Michigan Rocks! Our 10 Favorite Spots for Great Lakes Rockhounding
Michigan is surrounded by four of the five Great Lakes, and as a result we have some amazing beaches throughout the Lower Peninsula and stunning rocky shorelines in the Upper Peninsula. When people visit our amazing shoreline spots they often enjoy looking at the many different kinds of rocks, minerals, and fossils there. While a beautiful Michigan rock can make for an inexpensive and memorable souvenir it is important to know the rules before pocketing a Petoskey or other stone to take home. We put together a list of 10 places where rock collecting is allowed and where we have had success in finding some beautiful specimens. Our 10 Favorite Spots for Great Lakes Rockhounding will help direct you to beaches and other places where you can spend hours looking at the amazing rocks Michigan has to offer.
First off, a few rules. Rock collecting is NOT ALLOWED in national parks. This means Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and Isle Royale National Park are all off limits for collecting. There is a 25 pounds per person per year limit in Michigan. Alway obey any private property signs, no trespassing signs, or local park signs that prohibit rock collecting. Many resources are available for rock collectors in Michigan, including books like the Michigan Rocks and Mineral Field Guide book, the Michigan Rockhounds website, and the Michigan DEQ Rock and Fossil pamphlet. As with our other content, we only post about places we have actually visited and know to be safe and legal.
Whitefish Point – There’s a lot to see and do at Whitefish Point in Paradise, where you can visit a historic lighthouse and the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, look for birds at the Whitefish Point Bird Observatory, or look for rocks on one of the shore of Lake Superior. Most that search here are looking for agates, but you can also find unakite, quartz, copper, and more. You are not allowed to take driftwood or rocks from the Seney National Wildlife Refuge Property at Whitefish Point, and the entire area is open during daylight hours only. From Paradise, head north on Whitefish Point Rd. and follow it to its end (11 miles) at the parking lot for the museum and lighthouse.
Point Betsie Lighthouse – One of our favorite lighthouse in Michigan can be found south of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and north of Frankfort. The Point Betsie Lighthouse offering amazing views, stunning sunsets, and a museum and it is also home to a great Lake Michigan beach perfect for hunting for Petoskey stones and other rocks. From Frankfort head north on M-22 for four miles then look for the brown sign for the lighthouse and take a left on Point Betsie Rd. It is less than a mile to the end of the road where this is parking on both sides. The beach is open during daylight hours and you likely won’t be the only one here!
Muskallonge Lake State Park – Located on the site of the former lumbering town of Deer Park, Muskallonge Lake State Park has a 150 site campground, trails, and outdoor recreation opportunities on the inland Muskallonge Lake as well as the shore of Lake Superior. We found the Lake Superior beach to be a great spot for looking for agates and other rocks. The park is located on H-58, 16 miles west of Grand Marais.
Drummond Island – The puddingstone is one of the most sought-after Michigan stones, and there is no better places to find one than in the waters of Lake Huron around Drummond Island or on the rocky beaches that are plentiful on its shoreline. Please note that rock collecting at Fossil Ledges is prohibited; for further guidelines obey any posted signs or check with the Drummond Island Tourism Association. We like to take our kayaks when we visit so we can search the shallow waters where the bright colored jasper in these conglomerates tends to “pop” when looking in the water. To get to Drummond Island you need to take a ferry that leaves from DeTour Village on the southeastern tip of the Upper Peninsula. Be sure to check out our Drummond Island A to Z Guide for more great things to do when you visit the “Gem of the Huron.”
Keweenaw Peninsula – Offering the chance to dig through piles of rocks from old mining operations or search the rocky shoreline, the Keweenaw Peninsula is a paradise for rock and mineral hunters. Agates, copper, sodalites, greenstones, and more are plentiful here. Do your homework ahead of time, as collecting and removing rocks is prohibited at sites that are protected as part of the Keweenaw National Historic Park or nature preserves like Horseshoe Harbor and Hunter’s Point. Some of our favorite spots are McLain State Park, Gratiot River Park, High Rock Bay, and the various roadside parks along U.S. 41 and M-26. Step out onto one of these rocky beaches and you will be astounded by the number of rocks just waiting to be looked at!
Mouth of the Two Hearted River – It takes around 13 miles of driving on well-maintained dirt roads to reach the Mouth of the Two Hearted River State Forest Campground. A wooden suspension bridge crosses the river from the rustic campground, providing access to the Lake Superior shoreline where an endless supply of rocks awaits. There is a great variety here, with agates and sodalites being the top prizes. From M-123 west of Tahquamenon Falls State Park, head north on CR-500 and follow the brown signs and the following directions: left on CR-414, right on N. Pike Lake Rd. (turns into CR-423) and follow to end of road just past the Rainbow Lodge.
Fort Gratiot County Park/Lakeport State Park – Just north of Port Huron you can find several great rockhounding locations. The Fort Gratiot Lighthouse park has a beach and shallow water, and just a few miles up the road Fort Gratiot County Park offers the same. Continue heading north to reach Lakeport State Park, where puddingstones, Petoskeys, and more await in Lake Huron.
Rockport State Recreation Area – This undeveloped state park north of Alpena is a fossil lovers paradise! Rockport was once the site of a limestone quarry that operated until the 1940s but it is now a spot for visitors to boat, fish, hike, and explore the rocky shoreline. Hunters can find minerals like calcite, quartz, and pyrite, while fossil hunters will be blown away by the amount of horn corals, stromatoporoids, flavosites, cladopara, and crinoids they can find here. From US-23 north of Alpena, head east on Rockport Rd and follow it for 3.5 miles, swinging north when Rockport Rd. becomes Old Grade Rd. There is plenty of parking near the boat launch and countless places to explore (like the rock pile shown at the top of this post.
Fisherman’s Island State Park – Located on the shore of Lake Michigan in Charlevoix, Fisherman’s Island State Park is possibly the best place in Michigan to find both Petoskey stones and Charlevoix stones. Visiting here after some light rain or a recent storm will result in visitors being able to fill their weight quota for the year in just one visit if they seek the state stone. Park near the park entrance at the end of Bells Bay Rd. and head for the beach!
Presque Isle Park (Marquette) – You’ve probably heard of Marquette’s famous Black Rocks, and the cove there is a great place to look for agates. The water of Lake Superior washes new treasures ashore here daily. Presque Isle Park has 300 acres of forested trails, scenic views, wildlife, and relaxation. Another great spot to find rocks here is the small beach area by the breakwater.