Mineral Collecting - Central OregonCounty



Central Oregon just east of the Cascade Mountains is known to be a popular rock and mineral collecting area. Productive sites of Crook, Jefferson, and Deschutes Counties offer a variety of gem-quality minerals including famous thundereggs, petrified wood, limb cast, agate, jasper, and opal. Opal is found at Opal Butte in Morrow County but this area is closed to public diggings.

  • Jefferson County has popular minerals collecting sites including fossils, petrified wood, geodes, thunder eggs, agate and jasper.
  • Deschutes County is well-known for petrified wood.
  • The Warm Spring Reservation in Wasco and Jefferson Counties produces black and white colored agate.
  • Crook County is the most productive area with minerals such as petrified wood, limb casts, thunder eggs, agate, and jasper.

A wide variety of minerals, semiprecious gemstones, and rocks is available on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service. Also, there are privately owned mines, open to the public for fee digging. There may be private claims in some areas. Check it before you go.


Rock & Mineral Collecting - Central Oregon

Here is a list of the most popular sites, available for recreational rockhounding. But before accessing the sites and collecting any rocks, contact the local government agency to find out the most up-to-date information and regulations.

Bear Creek

From Prineville, take Highway 27 and drive 33 miles to Bear Creek Road, 0.9 miles after you pass Little Bear Creek Road. Turn left (east) onto Bear Creek Road and drive 5.3 miles to a dirt road on the left. Turn left and follow 0.1 mile to the fork, bear right and continue 0.3 miles to a fence. Open and close the fence behind you and drive 0.1 mile to the next fork where rockhounding signs are posted. To reach first site, drive 0.5 miles to pits. To reach the second site, go 3 miles on the left.

Bear Creek Rockhounding
Bear Creek Petrified Wood

The Bear Creek area is known for its petrified wood. Some of them are agatized.

Rocks & Minerals: Petrified wood
Tools: Picks and shovels
County: Crook
Managed: BLM
Road Access: Not maintained; a high-clearance vehicle is recommended; the road is muddy when wet.



Eagle Rock

From Prineville, head southwest via Highway 380 to a free standing Eagle Rock, between milepost 14 and 15, and turn right just beyond the rock. Pass the cattle guard and turn left. Travel on a gravel road 1 miles to a fork. Bear right and go 0.4 miles to the next split of the road. Take a left and park your car. Hike up the hill 0.3 miles to the collection site. The Eagle Rock area produces beautiful but scarce red and black plume, dendritic, moss agate in a rhyolite base.

Rocks & Minerals: Agate
Tools: Rock hammers and chisel
County: Crook
Managed: BLM
Road Access: Not maintained; a high-clearance vehicle is recommended; seasonal road closure

Maury Mountains - Ochoco National Forest

From Prineville, head southwest on Highway 380 to milepost 33, turn right onto Drake Creek Road (Forest Road 16), and drive 4.4 miles to Forest Road 1680. Turn right onto FR 1680 and drive 1.6 miles to FR 1690, turn right and continue 0.4 miles to a fork. Bear right and continue 0.2 miles to the Maury Mountains Parking Area. Hike downhill for diggings.

Maury Mountains Agate Bed

The Maury Mountains area produces beautiful but scarce varieties of moss agates with gold, green and red hues. Sometimes dendritic and white plume agates are found.

Rocks & Minerals: Moss agate
Tools: Rock hammers, picks, chisel and shovels
County: Crook
Managed: US National Forest
Road Access: Maintained




Congleton Hollow - South Fork Crooked River

From Prineville, head southeast via Highway 380 Post/Paulina to Congleton Hollow, turn right just after milepost 51 onto Congleton Hollow Road and drive 3.9 miles where it splits. Go to the left and continue 0.4 miles to the first site. Material can be obtained on the hill and in the dry creek bed. To find another collection site, you need travel 0.3 miles south on Congleton Hollow Road to a turnout after the concrete bridge. Collection area is located on the slopes of both sides of the road. For the third site, take a spur road after passing the turnout and go another 0.4 miles uphill.

