass or seashells. If you find a stone that allows light to pass through it and is harder than steel but has cleavage or well defined boundaries between crystals, the rock will break with straight lines and that might indicate you have something else. 

There are so many places to hunt for agates in Oregon! Agates like to hang out with other heavy rocks because they are dense and harder than steel, also a big reason they survive the rough and tumble of the ocean and other rugged environments. I like to climb to the tops of hills in the desert because usually only the toughest rocks survive at the top! 

It’s very rare you find agates with lightweight rocks and rocks that look like they are made of sand, but you never know. 

Next, if it is sunny, you are in luck! Place the rocks between you and the sun and look for any rocks that “glow” or have any kind of translucency, meaning you can see light through them. If it’s cloudy out, look for the lighter colored rocks that may glow a little and look for colors, squiggles and patterns. 

Look in the wet rocks and if there is no water, some rockhounds bring water sprayers. Agates will stay wet longer than the more porous rock or rock that soaks up water better. Check out wet-looking rocks. 

Still not sure you have an agate? Try to scratch it with a steel knife. No scratch? Hit it with another known agate and listen for a high pitched “tink”. These are all indicators your rock could be an agate. 

Don’t know what an agate is? Check out this blog post

Looking for places to find agates in Oregon NOT on the Oregon Coast? No problem, here are some other ideas: 

  • Willamette River from its source all the way into Portland and where you can get to gravel bars. Lots between Corvallis and Eugene. All the gravel bottom creeks in the Willamette and branching valleys to the sides. 
  • Ochoco Mountains and the 30-50 miles around Prineville, Oregon Clackamas river and tributaries up into the western Cascades. 
  • Browns Camp, Lees Camp and Gales Creek area of the Tillamook National Forest.
  • Famous Agate Limbcast areas of Congleton Hollow and Dendrite Butte about 70 miles from Bend.
  • Graveyard Point area on the Oregon Idaho border in SE Oregon and that’s just the beginning.

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Happy hunting and feel free to reach out to us with questions and follow us on patreon.com/Rockyourworldgems

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