Congleton Hollow

Rocks & Minerals: Limb casts, petrified wood, opalized wood
Tools: Rock hammers, picks, and shovels
County: Crook
Managed: BLM
Road Access: Not maintained, a high-clearance vehicle is recommended



Dendrite Butte

From Prineville, head southeast on Highway 380 Post/Paulina to Camp Creek Road, between milepost 43 and 44. Turn right onto Camp Creek Road and drive 9.3 miles to a dirt road FR 6574 on the left. Take this road just after you pass the rock quarry and drive 1.9 miles to a fork. Bear left and continue 1.7 miles to the next fork. Keep right and drive 0.6 miles to the next split of the road. From this point, continue 1.2 miles to the first site. The collection area is located on the left side (north) of the road. To find another collecting site, go next 0.7 miles then turn left and continue 0.5 miles  to a gate. Minerals can be collected on the north and west slopes.

Dendrite Butte

Rocks & Minerals: Limb casts,  petrified wood, opalized wood
Tools: Rock hammers, picks, and shovels
County: Crook
Managed: BLM
Road Access: Not maintained, a high-clearance vehicle is recommended

The locations Congleton Hollow and Dendrite Butte are known as Limb Cast Collection Areas. Limb Casts are formed when quartz deposits replace the wood in the volcanic ash cavities. The hot ash caused the wood burns out, leaving the empty cavities (mold). Over time, the cavities were filled with chalcedony and other minerals, forming beautiful clear, gray, green or pink agates, often dendritic. Limb Casts have a shape of the wood.



Whistler Springs - Ochoco National Forest

A shorter route (provided by Prineville Chamber of Commerce) with narrow and winding sections. From Prineville, drive east via Highway 26 to milepost 49, drive 0.4 miles after milepost 49 to Forest Road 27. Turn left and go for about 6 miles, turn left on Road NF 2700, then take NF 50 to Whistler Springs Campground. Do not use this route in wet weather.

A longer but more gentle route. From Prineville, drive east via Highway 26 to milepost 49, drive 0.4 miles after milepost 49 to Forest Road 27. Turn left onto NF 27 and drive 1.3 miles to Forest Roar 2730. Turn right onto NF 2730 and continue 9.5 miles (on the fork after 6 miles bear left) to Forest Road 200. Turn left onto NF 200 and continue for about 6 miles to Whistler Springs Campground. As the road goes left, take a primitive road to the right. Go down 0.3 miles. As you cross a cattle garden, park your car on the right. You will find a pit near the parking area if you hike west along the trail from a fire pit. Another digging spots are 0.1 mile south on the road that goes on the left.

Whistler Springs Rockhounding
Whistler Springs

Rocks & Minerals: Thundereggs
Tools: Rock hammers, picks, chisel, and shovels
County: Crook
Managed: US National Forest
Road Access: Maintained, seasonal road closure

Warning! The area is bounded from the southern end by Mill Creek Wilderness. Watch boundary signs.



White Fir Springs & White Rock Springs - Ochoco National Forest

White Fir Springs. From Prineville, take Highway 26 east to milepost 41, go 0.4 miles after milepost 41 to Forest Road 3350. Turn left onto NF 3350 and drive 4.9 miles (always take a left fork) to a dirt road NF 010 on the right. Look for signs. You can drive or park your car here and hike uphill 0.1 mile to the collection sites.

White Fir Springs Rockhounding
Jasper Thundereggs - White Fir Springs

White Rock Springs. From Prineville, take Highway 26 east to milepost 41, go 0.4 miles after milepost 41 to Forest Road 3350. Turn left onto NF 3350 and drive 5.5 miles (always take a left fork) to NF 300 on the right. Turn right and continue 1.3 miles to the a digging area on the left. Go about 7 miles to White Rock Springs. Look for signs.

The White Fir Springs and White Rock Springs areas produce thundereggs that are filled with yellow, beige or purple jasper. Some of them contains tiny pieces of quartz crystals.

Do not dig behind the wilderness boundary fence.

Rocks & Minerals:Thundereggs
Tools: Rock hammers, picks, chisel, and shovels
County: Crook
Managed: US National Forest
Road Access: Maintained, seasonal road closure

Warning! The area is bounded from the southern end by Mill Creek Wilderness. Watch boundary signs.

Ochoco Reservoir

From Prineville, drive 7.25 miles east via Highway 26. Park off the highway or at Ochoko Lake Park. BLM gravel road is located on the left of the highway, just before milepost 26. Hike 125 feet on a gravel road and then turn left on a dirt road. After 250 feet, turn right and continue uphill 775 feet. Walk toward cliffs, looking for rockfall piles.

Rocks & Minerals: Agate and jasper
Tools: Rock hammers, picks, and chisel
County: Crook
Managed: BLM



Fischer Canyon

From Prineville, travel 31 miles south via Highway 27 (Main Street). Turn left on a dirt road, just 0.15 miles after Salt Creek Road. Drive 0.5 miles to the base of hills.

Fischer Canyon Rockhounding
Fischer Canyon Minerals

Rocks & Minerals: Petrified Wood, agate, jasper, calcite, leaf fossils
Tools: Picks
County: Crook
Managed: BLM
Road Access: Not maintained, muddy when wet

Hampton Butte

From Bend, follow east via Highway 20 for about 50 miles to Van Lake Road, between mileposts 52 and 53. Turn left (north) onto Van Lake Road and drive 10.7 miles to Price-Twelve Mile Road. Turn right onto Price-Twelve Mile Road and continue for about 2.3 miles. Collection areas are located for next 0.3 miles on both sides of the road. You can take one of the dirt roads on the left and drive to the mail collection sites.

Hampton Butte is well-known for green petrified wood.

Hampton Butte

Rocks & Minerals: Petrified wood, agate, jasper, agate and jasper limb casts
Tools: Rock hammers, picks, and shovels
County: Crook
Managed: BLM
Road Access: Maintained county road




Wheeler High School Fossil Beds

The ridge behind the high school is Oregon's only legally accessible fossil dig bed that produces plant fossils including metasequoia, the ancestors of sycamore, maples, oaks, rose, and alder. Also, you can find aquatic vertebrates, a bat specimen, and previously unknown species of salamander.

Fossil materials near the bottom of the John Day Formation had been deposited at the edge of the ancient lake about 33 million years ago.

Read More...

Fossils in FossilRocks & Minerals: Fossils
Tools: Picks
County: Wheeler
Managed: Private, Wheeler High School, open to the public for small fees.
Road Access: Maintained
Address: OPLI Field Center, 333 West Fourth Street, Fossil, OR 97830
Phone: 541-763-4480
Email: paleolands@gmail.com

Richardson’s Rock Ranch - Madras

Located northeast of Madras, the Richardson Rock Ranch is known for its famous Priday Plume Agate. The highly-prized in the world those agates have brilliant red and yellow plumes in the transparent matrix.

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Richardson’s Rock Ranch thunder eggsRocks & Minerals: Thunder Eggs and Ledge Agates
Tools: Rock hammers, picks, and shovels
County: Jefferson
Managed: Private ranch open to the public for fees
Road Access: Maintained
Phone: 541-475-2680
richardsonrockranch.com

Oregon Rockhounding Map

DISCLAIMER

The Oregon Rockhounding Map provides information about some of the many rockhounding sites of the state of Oregon. Information is subject to change at any time, and Oregon Discovery team cannot guarantee that is either current or correct. Be aware that there are some mine claims and private lands near the public collecting areas. Determining the land status and minerals' collection rules at the site is your primary responsibility.

Currently, this map is incomplete but new rockhounding sites and related details will be added in the future.




Marli B. Miller. Roadside Geology of Oregon. 2014. Mountain Press Publishing Company Missoula, Montana.
William A. Kappele. Rockhounding Nevada: A Guide to the State's Best Rockhounding Sites. 2010. A Falcon Guide.
Lars Johnson. Rockhounding Oregon: A Guide to the State's Best Rockhounding Sites (Rockhounding Series). 2014. A Falcon Guide.
William A. Kappele. Rockhounding Nevada: A Guide To The State's Best Rockhounding Sites (Rockhounding Series). 2011. A Falcon Guide.
Dan R. Lynch, Bob Lynch. Rocks & Minerals of Washington and Oregon: A Field Guide to the Evergreen and Beaver States (Rocks & Minerals Identification Guides). 2012.


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